At some point in the history of time, Mother Nature lost some kind of bet with the sun. Maybe it was about who would get the final rose on The Bachelor, and maybe it was about who was better at Mario Kart Double Dash. Either way, the sun (a devious little sh*t) must have told Mother Nature over some drinks: “Sucks to suck, babe. Since I won, I get to take some vacay and just straight up not shine in, let’s say, Seattle every year until summer, and you have to work 24 hours a day without OT and make it rain while I’m gone. Boom. Also, buy me this beer.” It’s no wonder the sun is really good at burns.
Because Seattle is gray and wet for seven months on the calendar (and because we’re all deficient of vitamin D and overall well-being), we get pretty serious about outdoor dining when the sun finally gets back to work. Our favorite warm-weather places are a good mix of patios, rooftops, and decks, and make eating or drinking outside glorious enough that you can almost forget about how you have to wear your soggy mildewed converse the rest of the year.
Humble Pie is as Pacific Northwest as it gets: the plates are compostable, the ingredients are locally-sourced, and the patio is loaded with picnic tables under string lights and is also catty-corner to a chicken coop. It’s a bizarre experience to eat Neapolitan pizzas and draught pints of Washington beer while listening to ambient clucking, but it totally works. Also important: the pizzas are excellent. Get the margherita with fresh mozzarella if you’re feeling classic, and the “whole hog” (prosciutto, bacon, pulled pork, tomato sauce, mozzarella) if you plan to eat a salad tomorrow. Vegetarians, don’t let that scare you away - there are options for you too.
The semi-secret, hidden back patio at Bar Vacilando is clearly a page ripped from an Anthropologie catalogue, so you and your friends will probably be into it. You’re surrounded by white brick, ferns galore, and a big communal table made from the Etsy-est looking reclaimed wood you’ll ever place a highball glass on. All that’s missing is a model wearing $3,000 worth of clothes you could probably find at Target and still have money leftover to get a blue Icee and a million other things you don’t need. Grab a few tapas plates and a reasonably-priced craft cocktail (we like the Honey Badger) and feel good about the fact that you are doing classy day drinking right.
The Pink Door is one of our Greatest Hits, and its patio is one big reason why. There are plenty of seats, views of Elliott Bay, some serious Tuscan vineyard vibes, and a crazily-dressed mannequin on the adjoining rooftop that will become more and more real-seeming as you get closer and closer to finishing your bottle of wine. But most importantly: this Italian food is a f*cking good thing to do for your taste buds. Eating the best lasagna on one of the best patios in the city is a special experience everyone needs to have at least once. Ideally, once a month.
At Terra Plata, a rooftop brunch on the second-story herb garden is the move to make. They take reservations, so it’s easy to organize your next inevitably-hungover group hang, and the place has a vibey feel that’s perfect for celebrating anything from a birthday to getting through yet another week without telling coworker Katie to shut the hell up (to her face). A couple mimosas and some Spanish breakfasts later (always start with the homemade potato chips) and you won’t mind that Terra Plata is also a guaranteed sunburn waiting to happen. Have some aloe vera waiting for you at home.
You’re not surprised to see Fremont Brewing on this guide, and we frankly do not care. Fremont Brewing Company is everyone’s favorite place to day drink beers in the summer, and we feel the same way. The outdoor patio is like Disneyland for hop-obsessed craft brew nerds, but there’s something for you here even if you don’t even know what a saison is. Try the rotating infused beers (a.k.a Randalls) for a unique flavor like pineapple cherry or Thai basil grapefruit. It’ll be hard to find a seat, but just send one person to stalk tables with their passive aggressive laser vision while the rest of the group waits in line for a drink. Bring your own RoRo BBQ or Un Bien to eat here, but if you forget to do so there’s a huge bowl of pretzels with your name on it.
Turn to your left: there’s a toddler throwing French fries at a mom who needs a night out and a wine glass full of Nyquil simultaneously. On your right is a picnic table full of Sperry-wearing brogrammers and a bottle of sparkling rosé as chilled as their attitudes. Welcome to 100 Pound Clam, the frattiest family-friendly snack shack in Seattle. The patio is perfect for a casual lunch or happy hour, though they’re only open from 11am to 5pm, so it’s tough to make it there unless it’s a Saturday or you decided to violently shove every document off of your desk and leave work two hours early. Once you do, order the fish with dill fries and the steak banh mi.
