The Hit List: New Seattle Restaurants To Try Right Now guide image


The Hit List: New Seattle Restaurants To Try Right Now

We checked out these new restaurants and loved them.

When new restaurants open, we check them out. This means that we subject our stomachs and social lives to the good, the bad, and more often than not, the perfectly fine. And every once in a while, a new spot makes us feel like Vin Diesel at a tank top sale. When that happens, we add it here, to The Hit List. 

The Hit List is where you’ll find all of the best new restaurants in Seattle. As long as it opened within the past several months and we’re still talking about it, it’s on this guide. The latest addition might be a buzzy new omakase spot that slaps gold leaf on every piece of fish. Or it might be an under-the-radar lunch counter where a few dollars will get something wonderful and unexpected.

Keep tabs on the Hit List and you will always know just which new restaurants you should be eating at right now.

New to the Hit List (8/25): Darkalino's, Ben's Bread Co., Chebogz



Sometimes we just want to enjoy carbs and the sanctity of being alone without bearing witness to a restaurant-wide PDA contest. At this enthusiastically casual all-day Italian spot in Pioneer Square, the only romantic vibes are between us and a plate of penne all'amatriciana—despite their playlist of wedding dance floor bangers. Darkalino’s menu is loaded with small plates and focaccia sandwiches, but lean into the fresh pastas dressed in sauces like rich, meaty ragu or a burrata-topped pesto jazzed up with burst tomatoes and mint. And whatever you do, make sure there’s an order of chili oil-drizzled carrot tartare on your table. This spread of sweet pureed carrot served with nutty buckwheat crackers is such an outstanding snack that you may want to tell everyone you know, except your friends in relationships.

We’ll just come right out and say it—Ben's Bread Co. in Phinney Ridge is the best new bakery in Seattle. These pastries and loaves taste like they were engineered in a lab by deliriously hungry chemists. Their bread is crustier and fluffier than a senior poodle, and the blue corn pound cake slick with lemon glaze has a perfect crumb that would spook judges of The Great British Bake-Off. Tangy sourdough english muffins are springy with a tender crackle, and taste even better as a breakfast sandwich stuffed with egg soufflé and crispy country ham that shatters into a million pork chips on each bite. If you aren’t the kind of person who sets an alarm on the weekends for a pastry run, now you are.

We used to follow this Filipino food truck around like a band groupie. But now, Chebogz is back as a permanent counter spot on Beacon Hill. They serve awesome Filipino plates that you should prioritize for a filling sit-down lunch or a “leave-work-two-hours-early-on-a-Friday” kind of meal. The space is filled with the smell of garlic and colorful homages to Filipino culture, like a proudly displayed flag, sungkâ, and intricately woven baskets and hats. But it’s the food you’re really here for. Their peppery pork sisig has a sizzle that could replace a white noise machine you turn on before bed, and a garlic aioli that comforts like a weighted blanket. Or, if menu-related FOMO takes hold, the Island Combo has a little taste of Chebogz’s greatest hits.

There are lots of great sandwiches around town, but not too many fancy sandwiches around town. At Layers, the sandwiches take themselves seriously—kind of like that one friend of yours who has a handlebar mustache. You'll find barbecue potato chips smushed onto tuna salad, mortadella on a dutch crunch roll, and duck confit buddying up with fried eggs. On the side, things are just as serious, like green goddess-drenched fried fingerlings that momentarily steal the spotlight from the between-bread stuff. It doesn’t get much better than a lazy weekday lunch at this busy Green Lake counter.

As if the folks at Wero weren't doing enough to bring incredible Korean food to Ballard, they’ve taken it a step further with Bapshim. This build-your-own-bowl spot located in Wero’s back room is a new lunch staple that we can’t get enough of. There’s no indoor seating, but it’s perfect for a midday meal between meetings when you’re running on nothing but cold brew fumes. With hearty (and totally gluten-free) ingredients like purple rice, bulgogi ribeye, jammy mayak eggs, and crisp pickled radish, there are plenty of flavor and texture combinations to keep things interesting no matter what you choose, especially topped with sesame oil and gochugaru.

Pioneer Square is a lot of things, but it sure lacks in drinks-and-snacks patio potential. Tacolisto is here to change that. This taqueria in the Rail Spur building has strong drinks, tasty Mexican food, functional air conditioning, nooks for group hangs, and a flower-filled courtyard that turns a back alley into someone's summer garden party. While there’s a sizeable lineup of meat and vegetable-based tacos, seafood is what Tacolisto does best, so prioritize the mariscos and baja fish. The yellowfin tuna tostada is a clear standout—bright, crunchy, and drizzled with a nutty salsa macha that we'd like to douse on everything. Wash it all down with a vodka-spiked pineapple Jarrito or a frozen chamoy margarita.

