Vegetarian Platter from Meskel Photo Jessica Huang/SagaCity Media

World of Flavor

You don’t have to travel the planet to get a taste of international cuisines—you just have to eat at enough of Seattle’s diverse restaurants.

Tajarin from Spinasse Photo Suzi Pratt

Long before Americans became obsessed with sushi, and decades before banh mi was ubiquitous, Seattle was a dining city with global roots. In fact, one of the city’s oldest restaurants is Japanese stalwart Maneki (304 Sixth Ave S) in the Chinatown-International District, a James Beard Foundation America’s Classic dating to 1904. To get a whirlwind food tour around the world without leaving Seattle, read on.


While Mani’s Kitchen (12327 Roosevelt Way NE) gives top billing to Indian dishes, owner Mani Chhetri’s background—fleeing first Bhutan then Nepal as a refugee years before settling in quiet Pinehurst—means the Himalayan specialties are the real stars. For example, taste one of Bhutan’s most popular dishes in ema datchi, which literally translates as “chili cheese.”


From the intense flavors of Goa to the vegetarian thalis of Gujarat, romantic restaurant Nirmal’s (106 Occidental Ave), highlights cuisines from India’s 29 states in Pioneer Square.


Because of how many Italian coal miners clustered in Rainier Valley in the early 1900s, the area was once known as “Garlic Gulch.” For an indelible taste of Northern Italy on Capitol Hill, check out Spinasse (1531 14th Ave). A steaming bowl of tajarin—eggy pasta made fresh, cut whisper-thin, and tossed in a rich sauce of butter and sage—is a sheer delight.

Roast Pork Sandwich from Un Bien Photo Jessica Huang/SagaCity Media


Sip rich Turkish coffee at Fremont’s all-day Café Turko (750 N 34th St) and eat a spread of Istanbul-style scrambled eggs with feta and olives, lamb pide, eggplant moussaka, and mezze platters teetering under the weight of dolmas, muhammara, and kefir cheese.

The Caribbean

For a taste of Jamaica’s famous chicken tradition, seek out Jerk Shack (2510 First Ave) in Belltown. You’ll also find Puerto Rican specialties like mofongo at Ballard’s La Isla (2320 NW Market St) and hearty roast pork sandwiches with a cult-like following at Un Bien (7302 ½ 15th Ave NW).


Vegetarian Platter from Meskel Photo Jessica Huang/SagaCity Media


It’s easy to feel at home at Meskel (2605 E Cherry St) in the Central District, and not just because the dining room is on the main floor of a remodeled Craftsman house. The service is warm and welcoming, and the vegetarian platter—a massive, spongy injera bread topped with no fewer than six flavorful piles of tender grains and vegetables—satisfies completely.


Chef Emme Ribeiro Collins turned Seattle’s first Brazilian restaurant—formerly owned by her parents—into stylish Alcove (5628 University Way NE). Large tables foster conversation over shared petiscos (similar to tapas) like seafood-filled moqueca stew.


Capitol Hill’s Kedai Makan (1802 Bellevue Ave) offers a rare taste of Malaysian cuisine, like chili pan mee, an intensely flavored flat-noodle dish with ground pork and sambal chili.

Pork adobada tacos with grilled pineapple from Tacos Chukis Photo Suzi Pratt


For Oaxacan gems, like mole negro and tamales, visit Ballard’s homey La Carta de Oaxaca (5431 Ballard Ave NW). Just steps away, Asadero’s (5405 Leary Ave NW) meats are grilled Sinaloan-style. Tacos Chukis (various locations) is the place to go for street tacos reminiscent of Tijuana, topped with pork adobada and grilled pineapple slices.


For Northern Thai food like som tum and fermented pork ribs, find Capitol Hill’s Soi (1400 10th Ave). Lovers of spicy Thai curry should consider Chinatown-International District favorite Thai Curry Simple (406 Fifth Ave).


Bright eatery Dong Thap Noodles (303 12th Ave S), in the Chinatown-International District, makes fresh noodles daily, from wide, chewy pho noodles to thin vermicelli. Floating in a steaming bowl of fragrant pho or spicy bun bo hue, they’re a textural marvel.

Ube cheesecake from Hood Famous Bakeshop Photo Hood Famous Bakeshop


Make a reservation at Hillman City’s Archipelago (5607 Rainier Ave S) for an unforgettable dining experience showcasing Filipino cuisine, from pandesal to lumpia, via exacting Modernist techniques. It’s all filtered through a strict Pacific Northwest lens, meaning no rice or soy in the kitchen.

