When visiting a new city, it can be difficult to know where to find those dining highlights that are must-try establishments. Without local knowledge, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself at a boring chain restaurant or an over-priced, under-quality restaurant.

Luckily, that’s not the case in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. We have some of the best local restaurants and incredible happy hours that the Emerald City has to offer, and they’re just steps away from Hotel Ballard’s front door! But with so many one-of-a-kind, incredible eateries to choose from, how are you going to fit them in during a short visit? 

Just for the visiting foodie or hungry business visitor, we’ve compiled this short list of the top six Ballard restaurants that are our neighborhood’s not-to-be-missed hot spots across several genres and themes. In addition to this list, our friends at Eat Ballard have prepared a guide to happy hour in Ballard for more information about Ballard restaurants and bars. 

1. Best Ballard Breakfast: Time for some Eggs Benedict, or maybe a scramble or some French Toast. Wild Mountain Café is a fantastic Ballard restaurant to find a variety of tasty breakfast items to get your day started right. With several vegetarian options and even some gluten-free items, the Café is ideal for diners of all tastes and needs. Breakfast is served daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., but Wild Mountain Café is closed Tuesdays. They also serve lunch and dinner if you’re so inclined.

Wild Mountain Café: 1408 NW 85th St. Seattle 98117, 206-297-9453.

Honorable Mentions:

Senor Moose Cafe 5242 NW Leary Ave Seattle, 98107 (206) 784-5568. Senor Moose Cafe is home to Ballard's best hearty Mexican breakfast and brunch. Stay a while to experience their library of tequilas.

Hi-Life 5425 Russell Ave NW Seattle, 98107 (206) 784-7272. Housed in the historic century old firehouse, Hi-Life serves Ballard a rotating New American menu that focuses on seasonal eats and local resources. Guests can sleep in and enjoy their Not-So-Early-Bird Breakfast list.

2. Best Ballard Pizza: Just down the street from your luxurious room at the Hotel Ballard, you’ll find some of the best pizza in Seattle. Ballard Pizza Company serves up whole pizza pies as well as thick, delicious slices so that you can enjoy their pizzas no matter how hungry you are! With 11 house pies – vegetarian and meat-loving, alike – several appetizers and salads, and also the option to build your own pie, Ballard Pizza Company is a pizza-lover’s paradise. The place is open Sunday through Thursday from 4 to 11 p.m., and from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. They offer the nice option to have your pie delivered, or you can order online and pick it up. Happy Hour is daily from 4 – 6 p.m. and 10 – 11 p.m.

Ballard Pizza Company: 5107 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle 98107, 206-659-6033.

Honorable Mention: Zayda Buddy's Pizza 5405 Leary Ave NW, Seattle, 98107, (206) 783-7777. Zayda Buddy's Pizza is the spot for sports viewing and classic Midwestern comfort food including: Minnesota style pies, Wisconsin style bratwurst, & hot dogs from the Land 'O Lakes.

3. Best Ballard Sandwich: Paseo is one of the most loved sandwich shops in Seattle. Known for their crazy-good, messy sandwiches, the restaurant specializes in Caribbean sandwiches with a Cuban flavor. Succulent pork, marinated chicken, pan-seared fish – all kinds of meats and seafood topped with aioli, pickled jalapenos, lettuce and caramelized onions on a toasted baguette. Vegetarian options are available, too! One important thing to note, though: Paseo takes cash only, so come prepared. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can call ahead for a pickup order as well.

Paseo (Ballard): 6226 Seaview Ave NW, Seattle 98107, 206-789-3100.

Honorable Mention: Bitterroot BBQ 5239 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, 98107, (206) 588-1577. Bitterroot BBQ serves the best smoky barbeque sandwiches in Ballard. Seriously consider stopping in for lunch to try their pulled pork sandwich complete with a beer or bourbon pairing!

4. Best Ballard Oysters: Oysters are where it’s at in the fishing neighborhood of Ballard! And The Walrus and The Carpenter is the best place to go for them. This is another Ballard restaurant that’s right down the street from your hotel. Enjoy four different kinds of oysters at market price, as well as several seafood options and a handful of meat from the land items. Their menu changes quite frequently, though, so there’s bound to be something new every time you visit! The Walrus and The Carpenter is open daily from 4 p.m. until they close, with a happy hour Sunday through Thursday from 4 – 6 p.m. Note that they do not take reservations.

The Walrus and The Carpenter: 4743 Ballard Ave. NW, Seattle 98107, 206-295-9227.

Honorable Mention: The Ballard Annex Oyster House: 5410 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, 98107, (206) 783-5410. The Ballard Annex Oyster House boasts not just oysters but plenty of seafood classics such as whole dungeness crab, Maine lobster and various shellfish. Enjoy a hearty chowder that is made-to-order at their Steam Bar.

5. Best Ballard Bistro: Looking for damn good French cuisine with a Pacific Northwest touch? You’ll find it in Bastille Café and Bar. This Ballard dining gem will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into Paris as soon as you walk in the door. Whether you’re there for dinner, late night dining, or Sunday brunch, you’ll enjoy some incredible cuisine that’s oh-so-French (and oh-so-good)! The Bastille Café is open Sunday through Thursday from 5:30 to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. Late night dining is available Sunday through Thursday until midnight, or Friday and Saturday ‘til 1 a.m. Happy Hour is daily from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and late night Sunday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to midnight.

Bastille Café & Bar: 5307 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, 98107, 206-453-5014.

Honorable Mentions

Percy's and Co. 5233 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, 98107, (206) 420-3750. Percy's and Co. is a unique establishment serving apothecary inspired libations using home grown herbs and fresh ingredients for their Creole style cuisine. 

The Gerald 5210 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, 98107, (206) 432-9280. The Gerald is an intimate restaurant and lounge famous for their specialty cocktails and modern comfort food. Reservations for their event space may be made if you should have a reason to gather and party!