The previously nondescript gravel patch next to Saint Bread is now a summer destination, thanks to a truck called Hinoki. Operating from 4-8pm, it’s particularly great for a lazy early dinner or evening cocktail hang. Sweet vermouth spritzes flow from the Heave Ho window and Japanese snacks fly out of the truck on newspaper-lined trays as people trickle in. And while it’s hard to get a view of the marina, sometimes simply being adjacent to water is good enough. Equipped with a fryer, wood-fired oven, and a Traeger, Hinoki means business. Among the lineup of small plates and bowls, they make exemplary chicken karaage, roasted maitakes that taste richer than filet mignon, and a bowl of bacon candy that you can just go ahead and bury us in.

There are casual lunch spots in Seattle, and there are special lunch spots in Seattle. Onibaba is both, which is a rarity in this town. The Japanese restaurant in the ID specializes in onigiri, and from the Tsunkshinbo team, we're not surprised to find that this place rules. The long list of fillings covers a lot of ground, like marinated egg, shrimp tempura with honey-laced mayo, and spicy cod roe. These rice parcels are so good that you could end up perfectly happy by flipping a coin to decide your order, but don’t leave it all to chance—the yaki onigiri is non-negotiable, whether grilled in sweet soy sauce until crackly and topped with a pat of butter or covered in gooey torched cheese. Rounding out an incredible spread here are Tsukushinbo’s iconic pan-seared gyoza, brothy salmon and roe ochazuke, and silky curry udon noodles.

Jerk Shack is a Caribbean staple in Belltown that we love for jerk chicken and rum punch. Jerk Shack Kitchen, their casual counter outpost in the Central District, is even better than the original location, and our new favorite takeout lunch. The space has just a few small dining tables, so it’s best suited for grabbing-and-going, or a quick midday meal with coworkers who you might want to see outside of Zoom. The fry bake sandwiches are a must-order, made with sweet bread that acts as a safety net for juicy pork, crunchy slaw, and hot sauces that don’t skimp on the garlic. Then they’re served with a side of jerk seasoning-dusted fries, because why not? If anything, the extra creamy jerk mac and cheese is worthy of putting “very very long dentist appointment” on your calendar and ditching work for.

This Belltown sports bar is a party full of happy people gnawing on chicken bones. Vindicktive's wings are truly exceptional, and you should pop in with a friend for a dozen with fries or plan an entire group outing around their Wednesday 99-cent special. Flavor options aren't as extensive as what you might find at (insert horrible wing chain here), but the lemon pepper has citrusy specks that cling to skin, the mango habanero doesn’t skimp on spice, and the buttery hot buffalo is exceptional.

Carnitas Mr. Porky is a place of pork worship—life-size pig statues in chef hats stand guard in the dining room, there's a decorative turf pasture with garden gnome piglets, and just in case it's not totally clear yet, they specialize in pork. This Burien Mexican counter spot serves the best carnitas in the Seattle metro area, where crackly edges and melty fat join forces like crime fighters in an NCIS and Hawaii Five-0 crossover episode. And while ordering the carnitas plate may be an obvious choice, the verde chilaquiles and salsa-drenched torta ahogada are just as great ways to up your daily pork intake.

Years from now when AI has produced Now That’s What I Call Music! Volume 200, we will still be coming back to this Thai spot in the International District. It’s perfect for a weeknight dinner, an alternative to sad stadium tenders after a game, or just anytime you want restorative khao mun gai. Start any meal with an order of the namesake pak mor, which could feasibly be called “how to have a great day.” The steamed rice flour wrap is so thin that when swaddled around ground chicken, it looks like these dumplings are having a wet t-shirt contest. And E-Jae Pak Mor wasn't just throwing adjectives around when they named the Super Tender Beef Stew—it is in fact super tender, with beef in a sweet soy sauce braised like pot roast and served with sticky rice to soak up the drippings.

The pizza masters behind Lupo opened this New York-style pizzeria. We love Lupo. And in this case, the transitive property doesn’t lie—Stevie’s Famous is excellent, too. This Burien slice shop is an instant classic, with a gooey cheese pie that could steal the thunder from a five-year-old’s birthday party. The crust here is crunchy sourdough, with topping combinations that are fun but take themselves seriously, like coppa with burrata and hot honey or crumbled fennel sausage and caramelized onion. Round out a super takeout meal with some arancini balls and blood orange creamsicle ice cream cups. The fun sticker-covered space is a bit tight for a group, but is ideal for a quick slice.

