The Most Fun Dinner Spots In Seattle guide image


The Most Fun Dinner Spots In Seattle

A night out at one of these restaurants will never be boring.

Those seeking a polite meal, click away now. This guide is reserved for anyone who’s wondering, “Where’s the place to be?” and might have a penchant for mid-dinner shots with the table next to you and post-dinner nights on the Hill. These spots aren’t animatronic wildlife kind of fun (though we can make an exception for the lion fountain at Dreamland). No, they range from local haunts where you can have a big night out in sweatpants to hot new spots that are all Veja sneakers and startup CEOs. They’re the “it” dinner places in Seattle—and unsurprisingly, quite a few of them are on Capitol Hill. And if you happen to be looking for some fun bars, we have a guide to those too.


Secret Fort

No, Secret Fort is not a cool clubhouse constructed out of pillows and quilts—it’s a yakitori bar attached to Yoroshiku in Wallingford. The menu has many different choices of skewered meats, but if you want to end up with a platter of hits, order peppery pork belly slices, rare seared tuna dolloped with wasabi, grilled glazed eel, and chicken thighs. The small plates are for the most part underwhelming (we're looking right at you, store-bought tortilla chips with chopped tomato chunks labeled as "yuzu shiso salsa"), so go all in on yakitori and cocktails. The place is generally pretty packed, but the mood is lively and they have lamps that look like Super Mario question mark blocks.

Initially, Vindicktive's setting screams “generic sports bar”—there are huge booths, TVs lining the walls, empty pint glass towers, and regulars glued to barstools. But the more time you spend here, the more it becomes a college party with best-night-ever energy. Music blasts, bartenders pause to ask how you've been, and sumo wrestling plays on the screens. When you use the tinsel-covered Christmas-themed bathrooms and chant “Hallmark” three times in front of the mirror, Mariah Carey just might appear. And on Wednesday's 99-cent wing night, there's a packed house full of customers that catch bowls of wings zipping out of the kitchen like fly balls. It's nothing short of chaotic, but these crackly wings are well worth braving the bone-gnawing crowds.

If you equate the amount of fun you have to the quantity of beef and pork you consume, you’ll have a blast at Beast & Cleaver, a tiny butcher shop in Ballard that transforms into an after-hours tasting experience known as The Peasant. The menu changes each time, but the constant is the surplus of red meat that shapes your meal, be it steak tartare on top of a tallow scone, or a roulade of lamb that's slow-roasted until it falls apart. But the excellence here stretches beyond that stuff, with refreshing salads and a phenomenal sunchoke truffle ice cream that gives Salt & Straw an absolute run for their money. You can't get much better than eating outstanding food and great wine while sitting catty-corner to a display case of raw links, patties, and chops.

There are two very different ways to have a thrilling time at Fogón. Both start with a complimentary tostada and end with the Bartender's Margarita. Between pumping music and crowds of people that spill out onto the street, this Capitol Hill Mexican restaurant is practically designed for groups that want to get a little rowdy over al pastor pork tacos and margaritas that taste (and feel) triple-spiked. On the other end of the spectrum, this place is also great if your idea of fun is a solo situation that involves tequila as your only companion. Fogón has the best patio for people-watching along Pine, so camp out on a bar stool and observe the chaotic nightlife unfold as you eat fajitas. 

For a serotonin rush without having to snuggle a puppy or pop a molly, just have dinner on Dreamland’s balcony patio, a.k.a. Carnelian Bay. The whimsical space-galaxy-jungle-grotto surroundings make this diner feel like a hazy movie mashup of Jurassic ParkAlien, and Xanadu in the best way possible. There are $99 large-batch margaritas served in disco balls alongside salty pucker powder-rimmed glasses, Jell-O shots that taste like homemade jam straight from the jar, and some above-average bar snacks—like vegetarian chicken strip baskets, pimento cheese slathered on fried saltines, and a gooey burger that can do no wrong in our eyes. Very much like the title track of Xanadu.

If rummaging through bags of garlic butter in gloves and a bib sounds like a good time, let us introduce you to The Crawfish House, where the fun starts the moment you walk in. This White Center staple is decorated with fishing nets hanging from the ceiling, buoy ornaments, and murals of giant crawfish depicted as WWE wrestlers. Prioritize this place for a Saturday group situation that revolves around boiled shellfish, fried snacks, and becoming butter-drunk.

