The 10 Best Restaurants In Ballard, Seattle

Photo of Sarah Lantz
9 February 2017

The Ballard neighborhood, nestled in northwestern Seattle, is known for its beautiful and historical waterfront. Ballard was once its own city, founded in 1853 by fishers, boat builders, and lumber and shingle mill workers, many of Scandinavian heritage. Today, as one of Seattle’s most popular neighborhoods, you’ll find plenty of beautiful parks, you’ll also find many trendy restaurants all over the neighborhood to explore and enjoy.

The Walrus and the Carpenter/ Courtesy of Geoffrey Smith

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Bar, Seafood, American, $$$
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Bastille Café and Bar
Bastille Café and Bar | © Eater Seattle/Flickr
The Walrus and the Carpenter offers many tasty seasonal dishes that feature the best and freshest of the seafood the Pacific Northwest is known for. Food is locally sourced from Washington fishmongers, farmers, and foragers. Start with a bucket of ice cold oysters, then delight in a main dish of king salmon or perhaps steamed clams or smoked trout while sitting on the shaded, brick patio on a warm northwest summer’s eve. Even if you aren’t a fan of seafood, you can always find a few fresh, seasonal salads and a select choice of meat dishes. There are plenty of drinks to explore, including a list of featured cocktails, and a good number of red, white, sparkling, and rose wines to pair with your dishes.

Bastille Café and Bar

Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, French, European, Beer, $$$
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Halibut tacos at La Carta de Oaxaca
Halibut tacos at La Carta de Oaxaca | © Paul Gibson/Flickr
Bastille Café and Bar is inspired by the very best French cooking, taking full advantage of the seasonal bounties the Pacific Northwest’s mild climate and diverse geography offers to those who appreciate quality food. Architecturally, Bastille evokes the feeling that you really are in France, from the Capsule Pendants of an early 20th century southern French church that hang over the bar to a late 19th century Paris street lamp and a 1950s Paris metro clock. Bastille’s 4,500 square foot rooftop garden of raised-bed planter boxes that grow fresh herbs and lettuce, as well as its Blue Tractor Farm, (both cared for by the Seattle Urban Farm Company) are ways this restaurant assures fresh, tasty, and sustainably grown ingredients for its dishes.

La Carta de Oaxaca

Restaurant, Mexican, Vegetarian, $$$
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Mosaic fronted stone hearth oven at the Golden Beetle
Mosaic fronted stone hearth oven at the Golden Beetle | © woodstoneovens/flickr
Ballard’s popular Mexican restaurant La Carta de Oaxaca offers some of the most authentic Mexican cuisine you’ll find in Seattle in a very relaxed and friendly neighborhood environment. Key ingredients you’ll discover in La Carta de Oaxaca’s dishes include corn, chocolate, and chilies. With homemade tortillas and three different margarita options on their drinks menu, you’re sure to reinvent the term ‘happy hour’ to whatever time of day you’re eating at La Carta de Oaxaca. The region of Oaxaca itself in Mexico is isolated by its surrounding mountain ranges and so the culture and traditions are known to be well-preserved, passed down through many mediums, including its food. Mole, a sauce in many forms, is thought to be invented and perfected in Oaxaca.

The Golden Beetle

Restaurant, Mediterranean, $$$
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The James Beard Award-winning executive chef and owner Maria Hines, inspired by the cuisines and cultures of Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt and other Mediterranean countries, reinvents the Northwest’s abundance of seasonal and garden-fresh fixings from local farmers and foragers at The Golden Beetle. Savor dips of English pea hummus and Baba Ghanoush with wood-fired flatbread, then order an arrangement of small plates or large for a family feast or for an adventurous date dining out. Finally, treat yourself to a baklava ice cream for dessert.

