For savvy travelers, the smart money stays in Seattle NorthCountry where less expensive hotel options and a central locale mean more time and money for excursions and eating out. Those staying in the Urban Basecamp will find an area flush with international epicurean delights waiting to be discovered. Nowhere does the diversity of Seattle NorthCountry show more, or find more appreciation, than in the restaurants we love. Whether your schedule takes you to art museums or wilderness, casinos or farm country, this restaurant guide will fuel the journey. Here are 7 secret favorites that will take your tastebuds around the world, even if you never leave Snohomish County.
7318 Evergreen Way, Everett, WA 98203)
Spice lovers will find a little slice of heaven in Curries, a family run Indian restaurant tucked away in a tiny strip mall on Evergreen Way. Once a mere hole-in-the-wall a few miles from the current location, they quickly grew a reputation for uniquely wonderful dishes and service, and were able to expand into their upgraded space. While a slow, sit-down dinner is a good way to enjoy the famously friendly service, the best deal is the lunch buffet. For a reasonable price, you can experience the full range of traditional Indian flavors and fill your belly to bursting. Parking is free but the small lot fills up quickly during the lunch hour at this popular spot. The Curries lunch buffet remains a favorite among those who appreciate perfect naan bread and creamy palak paneer. Food this good will always have a strong following.
7815 Evergreen Way Ste B1 Everett, WA 98203
Easy to find on the always busy Evergreen Way, nestled beside Evergreen Asian Grocery, King Noodle House is a different kind of Chinese restaurant. A Maneki Neko cat will greet you at the door beside the fat, laughing Buddha, but this is not your usual family style establishment. King Noodle sets themselves apart with a very specific type of cuisine. As the name implies, King Noodle specializes in noodles. Theirs are made on site, hand pulled by the chefs; you can watch them work, pulling and twisting dough into great lengths of fresh noodle for a variety of dishes and made to order soups. Design your own soup with the order card at your table, specifying protein, vegetable, broth and, of course, noodle choice. I recommend the vibrant, green spinach noodles. On a frozen afternoon when the rain is coming down sideways, there isn’t much that satisfies like a giant bowl of steaming-hot noodle soup. While Seattle NorthCountry is richly steeped in Pho restaurants, King Noodle house offers a satisfying, and delicious alternative.
11108 Evergreen Wa Ste B Everett, WA 98204
Sushi could be considered a local staple in the Pacific Northwest, with our easy access to exceptional fresh seafood. Of course, that doesn’t mean all sushi restaurants are created equal. It’s easy enough to find good sushi in our urban centers if you’re willing to spend and arm and a leg. The true prize, however, lies in finding the secret spot with above par dishes at below average prices and a dedicated, knowledgeable chef. Locals, and quite a few visitors, will tell you that Oshima is just such a place. Oshima is conveniently located in a strip mall off Hwy 99 and boasts plenty of free parking. The space is small, decorated with bamboo and murals of verdant Japanese hillsides. They offer a bevy of staples beyond sushi, including a range of noodle options to make even picky eaters in your party happy. However, Oshima truly shines for devotees of sashimi, who will be pleasantly surprised by the selections as well as the portions. If you luck into this restaurant on a slow evening and you’re feeling adventurous, order Omakase and give Oshima the opportunity to dazzle you.
205 E Casino Rd Ste B12 Everett, WA 98208
Washington State is liberally sprinkled with the brightly-muralled, family-friendly Mexican restaurants most folks frequent. For those more interested in the food on their plate than the art on the walls, Casa El Dorado holds a place of reverence. Known formally as Casa El Dorado Mexican handcrafts and Tortillas, or more casually among locals as “the tortilla factory,” they can be found in an unassuming strip mall on Casino Rd, just off Evergreen Way and Hwy 526. This no-frills spot offers just a few cafeteria-simple tables and chairs, with soccer on the TV providing the only ambiance most diners need. The menu is limited to about a dozen plates and a few soups, but those in search of authentic Mexican staples and a full belly will be well rewarded. First and foremost, Casa El Dorado is a tortillaria, and their flour tortillas are special enough to draw Seattleites into the NorthCountry. For those seeking a fast, fresh and authentic Mexican fill-up, Casa El Dorado is the place to be. Look for the large “Tortilleria” sign in the Casino Square strip mall, and then loosen your belt a few pegs.
17425 Hwy 99, Lynnwood, WA 98037
Visitors seeking to warm up from the inside out, are invited to visit Sam Oh Jung for fresh, gloriously spicy Korean cuisine. Easy to find, sandwiched between Northwest Motorsport and a QFC right on Hwy 99, with ample free parking, Sam Oh Jung is ideal for a small group lunch or dinner. Be prepared to share, as the table will fill with the traditional small plates (Banchan) to delight your senses, and serving sizes are designed to satisfy. Regular diners recommend trying the seafood pancake, or pahjun, which is perfectly crispy and large enough to share between a few friends. And, of course, on a cold, rainy PNW day, you can’t go wrong with Bi Bim Bop served sizzling in a hot stone bowl with your choice of protein. The space is cozy and casual, but it can get busy around dinnertime as it’s a favorite with locals in the know. Still, service is always prompt and cheerful, with a big red button stationed at every table so you’ll never have to seek out your server even on the busiest Friday night!
7600 196th St SW Ste 500 Lynnwood, WA 98036
When it comes to breakfast, or tea-time sweets, there’s nothing quite like a perfectly turned out pastry paired with fresh coffee. Rila Bakery Cafe offers a fresh twist with an East Asia meets Paris take, bringing unexpected flavor profiles and imaginative combinations. Matcha tea and red bean, for instance, find their way into cakes here, and bubble tea can be purchased alongside espresso. Located in a strip mall off WA 524, it would be easy to drive right past this slice of pastry heaven. The outside bears a simple, black and white sign, a subtle nod to the minimalist elegance within. With reclaimed wood walls and chalkboard-styled menus, Rila would not look out of place on a busy street in Paris or New York. Slipped beside a tattoo shop in Lynnwood, however, Rila is an unexpected treasure. While you can pick up your sweets for the road, and their packaging is as darling and well-designed as the establishment, Rila is a lovely spot to sit and relax while you savor the carefully crafted selections.
19417 36th Ave W Lynnwood, WA 98036
A short walk from the Lynnwood Convention Center, but miles away from ordinary, you’ll find this West African restaurant tucked into a strip mall beside a furniture store. It would be an easy spot to miss if you didn’t know what you were looking for, and that would be a shame. While East African restaurants are often easy to find in many larger urban centers, discovering a West African hot spot is a rare treat. The inside of Bantaba is unassuming, with warm colors and a few subtle decorations to give a sense of place. Over the counter, you’ll find a large menu with colorful photos to help guide first timers who might not know what they’re in for. Bantaba is a delight for meat lovers, who will revel in the Afra Lamb. Don’t pass up the black-eyed pea slaw as a side; this salad has a fresh brightness that pairs perfectly with the rich, main dishes. Those seeking the authentic flavors of West Africa should also try the Benachin, an iconic, tomato-soaked rice also known as Jollof rice in other areas, where fierce competitions rage over whose region (or mother) makes the very best. If your NorthCountry travels take you near the Lynnwood Convention Center, don’t miss the opportunity to taste a unique style of cuisine you won’t often come across. Bantaba is one hidden gem worth seeking out.