Famous Seattle Foods You Need To Try Before You Die

Seattle is well-known for its vibrant music scene, rainy weather, and the iconic Space Needle. The Pacific Northwest enclave is also celebrated for its diverse and delicious culinary offerings, which stand testament to the city's bountiful surroundings and the innovative spirit of its international population. Indeed, Seattle's unique food scene has been shaped by its proximity to an abundance of fresh produce and seafood as well as the rich multicultural influences that permeate the city.

It's no secret that many cities in the U.S. have at least one signature dish. Buffalo Wings are associated with Buffalo, New York; Key Lime Pie is a delectable claim to fame for Key West, Florida; and Cincinnati, Ohio, is famed for its unique Cincinnati Chili. Not to be left out, Seattle also has its lineup of famous dishes. In fact, the city in Washington abounds with foods that distinctly reflect the region's identity and resources. Here are just a few of the city's most iconic dishes.

Geoduck sashimi

Pronounced "gooey ducks," geoducks are burrowing saltwater clams that are native to the coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest, including Puget Sound and Hood Canal. The weird-looking creatures consist of a mantle — the meaty body inside the shell — and a protruding siphon. The mollusks have a firm yet delicate texture and a sweet flavor, which makes them ideal for eating raw sashimi style. They are also sometimes stir fried or cooked in hot pots.

With Seattle being in such proximity to freshly caught geoducks, it's little wonder that this is one of the best places in the U.S. to try the long-necked delicacy. Typically, it's the geoduck's crunchier siphon that's sliced into sashimi while the creature's softer, meatier body is used in cooking. Just like other raw seafood, geoduck sashimi is served with a range of condiments such as soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger.

While geoducks were usually served only at Seattle's Japanese and Chinese restaurants in the 1980s, times have changed significantly since then. As people become more adventurous with their food choices, geoducks have made their way onto the menus of a broader range of restaurants. One of the best spots in Seattle to sample geoduck sashimi is at Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar. The team behind this establishment has a long history of farming shellfish that dates back to the 1890s. Those not ready for raw geoduck can try the mollusk sautéed with shiitake mushroom and asparagus at the Sushi Kashiba restaurant.

Seattle Dog

Found at food stands across the city, the Seattle Dog is hard to miss. In fact, if you spend any time in the Emerald City, you're likely to stumble upon this Seattle institution. At its simplest, the fast food staple consists of a bun stuffed with a beef frankfurter and topped with cream cheese and grilled onions. There are also other Seattle dog toppings, as exemplified by the city's popular snack stand, Monster Dogs, which offers jalapenos, sauerkraut, and Sriracha sauce, among others.

While the origins of the Seattle Dog have been disputed, it's widely believed that the culinary trend was started by Hadley Long who sold frankfurter and cream cheese bagels to late-night revelers in Pioneer Square in the late 1980s. According to Long, it wasn't long before his creation became a gastronomic sensation. "People would come up to me with a list of top 10 things to do in Seattle and say, 'You're one of them! Meet Hadley and go get a bagel dog," he told Seattle Magazine.


The Pacific Northwest is known for its fresh seafood, and Seattle is no exception. Given that Washington is among the nation's leaders in oyster harvesting, it's only natural that these bivalves have become a regional favorite, frequently savored raw on the half-shell. Therefore, a trip to one of the city's renowned oyster bars is an absolute must for any shellfish aficionado visiting Seattle.

While oyster bar menus vary, all offer a cornucopia of marine treasures from local farms including the area's only native oyster, the copper-flavored Olympia. The other four oyster types farmed in the area include the ubiquitous Pacific oyster, the delectably sweet Kumamoto, the earthy-flavored Virginica, and the flavorful European flat. Apart from their focus on these mollusks, many oyster bars also serve an array of other seafood options, such as fish, crab, and lobster.

One of the best places to sample Seattle's oysters is at Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bars. With multiple locations across the city, the establishment offers a variety of local oyster types, letting you compare their textures and flavors. Another Seattle go-to spot for freshly shucked oysters is Elliott's Oyster House. Situated on Pier 56, this iconic restaurant has been delighting patrons since its establishment in 1975. Today, the restaurant offers a remarkable assortment of more than 25 different oyster varieties.


While pho is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Seattle, the popular Vietnamese soup has a huge following in the Emerald City. In fact, Seattle is known for some of the best pho in the U.S. Indeed, the hot broth with vegetables, meat, and noodles as well as a variety of herbs and spices makes for great comfort food during Seattle's cold and rainy winters.

