The Most Fun Dinner Spots In Seattle

A night out at one of these restaurants will never be boring.
The Most Fun Dinner Spots In Seattle image

photo credit: Nate Watters

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 or 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). Rather, they range from local haunts where you can have a big night out in sweatpants to hot new restaurants that are all Veja sneakers and startup CEOs. They’re the “it” dinner places in Seattle. And if you happen to be looking for some fun bars, we have a guide to those too.


photo credit: Nate Watters



$$$$Perfect For:Walk-InsEating At The BarDrinks & A Light Bite


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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 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.

photo credit: Nate Watters

Initially, Vindicktive's setting screams “generic sports bar” with 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. 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, be it steak tartare on top of a tallow scone, or a roulade of lamb that's slow-roasted until it falls apart. 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.

$$$$Perfect For:BirthdaysBig Groups

Haidilao is an experience. At this popular hot pot chain in Bellevue, they’ll escort you to a booth like you’ve got a FastPass, dance tableside while hand-pulling noodles, and have servers sing “happy birthday” while fist-pumping with a neon sign. And don’t even get us started on all the free stuff (toys, pints of ice cream, lotion, manicures). All the bells and whistles are nice, but the hot pot is truly great too—their tom yum broth pairs nicely with delicate beef tongue. Best to come here with a big group, rock an apron, and clink soju as you dunk those meats.

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. 

photo credit: Nate Watters



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For a serotonin rush, 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.

photo credit: Nate Watters



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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 to "without nationality," and explains 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.

There may be no local restaurant or bar that nerds out as hard as Mox Boarding House in Ballard. It’s part tabletop gaming store, part event space, and part dining room where you’ll find players rolling 20-sided dice with conviction or smearing potato chip-greased fingers over Catan resource cards. Serious gamers can rent private rooms by the hour for intense sessions, but you can walk into the restaurant area with a group and settle into a spacious booth to talk over your Magic: The Gathering strategy (or borrow a game from Mox’s library). While the menu has nothing imaginative, there are enough decent, shareable appetizers—like the juicy albondigas—and a robust beer and cocktail list to fuel a night of role-playing as a half-orc warlock with a penchant for cuddling baby dragons.

The Santa Barbara location of this 17-course omakase speakeasy is where Megan Markle and Gwenyth Paltrow have casual lunches together. 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. It's loud inside with blue and purple glowing lights that make the space 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.

In case the viking sculpture and pelt booth cushions weren’t giveaways, Skål Beer Hall leans its umlauted spirit into Ballard’s Scandinavian roots—and it’s a great place to start a raucous night. The dramatically lit back bar has a stone hearth and large wood booths made for groups who like to get a little loud. There are platters of satisfying snacks like tender venison skewers and slivers of herring, all best washed down with beer, mead or maybe an Aquavit-spiked cocktail. Those planning to settle in can peruse shelves stocked with board games or stare hypnotically at the Slow TV show from Norway that follows a train gently touring the countryside. Just watch that pickled herring breath if there’s anyone you hope to impress.

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 Capitol Hill bars, but it’s still enough of a party 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. Servers operate the tabletop grill for you, which means you can swirl a glass of sake and snack on cheesy corn without worrying if the A5 wagyu is burning.

King’s Hardware in Ballard is less of a restaurant and more like a debaucherous bar where you can get a full meal of decent pub snacks. Said debauchery is powered by copious amounts of taxidermy, a rowdy patio, spiked slushies, and your friends' competitive aggression when they catch a glimpse of the Skee-Ball machine. Gather everyone out on a bunch of shoved-together tables and order a round of tater tots, chicken tenders, and cheeseburgers.

This excellent Japanese restaurant on Capitol Hill serves sashimi staircases, torched sushi rolls, dumplings, and marinated wagyu you sear yourself on a molten hot rock. All that 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 laid back 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 is that the food here doesn't suck—it's what keeps us coming back. Snack on Lebanese small plates like shrimp kebabs, tahini 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. 

You could use one of these fun dinner spots to pregame a night out on Capitol Hill, or you could just hang out at Donna's the entire time. This Italian cocktail bar is an ideal one-stop shop. With tasty under-$15 bowls of pasta like curly mafaldine in a creamy bolognese, music loud enough to ripple your tomato-basil martini, and a gold disco ball spinning at the center, there's enough fun and great food to make Donna’s the one (and only) destination for a rowdy evening on the Hill.

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