Once the rainy part of spring ends and the sun stops being purely decorative, everyone in this city wants to be outside again. Consequently, most outdoor spots get about as crowded as those seabird colonies you see in nature documentaries. But if you want to sit outside and enjoy some relative peace and quiet, you still have options - you just might not know about them yet.
This is our guide to the secret patios of Seattle, and it’s not just full of relatively unknown places where you can eat and drink outside. It also has spots you definitely knew about, but may have had no idea there existed a patio situation. Memorize this list, and you’ll be better at summer than most people.
The Secret Patios Of Seattle is presented in partnership with Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer. All restaurants and bars featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team.
THE OUTDOOR SPOTS
If you were riding your bike past The Maple, you’d miss it and mistake it for another house. You might also mistake their beer garden for any old backyard. But instead of rogue watering cans and a wacky neighbor poking his head through the fence to tell anecdotes nobody asked for (the dog did what to your Oculus Rift?), you’ll find a nice setup of tables and string lights waiting for you, some friends, beer, and really good fish and chips.
Mean Sandwich is the plot twist of delis. Their sandwiches seem standard at first - nothing weird about corned beef with mustard, but then they go and top it with maple syrup and a fistful of mint. The result is incredible, and it’s even better eaten in their gravel backyard before a few rounds of ping pong. We’re sure that some people are here because Peddler Brewing next door was packed, but this secret patio’s the better deal. You can’t get a chicken cutlet sandwich with buffalo mayo at Peddler.
The hidden back patio at Bar Vacilando is a Goop photoshoot waiting to happen. It’s loaded with white brick, ferns galore, and a big communal table made from the most authentic-looking hunk of reclaimed wood you’ll ever place a highball glass on. All that’s missing is a model wearing $700 worth of clothes you could probably find ripoffs of at Target for way cheaper and still have money left over to get a blue icee and a light-up sign with interchangeable letters. Gather some friends, grab a few tapas plates, and get a round of reasonably-priced cocktails (we like the Honey Badger) for Happy Hour.
You already know that Loretta’s makes one of the best burgers in the city. But what you might not have known is that if you make your way past the divey front room, you’ll hit a stone-covered backyard with a bunch of tables and an outdoor fireplace complete with piles of logs. It’s kind of like partying on a tricked-out campsite - only with cold beer, way better burgers, and a significantly lower chance of getting poison oak.
To get to the patio at Casco Antiguo, you have to walk through the restaurant, past the second bar in the back, and out a garage door, all while smelling everyone else’s pork enchiladas and realizing that there should be a word for jealousy and hunger combined. But once you’re sitting at a long table under the sun with a margarita and some of the best fish tacos in town, you’ll feel a lot better and keep the hungrousy at bay.
If you stumbled onto Red Cow’s cobblestone patio from the quiet Madrona street, you might think that you rudely crashed someone’s very intimate wedding dinner party, complete with potted plants, a single row of picnic tables, and string lights (the nice kind, from Costco). In reality, this is the secret outdoor seating for a French spot that specializes in steak frites. The only thing more comforting than sitting in a calm alleyway with wine, a grilled filet mignon, and rosemary fries would be doing all that while draped in an artisanal woven blanket to keep away the evening chill. Oh wait, you can do that here, too.
Raise your hand if you know about Canon. Good. Now, keep it raised if you know about their patio. No one? That’s what we thought. Normally, we’d encourage you to stay inside if you booked a table at this Seattle cocktail institution so that you can ignore the person you’re with to stare at floor-to-ceiling shelves containing every liquor bottle in the world, we think. But there’s something cool about being able to see an IV bag dripping your “Transfusion” drink into a glass, or the cinnamon oak smoke from the “Campfire In Georgia” cocktail float away in the wind like a Yorkie tied to six dozen helium balloons. You should get out there at least once this summer.
We’ll bet you didn’t know about the hidden row of outdoor picnic tables in the backyard at Fiddler’s Inn. You might not have even known about Fiddler’s Inn to begin with. Some umbrellas and hanging vines keep the sun from slapping you in the face, and we like that dogs can hang out here, too. Keep them preoccupied with the artichoke dip you dropped on the concrete while you get into some nachos and perfectly fine pub pizza.
Beach days can be exhausting. You have to lug all of your fun lawn games to the beach, find parking at the beach, occasionally throw a tennis ball to your dog while napping at the beach, and apply sunscreen multiple times an hour, at the beach. It’s like a full day of work, only without any work - or frozen cocktails. Avoid the hassle and get the margaritas at El Camino, a back patio that very few people know exists. Sit out among the paper lanterns and comfy decorative pillows while you eat shrimp tacos and look back longingly at your hard day on the beach.
So, you tried to book an island vacation and you got scammed. Turns out that “Flip Flops” is not a real resort in Jamaica. Since you can’t travel back in time to 2002 and watch any commercial break on network television to discover it was actually Sandals you were looking for, just grab a table out on the hidden back deck at Jerk Shack, which is dripping with string lights, vines, and wood beams. The Caribbean food here is great, from the jerk fried chicken to the Cuban sandwich dipped in herby aioli. And if you close your eyes, sip from a rum punch, and tune out the sounds of the Amazon people at the table over complaining about Bezos, it’s almost like you really did make that vacation.
If you’ve never walked past the front bartop made of cassette tapes at The Sexton, step up your thirst for adventure and do so. You’ll find a tiki bar, and a cool little patio that makes it feel like you’re on somebody’s tiny suburban porch far removed from the craziness of Ballard’s main drag. If you’re lucky, the whole area will be empty and you can pile your group of eight out here to drink hibiscus margaritas and be as loud as you want.
North Star Diner is one of our favorite places for a classic American breakfast, and by breakfast, we mean anything from a stack of pancakes to a patty melt chased with a milkshake. The patio feels more like a beer garden, complete with picnic tables and a big fence, but it’s an enjoyable outdoor spot to eat diner food without worrying about your sweaty legs getting stuck to a booth. You probably won’t want to leave, unless you’re in the 11th grade and that book report on The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand is due the first day of school.
Wood Shop might be the smoked brisket takeout you eat under your comforter like a hibernating woodchuck come February, but during the summer, it should be “your place.” We’ve decided the backyard shouldn’t be a secret anymore, even though it’s just a big gravel patch with picnic tables and a corn hole. On warm Friday nights there’s live music, and it transforms into our preferred place to be with a big group of people we like (or just people and the cocktails that make us like them). In between corn hole tosses, share some of the best fried mac and cheese balls you’ll ever eat in Seattle. Just don’t mistake one for a beanbag, because that’s a great way to make your friends your enemies.
It doesn’t matter what season it is - Optimism Brewing Company always feels like a mall on Black Friday, only without the random power walkers taking laps around the perimeter, as far as we can tell. But what a lot of people don’t know is that there’s a relaxing pocket away from the chaos, and it’s outside near the daily-rotating food truck. Have your beers out here instead of in the middle of the swirling vortex of people in line for a schooner. And if you’re one of those people, get the unicorn IPA.
Let’s be clear on something here - the food at this tequila bar is not amazing. So maybe plan on dinner somewhere else. But the margaritas are powerful, and the back patio - with its abundance of plants and string lights - is a chill place to spend time somewhere that every person in the city hasn’t thought of first.