Now that you count yourself among those living in the University District of Seattle, it’s time to start acting like a local. That means frequenting the many top-notch eateries and bars in the neighborhood. Whether you’re looking for a quick (gourmet) sandwich over your lunch break or a local craft beer and dinner, you can find it at one of these University District restaurants. They’re some of the best, so put them on the top of your to-do list.
A Food Truck with Flair: Cheese Wizards
True, Cheese Wizards isn’t technically a restaurant. It doesn’t technically have open hours and its dining room isn’t technically indoors. But none of these technicalities keep locals from lining up at the food truck on a daily basis. Just check Cheese Wizard’s location on Facebook or Twitter and head there for one of the inventive grilled cheese sandwiches, such as the Voldemort-adella with a mix of cream cheese and Provolone, plus mortadella ham, Genoa salami, and olive muffaletta spread stuffed inside of locally baked bread. Don’t forget to order a side of tomato basil soup, as it wins rave reviews.
Kombucha on Tap: Chaco Canyon Organic Café
Canyon Organic Café doesn’t believe that “organic and friendly when possible” is good enough. Its chefs always enlist locally raised, organic, and sustainable ingredients. If a specific local ingredient isn’t in the budget, chefs rework the dish to avoid it instead of resorting to a low-quality stand-in. Their menu happens to be entirely vegan, too, and largely raw. Locals highly recommend the lentil burger and the Hippie Bowl. The latter boasts layers of quinoa, sprouts, and carrots with baked tofu, sesame seeds, and a garlic tahini sauce drizzled on top. Wash down your meal with kombucha, beer, or hard cider from the tap.
Serving Steamed Dumplings Across the Globe: Din Tai Fung
From Orange County to Indonesia, from Hong Kong to Costa Mesa, Din Tai Fun has locations scattered all across the globe. What began as a modest cooking oil shop back in the late ‘50s has blossomed into a far-stretching dumpling and noodle house, and University District boasts its own location. The pork dumplings snag a slew of glowing reviews on Yelp, as do the string beans prepared simply with garlic. However, the expansive menu contains everything from fried rice to beef noodle soup.
Brewing Beers for 20 Years: Ram Restaurant and Brewery
The first Ram Restaurant and Brewery debuted more than four decades ago, but the restaurant only became a brewery in 1995. By then, there were locations scattered all around the country, but they’d yet to foray into brewing beers in-house. Today, you can grab a growler of house-brewed beer to go at the location near you or sit down for a pint and a juicy burger. Locals highly recommend ordering the garlicky Vampire fries on the side.
A New Type of Toppings Bar: Portage Bay Café
It’s not unusual to find a salsa bar at a Mexican restaurant or a candy station at a fro-yo shop, but the toppings bar at Portage Bay Café is in a league of its own. The restaurant’s founders designed it specifically for brunch, so instead of salsa or candy, it’s packed with fixings for your pancakes or French toast. Toss some fresh fruit on top or drizzle a bit of syrup over almonds. You can even add a dash of brown sugar for some extra sweetness. If you order the bananas foster French toast, however, you probably won’t need to.