SoDo is short for “South Of Downtown,” and it’s the only real neighborhood abbreviation that exists in Seattle. In this small area, you’ll find Starbucks HQ, CenturyLink Field, and T-Mobile Park, and otherwise, it’s pretty industrial - except for a handful of great restaurants and breweries. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to grab lunch or dinner before heading to a game, or you’re just bored and need a new area to explore, this guide is for you.
We know people who claim they’ll defend Dick’s to the grave, and then they try a cheeseburger from Pick-Quick and change their mind. It’s a drive-through spot that serves burgers, fries, and root beer floats made from soft serve ice cream. Pick-Quick is great when you’re strapped for time, or when you don’t want your significant other to resent you for spending too much money on food.
It’s upsetting that Schooner doesn’t have a kitchen anymore (we miss you, excellent beer cheese), but it’s still a fine place to hang out, drink IPA, and play giant Jenga until you realize your friend Dale always cracks under pressure. You can bring in outside food, which means a few pizzas from Nine Pies next door.
Nine Pies serves some of our favorite New York-style pizza in Seattle, and the space (which always smells like pepperoni) is a nice place to pass an afternoon. When it’s warm out, they open up their big garage doors to let light come in and shine on your pesto breadsticks. This place is a perfect pitstop while hitting SoDo breweries and wine tasting rooms, and it’s very kid-friendly.
We’re happy to report that gluten-free brewery Ghostfish not only has good wheatless beer (brewed with things like amaranth and quinoa), but good wheatless snacks, too. You’ll find caesar salad with pork belly croutons, ahi tuna street tacos, and a burger with bone marrow aioli on a bun that doesn’t taste like wet cardboard and sacrifices. Cheers.
Derby is a car club that also happens to serve delicious food. You do need to be a member of the car club to valet your Porsche in the adjoining showroom or use the private game room, but anyone can order a round of beers and some classy pub food in the restaurant. Get the smoked brisket poutine, or a BLT sandwich that comes with avocado and candied bacon.
This colorful Cuban restaurant serves tasty cubano sandwiches that stay crunchy on the outside and melty on the inside, even if you order to-go. You’ll also find things like tostones and rice and bean plates, but we find the sandwiches and fries here to be most satisfying - especially with the cilantro sauce that comes on the side.
Slice Box doesn’t look like much from the outside (or the inside while we’re at it). But if you’re on a mission for good pizza, it shouldn’t matter that you have to eat it in a strange back room covered in posters advertising gardening supplies. The New York-style pies in here have a great flavor and crispy crust, and the Sicilian pepperoni slice is an absolute winner. The best part about Slice Box is that the staff will grate cheese on top of your pizza from a fresh hunk of parmesan, even if you’re just grabbing a slice to-go.
We always get a little too excited when we see Seapine on a beer list at a restaurant. Their SoDo tasting room is a lot like other beer spots in Seattle: string lights, picnic tables, a garage that opens up into the street, and of course, the taps. Everything they brew is great, but the peach gose is practically designed for summertime (or at least for pretending that it is).
You’re probably wondering why a certain SoDo BBQ spot didn’t make the cut for this guide. You will not find it because we like Pecos Pit more. There are a couple of locations, but this one’s their flagship and has been open since around 1980. There are a few picnic tables, and if it’s cold, space heaters will keep you (and your BBQ) warm. We recommend the pulled brisket sandwich on an onion roll with a side of smoked mac and cheese, which is spicy, creamy, and made with ziti.
You already know Macrina Bakery. Their SoDo cafe has a nice space that’s perfect for getting some work done, which is a real anomaly in this neighborhood unless you want to try getting a parking spot at the teeny Starbucks on 1st Ave S. Good luck with that. At lunch here, you’ll find sandwiches on their fresh bread, as well as salads and pasta. If you’re lucky, the cake samples will come out.
There’s nothing groundbreaking about Pho Cyclo, but you can always expect reliably good pho and banh mi sandwiches. The landscape murals on the walls kind of make it feel like you’re eating outside, so it’s a fun spot to spend your lunch hour. Don’t forget the crunchy spring rolls.
You might be with some people who are interested in checking out the SoDo Starbucks Reserve. While they stare at coffee beans for an hour, grab lunch at Princi, a cafe whose only other locations are in Italy. Their focaccia pizza slices are delicious, but you could also get a croissant sandwich, pasta, or fancy dessert like a chocolate ganache tart.