We try to avoid too many superlatives here, but this vegan Mexican counter in Pioneer Square would be voted “most likely to succeed” in a yearbook. Rojo's works perfectly for a leisurely sit-down lunch (or a quick one), and here you’ll find plant-based alternatives like al pastor, asada, chick’n, and carnitas packed inside hefty burritos, tortas, and tacos. The faux carne asada’s meaty texture holds up well when stuffed into a bolillo loaf with refried beans, vegetables, and dairy-free sour cream, but the al pastor is by far the best protein on the menu. Marinated in adobo, it has hints of sweet pineapple combined with pork-like salty charred bits from the grill. Meat or no meat, these are tacos that deserve more than just “HAGS” on their yearbook’s autograph page.

If you’re following along, you may be wondering what a Best New Restaurant Of 2022 is doing on the Hit List. Good question—it’s because this outstanding Spanish restaurant just launched brunch, and it’s a brunch to seek out. The mellow vibes of the space translate well during daylight over sticky orange cinnamon rolls with a glob of fino cream cheese frosting, or huevos benedicto, a fun take on eggs benedict. This majesty is complete with toasted pan de millo, chorizo, an onsen egg slow-cooked so perfectly it takes on the consistency of hot fudge, and a jamon bechamel that we’d like to drink from a pitcher. And if you’ve been a fan of the patatas bravas or the tortilla de patata from dinnertime, you can get that here, too. Best to save this one for a special occasion brunch—not a hungover one.

Ramen-Ya Teinei serves the city's best ramen, let alone South Lake Union's. After cutting sushi from the ramen-and-sushi menu in early 2023, the cozy restaurant's new focus is Japanese soup, and it clearly shows—from spicy tonkotsu broth that lights up with fiery chili oil to an exemplary duck-based version with perfect richness and salt content that shines when slurped by itself but also doesn't get in the way of chewy noodles and melty chasu. We love a glow-up, and Teinei nails it. On the side, there are tasty appetizers that include but are not limited to homemade pork or chicken gyoza complete with great pan-seared crust and a dipping sauce that brings those juicy morsels to life. Use Teinei for a solo meal, quiet date at the bar while sipping pineapple whisky sours and watching anime on TV, or pile in with coworkers at lunch on a chilly day. In other words, it's a winner for all occasions.

For a comforting Korean lunch in Pioneer Square, Ohsun is a great choice. The restaurant has a menu of hot entrees as well as a deli case full of banchan you could also build a meal around, like apple cucumber potato salad, spicy squid, or, our favorite, marinated eggs. The eggs are jammy in the middle and tamari-soaked on the outside, and are well worth including in a banchan-based trio—or added alongside gochujang-y bibimbap with bulgogi and greens. If it's blustery outside and only something soup-adjacent will do, order their spicy potato stew "Sara's Way," which essentially means the addition of rice and chili oil drizzled directly into the bowl. It's hard to imagine a better midday spot to slow down for an hour in the neighborhood. And heads-up, the entire menu is gluten-free.

The Green Lake Spud (not to be confused with Alki Spud, which is owned by totally different people) has been a fish and chips institution in Seattle since 1940. And after a nearly-three-year hiatus, they're back with an interior—and branding—remodel. You can still expect breaded cod so juicy and tangy it's like eating a mozzarella stick, hand-cut potatoes fried fresh without so much as a lick of grease, relish-y tartar sauce, and some of the greatest onion rings in town. Pair it all with a big pickle or glass of natural wine—or, more realistically, both. For a quick lakeside seafood lunch, you can't get much better than a trip to Spud's rebirth.

This Greenwood bar has a loose photography theme, as evidenced by both the name and the lambrusco-based “Pisco & Paparazzi” cocktail that comes with a polaroid of yourself. And yes, it is one dark room that’s perfect for a moody drink or two. But we also think that you should eat a full dinner here—the menu is made up of Korean small plates that rule, from kimchi-spiked pimento cheese with ritz crackers to a pork and shrimp bánh mì-inspired sandwich on a milk bun that’s going to need its own publicist when people figure out how good it is. This neighborhood was missing an effortlessly cool cocktail spot like this, and hopefully, so were you. Use it for a low-stakes date or friend catch-up when you’d like the place to be nearly-packed but not noisy.

At Itsumono, you'll find a relaxed space that has everything from Iron Chef to New Girl playing on TV. You'll also find a short lineup of unlikely mash-ups like tonkatsu tikka masala, loco moco scotch eggs, cheesy dungeness crab arancini doria, and miso soup risotto. This gastropub is mukokuseki-themed, which translates literally to "without nationality," and makes sense why there's biang biang noodle bolognese and scallion pancake birria quesadillas on the same menu. Use this place for a first date alongside drinks and snacks, and if things go well, order more food. If things go extremely well, invite us to your wedding.

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photo credit: Suzi Pratt

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