During the rainy months of the year that make everything feel like that dark alleyway scene from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, it’s hard to remember why parks exist in Seattle. Then, we all blink, it’s 70 degrees, and the parks turn into nightclubs, only they’re outdoors, open during the day, and allow dogs, babies, and unnecessarily aggressive games of ultimate frisbee. Since you’ll be spending some time in or around these parks all summer long, it’s important to have a few standby places to eat and drink nearby for when throwing a flying disc gets old.
Where To Eat & Drink Near Seattle Parks is presented in partnership with Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer. All restaurants and bars featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team.
CAL ANDERSON PARK
When we sit at a bistro table sandwiched between two brick walls at Oddfellows Cafe’s hidden garden patio, we feel like a protagonist in a French New Wave film - only Jean-Luc Godard doesn’t have a camera pointed directly at us, and we’re not covered in cigarette smoke. We like Oddfellows best for brunch, when you can grab some soft scrambled eggs with a biscuit and jam before meeting friends to practice some morning acro yoga at Cal Anderson.
A day at the park isn’t complete without a scoop of the best ice cream in town. Flavors at Salt & Straw range from classics like chocolate brownie and salted caramel, to stranger things like Beecher’s cheese with peppercorn toffee - equal parts surprisingly and unsurprisingly delicious. Stack a cone as tall as they’ll let you, which, as it turns out is around four scoops.
If you’re interested in vegan ice cream, walk the extra block and a half to Frankie & Jo’s. The plant-based and gluten-free cashew/coconut doesn’t trick us into thinking we’re eating real dairy, but that’s not the point. It’s just delicious ice cream, even though some ingredients sound like things found in a parking lot - like charcoal and pine needles.
Maybe your adult softball league just had its fourth loss in a row against a team that decided to name itself the “All Star Super Stars.” Lift your spirits at Redhook Brewlab. They have a bunch of small-batch beer, like grapefruit basil IPA or caramel macchiato milk stout, as well as pretzels with beer cheese and wild boar sausage pizzas for when you get hungry.
Volunteer Park Cafe might sound obvious, but it’s as close to the park as you can get, and the food here happens to be great. If you jogged the park in the morning, stop in afterwards for a breakfast panini and an iced latte. If you forgot to eat after reading an entire novella in one sitting on the grass, have a big dinner involving pot pie, brisket, or flatbread pizza. The entire building feels like a farmhouse, so it’s a great come-as-you-are kind of place, even if you tend to get very gross and sweaty after jogging.
If you’re trying to grab dinner before a concert at Volunteer Park, and want something comforting but different, go to Cook Weaver. It’s a cozy neighborhood restaurant that serves self-proclaimed “inauthentic Eurasian cuisine,” which means things like fried chicken topped with crab seasoning, bibimbap with hominy, and green pea spaetzle. It’s all fantastic, and the cocktails are summery, too.
Urban Family Brewing Co.
It happens to all of us: you expect a chill walk along the water and find out the hard way that it’s actually an exhausting uphill trek. Maybe that’s why it’s called Discovery Park. A cold beer is always satisfying after a surprise workout you never signed up for, so head to Urban Family for a flight of some of the best sours in Seattle. The combinations are all very creative and refreshing, like a Fun Dip-inspired beer, or one with jackfruit, pineapple, passionfruit, coconut, and vanilla. Take advantage of the free mini pretzels and the food truck outside, too.
After a hike of any kind, it’s nice to eat a big sandwich out in the sun. And if you get to have one while sitting on the side of a dock, even better. Fishermen’s is a deli right on the Salmon Bay Marina, and they make excellent sandwiches. It might seem refreshing to order a cold pastrami or chicken havarti (both great choices), but what you really want is the Corleone. It’s a toasty baguette filled with Italian meats, cheeses, and a pickled pepper mayo. Don’t forget a sack of potato chips or some soda on the side.
