I grew up in Kirkland and remember days when dining in the city wasn’t so exciting. There was the King’s Table Buffet off 85th, Burgermaster, plenty of chain restaurants, and an ever-rotating cast of restaurants along the waterfront. Behind cities like Seattle or even Bellevue, Kirkland wasn’t much of a dining destination.
However, times are changing and today Kirkland is home to a number of fantastic restaurants. So, whether you’re pulling a boat up to the marina, live in the city, or are planning a visit, it pays to know the best restaurants in the city. Here are the 15 best restaurants in Kirkland.
The Best Restaurants in Kirkland, Washington
The team at Seattle Travel has eaten at every major restaurant in Kirkland. Our favorite 15 restaurants are found below:
- Cafe Juanita
- Bottle & Bull
- Lynn’s Bistro
- BeachHouse bar + grill
- Serious Pie
- Restaurant Paradiso
- Anthony’s HomePort
1. Cafe Juanita
Any list of the best restaurants in Kirkland wouldn’t be complete without Cafe Juanita. Having opened back in 2000, the restaurant is an institution in Kirkland’s dining scene. The cuisine is mostly northern Italian, but you will find some influences mixed in. A recent menu included wagyu steak and Hokkaido sea urchin. While prices change, expect to pay around $200 for the full tasting menu experience.
Tasting menus are offered for a number of diets and include vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian menus. One recommendation if you’re a fan of wines: get the optional wine pairing. The staff is extremely knowledgeable and they’re selected to match the seasonal items on the menu.
Cafe Juanita is the most expensive restaurant on this list, but it’s also the best. It’s a wonderful restaurant for either celebrations or a date night to remember.
2. Bottle and Bull
Bottle and Bull is located near the marina on Lake Street. This is an area with heavy foot traffic, but one where restaurants seem to cycle through at an astounding pace. However, the owners of Bottle and Bull (who also own Feast, which will get to shortly) seem to have struck upon a recipe for success and staying power.
The menu won’t include any items you can’t pronounce. There are burgers, seafood dishes, pastas, and small plates. I’ve enjoyed their Penn Cove mussels and their steak frites is one of the best you’ll find in the area.
One note is that the bar is a highlight. It’s easy on the eyes with an aesthetic that takes you back to the late 19th century. If you’re a whisky drinker, they usually have an outstanding selection. The cocktails are also top-notch and not to be missed. Trust us when we say you’ll find something interesting from their long list of cocktail ideas.
If you’re looking for fantastic Italian in downtown Kirkland, our vote is to make a stop at Volterra. The restaurant offers a happy hour if you’re looking just to enjoy a wine and some light finger foods. However, the dinners are the real star of the show.
Entrees range from wild boar tenderloin with gorgonzola sauce to exceptional baked black cod and Dungeness crab ravioli. Whether you’re in the mood for exceptional pasta, standout entrees, or even lighter fare such as manilla clams, Volterra creates exceptional dishes full of flavor.
Sparrow is one of the newer entries on this list. The restaurant is located a stone’s throw away from Cafe Juanita in a nondescript building, but it takes its food very seriously. Sparrow’s menu has plenty of Italian fare (with a robust noodle section), but classifies itself as ‘American Contemporary.’
What does ‘American Contemporary’ mean? Well, in addition to pasta, you’ll find appetizers like spicy guacamole, spicy tuna tartare, and lamb quesa-birria. Entrees are a bit more what you’d expect with rib-eye steak, New York strip, and scallops. However, the restaurant mixes in some surprises like Guajillo chicken and Hawaiian swordfish as well.
Oto is far from fine dining, and is probably one of the bigger surprises on this list. In our review of the best sushi in Kirkland, our reviewer noted how Oto reminded them of sushi restaurants found in the suburbs of Japan.
So, if you’re expecting flashy decorations, Oto will probably not be a very good fit. The aesthetics of the restaurant are minimalistic. However, the restaurant combines exceptional fish quality with homestyle Japanese dishes like Oyakodon and Chirashi Sushi.
6. Lynn’s Bistro
We might as well call this the understated part of this list, because like Oto, Lynn’s Bistro isn’t winning over anyone who wants a trendy dinner. The restaurant is a single room with a few framed posters on the wall.
Sure, each table has white tablecloths, but this is nothing flashy. A quick look at their website should give you an idea of how this relatively spartan operation is run.
And yet, the food is delicious! The selection of steaks and other meat-heavy entrees is impressive, with filet, rib eye, pork tenderloin, rack of lamb, and seafood and chicken options as well. This restaurant is the opposite of “delicately plated” entrees, but everything is well cooked and high quality.
7. BeachHouse bar+grill
BeachHouse bar + grill sits between Carillon Point and downtown Kirkland. The building it sits in has housed a host of restaurants in recent decades, but my guess is BeachHouse is going to be the first restaurant to hang around for a while.
Why? Well, its food is delicious.
Entrees aren’t unpronounceable, this is very approachable food. There are burgers, salads, and entrees like fish & chips and tacos. However, BeachHouse also mixes in some surprises like paella, kung pao chicken, and its exceptional kalbi braised short rib. The short rib is bursting with flavor (the sriracha aioli packs a pleasant punch) and is without a doubt my favorite item on the menu.
There’s a nice bar area that’s great for getting a drink on happy hour, but there aren’t many spaces so you’ll want to show up early. In addition, there is outdoor seating that features an incredible view of Lake Washington and Seattle.
