Aww…summer. That time of the year when every relative and friend you have takes advantage of Seattle’s glorious summer as the time to visit (hey, we can’t blame them). But where do you go to wow out-of-towners with the city’s food scene and find something on the menu to please palates of all ages? Scroll down for our recommendations.
If your guests are even remotely foodies, they’ve likely heard of this stunning eatery on the north shore of Lake Union. The inside is a nautical nod to the Wes Anderson flick The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, but even if you don’t get the reference, it’s cute as can be. The real draw, though, is outdoors: Adirondack chairs surround an oyster shell fire pit where you can dine and sip overlooking the lake and a wee little Space Needle across it. On a warm summer evening, it is perfection.
Know before you go: You’ll want to make a reservation if you have a bigger group, although that will guarantee you a table inside; come early for a chance to eat outdoors. The weekend brunch menu is more approachable for pickier eaters than the dinner menu, which (appropriately) skews heavily on seafood.
Summer hours: Mon.-Wed., 4 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 4 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. brunch, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Fonda La Catrina
OK, if your visitors come from California, Arizona, or anywhere else with stellar Mexican food options, this funky Georgetown restaurant is probably not noteworthy. But Fonda La Catrina has arguably the best Mex in the city, and it’s a crowd-pleaser for all ages thanks to a lengthy menu, colorful décor, and airy back patio. Kids will go ga-ga for the queso fundido—melty cheese served with avocado and tortillas—and crispy tacos dorados; parents should absolutely try the lengua tacos, which are out of this world.
Know before you go: They don’t take reservations, but if go for early dinner or head over for lunch instead, you shouldn’t have a problem. Stay for dessert: the Full Tilt horchata ice cream is delightful, and a refreshing respite if you’ve indulged in the house-made hot sauces.
Summer hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri., 11 a.m.-midnight; Sat., 10 a.m.-midnight; Sun., 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Marination Ma Kai
What started as a food truck has morphed into a successful mini-chain of local eateries for the folks at Marination Mobile, but Ma Kai is their shining star: a laidback restaurant perched on West Seattle’s shore with an unparalleled view of the city skyline (from both inside the restaurant and the patio outdoors). The menu is Hawaiian with Korean influence—tacos are a popular choice, though the fish and chips (only available at this location) are stellar. Kids may enjoy the salty Spam musubi, the perfect precursor to the sugary Hawaiian shave ice for dessert. Board the water taxi from downtown for a door-to-door adventure.
1660 Harbor Ave. S.W.
Seattle, Wa 98126
Summer hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m-9 p.m.
It’s all in the name at this funky Fremont restaurant—you need this burger, and you need it now! The all-weather patio blends seamlessly into the dining room; both provide picnic table seating to enjoy hefty locally sourced burgers and delicious tater tots (and onion rings and fried mushrooms and…). There’s not actually a kids’ menu, but there doesn’t need to be, since this roadside-style burger shack is very much kid-friendly. And don’t forget the hand-pulled shakes with Snoqualmie ice cream—the salted caramel is particularly amazing. Psst...this happening joint serves a great selection of fine wines and craft-brewed beers to complement just about everything on its menu.
4302 Fremont Ave. N.
Seattle, Wa 98103
Hours: Mon.-Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Ray’s Boathouse and Café
Sunset over Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains? Don’t mind if we do. Ray’s is a Seattle institution, as much for its Pacific Northwest menu as its Ballard location right on Shilshole Bay. The boathouse downstairs is higher end, while the upstairs Ray’s Café is more casual—both have kids’ menus, but the café’s offerings are more extensive (you’ll find everything from grilled cheese to king salmon with rice). Fortunately, you’ll be able to soak in the stunning views from either location.
Know before you go: Both restaurants take reservations, though only the café is open for lunch. Build in some extra time to swing by Golden Gardens with your out-of-towners—the playground is great, and the beach is even better!
Boathouse: Mon.-Fri., 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 4 p.m.-10 p.m.
Café: Sun.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
The husband-and-wife chef team behind Korean-influenced eatery Revel (they have other joints, Trove, Joule and Revelry as well) is legendary among Seattle’s food nerds. If the thought of Korean pickles and spice scares you, think again: this is among the most refined yet approachable cuisine in the city, and we’ve never taken guests who haven’t adored the innovative menu of dumplings, noodles and rice bowls.
Know before you go: Reservations are accepted, but are less necessary at lunch than they are at dinner. Revel also offers cooking classes, so if your guests give you enough warning, sign up together for a uniquely Seattle experience.
Note: Revel is now located at its new home in South Lake Union between Mercer and Republican Streets.
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Daily, 4 p.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 4 p.m.-10 p.m.; Closed on Sun.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
Is there a greater pleasure for both child and adult taste buds than mac ‘n’ cheese? There’s none better than the ooey, gooey, cheddary goodness at Beecher’s, who make their flagship cheese on premise—you can watch—at Pike Place Market. You can sample cheese curds, but you won’t want to miss a steamy cup of mac (technically penne pasta) for the road.
