Anthony Bourdain in Seattle:
33 Spots Where Tony Ate

Ask people what they know about Seattle, and you’ll get a huge range of answers: the birthplace of Grunge. That place where it always rains. One of the best cities in the USA… okay, maybe that one is just among Seattleites who know and love the city.

While he started out with some skepticism, I think Anthony Bourdain found the parts of Seattle that he came to love – perhaps it was begrudgingly, for a die-hard New Yorker to admit there was somewhere else that was pretty darn cool too.

Anthony Bourdain in Seattle Hero

Anthony Bourdain visited Seattle three times, to film season 3 (episode 3, “Pacific Northwest”) of No Reservations, season 2 (episode 10) of The Layover, and season 10 (episode 7) of Parts Unknown; these were his only three on-screen visits to the Emerald City.

If you’re planning a trip to Seattle and are curious about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Seattle, you’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find a list of all the places he ate while filming his shows, as well as where else he recommended (as he often did in The Layover). The best part is that the vast majority of places Tony visited in the past almost 20 years are still open today!

Want to watch the episodes where Anthony Bourdain visits Seattle?
The No Reservations “Pacific Northwest” episode is available on Amazon and Hulu; The Layover episode is available on Amazon; and the Parts Unknown episode is available on Amazon and Apple TV.

In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla, Duwamish, Suquamish, sdukʷalbixʷ (Snoqualmie), Muckleshoot, Stillaguamish peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

Where Anthony Bourdain Ate in Seattle

Before jumping into the list of places Tony Bourdain ate in Seattle, I thought it might be helpful to use a map to show where all of the places are – as you can see, he ate in a variety of neighborhoods around the city.

Anthony Bourdain in Seattle Map
Click to interact with the map.

Using that map to get oriented, now let’s go through each of the places Tony ate, during each of his visits to film there.

No Reservations (2006)

Tony’s first trip to Seattle takes place in the early 2000s, and he sticks to the classics during the half-episode he devoted to the city (it was shared with Portland for the “Pacific Northwest” episode). If you know Seattle as well as I do, these spots won’t surprise you at all.

Pike Place Market

Perhaps it was due to being so early in his career, but Bourdain couldn’t help but begin his Seattle visit at Pike Place Market, the epicenter of tourism and good food in the city.

While I’ve been to Pike Place many times, I’ve never done it the way he does: he samples and tastes his way through the market, sampling fresh oysters, fruit, and other produce as offered by the merchants.

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

Anthony Bourdain in Seattle - Beecher's Cheese

While it’s only across the street from Pike Place Market, I want to call out Beecher’s Handmade Cheese separately as it’s well worth seeking out while you’re in the area. During his visit, Tony learns about cheesemaking and samples some of Beecher’s Flagship cheese, which is absolutely as delicious as it looks on-screen.

(If you want another look, I visited Beecher’s during a recent trip to Seattle and put together a reel about it on the @eat.like.bourdain Instagram account!)

Piroshky Piroshky

For another food option in the Pike Place area, Tony highly recommends Piroshky Piroshky; this is one of several beloved Russian-inspired restaurants in the Seattle area.

Here, he tries the sausage piroshki for which the restaurant originally gained its fame; when he asks for vodka to pair with it, he’s temporarily disappointed to learn they don’t have any – but is enthusiastic about discovering they offer borscht instead.

Salumi

Anthony Bourdain in Seattle - Salumi

Bourdain’s final recommendation in Seattle – from this first trip, anyway – is Salumi, which is owned and operated by Armandino Batali, father of the famous chef Mario Batali. (Say what you will about their relationship later; at this point, Tony was a fan of Mario and his dad.)

Here, he has a real treat: a family-style meal in the back of the restaurant, which is famous for sandwiches and regularly sells out during the lunch rush. Tony doesn’t have a sandwich though: his menu includes fresh handmade gnocchi, pig’s ears salad, braised oxtail, plates of salumi in different forms, and lavender-stuffed suckling pig.