Little Chinook’s is a seafood spot on the marina, and they’re very serious about fish and chips. Hopefully you are, too. You can get true cod, ling cod, prawns, salmon, halibut, clam strips, or oysters - all with really good battered fries that taste like what would happen if curly fries that got a blowout at the salon. You can’t go wrong with anything here, but the crispy tempura on the wild salmon is a winner. Sit outside and pick out which yacht you’d want to live on.
A trip to Madison Park is really an excuse to have dinner at The Independent. The pizzas here are thin and crispy while still retaining some floppiness, and there are a bunch of different pie topping combinations you can have, involving speck, gorgonzola, clams, garlic, lemon, and more. For the record, those things aren’t on the same pie. People start lining up a few minutes before they open at 5, so you’ll want to join that crowd, otherwise be doomed to a fate of standing around for an hour being very jealous of strangers who didn’t do anything to you. You’ll also want to start with the goat cheese with honey and grilled bread.
If you’re looking for something more grab-and-go, we are big fans of the sandwiches at Madison Kitchen, an all-day cafe on the main strip. You can’t go wrong with anything you choose, but the best is the Madison Street Special, which has turkey, bacon, apples, cheddar, basil aioli, and cranberry sauce on cider bread. It was practically designed to be enjoyed in a park.
GOLDEN GARDENS PARK
We’d go to great lengths for an Un Bien Caribbean roast pork sandwich. Like if we were swimming across Golden Gardens and a friend yelled “Last one to Un Bien’s a rotten egg,” through a megaphone, we’d Grand Theft Auto a jetski, gun it to shore, and sprint to Un Bien. No way we’re being a rotten egg. It’s hard to finish one of these beastly baguette sandwiches, but it’s worth getting the aioli and pickled jalapenos all over yourself in the process. Don’t miss the fire-roasted corn if it’s on the menu.
Miri’s is the concession stand at Golden Gardens, but you won’t find stale fries (seagull bait) or otter pops here. Instead, they make kebab wraps, acai bowls, virgin pina colada slushies, and poffertjes - which are mini dutch pancakes topped with things like fresh berries and whipped cream.
Little Coney earns its place on this guide mostly because it’s at the marina next to Golden Gardens, and it’s probably the only place in town where you can get old-school soft serve where the mix comes from a carton. Everyone knows that this is the best soft serve in the world. It’s creamy, artificially-flavored, and exactly what you need while flying a kite around on the shore trying to remember why it is that you own a kite. This snack shack also serves classic burgers and fries, and they’re fine - just make sure to bring salt with you, or dip your food in the Puget Sound. It all needs so much salt.
GAS WORKS PARK
Gas Works Park is a beautiful slope of greenery that used to be a gasification plant, which means it’s filled with old rusty structures of yesteryear. That being said, it looks like the setting of a post-apocalyptic student film or a very fun wiffleball field waiting to be played on. What it doesn’t have, however, is tequila. You’ll need to head to Pablo Y Pablo for that. The tacos here are great, especially the vegan ones, and we’re also big fans of their chopped salad. Sit out on a picnic table and keep the margaritas coming.
WOODLAND PARK/GREEN LAKE PARK
If you’re unable to take a vacation this summer because you spent all of your money on whole coconuts to hollow out and use as cocktail tumblers, Bongos is a close second. It’s a colorful renovated gas station on Green Lake where the very fake (but still convincing) beach patio is covered in sand. It’s perfect after a lap around the lake, where you’ll work your way through excellent spicy shrimp with Cuban rice and beans or slow-cooked pork sandwiches that rival Un Bien’s. Make sure the tostones with cilantro sauce hit the table, too.
After looking at baby giraffes at Woodland Park Zoo and deciding that you won’t rest until you can own one as a pet, have a relaxing dinner at RockCreek. They have seafood dishes like crudo, shrimp and grits, and grilled filets in a space that feels like a babbling brook. The massive wall-sized photo of the babbling brook helps. No matter what, start with the cauliflower salad and end with a jar of key lime pie.
You can always tell that it’s summertime when you’re strolling along a residential street and, without warning, get hit by a random whiff of someone else’s family barbecue. The same thing happens near Seward Park, only this time, it’s coming from Bent Burgers. They have a pretty basic menu of burgers, fries, onion rings, and milkshakes, as well as a candied bacon burger with grilled cheese for buns if you’re in the market for a couch nap later.