Seattle's first pho restaurant, Pho Bac Sup Shop, dates back to 1982 when it opened in the city's Little Saigon neighborhood. Even after all these years, the restaurant is still run by the same family. Yenvy Pham, the daughter of Pho Bac Sup Shop's founder and its current co-owner, explained to Seattle Refined what makes the restaurant's soup so special. "We're all about hitting every flavor palate in your mouth. That's why [sic] I want, when people first taste [the pho], it hits all the notes in your mouth and you're just completely satisfied with what you're eating."

When it comes to generous portion sizes, one Seattle restaurant has elevated its pho to a whole new level. While the soup doesn't seem to appear on its standard menu, Dong Thap Noodles has been known to serve super-sized bowls of pho. Called the pho super bowl, the dish is made with three liters of broth, three pounds of meat, and three pounds of noodles. The savory concoction is served in 16-inch bowls and weighs 13 pounds.

Craft chocolate

Seattle is a paradise for chocolate enthusiasts. The Emerald City boasts a thriving community of artisanal chocolate makers who source their cocoa beans directly from farmers around the world. Better still, many of the city's chocolatiers are committed to fair trade practices, ensuring that cocoa bean farmers receive fair compensation for their products.

While most of today's chocolate action unfolds in downtown Seattle, near the bustling Pike Place Market, chocolate enthusiasts can also find delectable confectionery stops scattered throughout the city. One such gem is Indi Chocolate, renowned for its exquisite "small batch, single origin, dark chocolate" that comes in tantalizing varieties like crystallized ginger and dried cherries. The Pike Place Market chocolate shop also offers bean-to-bar chocolate-making classes for both adults and children. Seattle's other notable — and one of the first — chocolatiers is Fran's Chocolates. Launched by Fran Bigelow in 1982, the pioneering company has played a significant role in putting Seattle on the chocolate map with innovative creations such as salted caramels and truffles.

Pike Place Chowder

With two Seattle locations — one at Pike Place Market and the other at the Pacific Place Center — Pike Place Chowder is in a league of its own. In fact, the restaurant's creamy soup has been known to create queues of eager patrons, willing to wait for a taste of this exceptional culinary delight. Made daily in small batches, the flavorful range of soups abounds with premium 100% sustainable seafood, fresh veggies, milk and cream, and spot-on seasoning.

Pike Place Chowder is available in eight varieties, including the velvety smooth New England Clam Chowder with clams, bacon, cream, onions, and potatoes as well as the eatery's secret combination of herbs and spices. The restaurant's other offerings that make the most of the region's outstanding seafood include Seafood Bisque, Crab & Oyster Chowder, Smoked Salmon Chowder, and Seared Scallop Chowder. For those who can't make up their mind, the restaurant serves samplers of four or eight five-ounce chowders.

Despite complaining about long lines and limited seating, chowder enthusiasts have praised Pike Place Chowder's offerings. In fact, many TripAdvisor reviewers say that it's the best chowder they have ever tasted. Perhaps one satisfied customer, who tried the restaurant's sampler, sums the experience up best, saying, "Many kinds of chowder. Liked the clam chowder and scallop chowder the best. Small place and very busy! Lives up to the hype."

Dutch Baby

The Dutch Baby isn't what it seems. Contrary to its name, the indulgent breakfast treat doesn't hail from the Netherlands. Instead, the Dutch Baby is believed to have been created at the iconic Manca's Café in Seattle. According to an archived web page from the café in 2008, its proprietor, Victor Manca, invented the dish in the late 1800s — the name Dutch Baby was patented by the café in 1942.

The story goes that the mixture of flour, eggs, milk, and sugar topped with powdered sugar and fresh fruit was derived from a recipe for Deutsch apfelpfannkuchen, or German pancakes. The dish is believed to have gotten its name after one of Victor's daughters struggled to pronounce the word "Deutsch," instead calling the pancakes "Dutch."

Dutch Babies are deceptively similar to Yorkshire pudding. When The New York Times posted a photo of the Seattle treat on Twitter, some netizens were in an uproar, insisting that it was Yorkshire pudding. One Twitter user passionately exclaimed, "This is not a dessert! This is a thing of beauty that should be filled with beef and vegetables. Or sausage and mash. It is a Yorkshire pudding." While the two dishes do look similar, they have some key differences. Yorkshire pudding is savory, and Dutch Babies are sweet. In addition, Dutch Babies are usually served in a cast-iron skillet.

Triple coconut cream pie

One of Seattle's most renowned desserts, the triple coconut cream pie is the brainchild of restaurateur Tom Douglas. The celebrity chef first served the pie at his maiden restaurant in Seattle, the Dahlia Lounge, over 30 years ago. True to its name, this delightful treat boasts a trifecta of coconut goodness: shredded coconut in the crust, velvety coconut filling, and toasted coconut on top.