Know before you go: Pike Place Market can get thick with both tourists and locals, particularly in the summer months, so make sure you go with patience when walking with tiny tots, and maybe leave the double-wide strollers in the car. The good news: there’s so much to see—and eat!—that you can spend half a day easily.
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Slate Coffee Roasters
Seattle’s known for its coffee scene, so you’d be remiss not to show that off to folks visiting from out of town. There are plenty of kid-friendly cafes in town, but Slate’s coffee—and, just as importantly, their customer service—is a notch above the rest. They carefully source and roast their beans, which obviously will be more of interest to the grownups among you, though little ones will surely love the homemade hot chocolate, and the box of toys in the corner. Psst..a second location is located just west of Pioneer Square in the Samis Building.
Know before you go: There’s a bakery pop-up called Parchment that fills the restaurant across the street with a delicious assortment of pastries every other Sunday. Time your visit to take advantage! Psst...if you're in the U-District, you'll find one located in the heart of the University of Washington shopping district next door to American Apparel.
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri., 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Pho Cyclo Cafe
Boston has the lobster roll, San Francisco has their burritos, Memphis is all barbecue… Seattle, besides the salmon and teriyaki and awesome foraged foods, has pho. For the uninitiated, pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup, traditionally in beef broth, that is the perfect antidote to Seattle’s rainy, grey days. Among the many spots to grab a cheap, hearty bowl, Pho Cyclo has the best assortment; there’s great pho, but there’s also rice dishes, spring rolls and all manner of flavorful plates to impress your guests.
Know before you go: There are five locations spread throughout the city—check their website to find the one closest to you.
A stone’s throw from Uneeda Burger, this Mexican food oasis makes North Fremont a pretty safe bet in warm weather. Three-dollar margaritas sweeten the deal, as do the salsa bar and fresh food at reasonable prices. The outdoor dining area is as big as the indoor space, with several open-air sections offering plenty of tables. Older kids can grab a tall chair and tuck in to those yam tacos while sitting at a raised table with a fire pit in the center.
Good to know: Additional locations can be found in Redmond Town Center, West Seattle and Eastlake.
4307 Fremont Ave. N.
Seattle, Wa 98103
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Agua Verde Café & Paddle Club
Eating outdoors can’t get much cooler than this: at Agua Verde, you can nosh on a large outdoor deck that overlooks the shop’s kayak rental area. So as you and the kids share a basket of chips and fresh salsa from the serve-yourself bar, you can check out kayakers paddling in and out of the dock. Don’t miss the mangodillas— quesadillas with fresh mango and melty cheese and are a hit with diners of all ages!
1303 N.E. Boat St.
Seattle, Wa 98105
Summer hours: Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Happy Hour: Mon - Thurs., 4 p.m.- 6 p.m.
Red Mill Burgers
Seattle icon Red Mill Burgers has been featured on Oprah and the Food Network. But to Seattle locals, it’s just a great place to grab a delicious burger and some onion rings with the family. Red Mill is known for cooking up a huge stack of bacon for topping burgers, hand-blending fresh milkshakes (try banana or peanut butter) and offering wonderful outdoor picnic tables for eating in the sun.
Know before you go: Red Mill now accepts credit and debit cards and has a strict no cell phone policy!
Phinney Ridge Neighborhood
312 N. 67th St.
Seattle, Wa 98103
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., noon-8 p.m., closed on Mondays
1613 W. Dravus St.
Seattle, Wa 98119
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun. noon-8 p.m., closed on Mondays
3058 N.W. 54th St.
Seattle, Wa 98107
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun. noon-9 p.m., closed on Mondays
Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria
With multiple locations around Seattle, Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria is always just a stone's throw away. And not only does their pizza taste like a slice of Italian heaven, but Tutta Bella is just as kid-friendly as it is delicious. From the Wikki Stix that are passed out to keep hangry kiddos busy to their open kitchens that allow kids to watch as their pizzas are being made, Tutta Bella is an easy restaurant to dine at with kids in tow.
Good to know: Ask for their seasonal specials; they're seriously impressive. If you're in the mood for a hand-crafted cocktail, they have an incredible selection to choose from. We recommend the Sofia. And if your sidekick has a sweet tooth, (and what kid doesn't?) be sure to try their gelato. It's out of this world!
Locations: Columbia City, South Lake Union, Wallingford, Bellevue and Issaquah
Frelard Pizza Co.
Frelard Pizza Co., the second installment of Ethan Stowell’s Ballard Pizza Co. concept, is absolutely ideal for kids (and parents who want to enjoy an uninterrupted conversation). In addition to a spacious outdoor patio for parents to relax in, they have a kids play area, known to regulars as the pit. The pit has a cushy, padded floor, giant blackboard wall that kids can chalk up and loads of toys to keep the Littles occupied while you enjoy some of the best pizza Seattle has to offer.
Locations: Ballard, Frelard and South Lake Union
—Kristina Moy & Kristina Moy