This is where you should be eating right now
While the Eater 38 is a resource that covers old standbys and neighborhood essentials across the city, it is not necessarily a chronicle of the “it” places of the moment. Thus, the Eater Heatmap, which changes every month to highlight where the food nerds are flocking.
The Heatmap is a reflection of the buzziest restaurants and places so new, they might not be on the collective radar yet. It’s the answer to the eternal question, “Where should I eat right now?” This month, the answer includes handmade soba newcomer Kamonegi. Departing the list are Sweet Bumpas and Beer Star.
1 Opus Co.
With chef Mark Schroeder’s pedigree (former chef de cuisine at Trove), the restaurant’s simple but elegant open design, and the menu’s tight and thoughtful selection centered around the local bounty prepared on a massive wood-fired grill, Opus Co. feels like it has the potential to be Phinney’s first destination restaurant. It’s the kind of experience diners seek out from anywhere in the city, rather than simply a quiet neighborhood favorite. The mere twenty seats fill up quickly once the doors open, especially with a low-priced chef’s tasting menu.
2 Rachel’s Ginger Beer
Rachel Marshall’s U Village ginger beer outpost hits all the familiar notes that drive crowds wild — a range of flavors, soft-serve floats, cocktails on tap, boozy frozen slushies, growlers to go. But instead of the successful Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches available in Capitol Hill, this location has Nashville hot chicken-inspired options from West Seattle’s masterful Ma’ono. Well played.
Seattle, WA 98105
At a lovely new restaurant with white walls, light wood, and Japanese flourishes like a sake barrel, chef-owner Mutsuko Soma’s handmade buckwheat soba noodles shine cold or hot in combinations like the signature kamonegi, with duck tsukune, leek, and mitsuba. Delicate seasonal tempura preparations, like beef tongue oden, eggplant natto, and parsley root, and snacks like tsukemono and chawanmushi round out the concise menu.
Seattle, WA 98103
Born in Kyoto in 1971 as a small food stall, Tentenyu is now the longest-operating ramen restaurant in the city’s Ichijoji area, famous thanks to the impressive density of noodle shops. And now the renowned chain is pleasing palates on Capitol Hill with, with its shoyu-and-chicken-broth ramen as well as rice bowls, chicken karaage, vegetarian ramen, and more. The space is worthy of excellent food, too, with light flooding in from tall windows, highlighting dark wooden tables, a brick wall with a giant logo, and an open kitchen with an industrial look offset by green walls.
Seattle, WA 98122
It’s hard to imagine a new Capitol Hill ramen restaurant flying under the radar, but Betsutenjin managed it briefly, despite being part of a Hong Kong chain. Now, though, word is out, and the tiny 22-seat space is harder to squeeze into. The restaurant serves just two types of ramen, pork gyoza, and lobster salad; the house specialty, creamy Hakata-style ramen made with pork bones and served with slices of fatty pork chashu, is tops.
Seattle, WA 98122
This addition to the Plum restaurant family serves Stevie Wonder-approved vegan salads that owner Makini Howell developed when she was Wonder’s personal chef during his Songs in the Key of Life tour. For $9 each, diners can grab combinations like the World Traveler, with romaine, coriander-rubbed tofu, ginger sesame edamame, tangerine, Napa cabbage, red peppers, toasted turmeric pepitas, and sesame ginger dressing.
Seattle, WA 98122
7 Lan Hue
Huy Tat, connected to popular Huy Ky Mi Gia and the temporarily closed Salted Sea, opened America’s first outpost of his family’s Saigon-based Lan Hue banh mi shop, making everything in house from baguettes to mayo to bologna. Even better, the restaurant manages this rare feat while still keeping prices impressively low. In the pastry case, pate chaud and banh bao are filled with meats or sweets, while Vietnamese coffee and sugarcane juice top the drink menu.
Seattle, WA 98104
8 Dough Zone Dumpling House
The Eastside’s dreamiest dumpling chain, delicious and wallet-friendly Dough Zone Dumpling House, finally made the leap across Lake Washington, opening its first and most modern-looking restaurant in Seattle’s International District to great anticipation. Menu highlights include the xiao long bao, or soup dumplings — just as good as the famous ones at Din Tai Fung, but typically without the two-hour wait — as well as their cousins, crispy-yet-juicy pan-fried pork buns, listed on the menu as “Q-Bao.”
Seattle, WA 98104
9 Poke Wai
Owner Jeriel Calamayan won Godfather of Poke Sam Choy’s first annual Seattle Poke Contest in 2015, so it’s no surprise his own ode to the Hawaiian specialty is already a hit in Tukwila. Spam musubi, “pokenari” (deep-fried tofu pockets stuffed with poke, a play on inari sushi), soba noodles, and house drinks like green tea lychee round out the main attraction of marinated raw fish, which gets added flavor and texture from toppings like sinigang puffed rice or the limited-time togarashi Hawaiian chips.
Tukwila, WA 98188
10 The Lakehouse
When James Beard Award-winning chef Jason Wilson opens a swank new restaurant and cocktail bar (Civility and Unrest) in Bellevue, diners take notice. Elegant dishes of grilled octopus or wild mushrooms set the Northwest scene. Despite the name, The Lakehouse is less rustic, more modern — white, black, glossy, angular — with virtually every item, from the menu cover to the knives, custom-made.
Bellevue, WA 98004