Relatives, friends, and other cheery or weary travelers descend upon Seattle in full-force every holiday season. In my family, when out-of-towners arrive each December babies are bundled, cameras are dutifully slung over the shoulders of in-laws, and a small parade of cars descend upon downtown for a big dinner.
So where do you eat with a group when at least one well-meaning relative lives solely on meat and potatoes? The following five restaurants are within walking distance to holiday merriment, including the carousel at Westlake Park and Pike Place Market. They also hit a happy balance between serving at least mildly interesting and universally loved food that you, your kid, and your uncle from Omaha will admire.
What to order: Originally opened in the 50s, the Frontier Room on First and Blanchard serves mounds of barbecued meat and carby, Southern-inspired sides. The "ranch hand" chicken, pork, and beef platter will keep everyone but vegetarians appeased.
Where to sit: The back room has long tables and curved booths that accommodate large groups.
The details: Reservations are accepted and kids are welcome until the bewitching hour of 10 p.m. At last check, the restaurant had yet to decide if it will be open Christmas Eve or Day.
What to order: Lecosho sits a stone's throw from the Market on Harbor Steps. Before opening Il Corvo, chef Mike Easton brought refined rustic flavor profiles to the restaurant. Beautiful, fresh fish and hearty pork mains are hard not to like.
Where to sit: The restaurant is long and lean. If you have strollers or a lot of gear for kids, pick a different restaurant. Older children should be fine.
The details: Reservations are accepted; kids are tolerated; Lecosho is closed Christmas Eve and Day.
What to order: You'll feel good eating re-imagined comfort food sourced within 360 miles of Seattle at Belltown's Local 360, even if particular members of your extended family could care less. The pig ears are a conversation starter and the mac & cheese served in a cast iron pan is a meal in itself. Be forewarned: your kid's eyes may pop out of his head at the sight of the pb & j bon bons.
Where to sit: Booths seating six line the main dining room. There's ample space for larger parties at Tolix chaired-tables on the mezzanine and in a cozy back room.
The details: Reservations are accepted; kids are welcome; Local 360 is open Christmas Eve and closed Christmas Day.
What to order: Wild Ginger on 3rd Ave. and Union St. is known for accommodating every sort of diet and taste preference. The heat can be turned up or muffled on most any of Wild Ginger's Asian-inspired dishes, and plates are offered in small or large portions to encourage sampling. Vegans will be happy to find their own menu. Buddha fresh rolls dressed up with pineapple dipping sauce and the salty sweet seven flavor beef are crowd pleasers.
Where to sit: Large tables are scattered throughout the restaurant, but kids may be best contained inside one of many over-sized booths.
The details: Reservations are accepted; kids are welcome; Wild Ginger is open until 8 p.m. Christmas Eve and closed Christmas Day.
What to order: Located in the heart of Pike Place Market, Steelhead Diner is used to serving waves of tourists and/or large groups. While the menu's broad range can be chaotic, classics like the shrimp po boy and poutine are satisfying gut bombs.
Where to sit: There are a few large tables with views of Elliott Bay near the front window that will impress out of town guests. Request one if you can.
The details: Reservations are accepted; kids are welcome; Steelhead is open Christmas Eve and closed Christmas Day.