There are a lot of things Seattle is known for. Rain? Always! Grunge music? Bring on the Nirvana throwbacks. Food? You bet- and luckily all that rain we’re known for makes a great climate for growing crops and raising animals. Another bonus? The cold water of the northern pacific produces some of the tastiest shellfish in the nation. Combine that with Seattle’s growth from the late 1800’s on and you’ll see how immigrants have shaped the dishes that have become favorites of tourists and locals alike.
Many of our Tour Guides and Captains are happy to point out their favorite restaurants along our tour route. Follow their great suggestions after your tour and keep these local foods in mind for an authentic taste of the Pacific Northwest.
Seattle sits on Puget Sound, a complex system of waterways that eventually lead out to the Pacific Ocean. The cold, fresh saltwater that’s brought in by this structure helps maintain a diverse ecosystem of marine life. From oysters to crab, or salmon to rockfish, you won’t get bored by the vast amount of seafood available.
With fresh seafood comes fresh sushi, made popular by the many Japanese immigrants that have resided here since the 1890’s. Chefs make a point to use local and sustainable seafood that highlight what flourishes in the surrounding waters. Whether you prefer maki rolls or sashimi, there’s a dish for everyone.
Places to try: Shiro’s Sushi, Mashiko, Tsukushinbo
- Seattle dog
Every city has their version of a hot dog (just look at this list) like in NYC where they prefer steamed onions and mustard, or in Chicago where they “drag them through the garden” aka add every vegetable imaginable. The beloved Seattle dog is a mix that people might not expect but end up loving- a toasted bun shmeared with cream cheese, topped with a hot dog and grilled onions.
Chances are you’ve had this popular Japanese dish before, but it really shines Seattle for the same reason sushi does- authenticity. The most popular version is the tried-and-true: chicken thighs marinated in a sweet and sticky sauce over rice with a side salad. Popular combinations include spicy teriyaki, beef teriyaki and chicken katsu.
Yes, chowder is a New England thing, but Seattle’s spin on this creamy and comforting soup has made it extra popular on the west coast. Here you’ll find chowders with local ingredients like salmon, corn, and a whole array of other seafood.
Places to try: Pike Place Chowder, Ivar’s, Duke’s Seafood & Chowder
Soup is probably the most comforting thing to eat on a rainy day, so it’s no surprise that Vietnamese pho is so popular in the city’s culinary scene. The broth simmers for hours before rice noodles and different types of meat are added, always coming with bean sprouts, lime wedges, basil and hot peppers on the side.
- Dutch baby
When you see the words “Dutch baby” on a menu, don’t panic- a small child from the Netherlands won’t arrive at your table. Instead, you’ll get a large and fluffy pancake filled with fruits from bananas to apples- your choice! It’s said that they originated at Manca’s Café, which has now closed, and were based on a German pancake dish.
- Apples, cherries, and onions
Where there’s great water there’s great land, so a lot of delicious produce has been grown in Washington State. Our apples, cherries, and onions are shipped across the globe each year for their supreme taste and texture, so make sure to try them while you’re actually here! You can also try local favorites like marionberries or huckleberries that are too delicate to be shipped countrywide.
Places to find local produce: Pike Place Market, Ballard Market, Capitol Hill Farmers Market
- Hom Bow / Hum Bao
What makes hum bow so popular in Seattle? The amount of Chinese immigrants in the city not only created the Chinatown-International District, but a ton of restaurants that serve authentic versions of this to-go pastry. You can have them baked or steamed with BBQ pork, chicken or curry beef filling.
Did you know that Washington ranks second in the United States in the production of wine? There are plenty of producers in Yakima Valley, Walla Walla and Tri-Cities, but the closest major producer to Seattle is Woodinville. You can also try wines from urban growers- there are 35 within the city limits!
So, which Seattle foods are you craving? Why not try them all and tell us about your favorites in the comments! We can’t wait to hear what you recommend.
*Did you know? Photos that appear on this page are public domain! Neat!