Another one of the patio usual suspects, Marination Ma Kai has the best view in the entire city, and excellent Mexican/Korean/Hawaiian fusion street food to go with it. Which means everyone loves it - and with good reason. The outdoor vibes are among the best in the city, and it’s the best fresh-air move when you don’t want to spend your entire paycheck on lunch. We love the patio here on a sunny day with a lychee margarita and some miso ginger chicken tacos, but it also works wearing a hoodie at night while eating kimchi fried rice topped with a fried egg (a Snuggie in edible form). If you can resist taking a selfie with the Seattle skyline sunset, you are stronger than us.
Let’s say you were presented with the choice between having rooftop margaritas or coming face-to-face with your hero. If for you that means you could kill two birds with one stone, Mezcaleria Oaxaca is your spirit restaurant. The price to pay for lounging around sipping tequila on what feels like your “documentary filmmaker” friend’s Brooklyn roof deck (string lights, paper lanterns and all) is the fact that the food menu outside is very limited. Before you get outraged that you can’t order tacos out there, get the pork mole with rice and beans, which is so good you’ll forget what a taco is.
The Whale Wins has the perfect patio space for splitting small plates with a date or having dinner with the parents. Between the many hanging lamps and miniature trees, the whole thing makes eating a ton of vegetable-forward dishes feel pretty zen, even though you’re definitely going to be starving in an hour. Get a seat facing the street if you want to people-watch, and get the salt-roasted half chicken if you want to eat something that doesn’t grow in the ground.
Alright, you get it: the most popular patio places in Seattle are popular for a reason. Westward is no exception - it gets hyped like new seasons of Game of Thrones, and it deserves the praise. Yes, the adirondack chairs in the front overlooking the water are wonderful. Yes, the adjoining patio that makes us feel like we’re at a wedding cocktail hour is Seattle at its finest. Yes, sitting at a table in the nautically-themed dining room next to the opened wall-to-floor windows is worth the expensive price tag of the weird-sounding kind-of-Mediterranean food that should never make sense but is delicious. It’s all great and you should just make a reservation and do it.
The porch at San Fermo feels like you’re at a country home in the South: there’s a rickety wooden floor, white siding over one shoulder and exposed brick over the other, and you’re flanked by shade that comes from the house’s awning and a low-hanging tree. It’s perfect for a date, or for gathering the gang together to drink a lot of wine and eat a lot of homemade pasta.
Ray’s does not have the best seafood in the city. The ambience inside isn’t too impressive either. And it’s certainly not cheap. So why do we love Ray’s? Because when the sun finally comes out, your eyes are all squinty, and you think, “I remember this hot bright thing,” you need to drag your pasty skin to Ray’s with a group of friends. Sit outside with all of the other happy people, split a bottle of wine, eat some decent crab cakes, and take in the view of Puget Sound right beyond the balcony. This is why you live in Seattle.
Frelard Pizza Company is the sister pizzeria to Ballard Pizza Company, but it’s smack in the middle of a busy stretch on Leary Way (in the neighborhood with for sure the ugliest name). Their patio is the best outdoor place to have a beer-and-pizza party with your entire group of friends, huddled around a picnic table next to random barrels and a stone-covered firepit. The service is great, a rotating seasonal hard cider is always on tap, and the pizzas are some best New York-style pies you can get in the city (make sure a prosciutto and arugula one, AKA the Parma, is on your table). A couple of large pizzas and some salads to share and Saturday’s sunset meal is taken care of.
Man of La Mancha is a terrible musical, but without it, The Innkeeper wouldn’t exist. Or maybe it would just be called something else. The back deck at this tapas bar-meets-taqueria-meets-pub is secluded and dripping with twinkle lights ideal for nighttime outdoor hangs. And the fancy Latin cocktails (get the rum punch or the Boomerang Manhattan) and snacks are perfect for a low-key date or a pitstop on a Belltown bar crawl: two situations that should never be an impossible dream (Broadway buffs, you get what we’re saying).
At Captain Black’s, you’ll find a divey rooftop deck with black metal furniture, great tunes, killer chicken and waffles, vodka and lemonade on tap, and a good view. That’s our favorite Seattle summer starter pack, and it should be yours too.
On first glance, Eastlake Bar & Grill looks like a place that probably won’t be your jam. The signage makes it seem like a tacky diner in New Jersey, the interior design resembles Red Robin, and they’re not known for being the most popular restaurant on the avenue. But they do have an A+ rooftop situation - there’s a tiki bar, astro-turf with a ping pong table and a giant game of Connect Four (same frustration, only life-sized), and a way better view of Lake Union than Little Water Cantina down the block. Drown yourself in prickly pear margaritas for day drinking success.