Our Instagram followers know our dining and lifestyle editor, Chelsea Lin, for the weekly live Q&A sessions where she takes reader questions about eating out in Seattle. Her knowledge of local restaurants is truly impressive -- take advantage of her expertise by making note of the tips below.
Have a question for Chelsea? Submit here.
Reader: Any bakeries making Portugese egg tarts?
CL: These delicate little custard pastries are so easy to screw up and so perfect when done well… I really like the version at 85 Degrees C, a Taiwanese bakery chain that now has multiple locations throughout the greater Seattle area.
Best tres-leches cake around?
Cubes Baking Co. is best known for making square-shaped cupcakes and cakes, but the thing they do best, in my opinion, is the tres leches, which they have in different flavors like horchata as well. It’s also available by the slice at New Seasons market. If you’re near White Center, you can also try the tres leches at Salvadorean Bakery, which is really great, too.
Best birthday dinner in Seattle?
Assuming you’re looking to gather a crowd, RockCreek is one of my favorite spots for a birthday dinner, if you can reserve the sweet upstairs private room that seats about 12. Restaurants that are notoriously difficult to get into, like JuneBaby and Homer, also take reservations for groups bigger than about 6, so if you’re planning far enough in advance, birthdays are a great time to experience those awesome restaurants.
Any recommendations for downtown Kirkland?
I just love Kathakali, which is one of the area’s best Indian restaurants and located just a short drive from downtown Kirkland. Isarn Thai Soul Kitchen is excellent—I’ve only been to the Lynnwood location, but they have a spot in downtown Kirkland as well. And Trellis, at the Heathman Hotel, actually has a really great happy hour.
Who makes the best hot wings in Seattle?
We have so many great options for wings, but most of those are of the sweet-and-savory Asian variety. Virtually all the casual Korean eateries, particularly in the U District and north, have a decent option. But if you’re looking for more traditional buffalo-style wings, try Nate’s, which has both great wings and waffles.
Best places for tandoori chicken?
Tandoori chicken is a staple on almost every menu, but as I’m sure you’ve noticed, some are much better than others. Check out Nirmal’s in Pioneer Square, where the tandoori chicken is a whole Cornish game hen grilled in the clay oven. I really like the food at Bengal Tiger, too, and they have a very flavorful tandoori chicken also.
What are some of your favorite dog friendly restaurants?
This question pops up again and again… The bottom line is that there aren’t many that aren’t more bars/breweries than restaurants, because of health codes. Places like Chuck’s Hop Shop, Fiddler’s Inn, Portage Bay Café and Barking Dog Alehouse are all great options, but all of those are patios, which are slightly less appealing this time of year.
Best place to order takeout/Uber Eats?
A little over a year ago, Jess Thomson and I did a comprehensive look at the best takeout options in the city—read it here. But since then, a few really recommendable options have opened; I regularly order delivery or takeout from Fremont Bowl, for example, because it’s so hard to get a seat there.
Best place for pad thai near Greenlake area?
I live not far from there, and I think it’s worth an excursion for something like pad thai… I like the one they make at Thaiku in Greenwood and also Pop Pop Thai Street Food up near Shoreline—both places where the pad thai sauce has that good tamarind flavor and isn't so sweet like some places.
Where’s the best tiramisu?
I’ve had great tiramisu at Tavolata, and I think you can find it at Rione XII and Cortina as well. For a take-out option, try Modern, a tiny Japanese restaurant and bakery in Phinney Ridge. They don’t always have it, but when they do, it’s really good.
Best dairy/gluten-free everyday restaurant?
There’s a place called Lucky Santo that just opened in Ballard, and though I haven’t been yet, I’m really excited about it. The menu is entirely gluten-free, and largely free of dairy, soy, sugar, etc.; it’s vegetarian-friendly, too.
Best congee in Seattle?
I love Congeez, which is a little stand inside the Uwajimaya food court. I love their shredded chicken porridge, which is comforting and super gingery and great when you have a cold (and even when you don’t).
Where can I find the best Mexican/Latin brunch spot?
For huge plates of Mexican-style brunch, check out Senor Moose in Ballard. It’s a classic for good reason. I always get the chilaquiles, but they have an extensive menu of egg dishes (and otherwise).
Where can I find Japanese cheesecake in Seattle?
I can recommend two places: Modern Japanese on Phinney carries a wide assortment of Japanese-style sweets and cakes, and they regularly have cheesecake as one of the by-the-slice options. Also, R&M Dessert Bar in Capitol Hill specializes in more American- and European-style tarts and cakes, but they’ve started making fluffy Japanese cheesecakes as well.
Great cocktails near Fremont/Wallingford?
If you haven’t been to Union Saloon yet, you should check it out—it’s a really cozy space with great cocktails and really good food. Plus, the house cocktails are mostly under $10, and that counts for something these days.
Best wine night spot with the girls?
Vif, which is my favorite little all-day café in the city, is now open until 9 on Thursday and Friday nights, and they have a wonderful assortment of natural wines in particular. Otherwise, I can’t get enough of Bottlehouse in Madrona—it’s just the most welcoming, wonderful wine bar to spend a rainy evening.
Any kaiseki in town?
Yes! Wa’z offers two options for the traditional multi-course Japanese meal (not sushi!), and I also recommend Adana, which has set menus of varying lengths and also a la carte options.
Best places to study with good food and coffee?
I love the KEXP gathering space and La Marzocco café—it’s just the best place to hang out for awhile and listen to good music and drink great coffee, but there’s not a lot in the way of food. Mr. West is another favorite, and they dohave really good food and coffee, though I recommend going in off peak hours for your best chance at getting a seat.
Where are the best places to eat in Greenwood?
Two of my very favorite restaurants in the city are actually in Greenwood: Opus Co. and FlintCreek. Both are wonderful dinner spots. For more casual lunches, I really like Luna Azul, Coyle’s Bakeshop and Valhalla Sandwiches. I’m just sad Naked City isn’t open any longer.
Favorite fried rice? Bonus if it delivers!
I actually prefer Thai fried rice to Chinese, and Little Uncle makes a really great version with Dungeness crab. And while I don’t think they deliver, I also like Pop Pop Thai Street Food’s fried rice and you can definitely get that delivered to your door (I have, many times).