Food & Culture

The Best Seafood Restaurants in Seattle

What makes a seafood restaurant memorable?

By Jessica Yadegaran, Chelsea Lin and Cynthia Nims; with additional reporting by Haley Durslag June 13, 2016


This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Seattle Magazine.

What makes a seafood restaurant memorable? It may be its proximity to the water, but even more important is the freshness of the fish and how it’s prepared. We visited Seattle’s finest fish-focused eateries to bring you our list of the top five all around.

Their locations might surprise you, as some are tucked into neighborhoods and up-and-coming food destinations, rather than perched on waterfronts.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Owner and executive chef Renee Erickson ignited Seattle’s modern seafood renaissance with the opening of this simple, sunlit restaurant and oyster bar in 2010 in Ballard—at one time, Seattle’s fishing enclave. Since opening, Erickson’s ever-changing menu and high-quality ingredients sourced from the best purveyors have put her on the national map. Favorites? Anything from the raw bar, including the most delicate halibut carpaccio with gazpacho, radish and puffed rice ($13). Ballard, 4743 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.395.9227;

Everything about Eric and Christy Donnelly’s two-story Fremont restaurant is a showstopper, from the industrial-style fishing lodge design to the killer cocktails, expert service and massive, backlit scenic photos of the Pacific Northwest. What stands out the most, however, is how expertly seasoned and prepared every dish is, from spicy, sofrito-based fish stew ($27) to tangy Asian “Kari Out” calamari ($15). Fremont, 4300 Fremont Ave. N; 206.557.7532;

Salted Sea
Just celebrating its first anniversary, Huy Tat’s modern, wood-and-metal restaurant is a salute to both sides of the Pacific—specifically, Vietnam and the Northwest. Gig Harbor’s Minterbrook Oyster Company supplies the bivalves at the raw bar, where you’ll also find housemade steelhead caviar ($10). But the menu stars are Vietnamese-inspired, such as the fantastic herb-flecked, spicy green curry mussels in coconut broth ($13). Columbia City, 4915 Rainier Ave. S; 206.858.6328;

Summer means sitting in an Adirondack chair on this gravelly patio on the north shore of Lake Union, munching on clam dip ($12) or geoduck crudo ($14) in cherry blossom shoyu and sipping on a prosecco, Aperol and soda spritz ($9) by the fire pit. Inside the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, decked out in sailcloth and watery blues, tuck into the Salish Sea boil ($31), a medley of clams, mussels, crab and seasonal fish. Westward isn’t just a restaurant, it’s an experience. Wallingford, 2501 N Northlake Way; 206.552.8215;

Blueacre Seafood
Co-owner and executive chef Kevin Davis and wife/partner Terresa Davis manage to make the spacious and swanky Caribbean-blue interiors of their 6-year-old restaurant feel cozy. What impresses us more is the depth of the menu, which typically includes half a dozen seafood starters (not including oysters) and two dozen seafood entrées. The three-course menu ($38) is the best deal by far. Downtown, 1700 Seventh Ave.; 206.659.0737;

Waterfront Seafood Classics
If there’s one thing we’re not short of, it’s waterfront properties, and where there is a shore, you’re likely to find one of our region’s many classic seafood-with-a-view restaurants. Below, an at-a-glance guide to the popular dishes that put these establishments on the map. (Spoiler alert: People like their salmon.)

Elliott’s Oyster House
Waterfront, 1201 Alaskan Way; 206.623.4340;
View: Elliott Bay
Most popular dish: Alder-planked salmon seasoned with house rub and served with market veggies and oven-roasted potatoes ($31–$38, depending on choice of Alaskan sockeye, coho or king)

Ivar’s Salmon House
Lake Union, 401 NE Northlake Way; 206.632.0767;
View: Lake Union
Most popular dish: At the more casual Fish Bar, it’s fish and chips—batter-dipped Alaskan true cod, the same recipe Ivar’s has been using since 1938, plus fries and coleslaw ($8.99–$10.99). At Salmon House, alder-grilled salmon (we’re detecting a theme here) with potatoes and vegetables ($19–$25).
Anthony’s HomePort
Kirkland, 12 Lake St. S; 425.822.0225;
View: Lake Washington
Most popular dish: Fresh halibut, spice-rubbed and grilled ($38)

Salty’s on Alki
West Seattle, 1936 Harbor Ave. SW; 206.937.1600;
View: Elliott Bay and epic Seattle skyline
Most popular dish: Sambal honey barbecue-glazed salmon served with salad of watercress and vinaigrette made from Yakima Valley cherries ($42)

Ponti Seafood Grill [CLOSING SOON]
Fremont, 3014 Third Ave. N; 206.284.3000;
View: Ship Canal
Most popular dish: Dungeness crab and scallop Thai curry penne ($32)

Aqua by El Gaucho
Waterfront, 2801 Alaskan Way; 206.956.9171;
View: Elliott Bay
Most popular dish: Grilled Chilean sea bass prepared with a rice wine oyster sauce ($49)

Six Seven
Waterfront, 2411 Alaskan Way; 206.269.4575;
View: Elliott Bay
Most popular dish: Cedar-planked king salmon with rainbow potatoes, mushroom ragoût, smoked bacon, asparagus, tomato, truffle cream and West Seattle honey ($39)

Ray’s Boathouse
Ballard, 6049 Seaview Ave. NW; 206.789.3770;
View: Shilshole Bay
Most popular dish: Roasted sablefish in sake kasu, served with jasmine rice, charred lemon, shishito peppers, edamame and a sweet soy sauce ($40)

Duke’s Chowder House
South Lake Union, 901 Fairview Ave. N; 206.382.9963;
View: Lake Union
Most popular dish: Panko-breaded cod and chips (dinner price: $17.90 for two pieces, $21.90 for three pieces)

Go back to the main Seafood Guide article.

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