Where To Eat & Drink Near Green Lake
Green Lake isn’t just for jogging and dog-watching. Here are the 13 best restaurants and bars in the area.
A lot of people hang out at Green Lake, an extension of Woodland Park that’s really just a big cement loop around a tiny lake. It also happens to be the unofficial dog-watching center of the city. If you live in Seattle, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll end up here jogging the loop, attending a toddler’s birthday party, or entertaining out-of-town guests who have had it with the usual sights. When you get hungry, use our guide for where to eat and drink nearby.
photo credit: Chona Kasinger
Some things to know about Frelard Tamales: they’re a walk-up window that specializes in tamales (obviously), they’re actually located in Green Lake, and they serve the best corn husk-wrapped bundles in town. Ringing in at a half-pound each, these steamy stunners are massive and stuffed with everything from sliced jalapeño and cheese to braised rioja pork. You can also add toppings that accentuate the fillings without getting in the way, like crema, limey guacamole, and tangy pickled carrots. While you could order virtually any of their menu items and walk away pleased, the salsa verde chicken and sweet potato mole tamales are the best options and make for a great casual lunch or dinner.
photo credit: Nate Watters
If you’re looking for a wine bar that feels as loungey as a subdued neighborhood bookstore, come to Rae Vino. This spot specializes in low-intervention options by the glass and bottle, serves small bites like chips and nuts, and hosts various tastings and/or live music performances. It’s perfect for bringing a date or friend to catch up among the shelves of bottles and comfortable living room furniture.
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Kitanda Espresso & Açaí
Whether it’s running, biking, playing basketball, or attempting to walk your dog while repeatedly stopping to let strangers pet her, chances are, you’re near Green Lake to do some kind of physical activity. If you want to eat clean after working out, the best option is an acai bowl from Kitanda. Kitanda is a Brazilian cafe where you’ll find these frozen berry bowls topped with really good homemade granola.
Even if they won’t admit it, most of your friends are total flakes. Instead of setting a hard time to meet at a restaurant, meet for drinks and snacks at Tapas Lab. It’s a nice place, but all counter service, so you don’t have to deal with anyone’s crippling commitment issues. Everyone can just come and go as they please, drink wine or graduated cylinders filled with beer, and eat Spanish and Japanese small plates like bulgogi pinchos and chorizo-stuffed meatballs.
You know that part of the lap around the lake when it starts to smell like roast pork and you can’t figure out where it’s coming from? We’re here to tell you where it’s coming from. It’s wafting over from across the highway at Bongos. Make a mental note to return there after your lap, where a very fake (but fun) sandy beach patio awaits. The food at this Caribbean spot is delicious, from spicy shrimp plates with rice and beans to pork and aioli sandwiches that almost rival Un Bien’s. Add a beer and some tostones, and your afternoon’s set.
Tsui Sushi Bar
Like utility knives, or OxiClean, casual sushi restaurants are extremely useful. Tsui Sushi Bar is a chill spot with a samurai mural and a u-shaped bar where you can drink sake and eat some raw fish. The special rolls are fun and all, but an acceptable way to have dinner here is to order the seared salmon belly nigiri on repeat until you’re full.
Retreat is a great place to grab some coffee and breakfast after a morning lap around the lake. They also serve wine and beer if Happy Hour is more appropriate for you post-workout. Come in here if you need a bright place to work alongside some avocado toast and a latte.
If you want to have a classy dinner around the lake and you didn’t just run in sweatpants among the parents pushing children or corgis in strollers, go to Mkt. It’s an Italian spot with great little plates like burrata with prosciutto and tuna crudo. Come here on a date, and if the weather’s warm, you can opt to sit outside at the front window facing inside the restaurant. You can make a lot of passersby jealous this way.
Cocina Oaxaca is the second restaurant from the same team behind La Cocina Oaxaquena, our favorite Mexican restaurant in the city. While we still think their first location is better, this is a great place to have an impromptu Friday night dinner with a group of friends or a burrito that will become your friend. The al pastor and the cod tacos are fantastic, and the salsas are free and unlimited - not unlike friendship. Also, get a side of rice, and thank us later.
Latona Pub isn’t flashy. The staff doesn’t emanate Cheers-like friendliness. But that’s not why you’re here. You’re here to drink a pint, get some sustenance, and call it a night. We’ve seen people here solo reading with a bowl of pasta, couples splitting burgers, and groups grabbing some beers and catching up. Come in for a seat and stay for some tasty pub food.
Rosita's Mexican Grill
There’s a reason Rosita’s has been around for 40 years, and it might have something to do with the free bowls of chips. The kind that will inevitably get eaten in multiples of three before entrees even hit the table. Speaking of multiples of three, you should order the Super Special, which comes with a tamale, an enchilada, and a crispy taco. Chase it all down with a margarita that’s equal parts boozy and refreshing.
We approve of smartphone-sized pastries. Urban Bakery’s bar desserts are all great, from the tart lemon bar to the “magic bar” which has a shortbread bottom topped with chocolate and nuts. They make sandwiches and coffee too, but we’re big fans of the bars. You just can’t play Candy Crush on them. Use this place if you forgot to bring a dessert for that Green Lake picnic you knew about for weeks.
It’s always a good sign when you walk into a bar and there’s an indoor firepit. Über Tavern is a cozy bar with, yes, an indoor firepit, and bartenders who might ask you to speak quietly because they’re hungover. The whole place doubles as a bottle shop, so you can take a six-pack home and scream as loud as you want.
Mykonos Grill makes some of the best Greek food in the city. The falafel is crispy and well-seasoned, the chicken lemon rice soup is like drinking a blanket (we promise that’s a good thing), and you get a lot of bang for your buck if you order an overstuffed gyro. There are a bunch of tables where you can sit and eat, or you can grab some mezzes to-go for your own personal pita picnic. It’s a thing.