Sometimes, a trip to the park is really just a trip to stand in one spot for two hours while your dog goes berserk chasing a stick. Afterwards, you should bring her to Tippe & Drague Alehouse. It’s like a park, only with fewer grassy areas, and beer you’re allowed to drink in an open container. Keep in mind that they don’t serve food out on their patio, but if you decide to drop the dog off at home before you eat, you’ll find great burgers here.
If you just want to grab some ice cream from Homer’s walk-up soft serve window after playing some impromptu badminton, we support you. But you should really stick around for a mix-and-match dinner involving Meditteranean mezzes, vegetables that have been burnt on purpose, and excellent roasted chicken with fruit sauce and jus-soaked pita. It’s the kind of meal that feels good after a light workout, especially if someone got hit in the eye with the birdie.
If you’re rolling with a few children who just burned 800 calories playing tag and throwing pebbles around, you need the closest place where you can toss french fries in their general direction, guzzle down beer, and eat a burger that most definitely will not have pink in the middle but will taste good anyway. The patio at Magnuson Cafe is huge and looks out onto the water - which is something the kids won’t care about between bites of grilled cheese, but your adult friends would probably find cool.
This neighborhood restaurant has extremely nice people and a varied menu of delicious things to eat for lunch and/or dinner like a cauliflower steak with savory granola and an excellent pork schnitzel sandwich. If nothing else, just grab a beer and a couple of wagyu sliders before going for that swim at Magnuson. Well, at least 30 minutes before.
Meet The Moon is an all-day cafe with an alarming amount of options for before or after spending some time on the water at Leschi Park. The fact that you can get a giant cinnamon roll, chicken fingers, carnitas, tuna poke, and French toast during the same meal might seem like a red flag, but it all works. Use this spot for something casual no matter what time it is.
Laying out on a blanket playing Risk with your friends is all fun and games until an engaged couple calls off the wedding because the other person willingly attacked their continent. That’s the entire point of the game, but how dare you, Dillon? Cool things down with a pizza peace offering in a big booth at Central. The New York-style pies and caesar salads here are very solid and the fact that it’s all reasonably-priced is a nice bonus. If that doesn’t lead to a truce, it likely doesn’t have too much to do with the pizza itself - they were never meant to be, and you should probably stop playing Risk.
OLYMPIC SCULPTURE PARK
Something about an afternoon gazing at sculptures makes us hungry for something upscale and ritzy, like Aqua. This spot is on the water and has a ton of options, from crab croquettes to seared scallops, so it’s especially perfect if you’re entertaining out-of-town guests who are in the mood for seafood. While the inside is a little stuffy (it comes naturally with having a grand piano for decoration), the balcony patio is a very chill contrast from the people inside wearing suits.
Drinking wine at a park is really only fun if you already shopped for shatter-proof plastic flutes and one of those corkcicle things on Amazon. Otherwise, you have to break out the solo cups and somebody in your group’s bound to judge you. Instead, hang out at the park first and then do your wine-drinking at Bottlehouse. Their deck garden is a beautiful space to sit alongside some frozen riesling slushies, and the cheese plates and charcuterie here is way better than what you could have put together that would have started sweating in the sun after five minutes.
If you worked up such a sweat throwing a ball at the park that you feel the need to carbo-load, Vendemmia is a fantastic choice. Their pastas, from spaghetti with spicy tomato to ricotta agnolotti, are satisfying but not too rich, and the smoked fish crostini makes a great summertime snack.
You can’t get closer to Marymoor than Postdoc Brewing Company. It’s so close, in fact, that the patio is literally on the edge of one of the park fields. We love hanging out here, and not just for the unique type of schadenfreude that comes with watching bikers haul ass while you sit at a picnic table sipping beer. Speaking of, the cool thing to do here is to have a pint filled with half of the hazy IPA and half of the blackberry gose. Don’t knock it until you try it.