Summer Guide: Where to Get a Meal in the Sun

Everything tastes better outside. Maybe that’s because there’s so much talent walking by.

Outdoor dining is not only an excellent way to savor the fresh air, but to enjoy scenery of all kinds. Here are some of our favorite places for outdoor dining, where the food, the views, and/or the action excel.Agua Verde You want to rent a kayak from Agua Verde and paddle around Lake Union? Make your reservation a month in advance. But to secure a spot on the patio for fish tacos and pitchers of margaritas, you only have to line up for an hour. 1303 N.E. Boat St., 545-8570, aguaverde.com. U DISTRICTAnita's Crepes Strolling around the farmers markets with one of Anita's lemon-sugar crepes, marveling over the bunches of local kale and plumcot pyramids, it's hard not to fall in love with Seattle. Ah, the yuppie life. anitascrepes.com. VARIOUS LOCATIONSBlack Bottle Here is how to feel at home on Black Bottle's patio: Do a sweep-through of Design Within Reach beforehand so you can loudly name-check designers. Do wear expensive glasses. And do order the blasted broccoli and one of the flatbreads. 2600 First Ave., 441-1500, blackbottleseattle.com. BELLTOWNThe Broadway Grill Is the point of dining here the food? Good lord, no—stick to their burgers and sandwiches. But the Grill is still the best people-watching spot on Broadway. By "people-watching," we mean marveling at the human spectacle before you. And by "marveling," we mean trying to pick up. 314 Broadway Ave. E., 328-7000. CAPITOL HILLCactus Kirkland's version of a Parisian sidewalk cafe, substituting chicken fajitas for steak tartare, a margarita for a demi-pichet of Beaujolais, and clean lakeside air for cigarette smoke. 121 Park Lane, Kirkland, 425-893-9799, cactusrestaurants.com. EASTSIDECafe Presse While the bar fills up with European soccer fans, Cafe Presse's deck packs in the hipsters for $5 omelets, the city's best green salad, and a chance to look around blithely in their best stunner shades. 1117 12th Ave., 709-7674, cafepresseseattle.com. CAPITOL HILLCedars Restaurant Seeing as how the Northwest is short on muggy nights, there's also a dearth of verandas. As close as you'll get to a Mississippi evening is to sit on Cedars' second-story porch with a plate of barbecue (aka tandoori chicken) and a mint julep (well, mint chutney will have to do). 4759 Brooklyn Ave. N.E., 527-4000, cedarsseattle.com. U DISTRICTCoastal Kitchen You have to be lucky or run a savvy campaign to score a table on Coastal Kitchen's hidden back patio, but it'll make up for all the time you spent out front rubbing coffee cups with North Capitol Hill's hoi polloi. 429 15th Ave. E., 322-1145, chowfoods.com/coastal. CAPITOL HILLFlying Fish What would beat a warm Friday night on Flying Fish's sidewalk seating, sharing a glass of sauvignon blanc and a platter of oysters? If they made the 25-cent oyster happy hour year-round. 2234 First Ave., 728-8595, flyingfishseattle.com. BELLTOWNGilbert's Main Street Bagel Deli Rumor has it that many a Bellevue suit sneaks out to Gilbert's sidewalk for crepes and salads, catches a little too much vitamin D, and never returns after lunch. Employers have started calling it the Bermuda Triangle of the Eastside. 10024 Main St., Bellevue, 425-455-5650. EASTSIDEGrand Central Baking Company On sunny days, eat your sandwich on the cobblestones of Occidental Park, when the susurrating trees lull both office workers and drug addicts into a yogic state of grace. The park feels like a retreat from Pioneer Square itself. 214 First Ave. S., 622-3644, grandcentralbakery.com. PIONEER SQUAREGreenlake Bar & Grill A burger and a beer always taste better with the knowledge that you'll work part of them off walking around the lake afterward. That patio's so sunny and comfortable, though, that dessert often consists of another round and a nap. 7200 E. Green Lake Dr. N., 729-6179, greenlakebarandgrill.com. GREEN LAKEMeskel Patios like Meskel's were made for late summer evenings, when you can gather over bottles of Harar for hours, languorously picking at platters of injera, lamb tibbs, and berbere-coated chicken. 2605 E. Cherry St., 860-1724, meskelrestaurant.com. CENTRAL DISTRICTPink Door Yes, it has been the most famous patio in Seattle for a couple of decades. But a bowl of pappardelle with Bolognese sauce and a view of the Sound will justify the wait. 1919 Post Alley, 443-3241, thepinkdoor.net. PIKE PLACE MARKETPlace Pigalle Place Pigalle is already one of the Market's secret treasures; even lesser known is its tiny patio, which offers a chance to admire the Sound in quiet comfort while you dine on steamed mussels and duck aux cerises. 