North American eateries

Ratings are on a scale of 0 to 24. The scale used to be 0 to 10, so restaurants written about before 2012 may have only had their ratings adjusted by formula and not by hand (hence all the 2s, 5s, 8s, etc.) The scale works as follows:

24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16
15 14 13 12 11 10
9 8 7 6 5 4
3 2 1

An asymmetrical 0 to 24 scale may not be intuitive, I realize. But as a rule of thumb: a double-digit score means I liked it, while a single-digit score... less so. Also, as you might expect, scores from many years ago may not be very reliable, so do check the dates.

Washington state

Home of Seattle town and the famous Space Needle tower.

Click on the column titles to sort the entries!

Name Cuisine Address Last update Score
ZainaMediterraneanCherry near 1st, Seattle2013-01-1619
How good is Zaina? Let me put it this way: I deliberately booked my last trip home from Victoria so that I would have a three-hour layover in Seattle, allowing me to rush to the Link light rail, take the 45-minute ride into town, order the cauliflower sandwich, wolf it down as I hurried back to the station, ride another 45 minutes back to the airport, and still make it through security in time to make my flight. And it was SO WORTH IT. Nor is the cauliflower an exception: the falafel and the eggplant are just as good, and those pillowy-soft pitas… seriously, on the trip north I was sure I was setting myself up for a disappointment, and by the time I bought my return ticket I was thanking my past self for having come up with such a brilliant idea.
Beecher'sCheese-centric cafetwo locations, Seattle area2013-01-1614
This place has locations in Pike Place and in New York City, but I'm just writing about the cafe in the airport, where I got a French toast bread pudding on the way north and a southwestern macaroni and cheese on the way south. Both were very good.
Serious PiePizzaVirginia btw 3rd/4th, Seattle2011-06-0511
The half-size pizzas I got here the first time were basically crispy salt. Like, take a croissant, scoop out the inside, sprinkle on a lot of salt and some incidental toppings, bake until even crispier. The one I got on my second trip was significantly better — I'd even go so far as to say that it was really good, but it was also ludicrously expensive for what you get. It turns out that the full-size version is also a lot smaller than even your typical upscale pizza.
Araya's Vegetarian PlaceThaiNE 45th btw 11th/12th, Seattle2011-06-0414
When I lived in the Seattle area I ate here all the time. It wasn't the tastiest Thai food I'd ever had, but at the time it was the only place in the US serving true vegan Thai, without fish sauce and shrimp paste hidden in the "vegetarian" dishes. Years later I returned to find that it'd moved into a bigger and swankier space — and, shockingly, the food had improved... and, uh, now it's back to where it was before. Undercooked vegetables, giant tofu blobs, etc. The tom kha is still pretty magnificent, though.
Cafe FloraVegetarianMadison & 29th, Seattle2011-06-0414
This is another place that was decent when I lived near Seattle and an order of magnitude better when I returned in '06 for a visit. I've been here several times since leaving town for various meals. For one of the brunches I got a sweet pepper sandwich, the peppers served on open-face toasted focaccia with cilantro bean paté, red onion and ricotta salata. It was good enough that I was able to contain my tears at the closure of the Green Cat. The hoppin' John fritters are quite good, and while I wasn't a huge fan of the French dip I once got for dinner, the black bean burger is great: pineapple and cayenne aïoli might sound weird on a burger but it's awesome. Big ups to the potato bun, too. Unfortunately, as with Araya's, it seems to have gone downhill again. On one visit, neither my artichoke croquettes nor Lizzie's nettle ravioli had much to recommend them, and on another, I got some southwestern eggs with a side of potatoes and when my plate arrived it looked really kind of sad. So I have to retract my green rating. Hélas.
Dilettante Mocha CafeDessertlocal chain, Seattle2011-06-0411
