Seattle Travel
What Food Is Seattle Known For? 15 Famous Seattle Foods

What Food Is Seattle Known For? 15 Famous Seattle Foods

Post created April 16, 2023

If you want great pizza, go to New York. Great shrimp and grits, then you should take a trip to Charleston. If you’re looking for Italian, Boston’s North End has some incredible bites.

But what famous foods is Seattle known for? The article below will dive deep into what food Seattle is known for. From Seattle dogs to flying salmon, you’ll know exactly the food you need to try in Seattle!

15 Famous Foods Seattle is Known For

Here’s a list of the famous foods Seattle is known for:

  1. Salmon
  2. Oysters
  3. Northwest Omakasse
  4. The Seattle Dog
  5. Dick’s Burgers
  6. Coffee
  7. Teriyaki
  8. Craft Beer
  9. Hom Bows
  10. Geoduck
  11. Mussels
  12. Cuban Sandwiches
  13. Mac and Cheese
  14. Crisp Beef Burrito
  15. Dungeness Crab

1. Salmon

Salmon Throw at Pike Place
Salmon throwing at Pike Place is one’s of Seattle’s most iconic activities (phudui/iStock Photo)
  • Best Place to Buy This Famous Food: Pike Place Fish Market

Flip on any football game in Seattle and you’re going to see some B-Roll on the broadcast of salmon being thrown around Pike Place Market. Being on the Pacific Coast, Seattle is in an enviable position when it comes to seafood in general.

The seafood that comes into the city is some of the best in the world. Our recommendation for the best fresh salmon would be the Pike Place Fish Market. That’s the location where you see the famous fish thrown on TV. If you want excellent salmon in restaurants we’d recommend Elliott’s Oyster House on the waterfront, or if you want a view of downtown Seattle you could try Salty’s. It’s an iconic Seattle restaurant that has some of the best views of the city you’ll find.

2. Oysters

Oyster Plate
Seattle is famous for its large and briny oysters (Plateresca/Shutterstock)
  • Best Place to Buy This Famous Food: Walrus and Carpenter

Seafood will be a common item on this list. That’s because Seattle is located on a sound that has dozens of narrow inlets that are ideal spots for cultivating shellfish and other delicious items from the sea.

Seattle oysters are robust. When I invite people from the East Coast, they’re often astonished at the size of the local oysters around Seattle. However, not all oyster joints in town are created equal (you have to be picky with seafood!), so here are a couple of our favorites:

  • Walrus and Carpenter: We named this one of our “Michelin Star-Worthy Restaurants in Seattle” for a reason. It’s awesome. Anthony Bourdain stopped by here and local chefs like Tom Douglass adore it. Simply put: it has excellent local seafood and oysters are a house specialty.
  • Taylor Shellfish Farms: If you’re feeling truly adventurous, you can visit Taylor Shellfish Farms about 60 miles north of Seattle. If you’re less adventurous you can visit their location in Pioneer Square. The Pioneer Square location is charming and historic, and you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best local oysters. It’s the perfect place to stop by before a Mariners or Seahawks game.

3. Northwest Omakasse

Seattle is home to legendary sushi chef Shiro Kashiba (Image Credit: SUSHI KASHIBA)

Being so close to the sea, it’s no surprise that Seattle has some excellent sushi. However, not all sushi joints in the city embrace “Northwest Ingredients” on an equal level.

The most iconic sushi chef in Seattle is Shiro Kashiba. He started with Shiro’s Sushi in Belltown, but today has an incredible restaurant in Pike Place Market named Sushi Kashiba which is one of the best sushi restaurants in the United States.

One thing that makes Sushi Kashiba stand out is that it has a heavy focus on northwest ingredients. The menu changes with available ingredients, but don’t be surprised if you find Northwest ingredients like geoduck on your plate.

Our recommendation for Northwest omakasse is Shiro’s, as it’s a cheaper option. However, if you’re going for the full Northwest sushi experience and are willing to spend more money, we recommend dining at Sushi Kashiba. Just keep in mind, there are no reservations for its chef’s counter so you’ll need to be prepared to line up a couple of hours before opening to assure your spot!

4. Seattle Dog

Seattle Dog
Homemade Seattle Style Hot Dog with Cream Cheese and Onions (bhofack2/iStock Photo)

It’s kind of weird that Seattle has its own style of hot dog, right? After all, you’d expect hot dogs to be associated with grittier cities, or from Midwest cities like Chicago.

And yet, the Seattle dog is one of Seattle’s most famous foods. The quintessential ingredient in a Seattle dog is cream cheese. You plunk down a hot dog, slather cream cheese across the sides of the buns, and then top it with grilled onions, extras like jalapenos, and you’ve got a Seattle dog.

