Come summer, the population of Seattle transforms from a pack of Vitamin D-deficient vampires to a blissed-out society of REI catalog models. It’s not unlike the evolution of a caterpillar into a butterfly, and there’s only one way to celebrate: by stepping on rocks and dirt at various altitudes. Whether you’re doing a leisurely trail loop at Discovery Park or tackling Mount Si, you’ll need something satisfying to eat afterwards. That’s where we come in. From burgers and milkshakes to grain bowls, here are the best dishes to refuel with after a hike.
photo credit: Feed It Creative
Big Max Burger Co.
There’s no official “after-hike” meal, but if there was, we’d declare it to be a cheeseburger and fries. Simply the prospect of Big Max Burger Co.’s bacon-beef patties and herb-salted shoestring fries are enough to power us to the top of Little Si faster than…someone who’s really good at hiking. The burgers here, covered in aged cheddar, caramelized onion, chunky bread and butter pickles, and special sauce, are excellent. Supplement one with a milkshake, individual bottles of frozen rosé, caesar salads, fried brussels sprouts with kettle corn caramel, and puffy battered chicken nuggets with sweet and sour for dipping.
Ono Authentic Hawaiian Poke
After a few hours of sweat beading on top of already-existing sweat, you might want a cold meal. That’s why we’re sending you to Ono. Not only does this Edmonds counter serve the best poke in the area, but their sides—like macaroni salad and chopped cucumber kimchi—are refreshing, too. With options ranging from oyster sauce-glistened salmon to spicy ahi, as well as mixed greens to sushi rice, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure. One that’s much more low-key than having to make the decision between a steep, rocky incline or a wooden suspension bridge that was constructed decades ago.
A pita stuffed with crisp falafel and fuchsia pickled turnips alongside a mint lemonade slushie is exactly the kind of meal you might be craving when you’re all done scaling a mountain—especially if that spread is coming from Mamnoon Street. There are a lot of ways to do lunch or dinner here, whether you get a platter of mezze, a shawarma wrap, or just a basket of the delicious harra fries with za’atar mayo.
Tubs Gourmet Sub Sandwiches
Sometimes, the only thing that hits right after ascending a giant rock formation is a sandwich of similar gargantuan and celebratory proportions. Enter Tub’s, your post-workout salvation in the form of baguette subs slathered in homemade ranch. Whether you go for a Philly-style roast beef with a side of jus for dipping or the Chicken Amiga stacked with bacon, cheddar, BBQ dust, and a scientifically-precise layer of garlic aioli, these deli beauties are the food equivalent of receiving a “way to go!” sticker after your recent athletic achievement.
Wood Shop BBQ
Exercise-induced endorphins and hickory-smoked meat are as iconic of a duo as a mid-hike tallboy of Rainier and your parched mouth. Wood Shop is a fantastic place for brisket, pulled pork, and jalapeño mac and cheese—all served up in their picnic table-lined backyard that’s perfect for stretching out after weaving through Rattlesnake Ridge tourists. And for an option involving slightly more produce than green peppers folded in cheesy elbow noodles, they also serve a satisfying kale caesar.
Studies show that there are two beverages beneficial for workout recovery: chocolate milk and beer. Perihelion doesn’t serve chocolate milk, but it is a brewery, so have at a couple of lagers. Their pub food ranges from spent grain pretzels and nachos to burgers and wings, and their firepit patio is an ideal location to take a breather after putting yourself through physical pain for your overall well-being.
In Seattle, it just makes sense to eat local fish after baking outside for a prolonged period of time. Local Tide is the best one-stop-shop to grab food that came from the water. If you’re ravenous for something fried, crackly pork fat-spiked shrimp toast or the McDonald’s-style fishwich is there for you. If something lighter is in the cards, you’re in good hands with a salmon BLT on sourdough, the weekend-only Dungeness crab roll, or a red rice bowl with cabbage, herbs, pickled vegetables, and a rockfish sausage patty. And if somehow you were coerced into coming here but aren’t into seafood, their smashburger is excellent.
