Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle’s Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget
Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Pike Place Market: Fresh Seafood and Produce on the Cheap
No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to the iconic Pike Place Market. This sprawling farmers market and food lover's paradise first opened in 1907 and continues to be one of the best places in Seattle to sample fresh seafood, produce, and other local delicacies without emptying your wallet.
Walking through Pike Place feels like you've stepped back in time. The sights, sounds, and smells overwhelm the senses as you wind through the crowded aisles past fishmongers yelling out the day's catch, farmers arranging piles of just-picked apples and squash, and flower vendors filling the air with the scent of fresh bouquets.
One of the top attractions is the fish market located near the main entrance. It's pure chaos as fishmongers toss salmon back and forth to each other, much to the delight of gathered crowds. You can buy fresh fish right off the ice or watch the skilled filleting process. Prices depend on the variety and weight, but you can often score wild salmon for under $10 per pound.
Nearby are more food vendors and specialty shops selling anything from fresh-baked pastries to towering walls of spices from around the world. Sample the bee cherries in summer or hearty chanterelle mushrooms foraged from Pacific Northwest forests in the fall. Out-of-season produce is also reasonably priced, with avocados, peppers, and other staples rarely exceeding $3 per pound.
Beyond the main market buildings, farmers set up stands along the exterior walkways. Stock up on just-picked berries, apples, pears, and stone fruits for a fraction of grocery store prices. In spring, bundles of fresh asparagus can be found for $2-3, while giant zucchinis and hearty salad greens go for just $1 apiece.
You can also grab a quick, inexpensive bite at one of the food counters tucked into side alleys. Stop by Three Girls Bakery for wholesome sandwiches on house-baked bread, or join the line at Piroshky Piroshky for their famous hand-rolled Russian piroshkis. A savory stuffed bun will only set you back $4-5.
What else is in this post?
- Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Pike Place Market: Fresh Seafood and Produce on the Cheap
- Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Best Happy Hour Deals for Apps and Cocktails
- Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Food Trucks Galore: Mobile Eats Under $10
- Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Late Night Bites: Best Budget Late Night Eats
- Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Eat for Less at Ethnic Eateries
- Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Splurge-Worthy Fine Dining Favorites
- Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Hidden Gems: Hole-in-the-Wall Spots Worth Finding
Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Best Happy Hour Deals for Apps and Cocktails
After a long day exploring the Emerald City, nothing beats unwinding over cheap eats and drinks during happy hour. Luckily, Seattle has no shortage of spots offering unbelievable deals on apps, cocktails, and local brews to help you stretch your dollar.
Head to Belltown for amazing views and discounted drinks at Loulay Kitchen & Bar. This upscale French-Northwest eatery perched on the Alaskan Way Viaduct has killer Happy Hour specials like $6 glasses of wine, $4 Rainier drafts, and $2 off craft cocktails and snacks. Their charcuterie and cheese boards are perfect for sharing.
Looking for something more laidback? The Pink Door downtown has a daily 4-6pm Happy Hour with $5 craft cocktails, $4 wells, and $6 glasses of wine alongside half-price starters like arancini, steamed clams, and more. Sit on the patio or post up at the bar for the best deals.
In Capitol Hill, casual gastropub Quinn’s combines killer Happy Hour deals with a cozy neighborhood vibe. From 4-6pm, nosh on $6 nachos loaded with Beecher’s cheese or $5 brick oven pizza alongside $5 wells and raft beers and $2 off everything else behind the bar.
Further north in Ballard, Hazlewood exudes rustic charm with reclaimed wood accents and tables made from old whiskey barrels. Their weekend Happy Hours (4-6pm Fri-Sun) include $5 wells and beers, $7 cocktails and glasses of wine, $9 Aperol spritzes, and tasty small plates for around $5-10.
For Something sweeter, head to charming cafe and wine bar Le Coin in Madison Valley.Their daily Happy Hour (4-6pm) offers $5 daiquiris and glasses of wine alongside $3 macarons in flavors like rose, pistachio, and chocolate.
Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Food Trucks Galore: Mobile Eats Under $10
Street food and food trucks have exploded in popularity across Seattle in recent years, making it easier than ever to grab a quick, cheap meal on the go for under $10. From downtown to the neighborhoods, mobile food vendors serving up everything from tacos to Thai curries offer a fun and affordable way to sample the city’s diverse culinary scene without blowing your budget.
