The Eastside, particularly Bellevue, has a reputation and it’s not a positive one. Many people think of the Eastside as being cultureless with cookie-cutter chain restaurants and snobby, materialistic people driving Range Rovers and Teslas. However, while it may be true in a small way, that isn’t an entirely accurate or fair description. There’s so much more to the Eastside—don’t let a few stereotypes stop you from visiting! There are several great spots that Seattleites should consider crossing the bridge for (and a few places to avoid), you just need a little “In the Know”.
// DO’S //
There are some delicious things to eat and drink on the Eastside if you know where to go.
99 Park: Chef Derek Bugge joined earlier this year and has transformed the menu from Southeast Asian flavors to American Contemporary, focusing on using local and sustainable products. Try his take on tartare with venison and an egg yolk emulsion. The Grilled Octopus is one of the best in the greater Seattle area. It’s the way octopus should be—but rarely is—prepared and executed. Order the Lamb sourced from Lopez Island or the Halibut fished from the San Juans.
99 Park also has an awesome patio with a view of the Bellevue Downtown Park.
Dough Zone: Think Din Tai Fung, but more divey. The wait is shorter and it’s also cheaper. They are so popular, their original Crossroads location has expanded to open another location in Bellevue and one in Redmond. Like DTF, they serve soup dumplings (xiao long bao), but they have a lot of other great dishes too. Try the pan fried “sheng jian buns” with a pork filling.
Drive Thru Boba: We’ve had boba all over the world (literally). From California to New York to Hong Kong, China, and Taiwan, we have tasted it. Drive Thru Boba is definitely the best in the state. It is no longer a drive thru, but it retains its name from it’s original drive through stand in Factoria. They now have a brick-and-mortar in Bellevue downtown near the park. The Earl Grey and the Black Sugar Milk Tea are our top recommendations, but everything we have tried over the years is very good. If they have housemade mochi when you visit, you should definitely get some. You can also adjust how much sweetness you want (ie. “50 percent sweetness”).
How is Drive Thru Boba different? They don’t use powders or artificial flavors. Their drinks are made from freshly steeped whole leaf teas. There’s a reason there’s a line out of the door on the weekend. Get there early because they will sell out!
Facing East: The best and most authentic Taiwanese food in Washington. Make sure to order the Taiwanese Pork Burger: Juicy pork belly topped with sweet and salty crushed peanuts, cilantro, and pickled vegetables in a soft steamed bun. The Spiced Pork over Rice and the Sautéed Lamb with Taiwanese BBQ Sauce are two of our favorite dishes. You can basically order anything here and it’ll be good.
Ginza Japanese Restaurant: The sushi is quality and fresh and the Pumpkin Fried Rice is a must order. You’re thinking, really Seattleite? Recommending fried rice at a restaurant? This one is cooked with bacon, shrimp, and kabocha squash and served inside the pumpkin. Trust us.
Make a reservation if you can, this place gets packed on weekend nights.
Kanishka Cuisine of India: Redmond has the best and most Indian restaurants in the area. Kanishka offers the best Indian lunch buffet and the dinner is delicious too. Reasonable prices, quality food, and good service. Spice Route near Fred Meyer on 148th is a close second.
Cafe Juanita: The James Beard Award-winning Chef Holly Smith combines the flavors of Northern Italy with Pacific Northwest ingredients in a fine dining experience north of Kirkland. The remodel last year created a new outdoor patio and a lounge in place of the private dining room downstairs. The menu changes seasonally, but the Risotto is not to be missed.
Midori Bakery: An artisan bakery in Redmond run by a lovely husband-and-wife team, Morgan and Jeremey. They trained and worked around the country and came back to the Pacific Northwest to bless us with their delicious baked goods. Don’t miss their buttery, crunchy, and flaky Kouign Amann and Almond Croissants. Worth the carbs and the calories.
Midori also makes beautiful and tasty cakes (allow 24-hour notice) for your next special occasion: The Triple Chocolate Gateau is out of this world.
Flatstick Pub: 9-hole indoor mini golf course with 24 rotating taps featuring Washington-only beers and ciders. It’s perfect for a casual, fun date or a girls night or guys night. They are also dog-friendly! We love this place. Grab some friends and show up or book a tee time online in advance.
They’re open Monday through Friday 12:00 pm to midnight and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 2:00 am. “Yappy Hour” is $1 off pints when you bring your pup Monday through Friday 6:00 – 7:00 pm and all day Sunday.
Lady Yum: Located on the Kirkland waterfront, this macaron-only patisserie makes the best macarons in the area. If you only make one thing, that one thing has to be pretty damn good (it is). Lady Yum offers classic flavors like Salted Caramel, Chocolate, and Lemon and unique ones like Fruity Pebbles, Toffee, and Raspberry Chardonnay. Seasonal flavors including Honey Lavender and Lychee. The treats are whimsical and light sweet treats that are a delicious dessert or a classy gift. The store is adorable, the staff are helpful, and the macarons are yummy!
Woodinville Wine Country: 30 minutes from Seattle, Woodinville is an intersection of food, wine (so. many. wineries), patios, bike paths, and the scenic Sammamish River Valley. There are endless wineries, breweries, and cideries to explore (too many to list).
- The Commons to grab a burger, the House Burger with smoked cheddar, pickled jalapeño, a fried egg, and bacon will definitely satisfy your craving.
- Collective on Tap: cool, casual atmosphere and 47 brews on tap. They also have this Candied Bacon that tastes like melt-in-your-mouth mini cinnamon rolls.
- Locust Cider: The Spears brothers (Jason and Patrick) opened up Locust early last year. Jason’s daughter was born with Hydrocephalus and some of the proceeds from their ciders go to the Hydrocephalus Association. Read more about the partnership here.
- Stop by and check out their tasting room with a dog-friendly outdoor patio
- We recommend a flight to sample their ciders. Make sure you taste their Dark Cherry cider, made from Washington cherries.
// DON’T //
Last time we checked, we are polite, paying customers and you work in the service industry*. What’s with the attitude?
Noble Court: Bad service and overpriced dim sum. For better prices and tastier dim sum, check out Top Gun in Factoria. It gets very busy on the weekend, but it’s worth the wait.
Parlor Comedy Club: This place gives Bellevue a bad name. Unfortunately, it’s one of the few live entertainment spots on the Eastside. We spent over $350 here for VIP tickets and drinks to a comedy show this month and they refused to give us water. The only option is Voss bottled water for $5.50 per 20-ounce bottle (a Dasani-sized bottle). It’s the most bourgeois thing we’ve heard in a while. Gratuity is included already, but service was still below par.
Tavern Hall: Take a short walk across the skybridge to Tavern Hall where the attitude is dripping (over the phone and in person). In total, we’ve been here close to 10 times for private events, lunch, watching sports, and brunch on the weekend. It continues to be disappointing. We don’t need a side of condescension with our burgers, thanks.
*Altogether, Seattleite writers have worked on the Eastside in retail for a combined 10 years and at restaurants for a combined 5 years. We aren’t saying this without having walked in the exact same shoes; we know what good service is supposed to look and feel like.