Come summer, the population of Seattle transforms from a pack of humans consistently irritated by rain and each other to a happy society of friendly, nature-obsessed hiker-people. It’s not unlike the evolution of a caterpillar into a butterfly, and there’s only one way to celebrate: by ascending some rocks flanked by green trees and little streams and stuff. You’ll need something good to eat before or after you do this, which is where we come in (trust us, you want our restaurant advice, not our hiking advice). Here’s where to eat after many hours of stepping on rocks at various altitudes.
We always want to eat at Red Mill Totem House after our hikes, and here’s why: there’s a certain satisfaction that comes from being very sweaty out in nature and then consuming a bacon cheeseburger, an outrageously big milkshake, and an entire basket of homemade onion rings drowned in fry sauce. We understand that it would be more productive to eat some raw kale, but we’re telling you to get a burger instead. Hope that’s cool.
OK, that might have been a bit aggressive. If you’re trying to be a little healthier than Red Mill, Next Level Burger might be for you. It’s a vegan fast-casual spot located inside of a Whole Foods - so pretty appropriate for your summer hiking alter ego. You can still go all out here and get a big burger with dairy-free cheese and tempeh bacon, plus a cookies-and-cream milkshake made with homemade coconut soft serve - but you can also get your french fries baked instead of fried if you want. There. Compromises do exist.
If we’re going to send you for pizza after a hike (and we are), Humble Pie is where we’re sending you. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they only have outdoor seating, or maybe it’s related to the chicken coop they have in the yard. Keep the sun exposure going and grab a picnic table as well as some pies ranging from margherita to vegetarian sausage to apple and Beecher’s cheese. The whole thing’s just like your hike, only instead of serene babbling brooks and rustling leaves, you’ll hear a lot of rustling napkins. And clucking.
If it’s protein you want, the Peruvian roast chicken from Big Chickie in Hillman City is a very good option. This place has a huge patio, great sides that represent the entire spectrum of health from kale apple salads and spicy carrots to cheesy potatoes and yucca fries, and really good dipping sauces. Whatever you do, get your hands on some excellent corn empanadas, dunk everything in the yellow sauce, and end with a homemade cinnamon-spiced brownie.
Bongos makes it easy to get into the spirit of the outdoors - it’s a colorful renovated gas station with a very fake (but not completely unconvincing) beach patio covered in sand. Everything on the Caribbean menu is great, from excellent burn-your-face-off spicy shrimp with Cuban rice and beans to slow-cooked pork sandwiches that rival Un Bien’s. Just make sure the tostones with cilantro mayo hit the table, too. Especially if you brought your A-game on this hike.
If you’re going the healthy-ish route, Sweetgrass is your spot for tasty things like grain bowls and smoothies. Everything’s vegan and has actual nutrition you can use while you’re out on the hiking path. Better yet, if you need an energy boost, the cold brew green smoothie is great.
For some ultimate feel-good food in the form of pastrami fried rice and noodles topped with spicy sichuan oil and braised beef, you’re going to want to hit Reckless Noodle House. You should absolutely be getting the spicy beef noodles, but the vermicelli bowl in curry broth is a lighter option that goes well with the caramelized pork fresh rolls and a giant homemade ginger beer. The space is relaxing, as long as you don’t look too closely at the wall of fish jaws.
A fluffy pita stuffed with fresh falafel and lemony hummus is exactly the kind of thing you might be craving after climbing a mountain - especially if it’s coming from Aviv Hummus Bar. There are a lot of ways to do lunch or dinner here, whether you get a platter with some cucumber salad, a sandwich, or just a basket of the delicious fries with tahini dip. There are no wrong ways to do Aviv.
If spending a whole two hours in the woods inspired you to eat some plants, go to Plum Bistro, our favorite place in town for vegan food. You could go lighter with some creole pan-seared tempeh or tofu piccata, or do the total opposite and eat a fried portobello buffalo burger. As usual, we’re going to suggest you get the cajun mac and “yease,” since it’s amazing regardless of whether you saw six squirrels and a bald eagle today.
Sandwiches and hikes just seem to go together. Hitchcock, a deli that’s home to our favorite bacon turkey club in town, is where you want to get your lunch before heading off into the great unknown. Remember to get at least one homemade salted cacao nib cookie, too.
While we’re on the subject of sandwiches, Salumi is another good place to get them - but only if you’re doing your hike on a weekday morning (otherwise, they’ll be closed). Any of the house-cured meats with homemade mozzarella and garlic-caper-olive oil spread is going to be excellent. Or grab your charcuterie to-go and do a post-hike picnic.
Making the transition from wilderness to beach is almost too easy when you’re grabbing lunch at Miri’s Snack Shack. This spot doubles as the concession stand at Golden Gardens, and works perfectly to cap off a day outside, whether you’re doing an acai slushie, a kebab and flatbread, or some mini Dutch pancakes that look like golf balls but taste way better.
An ideal place for tacos, margaritas, and maybe a couple orders of pork mole tamales. If bug bites and sunburn and being covered in trail dirt have you grumpy, sitting inside is just as fun as sitting on the patio. No matter where you are, the chips are always fried when you order them, and the delicious salsa is free and unlimited. Like nature.
Somehow, eating fresh seafood on the water at The 100 Pound Clam after an all-day adventure just seems like the way to go. Bring your out-of-town friends to experience Northwestern oysters or fish and chips with pickle mayo or poutine covered in clam chowder. Toast with some beer or a bottle of wine, and you’re set.
Maybe you’re going to reconvene for dinner after you wash the sweat and earth off of you, and you want to celebrate the fact that you all got out of bed early enough to hang out on Mount Si before it hit 75 degrees. Tallulah’s is a great spot to have a semi-upscale, semi-healthy dinner consisting of grains and vegetables that taste good, snacks like chicken tinga sliders and kale chips, and cocktails like cucumber thyme spritzes and mango mules.