When you think of culinary hotspots in the greater Seattle area, Renton might not spring immediately to mind – but it should. This suburb best known for its history of airplane manufacturing has an exciting and diverse food scene that’s worth checking out. This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are my top five Renton eats.
Tucked away in a small strip mall spot in the Renton Highlands, the sushi here rivals that of any better-known and more celebrated establishments in Seattle or Bellevue. Featuring a wide array of specialty rolls in addition to traditional nigiri and sashimi, the sushi is always flavorful, creative and most importantly, fresh.
If you’re not a fan of seafood, the Sushi Cafe kitchen also offers a number of Chinese and Japanese entrees such as Singapore noodles and yakisoba. But trust us, the sushi is worth trying at least once (especially the Big Fish, which showcases yellowtail, salmon and ahi).
Himalayan Café and Grill
Located on Southwest 43rd Street just a parking lot away from Round Table Pizza, this husband- and wife-owned establishment features the cuisines of their respective homelands, India and Nepal. The result is a flavorful exploration of the foods of both areas. There are Indian favorites like samosas and biryani as well as Nepalese street food including momos (dumplings similar to potstickers) and Gorkha chicken chilli. The menu is expansive – and I mean expansive – so to get a true feel for all this hidden gem has to offer, you’ll have to visit multiple times. Not to worry, though; you’ll want to plan your next trip to Himalayan Café and Grill as soon as you’re done with the first.
Whistle Stop Alehouse
Whistle Stop Alehouse is a Renton institution for a reason. Nestled downtown on South 4th Street, this good old-fashioned American pub has been around for 25 years. Meaty, juicy burgers with train station-themed names are the foundation of this neighborhood restaurant, but there’s a lot more to it than that. You’ll also find pasta dishes, steaks and seafood items alongside frequent specials that put their team’s culinary creativity to the test. It’s also a great spot to grab a beer to wash down your meal, and many of the offerings are craft selections from Northwest breweries. I should also mention they serve a hearty breakfast!
Peyrassol Café at Southport
This tiny but charming bistro on Lake Washington Boulevard is an ideal spot for breakfast, brunch or date night. Co-owners (and husband and wife duo) Sachia Tinsley and Scott Corley have major street cred – Tinsley’s worked at Osteria La Spiga, Wild Ginger and The Triple Door in Seattle and Corley is a sommelier with 20 years experience. Their French- and Italian-inspired cuisine is crafted lovingly with local ingredients and remarkable attention to detail. The lasagna, in particular, I found amazing — with delicate, tender noodles that a fork can cut through like a knife through hot butter, and a tomato-based pork ragu that’s flavorful yet not overly acidic.
With some recent restaurant closures and menu switch-ups, Renton’s had a bit of a dearth of dim sum joints to speak of, but Triumph Valley is here to fill that void. The newest restaurant of the bunch, it’s only been open since October 2020, occupying the space on East Valley Road that once housed AFK Elixirs & Eatery and before that, The Keg.
While the inside is reminiscent of a more upscale Chinese banquet hall, the prices are reasonable and the selection is great. You can get ramen and hot pot here, but the real star of the show is the dim sum. Try their take on Shanghai soup dumplings, which are bursting with flavor, and deep-fried pork dumplings which are shaped to look like pears. It’s a welcome addition to Renton’s ever-growing food scene!
*Note: all these restaurants are offering to-go service, and some have limited indoor and outdoor seating. Check with each for the latest on how they are operating under Washington’s phased reopening plan.
Photos courtesy of Jeff Lawrence (Whistle Stop Ale House), Peyrassol Cafe at Southport, Kevin Lam and Mercedes Santaella-Lam.