Stay Local, Eat Global: Best Cultural Bites in the University District

Northeast Seattle’s University District is a melting pot consisting of university students and staff of all backgrounds. With the prominent international community comes a host of cultural restaurants, bars, and hole-in-the-wall food stops. Here are a few favorite global cuisine picks located on The Ave and in the surrounding areas.


Cedars Restaurant
4759 Brooklyn Ave NE

From its Brooklyn Avenue restaurant space that resembles a cozy neighborhood home, the Cedars kitchen has been keeping students and U District residents full and happy for more than four decades. As the U District has continued to evolve, Cedars has kept up for more than four decades — but the best parts remain as good as ever within the walls of this family-owned dining room. It’s no wonder that, when you dine at Cedars, you feel like part of family. The intimate atmosphere makes it a great place to score a heaping plate of your favorite curry dish (don’t miss the popular butter chicken) with a side of fresh naan, or a tandoori-roasted cut of chicken, lamb, beef, or fish. Wash it all down with a hot cup of chai or creamy mango lassi… just make sure to leave room for the housemade baklava!

Note: UW students receive 10% off with valid ID during the first two weeks back-to-school; ask your waiter for details!


Elemental Pizza
2634 NE University Village St

As if pizza weren’t already perfect as is, fire it over almond or apple wood and you’re really onto something. This University Village eatery knows this to be true, and it’s about time you treated yourself to one of its creations. Grab a friend or a date and split a 12-incher, or save it all for yourself. Elemental’s wood-fired pizzas are made from local ingredients and come fully loaded with your favorite toppings, from hearty meat-lover options to savory vegetarian slices. You can even place your order for gluten-free crust! You’ll also find handmade pasta staples (lemon shrimp linguine or classic spaghetti and meatballs with marinara), plus pizza and drink specials during daily happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. (draft beer or a well drink for under $4, anyone?). See you at U Village!


Agua Verde Cafe
1303 NE Boat St

Look no further for fresh Baja-style with a waterfront view. Here’s all you need to do happy hour right: head to Agua Verde between 4 and 6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, order chips and house salsa for the table, and cue up a round of margaritas. If you like your drinks bright pink and prickly pear-flavored, you’re in luck with the Tuna Margarita. Fill up on a wide variety of tacos, burritos, or unique creations like the mango and poblano chile-stuffed “Mangodilla.” When you’re sufficiently happy from the happiest hour, head down to the paddle club to rent a single or double kayak or standup paddleboard and enjoy a sunset cruise around the adjacent Montlake Cut.

Additional picks:


Xi’an Noodles
5259 University Way NE

Street-food style Chinese noodle dishes — get ‘em hot or cold.


Village Sushi
5211 University Way NE

Signature rolls plus fresh sashimi and nigiri.


Aladdin Gyro-Cery
4139 University Way NE

A favorite for late-night gyros, falafel, and shawarma.


Amazing Thai
5210 Roosevelt Way NE

The name says it all.

Featured image courtesy of Cedars Restaurant

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