Humble Pie is where to partake in the joyful activity of eating pizza after completing some outdoor physical activity. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they have great picnic table seating, or maybe it’s related to the chicken coop that’s in the yard. Keep that vitamin D absorption up and grab a picnic table as well as some pies involving toppings ranging from four types of pork products to apple and Beecher’s cheese. The whole experience is just like your hike, only instead of serene babbling brooks and leaves swaying in the wind, you’ll hear a lot of rustling napkins and ambient clucking.
Bongos makes it all too easy to get into the spirit of the outdoors, even if your afternoon was highlighted by seasonal allergies and/or a bee sting. This colorful renovated gas station complete with an artificial beach has a great Caribbean menu, with things like excellent spicy shrimp with Cuban rice and beans to shredded pork sandwiches that rival Un Bien’s. Grab a Jamaican fried chicken po’boy with passionfruit sauce and remoulade, and hang out in the sand with your friends and/or dog. Just make sure the tostones with cilantro mayo hit the table, too.
If becoming one with woodland creatures inspired you to eat more plants, head to Plum Bistro for some of our favorite vegan food in town. You could go lighter with a tempeh and quinoa-loaded salad, or get something more filling, like a black pepper-fried seitan sandwich or sweet potato gnocchi. As usual, we suggest an order or three of Plum’s cajun mac and “yease,” since it’s delicious regardless of whether you saw six squirrels and a bald eagle today.
Mark Thai Food Box
Providing your hike is on a weekday, you can enjoy some terrific khao mun gai at Mark Thai Food Box when you’re done—they’re only open during the week, but never underestimate the power of slapping a “doctor’s appointment” block on your calendar. For legal reasons, that’s a joke. We love Mark’s gingery poached chicken over rice with a garlic dipping sauce, but they also serve great pad thai and panang curry. Just don’t forget a frosty pink rose milk tea on the side. It has just the right amount of flower flavor without tasting like a bottle of Chanel N°5 to the face.
photo credit: Stan Lee
La Cocina Oaxaqueña
La Cocina Oaxaqueña is an ideal place for griddled fish tacos drizzled with sweet homemade crema, pint glass-sized strawberry margaritas, and tender pork mole served on the best Mexican rice in town. If bug bites, sunburn, and listening to your friend complain about their bad ankles have you grumpy, it’s impossible to stay in a bad mood here. Especially because the crunchy tortilla chips are always fried fresh to order, and their delicious salsa is free and unlimited.
Deru is part by-the-pound market, part bakery, and part cafe, and they have something for everyone’s post-hike mood. A country ham sandwich with Beecher’s cheddar and pickled fennel on focaccia with herby parmesan-dusted fries? Great. A blistered margherita pizza? Nice. Farm salad with roasted chicken washed down with a beet lemon muddle? We love to see it. A slab of dark chocolate cake with salted peanut butter frosting? It’s your lunch, baby.
Maybe you did a trail run in the rain, or encountered that PNW summer morning chill that prevents you from caving on central air every year despite climate change. Not all Washington hikes are scorchers, so you may want some warm and comforting lentils and stewed vegetables for your recovery lunch. That’s where Kezira Cafe comes in. Grab some kik wot, missir wot, gomen, and alicha, all with tangy injera to sop it up.
Milk Drunk is for those times when you’re too cranky and sore to decide if you require mozzarella sticks or ice cream after conquering some jagged terrain. At his Beacon Hill fried chicken spot, you can have both. Their soft serve (that comes in flavors like malted chocolate, turkish coffee, and banana coconut) is creamy and cold, and their chicken tenders have a kick of curry flavor in the slightly-puffy breading, which ends up tasting like a beautiful cross between a beer-battered fish fry and a pakora. Order those dunked in herb-flecked green aioli, or get a Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich if you’d like heat to radiate from somewhere other than your kneecaps.
photo credit: Harry's Beach House
Harry's Beach House
Harry's Beach House is a great restaurant if you're ending up in West Seattle, and the coastal kind of menu is pretty customizable to any type of post-exhaustion mood. Maybe you tore up the mountainside early and roll through just in time for a pile of french toast. Maybe you're in head-to-toe Ivy Park and feel like knocking back oysters on the half shell with some champagne. Or you might be yearning for a fish and chips or burger and fries moment. You can do all of that at Harry's, complete with an Alki-side location that's perfect if the weather is on your side.