Want to travel the world this winter without stepping on a plane? It’s easy, thanks to the Seattle area’s extraordinary — and kid-friendly — global food scene. We’ve scouted out 10 mostly new, must-try restaurants and bakeries that represent the breadth of local culinary offerings and are just adventurous enough for families with picky palates to consider.
1. Boiling Point: Hot pot in the International District or Bellevue
1075 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue • 425-455-8375 • 610 Fifth Ave. S., Seattle • 206-737-8506 • Entrees under $15
The biggest attraction at this spacious, modern Taiwanese restaurant is that kids (and everyone else) get to cook right at the table. You choose a base of vermicelli or udon noodles; a bubbling bowl is brought to your table and placed on a hot range to keep it warm. Next, add as many delicious (or daring) ingredients as you like: spicy Korean kimchee, sliced beef, cuttlefish rings and exotic mushrooms, to name a few. Kids will enjoy additions such as fried tempura or imitation crab. A sure bet? “Snowflake Ice” — shaved ice with fresh fruits and jams.
Note: Best for kids over the age of 5, because of the hot range.
2. Biang! Chinese noodles in Edmonds
22315 Highway 99, Edmonds • 425-776-7847 • Entrees under $10
You wouldn’t expect to find some of the best Chinese noodles around at a Highway 99 eatery in Edmonds. But wait until you taste the wide-cut, house-made noodles at this newish, cheerful but no-frills restaurant that serves northern Chinese food. They are robust, with the perfect amount of bite. Though the hot-oil-seared noodles are the specialty, kids might prefer something a little less fiery, such as noodles with stewed pulled pork; dapanji, a massive chicken platter that’s served atop noodles; or the tangy dumpling soup.
3. Pizzeria Gabbiano: Roman-style pizza in Pioneer Square
240 Second Ave. S., Seattle • 206-209-2231
While gourmet pizza is as American as the hamburger, new and interesting versions are always welcome. Enter Pizzeria Gabbiano, a Roman-style pizzeria in the heart of historic Pioneer Square opened in August by Mike Easton of Il Corvo Pasta. Modeled after pizzas near the Vatican in Rome, Easton’s pies are made from whole grains and fermented for a long time, creating a flat, chewy crust with billowy air pockets. As far as toppings, you can go as simple (tomato sauce and cheese) or as adventurous (purple cauliflower, prosciutto, arugula) as you please. What’s really cool? The pizza is cut to order with scissors and comes by the kilo, so you can try several types without overeating or breaking the bank. A communal table adds to the fun.
Note: Gabbiano is only open for lunch, and only on weekdays —combine with an afternoon of exploration around Pioneer Square.
4. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka: Japanese ramen in Bellevue
103 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue • 425-462-0141 • Entrees $10–$15
Ramen — a Japanese noodle soup dish served in a meat- or fish-based broth — is undergoing a renaissance in Puget Sound. Start your explorations at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, a ramen chain that recently opened its first stateside location in downtown Bellevue, a block from Downtown Park. The ramen served in this clean space with bamboo and brick trim is known for its richly flavorful “tonkotsu” broth, made by simmering pork bones for 20 hours at a low temperature, which results in a deliciously salty, almost creamy consistency. Add toppings such as soft-boiled eggs and seaweed or kid-friendlier items like corn or braised pork cheeks. If this still sounds too adventurous, the pot stickers are a no-fail option.
5. Anjappar: Southern Indian cuisine in Bellevue
14625 N.E. 24th St., Bellevue • 425-435-0505 • Entrees $10–$15
While Seattle has its share of Indian restaurants, many of the best and most authentic are on the Eastside. Head to this Bellevue spot for a taste of southern Indian cuisine (specifically from Chettinad), from dosas and uthappam (rice pancakes) to more familiar dishes such as chicken tikka masala. Inside Anjappar — whose beautifully appointed dining room belies its strip-mall-like location — you’ll find mostly Indian customers, eating in traditional style with their hands. You’ll love the spicy lamb dishes, while your kids will gobble up Anjappar’s clay-oven breads, some simply topped with butter, others with smashed potatoes or shredded chicken.
6. Fuji Bakery: Japanese-French sweets in the I. D. and Interbay
526 King St., Seattle • 206-623-4050 • 1030 Elliott Ave. W., Seattle • 206-216-3616
Fusing the flavors of Japan and France, this tiny bakery in the International District serves both sweet and savory goods, from green-tea croissants to brioche with red bean paste and curry buns. Less-adventurous eaters will appreciate choices such as “kouign amann,” an apple-and-cardamom pastry from Bretagne that’s wrapped in croissant dough and baked in caramel, or the impeccable chocolate croissants. If you can’t try everything in one sitting, take home a slice of citron cake with zest of lemon and bergamot. You can also find Fuji Bakery in Interbay.
7. Parchment: Pop-up pastries in Ballard
At Brimmer & Heeltap • 425 N.W. Market St., Seattle
At Parchment you can accomplish two things: fill up on delectable baked goods and
experience the “pop-up” trend for yourself. A pop-up is a moveable restaurant/bakery/coffee shop/wine bar that takes over an existing food establishment to sell its offerings at specific times. In this case, renowned pastry chef Laura Pyles turns Ballard’s bistro-pub Brimmer & Heeltap into a bakery on Sundays beginning at 8 a.m. — selling her signature sweets until they run out. Depending on the day, you might find seasonal fruit-filled Danish pastries, black pepper–Brie brioche buns or French macarons (as well as kid-pleasers such as cereal éclairs and homemade fruit pop tarts). Check the Facebook page for details and updates, and to make sure they are open.
8. Ellenos: Real Greek yogurt in Pike Place Market
1500 Pike Place, Seattle • 206-625-5006
Even if you’re wearying of the buzz about Greek yogurt, a trip to Ellenos at its Pike Place Market location will restore your faith. The Georgetown-based artisan yogurt maker combines locally sourced milk and seasonal fruit and toppings to concoct what some say is the best Greek-style yogurt you will ever try (outside of Greece, anyway). Kids will think it’s dessert — the creaminess is astounding — while you can savor the knowledge of its health benefits. Flavors can range from mango to lemon cheesecake to pumpkin pie. Ellenos is also served at Uwajimaya in Bellevue. Note: There’s almost always a line. And it’s worth the wait.
9. Mojito: Caribbean off Lake City Way
7545 Lake City Way N.E., Seattle • 206-525-3162 • Entrees $10–$20
Owned by a Venezuelan and an Eritrean, this tiny Caribbean restaurant — located just off I-5 — may be named after a cocktail, but it’s as kid-friendly as they come, starting with the drums and other Yoruba-based instruments. While non-spice lovers may have to steer clear of a few of the dishes (such as mojito pescado, fish seasoned with paprika and cinnamon and cooked in banana leaf), there are plenty of menu items to please the pickiest, including the black beans and rice (surprisingly made with a vegetable stock instead of ham hock) and Mojito’s delectable version of chicken tenders.
10. Kezira: Ethiopian in Columbia City
5100 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle • 206-588-1024 • Entrees $10-$15
This homey restaurant and café is an excellent gateway to a cuisine that offers timeless kid appeal — a chance to eat with your hands. Try the hummus as a no-brainer starter, followed by a combo plate as the main course. Kids tend to gravitate toward the lentils and the chicken, as well as the sponge-y bread used to sop up food. More perks: A little living-room area within the dining room looks like a staged scene from a traditional Ethiopian home, complete with couches, artwork and traditional objects. The staff go out of their way to engage kids.