Dining Outside With The Family: Seattle Area Top Al Fresco Spots
Henry Watkins and Pamela Landinez enjoy sharing pizza outdoors at Humble Pie
Editor's note: Updated May 2018
Dining outside is one of the great pleasures: the food tastes better, the drinks more refreshing, and the fact that the kids are running around seems a little less problematic. When hunger strikes, here are some of our favorite choices for kid-friendly al fresco dining.
Humble Pie has been serving stellar wood-fired artisanal pizza and local brews since opening its doors in 2013. This Central District favorite focuses on environmental sustainability, and uses organic and hyper-local ingredients wherever possible. The menu offers a dozen huge pies to choose between, from a classic margherita to pulled pork and Beecher’s Flagship. The large patio has plenty of picnic table seating, and kids love to watch the chickens in the nearby coops. 525 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, humblepieseattle.com.
Agua Verde, one of Seattle’s most iconic outdoor eating experiences, offers Baja-style Mexican fare with knockout views of Portage Bay. This casual waterfront spot makes all of its food from scratch daily, and their house-made salsas are out of this world. The burritos are big enough for two to share, and the mangodilla, a quesadilla filled with mango, poblanos, and your choice of meat, delights diners of all ages. Rent double kayaks from the downstairs paddle club to make it an unforgettable day. 1303 N.E. Boat St., Seattle, aguaverde.com.
Saint Helens Café is a charming neighborhood brasserie in Laurelhurst with a spacious, sunny deck and cozy fire pit. A number of small plates are available to share, and hungry diners shouldn’t miss the patented Saint Helens burger with house-made American cheese. The high-quality kids’ menu offers buttered homemade pasta, grilled cheese on Columbia City Bakery bread, and more. Bonus: Saint Helens is located right on the Burke Gilman Trail, so is a perfect destination for biking families. 3600 NE 45th St., Seattle, sainthelenscafe.com.
Bongos, a converted gas station a stone’s throw from Green Lake, is an ultra-casual Caribbean/Cuban oasis, complete with a newly-renovated patio and a beach with sand toys for the kids. Their citrus-braised pork rivals the best in town, and your kiddos will fight you over the last fried plantain. Any sandwich or plate is available as a half for kids, and the yucca fries are a hit for the whole family. 6501 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, bongosseattle.com.
Chuck’s Hop Shop, Greenwood’s favorite watering hole since opening in 2010, offers over 40 beers on tap, and countless others by the bottle or can. This welcoming neighborhood hangout has food trucks parked by the patio every night, and offers Full Tilt ice cream by the scoop for the half-pint-sized customers. 2015 welcomed a second location to the Central District, offering everything that makes the original so popular. Don’t forget to take a growler of your favorite brew home with you. 656 NW 85th St, Seattle; 2001 E. Union St, Seattle, chucks85th.com.
Beach Café sits on the shore of Lake Washington in Kirkland and offers breathtaking views over the lake towards the Olympic Mountains and downtown. The inside of the cafe, part of the Woodmark Hotel, is spacious yet cozy, but the wraparound patio on the water is the place to be on a beautiful summer’s day. All-day dining is offered, featuring Northwestern favorites with a twist. Choose from a killer breakfast menu (don’t miss the bennies), or head for lunch or dinner and enjoy a range of salads, burgers, or some stellar pulled-pork sliders that the kids will be fighting over. 1200 Carillon Point, Kirkland, destinationhotels.com/the-woodmark/dining/beach-café.
Big Chickie has been Hillman City’s new darling since opening in 2014: a family-friendly Peruvian chicken shack that Seattleites can’t get enough of. The spacious patio is covered, to shelter us from too much sun or a summer sprinkle, and is enclosed, allowing parents to relax as their kids explore. The charcoal rotisserie chicken is clearly the go-to here, with a wide range of homemade sauces and sides available. Kids love the flaky and delicious empanadas, stuffed with chicken & cheese, beef, or corn & cheese. Full Tilt ice cream by the pint for dessert just seals the deal. 5520 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, bigchickie.com.
Thackeray is located off Stone Avenue in Wallingford, just across from the Burke-Gilman Trail and Gasworks Park. Their spacious patio offers plenty of seating, and a giant Jenga game that will keep the kids amused while happy parents can sit back and enjoy a cocktail. The weekend brunch offers some excellent traditional options, as well as an Ethiopian fried chicken that’s not to be missed, and the “fluffernutter” (griddled challah, marshmallow fluff, Nutella and bacon) that might be your kids’ dream meal. If you head for lunch, dinner, or their very reasonable happy hour, be sure to order some “thacker-jacks” (popcorn, spiced caramel, pumpkin seeds, and nuts). The whole family will thank you. 3400 Stone Way N., Seattle, thackerayseattle.com.
Marination Ma Kai, West Seattle’s brick-and-mortar spot of the popular Marination food-truck empire, offers an incredible gated patio with a priceless view of the Space Needle and downtown across beautiful Elliott Bay. The Aloha pork sliders are sweet and tangy, appealing to kids (and adults) of all ages, and are the perfect size for little hands. Tacos are available with a number of bold and flavorful fillings, including kalbi beef and “sexy tofu,” and all are served with Marination’s flavorful “nunya sauce.” (What’s the secret recipe? Nunya business.) Take the water taxi from downtown right to their doorstep for a perfect summer’s day out, and be sure to grab a shave ice for the ride home. 1660 Harbor Ave., Seattle, marinationmobile.com.
520 Bar & Grill in Bellevue has a lush patio garden with a $6 kid’s menu. The gargantuan meat-topped 520 nachos are a popular family pick. For brunch, a favorite is the Spicy Spanish Burrito that has eggs, chorizo, black beans, cheddar-jack cheese, avocado, chipotle sour cream, green chiles and pico wrapped in a spinach tortilla served with home-fried potatoes. Kids will love the French toast. The name “520″ doesn’t come from the floating bridge, as most think. It’s actually the real-estate location code for the area bounded by the three freeways; 405, I-90, and 520. With 20 or so tables on the patio, seating is first come, first served. 10146 Main St., Bellevue, 520barandgrill.com.
Elliott's Oyster House is located on the Seattle waterfront with great views of the Great Wheel and all the boat traffic for kids to watch. There are 40 umbrella tables perched on the pier. The kids' menu will keep small ones busy with chowder, burgers, fish-and-chips and pasta. The ultimate seafood platter makes for a good marine-science lessons for the kids. 1201 Alaskan Way Pier 56, Seattle, elliottsoysterhouse.com.
Anthony's Beach Cafe in Edmonds has killer views of the marina just south of the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry. There's plenty of room for kids to move around, plus there's an outdoor sandbox. The kids' menu includes fish-and-chips, prawns-and-chips, grilled cheese and mac and cheese. Make time before or after dining to play at the beach or take a stroll on one of the several nearby walking paths along the marina. Or just sit back and relax while watching the boats sail by. Don't let the fact that it's a chain deter you, it's a great family-friendly spot. 456 Admiral Way, Edmonds; the Des Moines outpost has a beautiful deck overlooking the patio. Technically it's part of the bar, but kids can sit with their parents. 421 S. 227th St., Des Moines. anthonys.com.