Plaka Estiatorio

Restaurant, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Greek, $$$
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Plaka Estiatorio is named for the district Plaka in Athens, also known as the ‘neighborhood of the Gods,’ because it is so close to the Acropolis. Estiatorio is Greek for restaurant, and this warm and welcoming family-owned restaurant serves many delicious Athenian style seasonal plates, including Papousakia, roasted eggplants stuffed with seasoned lamb and beef baked in a clay pot and crowned with saffron infused béchamel and mitzithra cheese. Plaka Estiatorio also offers vegetarian options for some of its dishes. The wine list includes many imported wines from Greece, white, red, and rosé.

Skillet Diner

Bar, Diner, American, $$$
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A sweet breakfast choice at Portage Bay Café
A sweet breakfast choice at Portage Bay Café | ©Lay-Luh/Flickr
Since 2007. when Chef Josh Henderson created Skillet Street Food by selling American-style cuisine out of his vintage Airstream trailer, Skillet has been recognized as one of the food-loving Seattleite’s favorite places to get quality fixings. The little sister of Capitol Hill’s Skillet Diner, Ballard’s Skillet Diner is the place to satisfy your cravings for comfort food, from maple braised pork belly and cornmeal waffles (which you can order for dinner) to toasted cauliflower risotto or kale caesar salad. Enjoy handcrafted cocktails on the patio or at the 40-foot curved bar. Drinks include boozy milkshakes, mimosas, and beers from IPAs to Lagers. Skillet uses local, sustainably grown ingredients in its dishes.

Portage Bay Café

Bar, Cafe, Market, American, $$$
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Portage Bay Cafe
Portage Bay Cafe | © Jessica Spengler / Flickr
Breakfast lovers, look no further than Portage Bay Café for your first meal of the day. Whether you crave savory or sweet, Portage Bay’s extensive and enticing menu has everything you could want for a scrumptious breakfast and then some. Bananas Foster French Toast with sun liquor rum caramel sauce, Swedish pancakes with lingonberry compote, vegetable frittata topped with goat cheese, and prosciutto and prawn omelette with mikuni wild harvest mushrooms and point reyes blue cheese crumbles are just a few choices. Pay extra and enjoy unlimited access to the famous breakfast bar, where you can top your meal with a seasonal selection of fruits, nuts, and maple syrup.

Ristorante Picolinos

Bakery, Bar, Restaurant, Italian, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, $$$
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Reasonably priced and presented in a casual family neighborhood style, Picolinos strives to serve authentic, regional Italian cuisine. The restaurant has its own bakery and espresso bar, ensuring fresh baked bread and a warm cup of espresso to pair perfectly with dessert. Pizza is wood-fired, and the ravioli is house-made. Enjoy dinner outside in the garden court yard, drinking your choice of a Washington or Italian wine from their well-stocked wine cellar.

The Monkey Bridge

Market, Restaurant, Vietnamese
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Barbecue chicken wings at Kickin' Boot Whiskey Kitchen
Barbecue chicken wings at Kickin' Boot Whiskey Kitchen | © Katherine Porter/Flickr
The Monkey Bridge, named after the bamboo bridges in southern Vietnam that cross rivers and waterways and connect villagers to their local markets for fresh produce and give travelers a monkey-like posture as they cross them, lives up to its name as a restaurant that uses the freshest ingredients for its cooking by bringing fresh produce from farm to table. The Monkey Bridge offers a variety of Vietnamese baguettes, noodle, and rice dishes with plenty of vegetables and spices. Phở and noodle soups are a favorite here, as are the shrimp salad rolls.

Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen

Kickin’ Boot serves barbecue and southern fare that are all made in-house, as well as a broad whiskey collection and a range of beers on tap. From pulled pork to shrimp and grits, Kickin’ Boots is sure to satisfy any craving for hearty Southern comfort food. Their whiskey list stretches world-wide, including a robust selection of American bourbons and rye whiskeys, as well as an impressive assembly of Irish, Scottish, Canadian, and Japanese whiskeys.
Address & phone number: 5309 22nd Ave NW Seattle, WA USA +1 206-783-2668

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