Where To Have Your Birthday Dinner In SeattleMuch like taxes and getting excited every time you can see Mt. Rainier, getting older is one of life's guarantees. You might as well celebrate it at one of these excellent restaurants.
Turning another year older is different for everyone. Some people will self-appoint themselves as Grand Chancellor of Birthdaytown and micromanage every detail of an entire weekend. Others will throw on sweatpants, crawl into a dark basement, and play Enya’s “Only Time” on loop from dawn to dusk. No matter how or with whom you choose to commemorate another lap around the sun, you have to eat at some point. Whether that’s a casual couple of pizzas or Korean BBQ with a giant group, here are some options you can rely on.
If your main objective is to engineer the best meal possible, Musang is where you should celebrate. From peppery pork lumpia that possess the crunch of McNuggets dunked in a grassy chive vinegar, to the way their deeply rich vegan bagoong transforms a pile of haricot vert, you’re in for an excellent group meal in this fun retrofitted craftsman. Be sure to incorporate the short rib kare kare—a hunk of braised beef that’s tender and crimson in the middle with a charred sear on the outside, all sopped in a peanut butter sauce infused with shrimp paste.
If you'd like to feel like you're vacationing in a swanky hotel, head to The Dolar Shop in Bellevue. Only instead of towel service, a continental breakfast, and jacuzzis, this hot pot restaurant has never-ending plates of luxurious meat, a sauce bar, and simmering broth. You can even rent a private room that comes with your own personal server and decor that looks plucked from Buckingham Palace.
If your phone is filled with happy birthday texts that will never be answered because the pressure is too much—you'll like Autumn. Perfect for keeping things low-key, this pasta spot in Phinney Ridge is special enough to celebrate being another year older without having to get too dressed up or run into everyone you know. And even though the staff is super friendly, there will be no giant birthday crowns or overzealous servers singing as you internally scream. Here, the attention is strictly on the food. Be sure to order the prosciutto croquetas and a cocktail involving frothy egg white.
If you despise birthday attention but were coerced into a celebration by someone who unconditionally loves you, it’s probably best not to fight it at this point. Rounding up five more folks, some pies, and a bottle of natural bubbles at Delancey is the perfect way to slap together a low-key evening that’s way better than staying home with a sad candle-jabbed Safeway cupcake. Since they only take reservations for parties of six or more, it makes last-minute planning easy. Plus, Delancey’s charred pizzas and mountainous salads are easily shareable, and a freshly baked chocolate chunk cookie loaded with salt flakes is the greatest no-big-deal birthday dessert you could ever ask for.
Reckless Noodle House already works well for a group dinner, thanks to endless sharable Vietnamese plates and the ability to join the waitlist from your phone. Plus, they're open every day of the week, so there's no need to suffer with a sad sixth-choice restaurant if your birth commemoration happens to fall on a Monday. The braised beef cheek noodles and pastrami-studded fried coconut turmeric rice are fantastic birthday entrees, but we also endorse ordering family-style.
Orchestrating a sushi dinner for your birthday can be tricky if you don’t know how much money everyone wants to spend—especially if your friends bring you gifts even when you say “no gifts,” because societal norms are confusing. Choose a middle-of-the-road spot with positive energy and good raw fish, like Umi Sake House in Belltown. The massive, tropical plant-decked dining room has plenty of space for groups to spread out, a semi-private tatami room that isn’t too difficult to book, and great sushi. Fill the table with everything from nigiri to extravagant, sharable rolls involving things like pickled eggplant, torched spicy snow crab, shrimp tempura, and ghost pepper aioli.
Does anyone else feel really awkward when someone asks you how it feels to be another year older? Instead of saying, “I feel closer to death, thank you,” drown out the interrogations with sizzle noises at Meet Korean BBQ. This Korean spot on East Pike is a fantastic place to get some folks together to grill your own 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 also enough of a soju-and-meat-fueled party in here if the only place you hit up afterward is your bed.
Say that you want a birthday burger, but would like to strive for something better than a drive-thru moment. Head to Big Max instead. At this Queen Anne spot, there are cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, fries, and shakes—only the burgers are served on brioche, the fries are coated in fancy herb dust, the nuggets are housemade, and the shakes can contain booze. The counter service operation means a come-and-go atmosphere for your perpetually late friends, and when it's nice out, there are fun pink picnic tables on the patio.
Experiencing a birthday dinner at Crawfish House is similar to the euphoria felt as a kid after going to Disney World but without the childhood trauma of having to hug a giant mouse. Perfect for large party walk-ins, there's plenty of room to invite even a few third-tier friends if you simply must. And as you rummage through bags of seafood and leave saucy handprints on styrofoam cups of spiked strawberry lemonade, you’ll be reminded that a good birthday is not complete without some pals (of all tiers), shared moments over shrimp shells, and oil stains on your shirt.
If you’re with a group that enjoys things like spiked slushies, dumplings, and being in a good mood, keep New Luck Toy in mind. It’s a lively West Seattle bar that serves Chinese dishes like spare ribs dunked in sticky five-spice sauce and honey pecan prawns, frozen cocktails, and music played at the perfect volume for birthdays—loud enough for you to tune in and out of conversations based on how interesting they sound. But if you need an activity afterward, there’s also skee-ball and a private karaoke room that looks like an enchanted forest.
Loading up a table with mezze and charcoal-cooked meats by the pound is always a good idea for acknowledging your birth, and one of the best places you can do that is Ciudad. For starters, the space is an icebreaker at the very least, complete with an industrial warehouse feel and a slightly unsettling mural depicting characters like a skull shaman taking a phone call and a jovial hippo sawed in half. There are a lot of options on the menu, from red wine-poached pork chorizo and tahini-marinated chicken to fava bean falafel and seared halloumi. Though, we’re fans in particular of the hanger steak. Round things out with plenty of flatbread, hummus, and spicy carrot margaritas for optimal results.
Bizzarro Italian Cafe is part circus horror movie set, part classic Italian spot. You may be skeptical of the fact that there are more chandeliers in here than a Home Depot lighting showroom and that the menu has an entree called, “choose your own chicken adventure.” But it all works, from the abundance of props hanging from the ceiling to the solid housemade pasta, like pappardelle with a creamy mushroom sauce, or lasagna that has the physical proportions of a brick. Bizzarro is perfect for a big group of friends who won’t mind the bicycle dangling above them or the creepy radio static that echoes in the restroom.
If you’re planning a birthday, and you have tacos and tequila on the brain, Jackalope is the taqueria that just read your mind. Do they have the best Mexican food in town? No. But it is a very dependable Seattle birthday HQ—it’s easy to book a group reservation, they have an energy-packed dining room, and the menu does have some greats to make you glad for being born. We’re looking at you, Texas-style queso, battered fish tacos, and smoky brisket chili enchiladas.
Pizza chased with ice cream has been a sacred birthday meal since the dawn of Chuck E. Cheese. At Lupo, you can experience this same joyful ritual, but with a dimly lit ambiance and char-bubbled pies fit for grown adults (without any ball pits). Start with delicious white bean toasts topped with crisped pancetta bits and olives, followed by garlicky cavatelli tossed in chili oil, wood-roasted vegetables, and tangy sourdough pizzas. If all you do is ensure that the cacio e pepe and burrata soppressata pies hit the table, you’ve done your job as the guest of honor. And for dessert, you can get scoops of housemade ice cream with flavors ranging from brown sugar pine to rum-spiked carrot cake.