The Secret Patios Of Seattle

We found a bunch of hidden outdoor spots around Seattle. Memorize this list, and you’ll be better at summer than most people.
The Secret Patios Of Seattle image

photo credit: Ryan Warner

The most popular patio spots in Seattle get about as crowded as those seabird colonies in nature documentaries, which can be discouraging during the warmer months. But if sitting outside to enjoy some relative peace and quiet is the priority, options are out there—only harder to find.

This is our guide to the secret patios of Seattle, and it’s not just full of relatively unknown places to eat and drink outside. It also has spots you definitely knew about, but may have had no idea there existed a patio situation.


photo credit: Brooke Fitts


Pioneer Square

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsCasual Weeknight DinnerDrinking Good CocktailsOutdoor/Patio SituationOutdoor Seating
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At the very far end of this taqueria, there’s a mysterious door with greenery and sunlight peeking through. You’ll need to walk the entire length of the restaurant to get there, but through that door is a floral string-lit courtyard that feels more like a garden party than a random Pioneer Square alley. The space is hidden between tall buildings, so the background noise is peaceful, and involves more chirping birds than cars whizzing by. And with plenty of tables, a walk-up bar just steps away, and tasty food, it’s perfect for a sneaky Friday lunch or a round of tuna tostadas and frozen margaritas before heading to the stadiums.

From the upper-level parking lot, it's tough to see the previously nondescript gravel patch below it—but this food truck parked next to Saint Bread is a summer destination. It’s particularly great for a lazy early dinner or evening cocktail hang, as sweet vermouth spritzes flow from the Heave Ho window and Japanese snacks fly out of the truck on newspaper-lined trays. Among the lineup of small plates and bowls, they make exemplary chicken karaage and a bowl of bacon candy that you can just go ahead and bury us in.

Don't mistake The Maple for just another house in Maple Leaf. Similarly, don't 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, there's a nice setup of tables and string lights waiting for a group of friends to have beer and really good fish and chips.

It would be very easy to order a gluten-free frosted brownie, grab a cardamom rose latte, and leave Flora Bakehouse totally satisfied without ever knowing that there's a floral oasis right above. At this vegetarian Beacon Hill bakery, head towards the back and up a flight of sneaky stairs—they lead to a second-story garden that rivals some of Seattle's trendiest rooftops. With plenty of seating, both covered and uncovered, it's the perfect spot for a sunny (or moody) afternoon coffee.

We love Volunteer Park Cafe & Pantry for their excellent tahini caramel shortbread bar, buckwheat chocolate chip cookie, and one of the city's best breakfast sandwiches. But we also love it for the little cobblestone patio around the back. It's hardly ever crowded out there, and lounging among the abundant tree shade is way more relaxing than fighting for a front sidewalk table.

Cornuto is a great Neapolitan pizzeria in Greenwood where it's nice to eat bubbly pies drizzled with chile oil and pop marinated Castelvetrano olives on a secluded little back patio that feels like it belongs to a luxury home in Bothell. Soak in the breezy candlelight vibes as you snip a margherita with scissors and clink diner glasses full of middle-tier prosecco.

For a dinner involving cocktails, baguettes with whipped feta, meats and cheeses, and maybe some charred vegetables or crudo, Baker's is a solid place to do that. Especially if the weather calls for being outside in the process. Slither across the narrow bar to their backyard, complete with a colorful wall mural and enough plants to remind you that your own probably need watering.

On the inside, Reservoir (otherwise known as "The Rez") is a garden-variety dive bar, complete with pool tables, deep-fried snacks, and a generic beer scent. But on the outside, there's a great little secret patio with many nooks to hang out at. Choose from picnic tables, a covered dugout-style shelter with barstools, or card tables surrounded by classroom chairs. It's just like having drinks in a friend's backyard, only if your friend's backyard was equipped with a big-screen TV.

Mean Sandwich is the plot twist of delis. Their sandwiches seem standard at first—nothing unique about corned beef with mustard, but then they go and top it with a fistful of mint. The result is great, and it’s even better eaten in their gravel backyard. Maybe some people are here because Bickerson next door was packed, but this secret patio’s the better deal. There's no bacon club with steak tartare at Bickerson.

The hidden back patio at Bar Vacilando is a Free People 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 anyone could ever place a highball glass on. All that’s missing is a model wearing $700 worth of mismatched clothing pieces that have no business being included in the same outfit. Gather some friends, grab a few plates of crunchy shoestring fries, and get a round of cocktails.

Loretta’s makes one of the best burgers in the city. And just past the divey front room, there's 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 food, and a significantly lower chance of contracting a poison oak rash.

Raise your hand if you know about Canon. Good. Now, keep it raised if you know about their patio. No one? Exactly. Normally, it'd be preferable to stay inside and stare at floor-to-ceiling shelves containing pretty much every liquor bottle in the world. But there’s something cool about being able to see a strawberry daiquiri with lime bitters and piña colada ice cream in broad daylight, 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. Get out there at least once this summer.

If you really want nobody to find you, the only option is the very secret rooftop at Empire. Just grab a cold brew with homemade date cashew milk and climb up three flights of stairs—past the record store and the restroom with the galaxy cat shower curtain. At the very top is a small patio with a great breeze, fast WiFi, and complete silence. That is, besides bird chirps, fire truck sirens, and ice cubes clanking around in the cup.

The hidden row of outdoor picnic tables in the backyard at Fiddler’s Inn is one of the best places to spend a lazy weeknight. Some umbrellas and hanging vines keep the sun from getting aggressive, and dogs can hang out here, too. Keep them preoccupied with the glob of artichoke dip that accidentally plopped on the concrete while getting into some nachos and perfectly fine pub pizza.

A round of frozen margaritas on a deck is a crucial summer activity. Specifically, slurp them at El Camino's back patio which very few people know exists. Sit out among the paper lanterns and comfy decorative pillows alongside shrimp tacos and flavored tequila blended with ice.

The top-secret patio behind The Roanoke is not much—imagine a few plastic chairs and picnic tables strewn around a fenced-in concrete slab. But it's a surprisingly nice space to grab a dive bar margarita and catch up with some friends if everywhere else on the hill is totally slammed. Follow it up with one of the neighborhood's tastiest burgers.

North Star Diner is one of the best spots in town for a classic American breakfast, and by breakfast, that means 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 sweaty legs getting stuck to a booth.

Wood Shop might be the smoked brisket suitable for consuming under bed covers like a hibernating woodchuck come February, but during the summer, it's a solid place to be. Their side yard shouldn’t be a secret anymore, even though it’s just a big concrete slab with picnic tables. On warm Friday nights, it's perfect for a big group. Share some of the best ribs in town and outstanding mac and cheese balls.

This spot is Permanently Closed.

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. 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 beers out here instead of within the swirling vortex of people waiting for a schooner. And if you’re one of those people, get the raspberry solarpunk.



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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 twinkly lights—is a calm place to spend time somewhere that every person in the city hasn’t thought of first.

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Suggested Reading


The Best Restaurant & Bar Patios In Seattle

The all-time best places to eat and drink outside in Seattle.

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When you’re in the mood for a couple dozen tiny sips of wine, head to the tasting rooms in Woodinville Wine Country.

The One-Two Punch Guide: Summer Edition image

Where to eat and then drink outside in Seattle.

The Outdoor Day Drinking Guide image

Where to drink under the sun in Seattle.

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