Como isn’t universally beloved. As of early 2023, the restaurant sported just 3.9 stars on Google. It appears spotty service is the main contention in many of these complaints.
Yet, when we surveyed friends and family, they had few (if any) bad things to say about Como’s service. So, despite the mixed rating, Como makes our list of best restaurants in Kirkland for a simple reason: its view is utterly fantastic and the food is on the better side of what you’ll find in the city.
Our recommendation if you’re not having a quick drink is to stick to pasta. The restaurant normally has a variety of risottos and will incorporates local ingredients. If you’re a fan of Dungeness crab, the risotto dish incorporating it is a must.
9. Serious Pie
Serious Pie brings the neighborhood of Totem Lake to our list. Totem Lake was long home to a struggling mall and wasn’t exactly a food destination (despite some local favorites like Cafe Veloce). However, the construction of The Village at Totem Lake has brought several dining spots like Serious Pie, Silverlake Ramen, and Stack 571 to the neighborhood.
Serious Pie gets our nod as the top spot to eat in Totem Lake. The pizzeria is from famed restauranteur Tom Douglass and also has locations in Ballard and downtown Seattle. Pizza at Serious Pie is made to order in a wood oven. The sausage and roasted pepper pizza is a crowd-pleaser, but other pies such as penn cove clams, pancetta, and chili are also very tasty.
10. Ristorante Paradiso
We promise, this will be the last Italian restaurant on the list. Ristorante Paradiso sits in a cluster of restaurants on Park Lane next to Cactus and Feast. It’s nondescript and easy to simply walk by when compared to its more chic neighbors.
Yet, not trying the food here would be a mistake, because it’s outstanding. The “special sauce” behind Ristorante Paradisio is its owner and head chef Fabrizio Loi, who was to Italy’s National Culinary College and brought his expertise to Kirkland.
If we had to choose between Paradiso and Volterra, we’d lean toward Volterra. However, both have their place in Kirkland’s downtown dining scene with Paradiso being a more traditional sit-down experience. You can take a peek at their menu to get a sense of the entrees being served.
Feast comes from the same team that opened Bottle and Bull. Whereas Bottle & Bull has aesthetics taking you back to the late 19th century, Feast is a bit more “chic,” but still has a very comfortable bar area that is wonderful to sit at while enjoying a cocktail.
The menu is more French than Bottle and Bull, but the restaurants do share a few dishes in common. Recommended entrees include the duck cassoulet, raclette burger (one of the best burgers in the Seattle area), and the steak frites made with a tenderloin filet.
DERU is off the beaten path. While it’s just a short walk from downtown, this market sits sandwiched between a group of autobody repair shops. It’s not exactly a spot you’d expect to find incredible brunch and cakes.
And yet, DERU serves wonderful food. The star of the savory side is their brunches. You’ll find everything from scrambles to breakfast sandwiches, to pancakes, to fried chicken and gravy. After brunch hours (ending at 2 PM on weekends), DERU continues serving sweets, sandwiches, pizza, coffees, and teas. If you’re looking to have dinner at DERU, make sure to check their menu as options rotate depending on the night.
One final piece of advice, try a slice of the cake. Even if you just take it to go, it’s worth it.
13. Anthony’s HomePort
If you’re a long-time local of the Northwest, odds are you’ve enjoyed a celebratory dinner at Anthony’s. Today, the chain can be found as far away as Boise, but its Kirkland location is one of the originals and dates all the way back to 1975.
Anthony’s is all about seafood. You’ll find fried options such as cod ‘n chips, prawns tempura, and halibut ‘n chips. But the start of the show is an ever-changing list of fresh seafood caught from Northwest waters that include both fish and shellfish. If your group includes anyone who is picky about seafood, Anthony’s also has a small selection of steaks, cheeseburgers, and salads.
Today, you can find Cactus at some of the Seattle region’s most scenic places. There’s their restaurant on Alki Beach, at Madison Park, and near Kirkland’s waterfront. Their Kirkland location is one of our favorites as it sits on Park Lane in downtown. That makes it walkable to many other attractions if you’re stopping by for a quick drink or bite around happy hour.
You’ll find all your usual favorites (tacos, enchiladas, fajitas) at Cactus, but they’re all prepared with fresh ingredients in a restaurant that has a lively atmosphere. Our favorites include chipotle garlic prawns, chicken fried chicken (in delicious chorizo gravy), and butternut squash enchiladas.
If you drive down Market Street toward Juanita around dinner time, there’s a restaurant that always seems to have a line out the door. That’s Kathakali, a small Indian shop that closes out our list of the best restaurants in Kirkland.
Kathakali specializes in cuisine from the Indian state of Kerala, which hugs the Malabar Coast in South India. Keralan cuisine is rich in its flavors, and you’ll find a long list of entrees and starters in coconut milk with plenty of spices. If you’re looking for some dishes that highlight South Indian cooking try one of the Ishtoos (available in chicken or vegetable). My personal favorite is a dish like Munnar Mutton Kurma, which has mutton cubes in rich curry. While the meat may not always come out perfect, the flavors from the curry are always delicious.
One word of warning, wait times at Kathakali can become quite stretched on Fridays and Saturdays. This is a small restaurant with limited parking, so be aware that you may have to wait for a table.