I wanted to get some dessert with Elizabeth late and night, and this place was both open until 1 a.m. and had a huge selection of cakes and sundaes and things. Perfect! As it turned out, my German chocolate cake was kind of dry, so I can't recommend it too highly, but props just for existing.
Chile Pepper RestaurantMexicanN 45th near Interlake, Seattle2011-06-0314
This restaurant, run out of a converted house by a small family, is pretty unusual. The speciality is the chiles relleños, but they're not like any chiles relleños I've had elsewhere: they're made with ancho chiles and topped with some interesting sauces. They also come with, of all things, lentil soup. Anyway, a little offbeat, but recommended!
Wild GingerEast Asian3rd & Union, Seattle2011-06-0314
"Fake, Americanized Asian food for the tourists!" charge the critics. Hey, maybe. But I guess I have to take that as a recommendation, because normally I really dislike East Asian food, and I think Wild Ginger is pretty darn good. The tomato and tofu entree here was the first tofu dish I ever enjoyed, and the Sichuan eggplant is also top-notch. So you all can keep ordering octopus heads off the secret Chinese menu at your favorite hole in the wall at the back of an alley somewhere and I'll come here.
the Crumpet ShopCrumpets1st & Pike, Seattle2011-05-258
For years I've heard raves about this place, which specializes in crumpets with different toppings. Maybe I have to get a fancier topping to see the reason for such wild enthusiasm, but I ordered a crumpet with Nutella and it was... a crumpet with some Nutella on it. And...?
Garam MasalaIndianUniversity btw 45th/47th, Seattle2010-06-195
Apparently this place has a big following in Seattle. All I can say is that if Shalimar in Fremont (that's Fremont, California, not Fremont the Seattle neighborhood) opened a branch across the street, this place would lose that following in about five seconds.
Noodle BoatThaiGilman near 7th, Issaquah2009-07-248
Points for being a Thai restaurant that recognizes that fish are not vegetables — the menu makes a specific point that everything can be made vegetarian and that this means there will be no fish sauce. And points for the service — the waitress had helpful suggestions about which noodle dish would best complement the curry dishes, etc. However, the food isn't up to the standard set by Araya's, so even if I still lived in Issaquah I'd just go there.
Le PanierBakeryPike & Stewart, Seattle2008-08-0511
I wasn't a huge fan of the raspberry croissant, overfilled with jam, but I very much liked the "sablé" cookies, especially the one with chocolate chips and hazelnuts.
Sweet AdditionDessertNW Gilman near 224th, Issaquah2008-08-0411
The desserts here are not necessarily the most delicious concoctions I've ever encountered — a lot of them are so unsubtle as to be clumsy, like the peanut butter pie whose main recommendation is that each slice is a blob of peanut butter filling the size of your head — but it's hard to complain about a place that offers dozens upon dozens of cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, you name it.
Tutta BellaPizzalocal chain, Seattle2008-08-0411
At the end of the blog post that recommended Via Tribunali was a comment saying Tutta Bella is better. It's not, but it's fine, and I appreciated that I was able to get a pizza with peppers, which for some reason is a rarity at high-end pizzerias.
Via TribunaliPizzalocal chain, Seattle2008-08-0314
Very good! This place makes a great Neapolitan-style pizza on a delicious soft crust. We tried both the primavera, topped with a world of arugula, and the more conventional funghi, which I'd probably ditch in favor of a margherita next time. Biggest drawback: few vegetarian selections.
CarmelitaVegetarianN Greenwood btw 73rd/74th, Seattle2008-08-018
The food I got was pretty good: the mascarpone polenta cake was tasty if unsubtle, I liked the banana tart I had for dessert, and I'd have to admit that even the corn beignets were pretty good once I got over the disappointment that they tasted more like frying than like corn. But Elizabeth's stuff was not so great: the ricotta cakes actually were just big ol' hunks of cheese, and the mushroom risotto was quite bad, topped with underdone vegetables that tasted like chlorophyll. Worst of all was the price: $100 for two? We had a much better meal at Wild Ginger for 1/3 the price!

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