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Seattle is famous for its many oyster bars and was named No. 5 on Zagat’s list of 26 Hottest Food Cities of 2016. There are plenty of delicious options here for you, but don’t forget your alcohol; Seattle is also well-known for its many breweries, distilleries, and wineries. Here are a few of our favorite bars and restaurants, but don’t stop here. There are gems to discover on every block.

Elliott’s Oyster House

Situated on the beautiful waterfront location of the historic Pier 56, Elliott’s opened in 1975. Originally called Elliott Bay Fish and Oyster Company, it has since earned a national reputation for having only the freshest and most delectable seafood. They pride themselves on serving salmon from wild, sustainable runs and working with local oyster farmers.

Exterior of Elliott's Oyster House in Seattle
Photo courtesy of Elliott’s

Whether you choose to dine inside or on their expansive patio, you’ll have a great view of Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains, and ferries and boats chugging on by. The patio seats approximately 150 guests and is one of the largest outdoor seating areas in the city.

But what makes Elliott’s truly special? The oysters, of course.

“We typically offer the largest selection in Seattle, and due to our volume, we move through them quickly,” says Tom Arthur, director of operations at Elliott’s. “We use the utmost care in handling them from delivery until they are served to our guests. The popularity of oysters has increasingly grown in the decade I’ve been at Elliott’s, and we see nothing that will slow this trend.”

While dining, you’ll be taken care of by a very knowledgeable and friendly staff that will know everything there is to know about each one of their 36 oysters offered. And if you get a chance, sit at the 21-foot oyster bar, where you can watch as the chefs expertly shuck the oysters to order.

If oysters aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other options. The Dungeness crab is a local favorite and a new favorite of ours. This is also an excellent place to try melt-in-your-mouth Alaskan king crab.

And, of course, you’re looking for a good drink, Elliott’s offers an excellent choice of microbrews, specialty cocktails, and regional and international wines that pair wonderfully with the oysters.

What we recommend: Dungeness crab, Alaskan king crab, all the oysters (all of them!)

Interior and bar of Elliott's Oyster House in Seattle
Photo by Mike Urban.

Elliott’s Oyster House
1201 Alaskan Way Pier 56
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 623-4340

oysters and gin at Elliott's

Oyster and Wine Dos and Don’ts

Oysters and wine go wonderfully together, but it’s very easy to choose the wrong pairing. We asked Tom Arthur, who participated and judged for six years on a tasting panel with oyster expert Jon Rowley, to give us some tips.

“A lot of wines go pretty well with oysters, but to find ones that mesh perfectly with them is another story,” Arthur says. “Sauvignon blanc and pinot gris tended to dominate every year, but there were always a few others that made their way into the top 10.”

These are the characteristics that Arthur looks for in a perfect pairing:

Low aromatics: You want a wine that is neutral in the nose. A lot of sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, and chenin blanc varieties fit this profile.

High acidity: Aromatic whites such as those mentioned above go well with oysters because a lot of them have enough acid to stand up to oysters. You need the acid in a wine to complement the oyster.

Don’ts: No red wines go well with oysters, ever. No sweet riesling, or gewürztraminer. You want little to no residual sugar. And especially no oak—it’s the enemy of oysters. Chardonnay, aged in oak barrels, masks the flavor of the oyster.

“You want to be able to taste both the oyster and the wine at the same time—that’s the goal,” Arthur says. “The taste profile of an oyster is typically very delicate, so you need a wine that doesn’t overpower it.”


Chef at Tulio's in Seattle
Photo Courtesy of Tulio

Settled right in the middle of bustling Fifth Avenue shopping and dining, this Italian restaurant is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and rightly so—it is a culinary treat.

“We’ve been through a lot up here on Fifth and Spring, and when many restaurants have come and gone, we have stood the test of time due to our true connections with our guests, as well as the consistency in both our food and service,” says executive chef Walter Pisano, who named the restaurant after his father and influence, John Tulio Pisano, a New York City restaurateur.

Pisano loves Italian food, and it shines through in his carefully crafted dishes. One of his favorites to make is the baccalà, dried and salted cod, with kumquat jam on buttery focaccia. The salty and sweet flavors explode with each bite, and after you finish you’ll want more. And then more.

Another popular dish is the agnolotti: homemade pasta squares stuffed with chive crema and wild mushrooms in the sauce. Or, if you visit around Christmas, you can try the Feast of the Seven Fishes, where starters such as tuna, mussels, baccalà, and raw oysters are followed by a main course of sautéed branzino, crab spaghetti, and scallop risotto. But whatever you choose, Tulio promises that you’re in for an amazing culinary experience.

Along with delicious Italian classics, Tulio also carries an extensive variety of Italian-inspired wine and spirits, like Pisano’s grappa collection. As soon as you enter the restaurant, your eyes will be drawn to the Grappa Wall, an impressive collection of more than 40 varietals of grappa, one of the largest in Seattle. Pisano made it his mission to seek out the Italian grape-based pomace brandy in order to educate and allow guests from all over the world to experience it. An excellent way to dive into grappa is to try the happy hour grappa flight that encompasses three different styles.

What we recommend: baccalà, agnolotti, grappa

1100 Fifth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 624-5500

Interior of Tulio's in Seattle
Photo Courtesy of Tulio

And because there are too many good restaurants, here are two more notable places to check out:

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Named by USA Today as one of the 10 best places to savor oysters on the half shell, The Walrus and the Carpenter is a charming and lively oyster bar, opened in 2010 by three friends who wanted to create a cozy and welcoming neighborhood spot. They offer icy-cold piles of oysters and other delicious seafood and garden plates, as well as local wines, beer, cider, and cocktails, mixed by expert and friendly bartenders.

What we recommend: Hama Hama oysters, maple bread pudding

The Walrus and the Carpenter
4743 Ballard Ave. NW
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 395-9227

Top Pot bacon and maple donut in Seattle

Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts and Coffee

Featured on both the Travel Channel and the Food Network, as well as sold in Starbucks between 2005 and 2011, this doughnut shop takes pride in elevating the humble doughnut to an art form. They are “hand-forged,” made the old-fashioned way, and are just what you need after a long day of adventuring.

What we recommend: bacon and maple doughnut

Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts and Coffee
2124 Fifth Ave.
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 728-1966

Want to know more about oysters? Check out our crash course, and check out Seattle’s music scene

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