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12 Prime Wine Restaurants in the Pacific Northwest

Superior dining destinations in Portland and Seattle
In Seattle, Wash., Grand Award winner Canlis showcases the state's top wines.
Photo by: Canlis
In Seattle, Wash., Grand Award winner Canlis showcases the state's top wines.

Posted: September 27, 2018

The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the United States’ best wine regions—and some of its best wine restaurants. All 70 Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners across Washington and Oregon contribute to the thriving wine scene in this corner of the country, but these 12 stand out. From classic fine-dining experiences to casual neighborhood joints and an underground concert venue, the destinations here offer benchmark wines while championing producers in their own backyard.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,700 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 91 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


Brian Canlis
Canlis has been delivering exceptional fine-dining experiences in Seattle since 1950.

CANLIS
A time-honored tasting menu
2576 Aurora Ave. N., Seattle, Wash.
(206) 283-3313
www.canlis.com
Open for dinner, Monday to Saturday

Grand Award
Wine list selections 2,600
Inventory 18,000
Statement space Designed by local architect Roland Terry, a pioneer of modernist architecture in the Pacific Northwest, Canlis became a near-instant icon of Seattle's modern architecture movement when it opened in 1950, and its starkly midcentury-modern glass-and–cedar timber façade continues to gain acclaim. The view out from the dining room is nearly as impressive, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Lake Union, Gas Works Park and the Cascade mountains.
Ongoing legacy Canlis has been a celebrated Seattle dining destination for more than half a century. Brothers Mark and Brian Canlis are third-generation owners, and the restaurant earned its first Grand Award in 1997.
Wine strengths The wine list has stunning selections in Burgundy, California, Bordeaux, Washington, the Rhône, Italy, Oregon, Germany and Champagne. While maintaining these strengths, wine director Nelson Daquip continues to bolster the list in areas like Friuli and Côte-Rôtie, as well as natural and orange wines.
Cuisine For $125, enjoy four courses of regional American cuisine from chef Brady Williams. The artfully presented plates include salmon glazed in caramelized onion juice, pork with smoked plums and sweet-and-sour cherries with cucumber granita.


Brooke Fitts
The Seattle steak house makes a point of promoting in-state wines.

METROPOLITAN GRILL
Top-notch steaks and Washington wines
820 Second Ave., Seattle, Wash.
(206) 624-3287
www.themetropolitangrill.com
Open for lunch, Monday to Friday and dinner, daily

Grand Award
Wine list selections 2,900
Inventory 17,300
Wine strengths Washington wines are the star of the program managed by wine director Aaron Wood-Snyderman. The list also excels in California, Italy, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône and Oregon.
Big on large formats Metropolitan Grill’s wine list also stands out when it comes to large-format labels. More than 150 options represent a snapshot of the greater list, with several vintages of magnums from Château Mouton-Rothschild, Figgins and Harlan Estate.
Cuisine Chef Stan Ross puts his own spin on steak-house classics, supplanting the standby shrimp cocktail with a prawn martini and topping scalloped potatoes with poblanos. The steak selection remains fairly traditional, with cuts like New York strip, porterhouse and filet mignon sourced from local farm Double-R Ranch.
Seattle staple In 1983, Metropolitan Grill was opened by a local family-owned hospitality group, which is currently overseen by the founder’s son, Ron Cohn. The restaurant quickly gained acclaim after opening, earning its first Award of Excellence in 1996.


Wild Ginger
Wild Ginger’s sweet and spicy dishes, like the seven-flavor beef, make for exciting pairings with the Grand Award–winning wine list.

WILD GINGER
Asian flavors meet a global wine list
1401 Third Ave., Seattle, Wash.
(206) 623-4450
www.wildginger.net
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Grand Award
Wine list selections 1,800
Inventory 9,000
Wine strengths To play off Wild Ginger’s Southeast Asian flavors, wine director Martin Beally leans toward bright whites and low-tannin reds. The list is strongest in California, Washington, the Rhône, Germany, Burgundy, Italy, Oregon and Bordeaux. A “Market Selection” at the front of the list rounds up 150 labels to make the options more approachable.
Cuisine The dishes draw influence from regions such as Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia. From cracking coconuts for milk to grinding spices for curries and creating oyster sauce using fresh oysters, everything is made from scratch.
Three of a kind Wild Ginger shares its wine list and inventory with the Triple Door, a Best of Award of Excellence winner with a similar menu. Owners Rick and Ann Yoder also own a Bellevue, Wash., location of Wild Ginger, which holds an Award of Excellence for a 120-label list.
Everyday destination Even though it boasts a Grand Award–winning wine list, the restaurant has a casual atmosphere and moderate pricing. Twenty-five wines are available by the glass and hundreds of bottles are priced at less than $100.


The Butcher’s Table
The Butcher’s Table’s Restaurant Award–winning wine list is also available in the upstairs bar.

