The Best Restaurants for Southern Cooking in Seattle

Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken | Courtesy of JuneBaby
Jacklyn Grambush

Just because you live in a gluten-free-friendly, health-promoting, temperate (in every sense of the word) city, doesn’t mean you don’t crave the deep-fried, spicy, soul food created out of the heat and passion of the South. Though women may be offended in Seattle if you call them “ma’am” and though the city is known for the Seattle Freeze as opposed to hospitality, you can still find quality shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, and darn-good biscuits if you know where to look.

1. Acadia

Cafe, American

Chicken & Bacon Sandwich
Courtesy of Acadia
Acadia’s name stems from the historically francophone region in Louisiana populated by the ancestors of Cajuns. Offering “fresh, wholesome Southern-inspired fare,” this café provides the spices and ingredients of the South without deep frying everything. From vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free smoothies and green juices to three-cheese mac, it’s a rare restaurant of both Southern cuisine and health. Transport yourself back home with a NOLA Cold Brew or Café au Lait, some andouille sausage, red beans, collards and kale, and the Dock Worker Sandwich, with ingredients that recall a muffaletta.

2. cycene

Restaurant, American

Shrimp and Grits
Courtesy of cycene

Owned by a husband-and-wife duo, this restaurant tucked in Pike Place Market gets its name from the Old English word for “kitchen.” The chef has lived all over the South, from Arizona to Georgia (and many places in between). From this comes their fare of Southern-inspired sandwiches, including ingredients such as creole sausage, Tabasco aioli, and remoulade, as well as bowls of grits topped with cayenne sausage, shrimp, or collard greens, among other options. To wash down their made-from-scratch Southern treats, consider the stereotypical, yet irreplaceable, sweet tea.

3. Ezell’s Famous Chicken

Restaurant, American, Fast Food

Starting in 1984, this family from Texas has been bringing Southern-style chicken and side dishes to the Seattle area. Having catered for Oprah’s birthday and the 2006 Superbowl, Ezell’s has expanded to 13 locations, four of which are in the city of Seattle (23rd Ave, Wallingford, Seattle Skyway, and Rainier Valley). Check them out for soul food that’s “fresh, good, and fast”!

5. JuneBaby

Restaurant, American

Food at JuneBaby
Photo Credit, Shannon Renfroe
JuneBaby embraces Southern food in every aspect, from its roots in slavery to its modern-day stereotypes. Providing a fare that “reflects hard times and resourcefulness,” JuneBaby brings an elevated level of respect to traditional recipes through healthful twists and stunning presentations. Also, their website is educational, promoting Southern history, culture, and cuisine with their encyclopedia section, explaining everything from fufu to trotter. The menu will make you drool (shrimp gumbo, anyone?) while Saturdays and Sundays come with “Moonshine Hour” from 3 pm to 5 pm. In typical European, and subsequently Southern, fashion, the restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday.

6. Restaurant Roux

Restaurant, American

It really started with Where Ya At Matt, the food truck Matt Lewis uses to bring New Orleans street food to the Seattle area. Since the food truck was successful from the beginning in 2010, the doors opened up for a brick-and-mortar space in 2013. Restaurant Roux provides outstanding food, which combines Creole dishes with “Pacific Northwest influence and classical French training,” accompanied by the two other New Orleans staples: live music and a full bar.

7. Simply Soulful

Restaurant, American

This family-owned business started by selling pies at farmers’ markets and has since grown to offer pies all over the Puget Sound area, and not only in farmers’ markets but also in stores and at their very own café. The recipes used at Simply Soulful originated in Mississippi, spanning multiple generations. From these, they keep to the philosophy of “simple, yet full of flavor,” incorporating locally sourced, organic ingredients into their breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert menus (including, of course, their handmade pies).

8. The Comfort Zone

Restaurant, American, Seafood

The Comfort Zone, located in the Royal Esquire Club, boasts of having the “best soul food in the Pacific Northwest.” Appetizers include gizzards and hush puppies, while the “comforts” offer the staples: shrimp and grits or chicken and waffles. Other than burgers and sandwiches, the main meals offer the likes of meatloaf (smothered in gravy) and catfish. This place poses serious competition for the other Southern cuisine offerings in town.

9. The Sexton

Restaurant, American, Pub Grub

A delicious dish at The Sexton
Courtesy of The Sexton
The Sexton is suave and gritty, all at once. Though the menu changes seasonally, it does have a section dedicated solely to Mac & Cheese—because one type of Mac & Cheese is obviously not enough. The food is featured on the first page of the menu, with food available during happy hour—which starts at 4 pm daily (except on Mondays when they’re closed)—taking up the second page. The rest of the menu is set up for their craft cocktails. The Sexton: “tables meant for elbows [and] juleps poured pretty as a Saturday night.”

10. The Wandering Goose

Restaurant, American

Food at the Wandering Goose
Photo Credit, Jacob Smithers
The Wandering Goose is vibrant, blending a hint of innocence into the wisdom of generations before you, those that first thought up the splendid recipes on the menu. The café itself is small, but well lit, with rooftop beehives for the freshest honey around. Dinner is only offered on Fried Chicken Friday, with one simple option on the list: three pieces of fried chicken and three sides of your choosing. Dessert isn’t on the list, but you can ask about it! Check out The Wandering Goose for comfort food—“seasonal, affordable, and plentiful.”

11. Witness

Restaurant, Bar, American

Witness takes its inspiration from the South in its products as well as its hospitality. As a craft cocktail bar, the cleverly named drinks are bound to pique your interest along with the soul food, including Carolina pulled pork sliders and buttermilk beignets. Witness also offers brunch on the weekends, complete with biscuits, mimosas, and the like to make you feel right back at home down south. This place is “where the spirits nourish the soul.”
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