The Layover (2012)

Bourdain returns to Seattle as part of his whirlwind show, The Layover. As we now know from Tom Vitale’s In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain, this show was truly as fast-paced as it suggested on-screen; Tony and crew would spend just a few days shooting and eating like crazy in each city that the show visited. In Seattle, he packed in a lot!

Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie

Seattle has some great dinner spots, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the first and perhaps most important meal of the day – there are lots of great breakfast and brunch spots too.

At Seatown Seabar & Rotisserie, Tony tucks into a fried egg sandwich – the add-on Dungeness crab is a must – paired with a Bloody Mary. This isn’t a breakfast for those on a diet or faint of heart (literally!).

Melrose Market

Anthony Bourdain in Seattle - Cheese Plate

Next, Bourdain heads up onto Capitol Hill to sample the food in that part of the city; as he shares in later episodes about Seattle, Cap Hill has transformed from a gay-friendly artists’ enclave to a hipster haven in the past few decades – and that includes a rise in the artisan food producers and restaurants that he only half-veils a disdain for (meanwhile heartily enjoying the products they make!).

In any case, at Cap Hill’s Melrose Market, he samples some food from different vendors, including mortadella at Rain Shadow Meats and several kinds of cheese (Dinah’s cheese, sheep’s milk, blue cheese, goat chevre chocolate truffle, and more) at The Calf & Kid.

(Funnily enough, my husband and I almost got married in the wedding venue on the ground floor of Melrose Market!)

The Walrus & The Carpenter

Anthony Bourdain in Seattle - Oysters

Chef Renee Erikson’s Ballard restaurant has long been known as one of the best places for seafood in Seattle; it’s no surprise that Bourdain eats here too, and is accompanied by another famous Seattle-area chef, Tom Douglas (who owns Seatown, coincidentally), no less.

The pair of chefs dig into the best that The Walrus & The Carpenter offers: two different half-dozens of local oysters, fried oysters with cilantro aioli, coon stripe prawn crudo, and grilled clams with bacon, garlic, and cannellini beans. These are classic items on the menu, but you can’t go wrong by trying the fresh, daily specials either.

Canlis

If you ask any Seattlite about the best – read: fanciest – place to eat in Seattle, Canlis almost always makes the list (if not tops it!). Joined by chefs Renee Erikson and Matt Dillon, Tony tucks in at this restaurant, which is the only one in Seattle that requires a dinner jacket.

Starting off with a Pappy Van Winkle 20-year (you whiskey fans get how impressive it is that he found some at all), Tony and the chefs try a series of incredible dishes: artichoke tortellini, steak tartare, and Dungeness crab cake to start, followed by entrees of muscovy duck with orange chutney, fennel, and cippolini onion, Gleeson Ranch ribeye, and Iberico pork cheek.

Rob Roy

I’ve actually been to Rob Roy, early in my Seattle days – it’s one place I’d recommend for a great Manhattan, if that’s your style.

Turns out it’s a favorite among chefs too, as Bourdain has a digestif with chefs Erikson and Dillon after their Canlis dinner. Tony and Matt enjoy green chartreuse on the rocks, which sounds delicious to me but Tony said was too “herbaceous.”

Rainier BBQ

Anthony Bourdain in Seattle - Sour Seafood Soup

Seattle is also a great destination for ethnic cuisine, which is surprisingly under-featured in Bourdain’s visits despite his love of Southeast Asian and Asian cuisines. In any case, he does take time during this trip to visit Rainier BBQ (called “Rainier Restaurant & BBQ” on Google) down in the Rainier Valley neighborhood south of the city. This area has come up a lot in the decade since his visit – but the restaurant remains today.

There, Tony digs into “Vietnamese home cooking,” which the restaurant is famous for. This includes Ang Choi – water spinach with sauteed beef and spicy pineapple anchovy sauce –, Bo Xao La Lot – beef sauteed with wild betel leaf and lemongrass –, deep-fried quail, and sour seafood soup, the restaurant’s specialty.

Shorty’s

Bourdain’s final stop in Seattle was for one last drink, at Shorty’s in Belltown (a neighborhood he frequented during this trip and which is one of my favorites after living there for a year during my time in Seattle. He tucks into a pint of Manny’s Pale Ale – a Seattle fave from local craft brewery Georgetown Brewing – before heading to the airport.