THE BUTCHER’S TABLE
A luxurious meat mecca
2121 Westlake Ave., Seattle, Wash.
(206) 209-5990
www.thebutcherstable.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 510
Inventory 4,210
One-stop shop The two-story space houses a butcher shop, deli, cocktail bar and raw bar, with the main dining room on the first floor. Upstairs, guests can grab inventive, meat-centric fare like steak tartare salad, beef-fat fries and a ribeye flight.
Wine strengths Wine director Jason Sanneman’s list is strongest in Washington labels, from Cabernet Sauvignon staples to less familiar picks like Tempranillos from more obscure producers. California and France are also well-represented.
Cuisine The on-site butcher shop supplies chef Morgan Mueller’s steak-house menu with carefully sourced cuts from family-owned ranches. Non-meat eaters will still find plenty of options, including seasonal salads and a cauliflower steak entrée.
Coveted cuts The Butcher’s Table is part of the Sugar Mountain family of businesses, which also includes Mishima Reserve, where the restaurant sources its Wagyu beef. Enjoy the signature cut in the dining room or pick up a piece at the market to take home.


PORTOFINO
An authentic Italian go-to since 1990
8075 S.E. 13th Ave., Portland, Ore.
(503) 234-8259
www.portofinoportland.com
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 2,000
Inventory 15,000
Wine strengths Portofino boasts the largest Restaurant Award–winning wine list in Portland, excelling in Tuscany, Piedmont, Burgundy, Bordeaux, California, the Rhône and Australia. Owner and wine director Seth Matasar also presents a hefty selection of Oregon and Washington wines.
Cuisine Chef Jason Tom sources ingredients from nearby farms and the restaurant’s own garden. Nearly every component—pastas, sauces, cured meats, cheeses and more—is made in house.
Top-notch Tuscany The wine list contains dozens of strong Tuscan verticals from top producers such as Antinori, Livio Sassetti and Isole & Olena, and Chiantis dating back to the 1960s.
Last but not least Don’t overlook Portofino’s dessert wines. There are more than 120 international labels and numerous vintages of Château d'Yquem, Graham and Bodegas Toro Albalá.


RingSide Steakhouse
RingSide Steakhouse has been a family-owned favorite for decades.

RINGSIDE STEAKHOUSE
A landmark in Portland’s Nob Hill neighborhood
2165 W. Burnside St., Portland, Ore.
(503) 223-1513
www.ringsidesteakhouse.com
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 850
Inventory 16,000
Wine strengths The wine program is strongest in California, France (especially Bordeaux), Washington and Oregon, and the list includes corresponding maps to provide context for guests browsing the list.
Cuisine There are a plethora of seafood dishes, but RingSide Steakhouse specializes in steaks aged and hand-cut in house. Chef Beau Carr’s menu provides a plethora of seafood dishes, but RingSide Steakhouse specializes in steaks aged and hand-cut in house. The restaurant's celebrated onion rings are billed as a favorite of late cooking legend James Beard.
Family management RingSide Steakhouse is operated by the third generation of the Peterson family, which has owned the restaurant since it opened in 1944, and many of the servers are longstanding employees.
Worth the wait General manager and wine director Didier Porteaud prioritizes on-premise bottle aging to ensure wines are available at their optimal drinking time. Many wines have been aging in the cellar for decades, and only about 45 percent of the inventory is available on the wine list.


RN74 Seattle
RN74’s train station–style board displays discounted wines instead of departure times.

RN74 SEATTLE
French dining with a Pacific Northwest flair
1433 Fourth Ave., Seattle, Wash.
(206) 456-7474
www.michaelmina.net/restaurants/seattle/rn74-seattle
Open for dinner, Monday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 2,200
Inventory 9,500
Wine pioneer Chef Michael Mina and sommelier Rajat Parr opened the original RN74 in San Francisco in 2009, earning the Grand Award the following year and adding the second location in 2011. The San Francisco outpost closed in October 2017, but it left a lasting legacy of a serious yet unpretentious wine program that lives on in Seattle. Mina owns eight other Best of Award of Excellence winners: five Bourbon Steaks, two Michael Minas and Stripsteak in Las Vegas.
Wine strengths The program’s crown jewel is its Burgundy collection, which displays exceptional breadth and depth. Wine director Jeff Lindsay-Thorsen also champions local labels; several pages of featured Washington wines highlight producers such as DeLille and Charles Smith.
Cuisine Chef Thomas Griese treats ingredients like local organic produce and seafood from the Puget Sound with classic French techniques. The seasonal menu features smoked bone marrow, escargots à la Bordelaise and dry-aged duck breast with Rainier cherries.
Locomotive influence The space is adorned with railroad-themed elements like lanterns, arched beams and a train-station departure and arrivals board, which lists last-bottle selections at discounted prices. Once a bottle is purchased, the board shuffles its letters with the familiar clattering sound and reveals a new selection.


The Triple Door
The Triple Door pairs an exceptional wine list with live performances.