As someone whose eaten approximately 50 Seattle dogs after leaving concerts in Capitol Hill and bars in Pioneer Square, I can attest that they’re delicious. If you’re looking to try a Seattle dog without hitting late-night street vendors, grab one before a Seattle Mariners game. Numerous vendors around the stadium serve them.

5. Dick’s Burgers

Dick's Drive In Wallingford
Dick’s is Seattle’s favorite fast food restaurant (Cascade Creatives/Shutterstock)

California has In-N-Out, Texas has Whataburger, and the Midwest has Culver’s.

Across the United States, you’ll find regional burger chains that are beloved icons. In Seattle, the favorite is Dick’s Drive-In. The menu at Dick’s is spartan. There are burgers (ranging from their double patty deluxe down to hamburgers), fries, and shakes.

And, that’s pretty much the entire menu! However, every burger at Dick’s is made with the highest-quality ingredients and they’re legitimately great. Our recommendation: if you’ve got a car, try the Wallingford location. It’s located close to the University of Washington and on a weekend night can be extremely entertaining!

6. Coffee

Starbucks Headquarters in Seattle
Starbucks was founded in Seattle and today its headquarters are south of downtown (Image Credit: Seattle Travel)

In the 1950s Seattle gained the nickname “Jet City” as Boeing drove the local economy. Today, the economy is driven by another force, and that’s coffee.

Starbucks’ first store opened in Seattle in 1971. Today, the coffee company has its headquarters in the city. If you go to a Mariners game south of downtown, you’ll likely see the iconic Mermaid logo adorning the top of one of the largest buildings in the area.

Beyond Starbucks, Seattle is rich in independent coffee shops. Redfin estimates that there’s one coffee shop per 843 people in the city! If you’re looking for some of the best, make sure to check out our full review of the best under-the-radar coffee shops in the city.

7. Teriyaki

Teriyaki is one of Seattle’s most iconic comfort foods. Across the city and suburbs, it’s hard to be far from teriyaki restaurants that are generally 1.) pretty affordable and 2.) deliver food that’s comforting and delicious.

The city’s teriyaki scene is thanks to one pioneer: Toshi Kasahara. In 1976, he opened the first teriyaki restaurant in the city. In the decades that followed, its popularity boomed. Today, there are hundreds of teriyaki restaurants across the region with many in strip malls that are local favorites for families across the area.

It’s safe to say, there are more teriyaki restaurants in Seattle than you’ll find in any other US city!

8. Craft Beer

Georgetown Brewing
Georgetown Brewing is one of Seattle’s best brewery tours (Image Credit: Seattle Travel)

At this point, it’s harder to find a city without craft beer than with it. Yet, Seattle was one of the early pioneers in the space. The first craft brewery in the area opened in 1982.

Early pioneers included Hale’s Ales, Pyramid Brewing, Red Hook, and Pike Brewing. Today, there’s been an incredible amount of turnover in local brewers. Many of the original local icons are gone, but new breweries continue taking their place. A personal favorite is heading down to Georgetown Brewing for a tour. Their Manny’s Pale Ale is delicious and an iconic Seattle beer.

9. Hom Bows

Mee Sum Bakery Hom Bow
The counter display of BBQ pork hom bows at Mee Sum (Image Credit: Seattle Travel)
  • Best Place to Buy This Famous Food: Me Sum Bakery

A hom bow is a roll that’s filled with meat and other fillings like vegetables. They’re popular across the Seattle area, but aren’t a food you’ll find in most major cities.

Hom bows can be steamed or baked, but my personal favorite is the baked BBQ pork bun. The place that makes the best BBQ hom bows in the area is definitely Mee Sum Pasty, which is a small storefront in Pike Place Market.

A stop by Mee Sum should be on any list of food to try at Pike Place Market. Each hom bow is cheap, and there are a variety of flavors beyond BBQ pork that include curry and vegetarian options like coconut.

10. Geoduck

Geoducks are one of the more bizarre-looking shellfish (bonchan/iStock Photo)

Look, if you take one look at geoducks and decide they’re not for you, I get it. They’re a bizarre-looking clam that happens to be abundant across Puget Sound waters. The most notable feature of the geoduck is its large “siphon” which protrudes from its shell and helps the geoduck burrow.

Geoducks are an extremely popular dish in Asia, but many restaurants in the Northwest are beginning to embrace them. You’ll often find them at both Shiro’s Sushi and Sushi Kashiba. The clam can be sliced as sashimi and packs an incredible amount of flavor. Another option to try geoducks is at seafood restaurants. Taylor Shellfish is an excellent option and normally keeps a variety of dishes with geoduck on its menu.