Over the years, the delectable dessert has garnered such immense popularity that it even caught the attention of former President Barack Obama, who couldn't resist requesting a slice during his visit to the city. And while the Dahlia Lounge has closed for business, the triple coconut cream pie lives on at Douglas' Dahlia Bakery and Serious Pie restaurants.

As reported by Seattle Pi, Douglas said that when the triple coconut cream pie was first introduced, it challenged the traditional expectations of a dessert at a fine dining restaurant. "People had this notion about what pie was, and no fine dining restaurant had pie on the menu. Pie was not cool enough for fine dining, and that's where I feel like we helped change the conversation," he revealed in an interview. Things have certainly changed since then, with the humble pie proving that it can shine in the realm of both casual and upscale dining.

Craft beer

While Washington State's craft breweries could be counted on one hand in the late 1980s, this number has since skyrocketed to over 400, according to Forbes. It looks like Seattle itself isn't doing too badly either. The city has established itself as a thriving hub for beer enthusiasts, with about 75 breweries. And this remarkable number has solidified the Emerald City's position as one of the top destinations for craft beer in the U.S.

Most of Seattle's breweries are open for tastings, providing an exciting opportunity for those exploring the city to sample a wide variety of artisanal brews. In fact, many Seattleites partake in beer crawls on the weekends, exploring the city's signature breweries such as Stoup Brewing and Lucky Envelope Brewing. One of the most popular — and oldest — craft breweries in the city is the Pike Brewing Company, which first opened for business in 1989 when the country's boutique beer scene was still in its infancy. Situated right next to the Pike Place Market, the cherished destination for beer enthusiasts serves a continually changing lineup of brews.


Since the term "teriyaki" stems from the Japanese words "teri" meaning "shine" and "yaki" meaning "grill," many are surprised to learn that the beloved sauce didn't actually originate in the Asian country. Instead of finding its roots in Japan, where the word refers to a grilling technique, teriyaki as we know it is said to have been developed by Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. They combined soy sauce with pineapple juice, resulting in a marinade that became the basis of the teriyaki that is now an integral part of Seattle's culinary culture.

The story of Seattle-style teriyaki starts with Toshi Kasahara, a Japanese immigrant who opened Toshi's Teriyaki, the city's first eatery that centered around the marinade, in 1976. It wasn't long before others followed suit, opening their own teriyaki restaurants across the city. According to Curiocity, however, it's Kasahara's take on the recipe that formed the basis of the teriyaki that's so popular in the Emerald City today.

As reported by KUOW radio, Kasahara's pioneering spirit of opening and selling teriyaki restaurants also played a significant role in shaping the unique flavor profile that defines Seattle-style teriyaki today. As more entrepreneurs, including those from diverse cultural backgrounds, ventured into the business of preparing and serving teriyaki, they blended their unique culinary traditions and techniques with Kasahara's vision of the sweet and tangy sauce.

Dick's Drive-In burgers

Given that Dick's Drive-In has been around since 1954, it's safe to assume that the majority of Seattle residents have likely tried its offerings at least once. Throughout its long-standing presence, the chain has earned a reputation for its no-nonsense burgers, crispy french fries, and satisfying milkshakes. Today, with nine outlets in Washington, Dick's Drive-In continues to hold a cherished spot in the hearts of many Seattleites, evoking a sense of nostalgia and hometown pride.

Dick's Drive-In doesn't just enjoy popularity among locals; it's also appreciated by out-of-towners for its convenience, tasty fare, and cultural significance. One such visitor, Charles Rogers, told Culture Trip that he made Dick's the first stop on his itinerary when visiting Seattle in 2012. "I knew it from the Sir Mix-a-Lot song, 'Posse on Broadway.' So of course I went to the one on Broadway. I ate there two or three times even though I was only in Seattle for less than a week." It's worth noting that while the song does mention eating at Dick's, its video clip was actually filmed at a venue called Stan's that only resembles Dick's, as reported in Rolling Stone.

Craft coffee

While Seattle is the birthplace of the coffee giant Starbucks, the Emerald City also teems with small roasters who contribute to its vibrant culture. Seattle's thriving community of independent coffee shops and micro-roasters prides itself on sourcing high-quality beans, roasting them with precision, and crafting unique flavor profiles. Whether it's a cozy neighborhood café or an artisanal coffee house, Seattle's coffee scene provides a haven for connoisseurs in search of a memorable brew.

Combining "atmosphere, art, and high-quality coffee," Zeitgeist Coffee in Pioneer Square is one of the best places in Seattle to indulge in exceptional beans and immerse oneself in Seattle's eclectic vibe. In keeping with the city's creative spirit, Zeitgeist also showcases a rotating lineup of works by local artists. For those looking to explore a wide range of coffee flavors from around the world, the C & P Coffee Company serves beans from far-flung locations such as Sumatra and Java in Indonesia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.