Other Seattle Recommendations from The Layover

As usual in episodes of The Layover, Tony makes some recommendations for places he doesn’t actually visit. I wanted to include those here in case you’re hungry for more, so to speak.

  • Nook – Located in the U-District near the University of Washington, this “temple of biscuit worship” is a great alternative for breakfast away from the crowds of Pike Place and Capitol Hill.
  • La Pichet – An old-school French bistro-style restaurant that serves classics like chicken liver tourine, cured beef tongue, and grilled sardines does sound like a place Bourdain would love.
  • Salty’s on Alki – Over in West Seattle, this is a great spot for a bite and drink with a view; Tony recommends the Jimi Hendrix cocktail
  • Sitka & Spruce (CLOSED) – Unfortunately, this Capitol Hill restaurant is now closed, but was known for “high-quality, produce-driven dishes.”
  • Quinn’s Pub – Also on Cap Hill, this spot is known for burgers, crispy pork belly and pig’s ears, and a special wild boar sloppy joe topped with a duck egg – all available with local beer, of course.
  • 5 Point Cafe – A Seattle institution near the Seattle Center/Space Needle, this watering hole is known for its early morning happy hour.
  • Unicorn – Another Capitol Hill spot, this colorful bar is great for a night out – and is an example of the neighborhood’s gay friendliness and quirkiness.
  • Comet Dog – Among many places where you can find the “Seattle dog” with cream cheese and onions, an essential late-night bite (or after one of the sports games down in the stadium are, SODO).
  • Tilikum Place Cafe – If you’re looking for a local breakfast specialty, this spot serves the Dutch Baby with raspberries, cheese, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon.
  • Paseo – Once a one-stop shop, now a chain of restaurants, this place is known for Caribbean sandwiches; the go-to is the Cuban roast with aioli, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, caramelized onions, and lettuce.
  • Little Uncle (CLOSED) – For another Asian option (in addition to the one Tony ate at), you can find traditional Thai street food including Khao Soi curry noodles and Pad Krapow Mu.
  • Sun Liquor – Seattle knows how to drink; this “tiki bar meets opium den” on Cap Hill offers craft cocktails.
  • Canon – For spirits straight up, you can find one of the best whiskey lists on the West Coast in this award-winning bar.
  • Anthony’s or Ivar’s Fish Bar (both CLOSED) – Both at the Seatac airport, these are good spots for fresh fish, clam chowder, and local-fave salmon chowder. (Ivar’s has other locations in Seattle after losing their spot at the airport back in 2019; I’m “disappointed” too, Ivar’s!)

Parts Unknown

By his third on-screen visit to Seattle, Tony’s a pro: he skips the tourist hot spots in favor of local watering holes and incredible food spots that he’s heard about or knows. The end result is a quirky but clearly loving homage to Seattle’s past and present as seen through Bourdain’s eyes.

Pacific Inn Pub

Anthony Bourdain in Seattle - Fish & Chips

One of many themes that Tony explores during the episode is the rise of the tech industry in Seattle; even between his No Reservations visit and this one, Seattle changed tremendously. After hearing about a hate-anthem dedicated to the “tech boys” of the city, he sits down at Pacific Inn Pub with two members of the Seattle band, The Gods Themselves.

Over fish and chips, they talk about how Seattle is changing – and the foundations (including the music industry) that never change.

Revel

Sticking on the tech theme, Bourdain next sits down with John Cook and Todd Bishop of Geek Wire, a Seattle publication with its finger on the pulse of the tech industry.

The trio meets at Revel, which focuses on modern interpretations of Korean foods and flavors. Some of the dishes they try include cilantro noodles, yu choy, and thinly sliced flatiron steak; Kimchi pancakes with braised pork belly and bean sprouts; marinated short rib rice bowl with house marinated sambal daikon kimchi; and short rib dumplings with pickled shallot and scallion salad.

