They may be in rain boots more often than flip flops, but Seattle-area kids are used to playing outside year-round. While the city’s mild climate offers plenty of chances to kick a soccer ball, dig in the sand, and scribble with sidewalk chalk, there’s a smaller window when families want to eat al fresco. So if the sun is (finally) shining, grab the opportunity to take in the views and breathe some fresh air from these local, kid-approved dining spots.
Kids are as common as organic chips and salsa at Agua Verde, nestled on the shores of Portage Bay near the University Bridge. There’s nothing particularly trendy or slick about the Agua Verde’s Baja-inspired menu, but there is a slew of reliable entrée options for children and the large menu gives those with grown-up preference an abundance of choices including oversized plates of pork gorditas and mole burritos, with cooling verde, smoky chipotle or fiery diablito salsa.
Bike, bus, drive, or float to Agua Verde. The restaurant offers on-site moorage for small runabout boats. Arrive early to rent kayaks, and then work up an appetite rowing toward the downtown skyline on Lake Union. Expect long lines on the weekends, but make waiting for fun by ordering kids a round of virgin mango margaritas or horchata from the restaurant’s take-out window, then imbibe while taking in the view. If seating is tight, get take-out and walk west about a block to the 3.5-acre waterfront Fritz Hedges Waterway Park, (1117 Northeast Boat Street) that opened in 2021 on Portage Bay with a kayak launch point, a small beach, open lawn space, terraces, picnic area and short pier.
Working a weekly farmers’ market rotation, Veraci Pizza’s Sunday afternoon stand at the Ballard Farmers’ Market comes with built-in atmosphere. Kids love to watch employees sliding whole pies in and out of Veraci’s flaming clay oven on wheels. The pizza’s thin, still-warm crust manages to support a generous assortment of fresh veggies and meats.
Grab foldable slices or a whole pie with toppings like arugula, mushrooms and prosciutto, then settle into curbside seats and take in the sights and sounds of market culture. You’ll be in good company, with strollers, dogs and street buskers shuffling past.
Located on Lake Washington in Kirkland’s Carillon Point, Beach Café’s spacious outdoor dining area rests near the water. While the kid’s mac and cheese resembles the boxed variety, the meal is at least partially redeemed with an accompanying grilled chicken breast and side of ripe melon and berries. The adult version of mac and cheese is much more memorable, with lumps of crab hugging plump, cheesy penne. In addition to sandwiches and burgers, unexpected dishes are big on flavor and lighter on the waistline.
The International District’s venerable Tamarind Tree shines in warm weather. To nab a table in the restaurant’s spacious, covered outdoor dining area, plan to arrive early on weekend evenings.
The heavy dose of vegetables used in Vietnamese cooking are more than welcome during sweltering summer days. Kids will dig into chicken satay and fresh rolls stuffed with veggies, coconut and roasted peanuts. More adventurous eaters will devour pineapple salad with jicama and lemongrass tofu.
Before Uneeda Burger opened in North Fremont a couple of years ago, area families could opt to eat Dick’s burgers in the parking lot or fight for a couple of outside tables at Red Mill. But even on busy days, it’s relatively pain-free to secure one of Uneeda’s roomy outdoor picnic tables, some under the shade and others in full sun.
While it’s still debatable who has the best burger in town, Uneeda is a top contender. The casual eatery serves up au natural Painted Hills beef patties with schmancy toppings like pencil-thin tempura battered lemon slices and pickled onions. Families with dietary restrictions will also find a home here, with tasty gluten free buns, veggie burgers and Plain Jane grilled cheese.
Editor’s note: This is an updated article first published in August 2012.