81 Pike St., 624-1756, placepigalle-seattle.com. PIKE PLACE MARKETPonti Grill Just call your view from Ponti's patio, which overlooks the Ship Canal and the bridges of King County, "industrial chic." One of the few outdoor-dining venues in town where a tie doesn't look out of place. And people do love Ponti's way with Northwest fish and crab. 3014 Third Ave. N., 284-3000, pontiseafoodgrill.com. FREMONTEl Puerco Lloron A rickety metal table on El Puerco Lloron's patio, a plate of handmade tortillas filled with carnitas, and a giant glass of horchata are known to incite a fervent prayer: Please don't let the tourists discover the Pike Street Hillclimb. 1501 Western Ave. (on the Hillclimb), 624-0541, elpuercolloron.com. PIKE PLACE MARKETRay's Cafe Locals know that to guarantee the best view of Shilshole Bay, they have to bum-rush the upstairs deck just as it opens. (If the evening unexpectedly grows chilly, the waiters distribute lap blankets.) 6049 Seaview Ave. N.W., 782-0094, rays.com. BALLARDLa Rustica Forget Alki: Just around the corner, La Rustica serves reasonably priced, tasty pastas on its deck, with a sliver of a view of the Sound and much fewer out-of-towners. 4100 Beach Dr. S.W., 932-3020, larusticarestaurant.com. WEST SEATTLESt. Clouds Central Seattle apartment-dwellers have adopted the tree-filled, grassy outdoor dining area at St. Clouds as a surrogate backyard. No weed-whacking, great drinks and food. Much cheaper than a mortgage, too. 1131 34th Ave., 726-1522, stclouds.com. MADRONASerafina The restaurant's vine-blanketed, flower-filled patio has incited thousands of pasta-eaters to make proposals both noble and indecent. 2043 Eastlake Ave. E., 323-0807, serafinaseattle.com. EASTLAKEThe Signature Lower Queen Anne boasts a sports arena, tons of theaters, and a reputation for easy virtue, but not much outdoor dining. (Is there a connection? We're not sure.) Enter the Signature, whose brand-new deck is an ideal spot for a pre-funk picnic of papaya salad, grilled pork skewers, and cocktails. 530 First Ave. N., 283-6614, thesignaturerestaurant.homestead.com. QUEEN ANNESkillet Street Food Eating one of Skillet's amazing bacon-jam-slathered burgers means picnicking on concrete; the spots range from an exhaust-fume-bathed corner on Denny to a serene high-school lot in West Seattle. The upshot is the crowd scene—half flash mob, half community social. Locations vary; check skilletstreetfood.com or twitter @skilletstfood.Tacos el Asadero You may not consider Rainier Avenue scenic, but it's definitely a scene. And Seattle's best taco bus lets you sit on the picnic tables outside with your tacos and properly messy tortas so you can watch all South Seattle drive by. 3517 Rainier Ave. S. SOUTH SEATTLETrellis Chef Brian Scheehser's five-acre garden isn't in sight of this Kirkland restaurant's patio, but eating his food feels like farmstead dining. With cleaner tables. 220 Kirkland Ave., Kirkland, 425-284-5900, trellisrestaurant.net. EASTSIDETutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria Ah, you parents. Miss that 2 a.m. sidewalk sale, when you'd stand around outside the bar after last call, peering at all the other hotties in the same predicament? The G-rated version happens on this pizzeria's sidewalk patio, which fills up with attractive families greeting all the other parents they know who walk by. 4918 Rainier Ave. S., 721-3501, tuttabellapizza.com. COLUMBIA CITYVolterra Yeah, we know the Italian food at Volterra is top drawer, but 'fess up: Are you sitting on that front patio to see the Ballard nightlife or to be seen by it? On Sunday morning you can bask in the sun with a Bellini and a basket of pastries while watching the poor schlubs lugging canvas totes around the farmers market. 5411 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-5100, volterrarestaurant.com. BALLARDZeeks Pizza Zeeks' small, fenced-in back deck finally gives Morgan Junction parents a place to hang out and eat pizza with their kids. What goes with pizza? Beer. And what does beer mean? Everyone over the age of 21 goes home happy, too. 6459 California Ave. S.W., 285-8646, zeekspizza.com. WEST SEATTLEjkauffman@seattleweekly.com

 
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