Emerald Haze

If you’ve seen the Seattle episode of Parts Unknown, you know it opens with a bit of a shocking scene: Tony smoking weed on the balcony of his hotel on the waterfront. While he makes it clear – weed is legal in Seattle – it’s still surprising that CNN was totally on board with these scenes, as well the ones where he goes shopping for weed.

There are literally hundreds of weed shops in Seattle, but Bourdain visits Emerald Haze in Renton (a neighboring city to Seattle. He looks at a few different options before settling on “Alaskan Thunderf*ck” from Hollingsworth Cannabis Company.

Mamnoon

Anthony Bourdain in Seattle - Dolmas

Speaking of the Hollingsworths, Tony next meets up with Joy and Raft Hollingsworth for a meal at Mamnoon in Belltown (the neighborhood next to downtown). There they talk about weed culture and the weed industry in Washington while enjoying the restaurant’s signature Turkish and Syrian cuisine. Dishes they try include baharat spiced beef and lamb kebabs, fried cauliflower with tahini, and sweet and sour rice in grape leaves.

Modernist Cuisine

I lived in Seattle at the time when Modernist Cuisine was at its peak: much like the work of the Adria brothers at El Bulli and projects since, this style of cooking is all about deconstructing the food and then playing around with its chemical nature to discover new aspects of it.

Bourdain has long admired and been intrigued by this approach even if it wasn’t exactly his style, and sat down at The Cooking Lab with founder Nathan Myhrvold to try a number of bread courses – including bread in a jar that puffs up after the jar is opened. (This spun out into a whole Modernist Bread movement.)

Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar

Anthony Bourdain in Seattle - Oysters

One of the best-known names in a food landscape with many great seafood and shellfish producers, Taylor Shellfish is beloved by locals and visitors alike; it was nice to see their Pioneer Square location get a little love when Tony sat down with different members of the Seattle media, government, and food landscape to talk about the city, its future, and its food – of course.

They ate fresh oysters, flash-fried smelt with sambal aioli, and Dungeness crab with pickled ginger sauce, all of which are great options you can still try today.

North Star Diner & Shanghai Room

Anthony Bourdain in Seattle - Grilled Cheese

I’m going to be honest: I had to look up where this one is as I’ve never heard of it; turns out North Star Diner & Shanghai Room is just in a part of the Greenwood neighborhood in North Seattle where I’ve never been!

In any case, Bourdain meets up with a retired homicide detective to try and unpack the strangely high incidence of serial killers in the Pacific Northwest – trust Tony to have a very macabre inquiry as part of his reason for visiting! The two discuss the topic over crab bacon grilled cheese sandwiches with beer.

Ocho

If you’ve ever watched Parts Unknown, you know who artist Mark Lanegan is – even if you can’t name his work. Lanegan is the artist who made the PU theme song, and many other songs Tony loves (including some on his Spotify playlist).

After watching Lanegan perform, the two sit down at Ocho in Ballard for a meal; they talk about friends and artists they admire over (unnamed) plates of the restaurant’s signature tapas dishes.

Seattle Food Tours to Try

While I know you have plenty of options based on everywhere Tony ate during his time in Seattle, you might still be hungry or want to explore more. Food tours are a great way to do that, and here are a few I recommend that allow you to sample the city more deeply:

Where to Stay in Seattle

While I don’t normally include places to stay, Bourdain made a few specific recommendations during his Layover episode that I know are good and worth including if you’re planning a trip.

First up, Tony always stayed at The Edgewater which is right on the waterfront in downtown Seattle; this is a great option if you can swing it in your budget – but it’s definitely not budget-friendly! Rooms start from $276/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com

He also recommended Inn at the Market which is another great option right in the heart of Pike Place Market (also downtown). You can sometimes find better deals here, especially if you’re visiting during the off-season. Rooms start from $250/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com

Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Seattle? Let me know in the comments below!

Skyline Chili Review - 3-Way

Valerie is a travel writer currently based in Cleveland, but her favorite destinations are Alaska, London, and Jordan – only one of which Bourdain ever visited! You can find her writing on Lonely Planet, Forbes, and her travel blog, Valerie & Valise.

6 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *