That perfect spot outside the restaurant you’re heading to is empty for a reason - it’s actually a 15-minute loading zone. Hope you’re ready to set the new world record for speed-eating a sit-down meal.
If you’d rather not worry about leaving an extra half hour to circle the block for nonexistent parking spots, head straight to one of the places on this list. Then, use the time you might have spent silently cursing other drivers to enjoy some of our favorite dishes in Seattle.
Pho Bac Sup Shop - with its neon signs, photo booth, and endless music videos on TVs above the bar - would be a lot of fun even if it weren’t so easy to park outside (either in their lot or on the street). But it is, and that makes us love this place even more. Come here for excellent short rib pho, pork and prawn sausage sliders, and spicy pub mix complete with crunched-up fortune cookies. Then take some photo booth portraits with your car keys to commemorate the special experience you’ve just shared.
A warm-weather day drinking spot in South Lake Union with parking that doesn’t make us want to scream and bang our heads repeatedly on the dashboard? Believe it or not, it’s real - The 100 Pound Clam always has plenty of spots available in an adjacent lot, which essentially makes hanging out on the lakeside patio with some fish and chips a required spring/summer activity.
No one ever said it was easy, or even possible, to find parking in Capitol Hill at dinnertime. Unless they were talking about 8 Oz. Burger & Co. Park in the nearby Harvard Market garage, where the first hour is free, then head inside for upscale burgers that are (you guessed it) 8oz. each. No matter what, get the green tea nutella milkshake, too.
Near Alki Beach in West Seattle (and removed from the California Ave. craziness) is New Luck Toy, which has skee-ball, karaoke, tons of paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and delicious Chinese food. This is already one of our favorite spots to go on a night out, but the fact that it’s incredibly easy to park for free on the street makes it even better.
Citizen Six is in Interbay, which means if you’re coming here, you’re likely driving. This place shares its parking lot with a dentist’s office, so at dinnertime you’re basically guaranteed a spot right next to the front door - even if you and all your friends drive separately. (But maybe carpool to save the environment.) Once you’re in, grab a table and go for really anything on the Korean-Mexican fusion menu, from loaded bulgogi fries to spicy fried chicken sandwiches with ssam sauce. Just be sure to get a flight of homemade hard ciders, too.
There’s a parking lot at Westward, which is cool, but every time we’ve eaten here, that lot has been full. Strange how a place on Lake Union with great seafood and a firepit perfect for outdoor drinking would be popular, right? Luckily, there’s a huge stretch of road across the street with plenty of spots for your car. Once you’ve parked, claim one of the Adirondack chairs around the firepit and stay there for the rest of the night.
Pablo y Pablo is a taqueria in Wallingford with plenty of parking potential when dinnertime rolls around. We’ve even gotten spots right outside the front door before. Go for the chopped salad, some chipotle-braised chicken enchiladas, and the meatless chorizo tacos with spicy cashew queso - even if you’re not vegan, you’ll like those.
We love easy parking, we love burgers, and we love Red Mill because it has both. Plus great onion rings. Park in the lot and then enjoy your cheeseburger, onion rings, and milkshake at a picnic table right outside. Optional, but encouraged, is watching the drivers across the street at the Ballard Locks circle like vultures for a spot so they can watch some salmon do absolutely nothing.
It’s a common problem: you’re taking a date somewhere in Capitol Hill, but you spend so much time looking for parking that you show up late and another happy couple gets to take advantage of that table you so lovingly reserved. Next time you’re planning something romantic in the neighborhood and need to drive, book at Volunteer Park Cafe. It’s a farmhouse-style bistro in the middle of a residential area where all the yoga moms keep their cars in their garages, so there are plenty of curbside spots for the taking. Spend less time parking and more time sharing wood-fired pizzas and chicken pot pie with someone cute.
This Greenwood spot with delicious wood-grilled food has plenty of street parking - you’ll probably have more trouble getting into the tiny dining room than finding a spot for your car. Have fun staring at the painted barn animal silhouettes in the bathroom, and don’t leave without getting the beet salad.
Another Greenwood spot with ample curbside availability. FlintCreek is where to go to eat a serious steak without feeling like an old man, and it’s also a good Happy Hour HQ or date night spot. (Sit at the big marble bar.) You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but we particularly like the lamb tartare, the ribeye with anchovy paste/paprika butter, and the gnocchi with braised boar.
D’ La Santa isn’t the best-known Mexican spot in the city, but it’s worth seeking out. It’s on a street that plenty of people drive (and park) on, but if you’re heading South and can’t find something on 10th Avenue East, cut a right on Miller - you shouldn’t have any trouble parking there. Then, you can focus on all the garlic butter shrimp tacos, chicken tortas, and steak dishes you’re going to want to order.
The crab cakes and fish and chips at Ray’s are tasty enough, but you only really want to be here when the weather’s good enough for sitting outside. In the spring and summer, the gorgeous waterfront balcony is basically begging you to drink ice cold, middle-tier wine on it as the sun sets. And Ray’s wouldn’t be on this list without a great parking situation - there’s a huge lot, plus a valet if you’re feeling fancy.
For quality Indian food in a University District space that looks like a big town house (porch and all), head to Cedars - there’s street parking on Brooklyn, or you can use part of the Safeway lot nearby. It’s family-friendly and also great for groups. So come with your friends, and maybe even their toddlers.
Marination Ma Kai is an Alki Beach spot that has the best view in the city. Not only that, but there’s a parking lot, plus some easy street parking you can use when the lot is full - all of which leaves more time for eating Korean-Hawaiian fusion food like miso ginger chicken tacos, kimchi fried rice, and macaroni salad with spam. In the summer, the patio is where you want to be - and no matter the season, finish your meal with a shave ice.
You’re (probably) not coming here for the parking. But if some stuffy relatives are visiting, or you’re trying to give your date a truly unforgettable evening to compensate for whatever character flaw they’re starting to notice, this is a good choice. There’s a $115 menu, a dress code, almost frighteningly precise service (involving things like portable tablecloth irons), and a valet. So make your reservation well in advance, and save your stress for that date - not finding a good spot.