Seattle has a reputation of being very laid back and unpretentious. With flannel and rubber boots everywhere, it doesn’t seem like the kind of town with sophisticated food. But the truth of the matter is that some of the best and brightest chefs on the food scene right now not only cook in Seattle, but thrive. Developing tasting menus that suit the season and chefs’ whims, these five restaurants raise the bar of sophistication without being stuffy or too expensive; just the way Seattle likes it.

Photo Credit: Sutra

1605 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 547-1348

Price: $36 for four-course tasting menu

To most, being a vegetarian looks boring. But at Sutra, chefs are proving all the disbelievers wrong. Not only are they serving up some of the tastiest vegetarian fare in town, they are serving up some of the best meals in the city. With a bi-weekly changing menu and only one to two seatings a night, Sutra is changing the dynamic of how a restaurant runs. It has turned the operation into more of a supper club using only the freshest, seasonal foods, eliminating food waste. And with a tasting menu at only $35 a person, this is one dinner not to bypass. Check out the current tasting menu, which changes every two weeks, posted on Sutra’s website to see if it would work for your taste.

Photo Credit: Staple and Fancy

Staple and Fancy
4739 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 789-1200

Price: $45 for four-course tasting menu

Anyone can order from the ‘staples’ on the menu at Staple and Fancy Mercantile and be perfectly happy. But those in the know order the family-style, four-course menu and let whatever the chef ‘fancies’ arrive at the dinner table. The dishes change daily based on the chef’s whim, so it is a surprise and a meal all in one. The tasting menu is only $45 so let eliminate the choosing and hand your menu back to the waiter. It might just tickle the fancy of all taste buds around the table.

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Photo Credit: Canlis

2576 Aurora Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 283-3313

Price: $115 fo prix-fixe menu; $95 for vegetarian menu

Ask anyone in Seattle where the best place to dine is, and nine out of 10 will point up the hill toward Canlis. Established in 1950, it is a constant presence in the restaurant industry with stellar views, unmatchable service and amazing food. Canlis is where the cuisine of the Northwest found a home and it led the way for many to follow. With a tasting menu featuring the best of the seasonal ingredients at only $115 per person, it is definitely still the best restaurant in town. Check out the website for the current tasting menu, but past offerings have included lamb loin, iberico pork cheek and strawberry and fennel.

Photo Credit: Rover’s

2808 E Madison
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 325-7442

Price: Tasting menus from $65 to $145

Why have one tasting menu when four are possible? The French do know how to make a statement and the the “chef in the hat” Thierry Rautureau is the leading force in French cuisine in the Pacific Northwest. At Rover’s, choose from a small, medium or large dégustation tasting menu composed of small plates “allowing the diner to ‘déguster,’ or eat in small bites.” Enjoy such dishes like Dungeness crab with a spiced orange gelee, halibut in a mushroom-citrus cream or scrambled, organic eggs with white sturgeon caviar. The desserts alone are worth the price.

Photo Credit: Andaluca

407 Olive Way
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 382-6999

Price: $39 for prix-fixe menu

Take a tour of the Mediterranean without leaving Seattle. At Andaluca, the decor and the dishes transplant guests to the beauty of the sea. From crusted beef tenderloin to traditional Spanish paella, the dinner plates here please every palate. But the tasting menu is the real star. With the Tour of the Mediterranean, diners choose from soup or salad and then feast on three small plates followed by a scrumptious dessert. So really, that is like a five-course meal instead of a three-course meal. Whatever the math, it adds up to one great gastronomical experience.

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Denise LaCaille is a freelance writer living in Seattle. She graduated from the University of Washington and is passionate about the local food scene. Every weekend youll find her at farmers markets scouring for the freshest ingredients to create healthy dishes for her food blog she writes with her twin sister. Her work can be found at