Food & Drink

Seafood Dishes We Love

We could try to name our city’s best seafood restaurant.

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

A fish sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes on a white plate.

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

We could try to name our city’s best seafood restaurant.

But it’s an almost impossible task with so many solid seafood dishes served by so many restaurants in our city. These dishes are stand outs. Catch them when they’re in season.

Fish sandwiches
Pan-fried cornmeal-crusted catfish
Matt’s in the Market

> Shredded lettuce and the most addictive sambal mayonnaise slathered on potato bread make this crunchy, delicately pan-fried catfish worthy of a trip to Matt’s. $16. Pike Place Market, 94 Pike St., Suite 32; 206.467.7909;

Fire-grilled tuna sandwich
Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar

> A tender ahi steak is slathered in sweet and spicy soy and sambal tartar sauce, and accompanied by tomato, napa slaw and a mountain of shoestring fries. $18. Bellevue, 205 108th Ave. NE; 425.456.0010;


Dungeness crab cakes
Dahlia Lounge

> A dish that catapulted Tom Douglas to star status 26 years ago continues to shine. Sweet lumps of crab loosely packed and lightly fried are balanced with fresh jalapeño hot sauce and crunchy pepitas. $24/lunch, $38/dinner. Belltown, 2001 Fourth Ave.; 206.682.4142;

Lobster and blue crab ravioli

> Hawaiian master chef DK Kodama’s new restaurant—his first on the mainland—is already gaining devotees for Pacific Rim best-sellers such as this sweet mixture of lobster, blue crab and shrimp. It swims in a tasty, truffle-shiitake Madeira cream sauce. $11.25. Downtown, 815 Pine St.; 206.402.4414;

Halibut tacos
La Carta de Oaxaca

> Sautéed halibut is combined with shredded lettuce and pico de gallo, dressed with a chipotle pepper cream sauce and then wrapped in fresh corn tortillas. $14. Ballard, 5431 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.782.8722;

Heartwood Provisions

> Pork jus on halibut? It’s genius, as proven by chef Varin Keokivon’s beautiful fillet of halibut cooked in a Josper mesquite oven and served atop grilled asparagus, morels and pickled fiddlehead ferns. $29. Downtown, 1103 First Ave.; 206.582.3505;

Salmon slider
Loki Fish Company

Loki Fish Company’s salmon sliders; David Bell/Studio 3. Styling by: Marianne Sao
> At their farmers’ market locations, commercial fisherman Pete Knutson and hiscrew serve this year-round best-seller on a Tall Grass Bakery brioche bun and top it with Skagit River Ranch bacon, market greens and a mouthwatering apple aioli.
You’ll want at least two…OK, three. $5. Check for its schedule at Ballard, Broadway, University District and West Seattle farmers’ markets.

Sinful Kickin’Wild Alaska Salmon

> Oh, lordy. A tender, melt-in-your-mouth grilled salmon fillet atop a crunchy organic potato-prawn cake, drizzled with a sinful basil citrus vinaigrette. You need this. $27.90/5 ounces; $31.90/8 ounces. Locations in Green Lake, Lake Union, Alki Beach, Tacoma, Kent and Tukwila;

Plaka Estiatorio

Plaka Estiatorio’s Octopodi; Tia White
> This generous curl of octopus is marinated in white wine and red wine vinegar, and then braised in whole onions, celery stock, black peppercorns, fennel, bay leaves and a load of other spices. It is soft, savory, chewy and totally irresistible. Amazing meze. $18. Ballard, 5407 20th Ave. NW; 206.829.8934;

Octopus with bok choy and hot bacon vinaigrette

> We’d eat anything doused in hot bacon vinaigrette. But the tentacles used for this dish are both perfectly charred—a benefit of using small Asian octopi rather than the larger Pacific variety, says chef-owner Rachel Yang—and delicately chewy, making them an ideal vehicle for such a dressing. $18. Wallingford, 3506 Stone Way N; 206.632.5685;

Wild prawns St. Helena

Wild prawns “St. Helena” (garlic, thyme, rosemary, lemon and McEwen & Sons grits) from RockCreek; Andrea Coan
> The heavenly combo of brown butter, lemon and rosemary warrants a second order (oh yes, we did) of four perfectly cooked prawns, which sit on a bed of creamy McEwen & Sons grits. $15. Fremont, 4300 Fremont Ave. N; 206.557.7532;

Sweet shrimp nigiri
Sushi Kashiba

> The freshest spot prawns, called amaebi in Japanese, are butterflied and served raw as nigiri—sweet and subtle on their own, but not as remarkable as the “bonus” serving: the shrimp’s deep-fried heads, which are salty and crispy and utterly
addictive. Two for $10. Pike Place Market, 86 Pine St., Suite 1; 206.441.8844;

Peter Canlis prawns

> Some dishes are so special, they should have their own Facebook page, like these iconic prawns. Dry vermouth, garlic and lime add a seductive depth of flavor. Perfection. $18 as starter, or part of prix fixe ($85 for three courses, $100 for four courses). Queen Anne, 2576 Aurora Ave. N; 206.283.3313;  

Whole Fish
Pa lard prig

> Unrecognizable under the literal pile of cooked chiles that top this fiery Thai/Lao dish, a whole fried tilapia sits crispy and flaky, waiting to be shoveled into your mouth with fistfuls of sticky rice. $11.75. Mount Baker, 2820 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S; 206.725.3884

Matiz sardines on toast
The Whale Wins

> Renee Erickson’s light-filled eatery
elevates simple sardines on toast—a sort of peasant meal at its heart—to crave-worthy lunch status, thanks in part to Sea Wolf sourdough, thinly shaved fennel brightened by citrus, and a flavorful tomato paste accompanying the tiny canned fish. $14. Wallingford, 3506 Stone Way N; 206.632.9425;