11. Mussels

Coupeville Waterfront
Coupeville is a small town on Whidbey Island (David_Johnson/iStock Photo)

Ready to take a little drive from Seattle? A short ferry ride from the city will take you to Whidbey Island, where you can stop in the town of Coupeville.

Coupeville isn’t a large town, but it’s the home of Penn Cove Shellfish, which farms some of the best-tasting mussels you’ll ever eat. Waterfront restaurants like Front Street Grill and Toby’s Tavern have sprung up to serve fresh mussels from Penn Cove as close to the source as possible.

Trust me when I say, the mussels from these restaurants are worth the trip. Beyond just incredible food, Coupeville is also a beautiful setting. You’ll be able to dine on fresh pots of mussels while staring at incredibly lush views of Camano Island and the snow-capped Cascade Mountains.

12. Cuban Sandwiches

Paseo in SoDo
A look at one of Paseo’s pork sandwiches (Image Credit: Seattle Travel)

Bet you didn’t expect Cuban sandwiches to make this list! After all, Seattle is as far away as you can get from Havana (or Miami) in the United States.

Yet, one of the quintessential restaurants in the city is named Paseo, which serves a number of delicious Caribbean sandwiches. In 2014, the store abruptly closed and declared bankruptcy in a move that shocked local diners. Paseo was purchased by new owners which led to a dispute where the original owners’ sons set up a competing restaurant named Un Bien.

The result of this rivalry? Simply put: there are a lot more great places to buy Cuban sandwiches around the city now! Un Bien maintains two locations (Ballard and Shilshole) while Paseo has locations in Fremont and near the stadiums in SoDo. It’s even expanded into the suburbs with a store in Issaquah.

13. Mac and Cheese

Once again, one of the iconic Seattle foods comes from Pike Place Market. Beecher’s Cheese opened in Pike Place Market in 2003 and was instantly a hit. The store produced incredibly rich cheese on-site and lines began forming around the corner to get a taste of their mac and cheese.

If you pop into Beecher’s original location in Pike Place, you’ll have the option of either getting it plain or with smoked salmon (it is Seattle after all). You can also get sandwiches with Beecher’s famous cheese, but the star of the show is trying the mac and cheese.

If you don’t get a chance to try Beecher’s in Pike Place and are flying out of town, Beecher’s Cafes are now open in both SeaTac Airport and Paine Field.

14. Crisp Beef Burrito

Crisp Beef Burrito
The crisp beef burrito at Taco Time (Image Credit: Taco Time)

The crisp beef burrito is weird. It comes from the local chain Taco Time Northwest, which is the same name as “Taco Times” you’ll see in other states but run by an entirely different company. The store serves Mexican food that’s heavily Americanized. There’s ranch on burritos, meals come with tater tots, and their iconic menu item is a deep-fried tortilla that’s filled with beef and cheddar cheese.

Like I said, it’s weird. And yet, it’s beloved. Taco Time Northwest sits alongside Dick’s Drive-In as Seattle’s favorite “native fast food” chain. If you head to a Taco Time around Seattle, you’ll find they take much more care with ingredients versus competing options like Taco Bell (or Taco Times operated outside Western Washington). Beyond the crisp beef burrito, other options I’m a fan of include the Baja fish tacos and the habanero soft burrito.

15. Dungeness Crab

Dungeness Crabs from Seattle
One of my best hauls of Dungeness crabs (Image Credit: Seattle Travel)
  • Best Place to Buy This Famous Food: Ray’s Boathouse

Every summer, I spend a week catching Dungeness crabs off Camano Island (see the picture above, you can catch an incredible amount of crabs in the waters near Seattle!). It’s the best week of the year.

If you’ve tried smaller crabs like the East Coast’s variety of blue crabs, you’re in for a real treat with local Dungeness crabs. The sections of meat from their legs are large and extremely flavorful. Best of all, many of Seattle’s best seafood restaurants have freshly caught Dungeness crab that’s as good as any you’ll taste in the world.

One recommendation, try some Dungeness crab itself as an entree. Then don’t skip on the inventive ways Dungeness is used in appetizers and side dishes at many of Seattle’s best restaurants. A well-prepared Dungeness crab dip is the perfect way to start off a seafood dinner in Seattle.

Ashleigh on ferry Island hopping.

Hi, I'm Ashleigh! Welcome to Seattle Travel, my little piece of beautiful PNW. This is home and I'm here to share all my experiences so visitors and locals alike can find the best experiences this part of the country has to offer. I started Seattle Travel in 2012 as a way to journal my experiences and over the years have been encouraged by family and friends to open up my adventures to everyone. I actively seek out the best food, activities, and day trips and give you a local perspective.  The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful areas in the world and my goal is to let you explore it to the fullest. 

More About Me

Share article

Copyright © 2023