Lists are tricky, but Seattle Times food writer Bethany Jean Clement says these places convey the essence of our city.

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LISTS ARE TRICKY. Absolutely subjective and entirely arbitrary, my top-10 whatever isn’t going to be the same as yours. And, truth be told, there isn’t a name for the list here that’s exactly right. “10 Seattle Restaurants You Really Should Go to Even Though They’re Not at All New” is a little long, while still not very specific. We ended up calling it “10 Essential Seattle Restaurants,” which right off the bat requires more explanation — “essential” meaning “conveying essence,” not “necessary for the continuation of life” (clearly).

Yes, the restaurants listed are higher-end. Of course, something like a simple, great sandwich served in a simple, great space can tell us volumes about our city — RIP, Bakeman’s. But the chefs in this top-10 list bring a rare, deep understanding of this place we call home to what they present on the plate. In a city where the pace of new restaurant openings recently reached one per day, they follow the seasons, year after year. A new day for them involves altering the menu when a box of mushrooms is brought to the door, or when a boat brings in fresh fish.

And yes, other places should be on it — there isn’t room for all the ones I thought about. But I do want to name FareStart, where many of these chefs have cooked Guest Chef Nights to benefit that marvelous nonprofit’s work with people struggling to get by in our city.

As for the places like Bakeman’s that we’ve still got in the land of so-much-brand-new, the limelight should be shone on them, too — a series of such salutes starts now, with a tribute to Voula’s Offshore Cafe. We’re calling them Seattle Restaurant Classics, and we can decide what that means together — send me your suggestions!