One of the top areas to check out Seattle’s food truck scene is South Lake Union. This quickly developing neighborhood north of downtown boasts a constantly rotating selection of trucks parked along Valley Street between Mercer and Dexter. At lunchtime, you’ll find office workers lining up for popular picks like Bok a Bok serving crunchy Korean fried chicken wings and fingers or El Camión bringing Mexican flavor with addictive tacos, quesadillas, and tortas loaded with juicy carnitas. Prices range from $2.50 for basic tacos to around $8-9 for heartier plates, leaving you with change from a $10 bill.
For a more international mix, head to the Fremont neighborhood on weekends when Ballard’s famous Sunday farmer’s market takes over several blocks. Ethnic dishes like Chinese dumplings, Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches, and Colombian arepas sizzle alongside decadent grilled cheeses and the famous Top Pot donuts (yes, they have a truck too!). Most items cost $5-8, depending on size and ingredients.
Lunchtime is also prime time to hunt for food trucks in the downtown core. Roy Street Coffee and Tea near the stadiums hosts a couple trucks daily with options like shawarma wraps and crepes for $5-8. Walk a few blocks south to Occidental Square to find trucks like Street Treats dishing out under-$10 lunch boxes with teriyaki, fried rice and egg rolls.
Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Late Night Bites: Best Budget Late Night Eats
After a night out exploring Seattle's buzzing nightlife scene, you're bound to work up an appetite. But when it's after 10 p.m. and you're on a budget, finding a place to grab a tasty late night bite can be a challenge. Luckily, Seattle has no shortage of spots serving up cheap eats into the wee hours, so you can refuel without breaking the bank.
One go-to option for hungry night owls is Beth's Cafe, a legendary 24-hour diner on Aurora Avenue known for its massive plates of comfort food. While it's not the trendiest spot, the portions are huge and the prices are right if you just want a no-frills late night meal. Their 12-egg omelette has reached almost mythical status and goes for just $16 – easily enough for two to split. Other filling options under $10 include biscuits and gravy, epic pancake stacks, and fried chicken that will soak up any excess cocktails. Just don't expect any fancy frills here – it's all about the food.
In the hip Capitol Hill neighborhood, Lost Lake Cafe satisfies late night munchies with a low-key 1950's vibe and pizza, wings, and tater tots served until 1:30am on weekends. You can easily fill up for under $10 on their Totcho plate loaded with tater tots, cheese, bacon and all the fixings for just $6. Pair it with $4 PBR and a shot for the complete late night experience.
For something spicier, Kedai Makan will really heat things up. This unassuming Malaysian joint tucked away on a side street downtown specializes in Belacan Fried Chicken – juicy fried chicken coated in chili sambal sauce that will make your tastebuds tingle. An order of two piece chicken with rice goes for just $7, making it one of the best late night eats for spice-lovers on a budget.
If you'd rather let someone else do the cooking after a late night out, look no further than pizza delivery. Pagliacci and Zeeks both deliver piping hot pies across Seattle until 1am. For just $6-8 per person, you can end the night with your apartment filled with the delicious smell of pizza without blowing your budget.
Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Eat for Less at Ethnic Eateries
Seattle is a melting pot of cultures, which also means it’s a melting pot of amazing ethnic foods. But dining at immigrant-run mom and pop shops instead of big mainstream chains doesn’t just get you more authentic meals – it also saves you money. These local ethnic eateries allow you to try cuisine from around the world without inflated price tags.
International District is the top spot to sample Asian flavors on a budget. This diverse neighborhood is home to Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese and more tasty eats for under $10 a dish. At Pho Cyclo Cafe, slurp down huge bowls of pho noodle soup with beef or chicken for just $7-8. Or pop next door to Essential Baking Company for some of the best fresh Chinese pork and leek buns around – they go for a steal at $1.50 each. Further down the street, Momo inside the Hong Kong supermarket serves the eponymous Nepalese dumplings fried or steamed for around $5-8 an order.
Up on Aurora Avenue, small Mexican storefronts like Memo’s and King’s Books offer authentic south-of-the-border fare like hearty tacos, enchiladas, tamales, and more. A carnitas or carne asada taco at Memo’s costs just $1.90 and comes packed with way more juicy meat than you’d get at a mainstream chain. Just $10 gets you a full gut-busting plate.