Stock up on Filipino-flavored desserts like purple ube cheesecake, sweet-tart calamansi bars, and polvorón shortbread dipped in single-origin chocolate at Ballard’s Hood Famous Bakeshop (2325 ½ NW Market St).

Piroshki from Piroshki Cafe and Bakery Photo Jessica Huang/SagaCity

Eastern Europe & Russia

Classic dishes like beef golumpkis, borsch, and pelmeni dumplings abound at Capitol Hill’s bright Dacha Diner (1416 E Olive Way). Piroshki Cafe and Bakery (1219 Madison St) on First Hill is the place to go for meat- or vegetable-filled piroshki and pastries like vatrushka, cherry strudel, and honey walnut ketha cookies.


Scandinavians staked a claim to Ballard during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s. After visiting the National Nordic Museum, fuel up at Freya Cafe (2655 NW Market St) with Danish-style smorrebrod topped with smoked salmon, partake in a smorgasbord with Finnish lappi and Norwegian Jarlsberg cheeses, or throw back a bracing shot of aquavit.


If you’re looking for creamy hummus like you’d find in Israel, Aviv Hummus Bar (107 15th Ave E) on Capitol Hill has you covered: Warm bowls of golden goodness are topped with shawarma-spiced ground beef, tender chickpeas, crunchy falafel balls, or earthy mushrooms.

South Africa

Koku (1417 Queen Anne Ave N) sells mainly umami-rich Japanese rice bowls and sandwiches, but the cafe honors a previous tenant of this space, Cederberg Tea House, by keeping a couple of its hard-to-find South African specialties on the menu: herbal rooibos-based drinks like red latte and red espresso and a spongy dessert called malva pudding.


Xi’an noodles Photo Suzi Pratt

Tokyo native Shiro Kashiba opened Seattle’s first dedicated sushi counter in 1970, earning fans from the get-go for his elegant, simple approach to sushi. Head to his Sushi Kashiba (86 Pine St, Ste 1) in Pike Place Market for a chance to sit in one of 14 seats in front of the master.

Warm up at small Capitol Hill eatery Ooink Ramen (1416 Harvard Ave); silky pork soup overflows with wonderfully toothsome noodles and chunks of tender pork chashu.


Immigrants have been coming to Seattle since the Denny Party in 1851; by the 1860s, Chinese laborers were working Northwest mines and fish canneries. Check out Xi’an Noodles (5259 University Way NE) for chili oil-flecked sauce and cumin-spiked lamb clinging beautifully to burly biang biang noodles. They taste great alongside rou jia mo, a flavor-packed burger stuffed into flatbread.


University District’s Korean Tofu House (4141 Brooklyn Ave NE) serves bubbling hot pots with silky tofu and an egg cracked into the bowl by your server—plus all the banchan fixings on the side, from fresh bean sprouts and pungent kimchi to bite-sized morsels of braised potato and green onion pancake. For Korean fusion, try Wagyu tri tip or Geoduck fried rice at Fremont’s Joule (3506 Stone Way N).

Singular Specialists

1. Soba Noodles

At Kamonegi (1054 39th St) in Fremont, chef Mutsuko Soma kneads buckwheat dough into sublime soba noodles served cold or hot, a skill she learned from her Japanese grandmother.

2. Hum Bao Buns

Pike Place Market’s Mee Sum Pastry (1526 Pike Pl) is laser-focused on pillowy hum bao buns—grab at least two, filled with curry beef and barbecue pork.

3. Kitfo

The main draw at Ahadu (1508 NE 117th St) in Pinehurst is kitfo, a minced beef marinated in spices and typically served raw. This Ethiopian restaurant has a butcher in the back, which means the kitfo is often chopped to order.

4. Banh Mi

Everything—from the crusty bread to the creamy pâté—is made on-site at the Chinatown-International District’s Lan Hue (900 S Jackson St), a banh mi expert with many different sandwich combinations for just $4 each.

5. Japanese Curry

South Lake Union’s Hurry Curry of Tokyo (825 Harrison St) is Seattle’s only dedicated Japanese curry restaurant; the rich, sweet-sour sauce is served with everything from chicken katsu to braised beef.

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