THE TRIPLE DOOR
Superior wine and food in an intimate music venue
216 Union St., Seattle, Wash.
(206) 838-4333
www.thetripledoor.net
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,800
Inventory 9,000
Dinner and a show In a historic underground theater in Seattle’s financial district, the Triple Door hosts a broad range of performers—from indie groups and jazz trios to comedians and rock ‘n’ roll bands—along with full-service dining.
Wine strengths The Triple Door offers the same wine list as its Grand Award–winning next-door neighbor, Wild Ginger, built by wine director Martin Beally. Be sure to ask for the extended list; there’s also a shorter list with 45 selections available by the bottle and about 15 available by the glass.
Cuisine The abbreviated menu has many of Wild Ginger’s signature dishes such as fragrant duck and Thai passion tofu, as well as items exclusive to Triple Door like shumai dumplings and vegetable curry.
Two venues in one In addition to the main stage in the theater, the Triple Door has another stage in the lounge, where guests can enjoy the Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list in a bar setting, and glassed-in suites are available for private events.


Ava Gene’s
Down to the flour that’s milled in-house, Ava Gene’s turns out pastas completely from scratch.

AVA GENE’S
Italian wines complement hyper-seasonal cuisine
3377 S.E. Division St., Portland, Ore.
(971) 229-0571
www.avagenes.com
Open for dinner, daily

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 260
Inventory 2,250
Wine strengths Overseen by beverage director Caryn Benke, the wine program is a diverse and comprehensive showcase of Italian regions, rounded out by some domestic wines made with traditional Italian varieties.
Cuisine Chef Joshua McFadden puts contemporary, seasonal twists on Italian classics. The September 2018 menu features burrata with nectarines and hot peppers, bucatini with cherry tomatoes, and beef short ribs with corn, scallions and horseradish.
Respecting roots Ava Gene’s takes exceptional care when sourcing ingredients, working with dozens of local purveyors—listed by name on their website—and milling their own flour to create pastas completely from scratch. The menu features a rotating “producer highlight” introducing diners to the restaurant’s partnering farms.
Sharable experience In true Italian fashion, Ava Gene’s offers a family-style menu of frequently changing dishes for $75 per person. The restaurant requires parties of eight or more to dine with this prix-fixe format.


Suzi Pratt
With authentic dishes and top wine labels, Cascina Spinasse brings Piedmont to the Pacific Northwest.

CASCINA SPINASSE
A piece of Piedmont in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood
1531 14th Ave., Seattle, Wash.
(206) 251-7673
www.spinasse.com
Open for dinner, daily

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 95
Inventory 1,100
Regional theme From the rustic, trattoria-inspired dining room to the traditional menu and focused wine list, Cascina Spinasse is a love letter to Piedmont.
Wine strengths General manager and wine director Angela Lopez oversees the all-Italian program. The approachable wine list is confined to one page, but it’s filled with strong vintages and renowned producers.
Cuisine Chef Stuart Lane, who attended the Italian Culinary Institute in Piedmont, incorporates local ingredients into Northern Italian specialties such as handmade lamb agnolotti and pan-roasted rabbit meatballs.
Casual counterpart Lane also serves as chef at the adjacent bar, Artusi, which serves Italian-inspired cocktails and small plates in a more laid-back setting.


Carly Diaz
Coquine serves serious wine and food in a not-so-serious setting.

COQUINE
Big wines and bold flavors in a small space
6839 S.E. Belmont St., Portland, Ore.
(503) 384-2483
www.coquinepdx.com
Open for lunch, daily and dinner, Wednesday to Saturday

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 430
Inventory 1,500
Wine strengths Owner and wine director Ksandek Podbielski showcases an outstanding selection of Oregon wines. You’ll also find standout French picks, especially in Burgundy and Champagne.
New Age labels Alongside classic labels, Coquine offers plenty of orange and vin jaune from regions around the world.
Cuisine Chef Katy Millard draws influence from global cuisines while putting local ingredients in the spotlight. The menu items are seasonal but may include dishes like chicken-liver mousse with rhubarb jam, artichoke soup with flowering oregano and lamb loin with a nectarine sauce.
Happy medium The restaurant strikes a balance of comfort and refinement through the informative, moderately-priced wine list covering a range of prices and bottle formats, inexpensive food menu and cozy, neighborhood feel.


Héctor Núñez
Chef-owner Simone Savaiano honors his Roman roots at Mucca Osteria.

MUCCA OSTERIA
Roman inspiration and organic ingredients
1022 S.W. Morrison St., Portland, Ore.
(503) 227-5521
www.muccaosteria.com
Open for dinner, Monday to Saturday

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 365
Inventory 2,140
Wine strengths General manager and wine director Carter Hunt presents a balanced list that’s exclusively Italian with the exception of Champagne. In the past five years, Mucca Osteria’s selections have grown from 30 labels to more than 350.
Cuisine Chef-owner Simone Savaiano draws on the cuisine of his hometown of Rome and works with ingredients from local organic farms. Housemade pastas include egg pappardelle with boar ragù and mushroom tortellini.
The boot on a budget Classic bottles can run several hundred dollars, but the wine list has an array of value options. About half the selections are priced at less than $100, in addition to a handful of wines available by the glass or in half-bottles.
Approachable prix-fixe Mucca Osteria offers six courses for $75 or eight courses for $90, a noteworthy value for tasting menus.


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