Ask Jen: Copper River Salmon

Copper River sockeye salmon grilling on a boat

Dear Jen -


What is the best restaurant in Seattle to get really delicious Copper River salmon? Or just really good fresh fish?
Thanks for your help!
- A


Dear A -
This is the question of the century and one I spent my first year living in Seattle trying to answer. With the Pike Place market and Seattle’s port city reputation, one would assume there would be a number of Seattle restaurants specializing in fish.
Ironically, I do not fancy the majority of seafood-themed restaurants in Seattle such as Elliott’s, Waterfront Grill, and Anthony’s . They all feel gimmicky, geared towards a tourist crowd and compromise on ambiance, originality and quality.
I think the best places to get fresh fish are restaurants that specialize in seasonal Pacific NW fare and we are lucky there are a ton of them.


Here are some examples:
  • Sitka and Spruce: I am still dreaming about a halibut dish I ordered with a group of friends a week and a half ago at this Capitol Hill restaurant, which was served with wood sorrel, dukkah, hazelnut and stinging nettles.  All 10 of us seated at the table were mesmerized by the creative preparation and perfect texture.
  • Still dreaming about Sitka's halibut


  • Art of the Table – This week, chef Dustin has salmon (albeit not the Copper River kind) on the menu:  King Salmon with Sea Beans, Wheatberries and Coriander Yogurt, Dustin gets most of his fish from Wilson’s Fish which means the fish will taste like it has just been caught because it likely has just been caught.  Check out the prix fixe on Fridays and Saturdays or order the salmon a la carte on Mondays and Thursdays.
  • Anchovies and Olives - The grilled whole branzino (sea bass) fish came highly recommended at Ethan Stowell’s loosely seafood themed restaurant in Capitol Hill and boy was it tender and flavorful.

Anchovies and Olive's grilled branzino (European sea bass) and stuffed with fresh herbs and lemon


  • The restaurants on the islands are always a great source for getting fresh seafood:  Allium on Orcas Island, Willows Inn restaurant on Lummi Island, and the Inn at Ship Bay on Orcas Island.
Since you have an understandable hankering for the Copper River salmon during their short season, here are some restaurants that are specifically serving copper river:
  • Steelhead Diner - This restaurant on 85 Pine Street is a bit of a tourist trap since it is so close to the Pike Place market and the service can be spotty, but I am generally satisfied with the food.  They are currently serving a 7 oz Copper River King for $45
  • Flying Fish – I don’t dig the interior of this restaurant in their current South Lake Union location (at least they have high ceilings going for them), but the food is always spot on and is probably the only seafood specialized restaurant I hold with esteem.  Fly ing Fish has been serving Copper River King on and off for the past three weeks.  I would recommend calling ahead to see if they will have Copper River that day. The price can vary, but I saw the price listed as $35 for 7 oz when I was there.
  • Herbfarm- This Woodinville fixture consistently has an annual copper river themed menu,where the majority of their 9-course, ~$200 per person meal includes the Copper served with various cooking techniques:  crudo, smoked, and seared. I think last week was their final week serving Copper so you may have to wait until next year to indulge.

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2 Responses to “Ask Jen: Copper River Salmon”

  1. Rhonda
    June 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Hi Jen,

    Last weekend we popped into Cantinetta and they had copper river salmon on the menu. I was surprised, since I did not realize we were upon that season (yay!). They had a lovely simple preparation. I think it is important the fish speaks for itself.


  2. Jen (roll with Jen)
    June 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    Rhonda! Great tip about Cantinetta serving up copper river. I may just have to go and check it out before the short season comes to a close.

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