For every happy Microsoft program manager that you befriend, you probably have another friend that’s extremely bitter about the traffic and rain who would rather live somewhere else. It’s your job to show them that Seattle is so much more than road work and passive aggressive people, and there are plenty of great restaurants that prove your point. Sure, they might not be sprinting to get an REI membership by the end of the meal, but they’d be crazy to leave this weirdly wonderful city.
Every time you take your friend to an Italian restaurant in Seattle, they compare it to a better spot in some other city. If you want to guarantee this doesn’t happen again, bring them to Spinasse. It’s the best place for Italian food in Seattle. Your friend will be too busy enjoying the incredible butter and sage pasta to do any more complaining.
Deru Market in Kirkland is far away from all the noise of the constant construction in the city. This cafe/market hybrid is smack in the middle of a sleepy residential neighborhood, and they serve some delicious cake, sandwiches, salads, wood-fired pizzas, and fries topped with crispy herbs and pecorino cheese. Hanging out at Deru is also a great way to get a glimpse into what a future would be like after settling down in the Seattle suburbs - which are far better than just about any other city’s suburbs.
Sometimes, all it takes to keep someone from leaving is to make them feel like they belong. That’s where Korochka Tavern comes in. It’s an art deco wallpaper-covered Russian spot in Lake City far away from all the software developers and miniature Australian Shepherds. We love this place because the bartenders are super friendly, the pork pelmeni dumplings with vinegar and hot sauce are delicious, and the Moscow mules are strong and reasonably-priced. Grab a couple bar seats, and don’t be surprised if you have a life-affirming conversation with another regular.
RockCreek is the perfect place to remind anybody that this city has amazing seafood, and it doesn’t need to be eaten on some dock filled with tourists who just came from the Chihuly Glass Museum. Instead, enjoy your oysters and crudo under a giant mural of a babbling brook - which has an added bonus of reminding your friend that the nature in Seattle is unmatched.
If your friend won’t stop talking about how much they “hate Amazon,” blindfold and lead them to Deep Dive. The blindfold’s a bit dramatic, but you’ll need a way to shield this person’s view of the Amazon Spheres, which is where this speakeasy is located. Deep Dive has a funky underwater aesthetic, amazing aquavit cocktails, and a fancy Seattle dog topped with caviar. It’s always packed, and is a great example of why this is a fantastic city to drink in.
If your friend wants to leave Seattle for a bigger city, they’re also going to have to deal with the longer waits at restaurants. Bring this person to a summer Friday at Wood Shop BBQ - they have live music on their backyard patio, and it’s never too crowded, even though it feels like it should be. The barbecue is some of the best in town, so make sure you get a plate of pork ribs, smoked chicken, and an order of fried jalapeno mac and cheese balls.
We once overheard someone at Tsukushinbo announce they were moving to Tokyo the next day, and wanted this Seattle sushi spot to be their final meal. Excellent choice. Tsukushinbo is a small, unmarked Japanese restaurant, and it isn’t completely overrun with tourists and business people like the other famous sushi places in town. A meal here is simply about the fresh fish and your experience eating it. Assuming your friend isn’t planning on relocating to the raw fish capital of the world, they’ll realize how much they’ll miss the seafood in this city.
We’re no stranger to the argument that Seattle pizza is child’s play compared to what’s out east. We see that frustration and raise you a Mr. Pink pie from Dino’s. This charred Sicilian pizza with vodka sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, and basil acts as a shield to any kind of East Coast homesickness. That, and a pile of their garlic knots dunked in marinara.
Eating fried food at a dive bar doesn’t sound like a great way to make anyone stick around. However, the Pacific Inn in Fremont makes a pretty strong case. Treat your friend to a pint of IPA and a plate of fish and chips, which is best enjoyed on their back patio, and they’ll put their suitcase back in storage.
If this person is a transplant, chances are that you took them to Marination Ma Kai to convince them to move here in the first place. This West Seattle patio on Alki Beach has an incredible view of the city, as well as excellent Hawaiian tacos, kimchi fried rice, spam macaroni salad, and lychee margaritas. After you share a silent moment together looking out at the incredible skyline, turn and ask them if they’re really going to leave. If a solitary tear rolls down their face, you’ve done your job.
Left Bank in South Park is a small wine bar that looks like your friend’s chill basement lounge. They have a record player, a sofa, and a tiny bar where you can chat up the bartender while he pours you a glass of some inexpensive Slovenian red. Bring in burgers from Loretta’s across the street to have with your wine and hip hop records, and there’s no way anyone would bolt for Napa after that.
If your friend is still set on leaving this city after eating all of the amazing Malaysian food at Kedai Makan, like mushroom pan mee noodles, beef ribs braised in black vinegar, and fried chicken with creamy curry for dipping, they simply cannot be helped. Call them a car to the airport and bid them farewell. Then, eat their leftovers.