At Itsumono, you'll find a short lineup of seemingly random mashups like tonkatsu tikka masala, loco moco scotch eggs, and miso soup risotto. This gastropub is mukokuseki-themed, which translates literally to "without nationality," and makes sense why there's biang biang noodle bolognese and scallion pancake birria quesadillas on the same menu. But the best part about Itsumono is that very few folks are hip to its majesty. It’s ridiculously easy to secure a next-day reservation for six, so keep this place on your shortlist for a last-minute group dinner, or even a first date. Then, the only thing that’s left to do is sit back in the bar-style space and order a round of sparkling sake jelly shots followed by some frankenfoods.

The Santa Barbara location of this 17-course omakase speakeasy is where Megan Markle and Gwenyth Paltrow have casual lunches together, so when we say that this place is a see-or-be-seen spot, we mean it. And even though the only celebrity sighting you’ll likely have at the Seattle outpost is a plumbing company spokesperson or a certain financially conscious rapper, this place still manages to feel like an exclusive party. Ring the doorbell to get in, and you’ll be quickly greeted with a welcome cocktail that tastes like spa water. Inside is loud with blue and purple glowing lights that make it feel more like an EDM club than a 10-seat sushi counter. The nigiri is fun too, with wild toppings like shrimp head paste and olive oil, beet mustard and toasted quinoa, or corn pudding and sourdough breadcrumbs.

Beyond the unmarked, literal pink door at this iconic Pike Place Italian spot, you’ll find an elegant circus-restaurant hybrid, with low lighting, a mural of a court jester, thick curtains, and acrobatic talent swinging on silks above you and your linguine with clams. It’s a wacky place for you to leave everything behind and escape real life for a night. Don't forget an order of lasagna and grilled bread.

This Wallingford pasta place is a different kind of wacky, and yet, still covered head to toe in bizarre props like spooky framed art and the occasional bicycle hanging from the ceiling. There's always a decent flow of crowds that makes the energy palpable, and it's hard not to have fun when your tagliatelle with mushroom cream comes with a free salad and focaccia. Just remember that there's a surcharge added if you whip out your phone, so live in the moment. Ignoring social media can be fun, we promise.

This Capitol Hill Korean BBQ spot is a fantastic place to get some folks together to eat gochujang-marinated kurobuta pork, kalbi short rib, or prime ribeye if you’re feeling particularly luxurious. It works well as a pregame destination if you’re planning to hop around to some Capitol Hill bars, but it’s still enough of a soju-and-meat-fueled party in here if the only place you hit up afterward is your bed. And the best part is that you won't need to appoint one hard-working friend to do all the cooking and miss out on the fun. Here, servers operate the tabletop grill for you, so you can swirl a glass of sake and snack on cheesy corn without worrying if the A5 wagyu is burning.

Tamari Bar is an excellent Japanese restaurant that serves sashimi staircases, torched sushi rolls, dumplings, and marinated wagyu you sear yourself on a molten hot rock, which is truthfully enough fun for an entire weekend. And even though it’s pretty packed every night of the week with walk-in traffic, you could call and make a 12-person reservation for the very next day. This is particularly useful if you forgot to get something on the books for your friend’s birthday, and you’d like them to still be your friend.

Just like someone who can actually pull off Doc Martens with a floral skirt, Cornelly is effortlessly cool. At this small Italian spot, there’s always a packed patio loaded with silver pizza stands and groups of pals you can tell actually like each other. The dining room feels like someone picked up a Brooklyn natural wine bar and dropped it in the middle of Capitol Hill. It’s both laid back and vibey, and has such great carbs that it simply makes the act of eating dinner more fun. Make sure a white pie and at least one pasta hits the table, and remember to tack on their fluffy focaccia.

Mbar has all the makings for a total rooftop scene—a social media-worthy skyline view, overly complicated drinks, and the Amazon employees who drink them. But what makes Mbar so much more special than a typical high-altitude bar is that the food here actually doesn't suck. In fact, the food is what keeps us coming back. Snack on Lebanese small plates like shrimp kebabs, sweet chili pomegranate chicken wings, and green pea falafel that you should definitely be ordering more than one of for the table. This place is perfect for dates, group outings, and anything else you’d like to celebrate, even if that’s just finishing laundry for the week. 

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photo credit: Nate Watters

The Most Fun Dinner Spots In Seattle guide image