Smoked Fish
Smoked Alaskan sablefish
Copperleaf Restaurant

> Rich, white fish lightly smoked with applewood and finished with apple cider glaze and house-made beet granola. Yum. Featured on the restaurant’s June tasting menu, Salts of the Seven Seas. $16. SeaTac, Cedarbrook Lodge, 18525 36th Ave. S; 206.901.9268;

House-smoked salmon
Goldfinch Tavern

> Trimmings from whole, wild salmon are smoked and then mixed with pickled red onion, olive oil, lemon juice and a bevy of fresh herbs. The chunky goodness is piled atop four big slices of grilled baguette. It’s dinner. $12. Downtown in the Four Seasons Hotel, 99 Union St.; 206.749.7070;

Cedar-smoked black cod

Cedar-smoked black cod from Naka; Andrea Coan
> Black cod in its most simple and beautiful state: marinated and smoked with cedar chips for an ethereal, buttery taste explosion. We’re still thinking about it. $32, Capitol Hill, 1449 E Pine St., 206.294.5230;

Steamed mussels
Toby’s Tavern

> Head up to Whidbey Island to dine on sweet, meaty mussels on the shore of Penn Cove, with its abundant mussel farms. This convivial dive bar finds no need to gild the lily; the mussels are fresh, simply prepared and served with only garlic bread to soak up the flavorful juice. $25/ 2 pounds. Coupeville, 8 NW Front St.; 360.678.4222;

Les moules marinière

> Plump Penn Cove mussels benefit from a traditional French bath in butter, white wine, shallots and garlic—best eaten on the patio during happy hour (when it’s only $6, or $10 with frites), but you can also enjoy it at dinner. $19. Pike Place Market, 81-A Pike St.; 206.682.7270;

Fish stew
Pepper pot
The Carlile Room

> One of the most generous cioppino-style stews we’ve scouted brims with clams, prawns, squid and seasonal wild fish—Alaskan salmon collar on one visit, Idaho catfish on another. There’s also garlic toast for lapping up all that spicy marinara broth. $29. Downtown, 820 Pine St.; 206.946.9720;

Fin and shell stew

> Slightly smaller but equally kicky to the pepper pot (it’s the splash of Pernod) is this sofrito-based bowl of seasonal fish, Manila clams, Kamilche mussels in a tomato broth with a slice of grilled baguette slathered in olive aioli. We ordered extra bread and
weren’t charged. $27. Fremont, 4300 Fremont Ave. N;, 206.557.7532;

Seafood stew
Matt’s in the Market

> A spot-on classic with a Thai spin: mussels, clams, scallops and seasonal finfish swimming in a rich green coconut curry with Yukon gold potatoes, long beans, basil, mint, cilantro, eggplant chips and peanuts. $34. Pike Place Market, 94 Pike St., Suite 32; 206.467.7909;

Escolar crudo
Anchovies & Olives

Escolar crudo from Anchovies & Olives; Andrea Coan
> Chef Kyl Haselbauer sets the bar high for Italian-inspired seafood, especially with Escolar, avocado purée, lime, Fresno chili and olive oil. $15. Capitol Hill, 1550 15th Ave.; 206.838.8080;

Geoduck clam sashimi

> Get past the giggles at geoduck’s slightly inappropriate physique and you can appreciate it for what it is: a giant, delicious clam (here served as crudo dressed with yuzu kosho, white soy and cucumber). $17. Capitol Hill, 952 E Seneca St.; 206.323.5275;

Albacore ceviche

Manolin’s Albacore ceviche; Andrea Coan
> A smoky and very pretty take on ceviche: Chunks of fresh, chewy albacore take on crunch from fried quinoa plus fresh juicy grapefruit, cucumber slices and jalapeño. The smokiness is from a morita chile cream. Love. $13. Fremont, 3621 Stone Way N; 206.294.3331;

Ceviche de pescado
San Fernando Roasted Peruvian Chicken

> The real deal: Generous chunks of halibut benefit from a traditional Peruvian bath of Mexican lime, hot rocoto peppers, salt, pepper, garlic and slivered red onions. Sweet, giant Inca corn kernels and sweet potato balance out the tang. $17. Central District, 900 Rainier Ave. S; 206.331.3763;

Shoyu ahi
Super Six

> The Marination team’s foray into fine dining opens with four poke (rhymes with OK) preparations on the dinner menu, including a kicky kimchi wild shrimp ($12) and a salt-cured salmon ($12). The Shoyu ahi is a little small for $18, but the perfect marriage of sweet onion, sesame and macadamia nuts was worth it. Columbia City, 3714 S Hudson St.; 206.420.1201;

Poke bar
Metropolitan Market

> Met Market’s build-your-own poke bar features five cubed, raw fish salads, including a garlicky shrimp, ginger-laced squid, creamy Sriracha salmon, and—our fave—a simple yellowfin ahi with onion. $14.99/pound. Kirkland, Lower Queen Anne and Magnolia locations;

Poke rice bowl
Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max

Poke to the Max poke rice bowl from Sam Choy; Andrea Coan
> Kona-fresh poke tossed into nachos are certainly worth the wait, but if we make it to the front of this line, we’re ordering the king of poke’s classic preparation, with rice, seaweed salad and 5 ounces of fresh, chewy ahi. $12. Check for truck schedule in Bellevue and Seattle; or visit the new brick-and-mortar restaurant at 5300 Rainier Ave. S in Hillman City.

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