In Greenwood, family-run restaurants like Cafe Munir for Ethiopian and Amy’s Merkato for Filipino allow you to enjoy cuisine that’s hard to find elsewhere for a fraction of the usual cost. Cafe Munir offers combination platters where you can sample lots of dishes like spicy lentils, collard greens, and more for $10-15 per person. At Amy’s, silog meals (garlic rice combined with meat/egg dishes) rarely top $10. Don’t miss their fried lumpia rolls - just $1 each!
Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Splurge-Worthy Fine Dining Favorites
While sampling street food and holes-in-the-wall is part of what makes Seattle dining so fun, the city also boasts some incredible upscale restaurants that are worth splurging on for a special night out. These spots offer impeccable service, creative culinary artistry, and ambiance that takes fine dining to the next level.
One perennial favorite is Canlis, arguably Seattle's most renowned luxury restaurant. Housed in a midcentury modern architectural gem with sweeping views of Lake Union and the Cascades, Canlis has maintained its reputation for excellence ever since it opened back in 1950. From their extensive wine cellar with over 25,000 bottles to masterful culinary techniques honed over decades, dinner here is nothing short of an event. While the tasting menu costs a hefty $225 per person, many describe it as a bucket list dining experience unlike any other in Seattle. Dishes like duck roasted in pine needles showcase the Pacific Northwest's bounty with an elevated twist.
For a more urban vibe, Matt Dillon's Sitka & Spruce on Capitol Hill wows diners with a 15-course tasting menu served in an intimate James Beard-nominated space. Sit at the chef's counter to watch Dillon's team prepare creative dishes right before your eyes. Courses like harissa-marinated lamb and rose petal ice cream exemplify his passion for highlighting the purity of ingredients through unexpected flavor combinations. While the $155 price tag is steep, Sitka & Spruce offers a one-of-a-kind fine dining adventure.
Down on the waterfront, Aqua by El Gaucho provides the full luxury treatment with amazing Elliott Bay views, an extensive wine list, and premium Northwest-inspired surf and turf. Beyond exceptional steaks and seafood like Alaska King Crab and Penn Cove mussels, small touches like warm popovers delivered tableside contribute to an indulgent night out. Plan to spend around $80 per person for dinner with wine pairings.
For French flair, Le Rêve in Belltown delivers with intimate two-seating nightly services and a seasonal $135 tasting menu. Authentically French dishes like rabbit pâté en croûte and squab with black truffle exemplify chef Craig Hetherington's classic techniques and obsession with quality ingredients. Upgrade to the wine pairing for the full experience.
Cheap Eats to Fine Dining: Indulge in Seattle's Tastiest Restaurants on Any Budget - Hidden Gems: Hole-in-the-Wall Spots Worth Finding
Beyond the hotspots and heavy-hitters, Seattle is full of under-the-radar eateries serving up delicious dishes in unassuming spaces. While these hole-in-the-wall restaurants often fly under the foodie radar, they remain favorites among locals looking to avoid crowds and tourists while enjoying meals that rival the city's more famous venues. Exploring these hidden gems takes some effort but offers a uniquely local and affordable way to experience Seattle's diverse food scene.
One such hidden treasure is Mr. Villa Tacos in the Central District. Don't let the barebones storefront on a sleepy side street deter you - this beloved spot churns out some of the most authentic Mexican street tacos north of the border. Their secret weapon is the homemade corn tortillas made fresh daily. Fillings like succulent carnitas, lengua (beef tongue), cactus, and more are elevated to new heights when nestled in Mr. Villa's delicate tortillas. At just $1.50-2 per taco, you can try several varieties without blowing your budget.
In Greenwood, family-run Thai restaurant Jai Thai is almost impossible to spot with its tiny, unassuming facade tucked into a small strip mall. But ask any local and they'll tell you Jai Thai serves up some of the most legit Thai food in the city at wallet-friendly prices. Their signature crab fried rice teems with sweet lump crab meat and aromatic jasmine rice for just $12. Curries, stir fries, and noodle dishes rarely top $10-12. Be prepared to wait during peak times - this hole in the wall always packs a crowd.
Even pickier eaters will find familiar favorites at Fat's Chicken and Waffles in Columbia City. But the greasy-spoon ambiance belies the from-scratch cooking that makes this place truly special. Everything is made in-house, from the melt-in-your-mouth fried chicken to the featherlight waffles. Their signature chicken and waffles dish soaks up the savory juices perfectly for just $9.95. Stop by this humble neighborhood joint for down-home flavors done right.