The Best Patio Dining in Seattle

The warm weather months are here, so it’s sunglasses on at these al fresco dining spots
Marination Ma Kai in West Seattle

Trellis [NORTHWEST] This stylish sidewalk patio rocks it year-round, staying toasty when it’s closeted in clear plastic and warmed by heaters in the winter, but wide open and airy when the weather’s fair. Chef Brian Scheehser’s seasonally inspired menu is ripe with pickin’s from his 10-acre spread in Woodinville during this time of year. We love his tender green salads. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. 220 Kirkland Ave.; 425.284.5900;

Beach Café [WATERFRONT] Sitting outside on the large wraparound concrete patio at this Carillon Point café will make you feel like you’re actually on the water. Breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains and even glimpses of Husky Stadium and the Columbia Center tower are possible on a clear day and make it hard to leave the sun-drenched dockside spot packed with bistro chairs and tables—usually all filled soon after the café opens. The mac and cheese with crab, spiced and braised lamb tacos, and the café burger topped with guacamole and bacon are fan favorites. Kirkland, 1170 Carillon Point; 425.889.0303;

The Independent Pizzeria [PIZZA] [SIDEWALK PATIO] This slice of pizza heaven in Madison Park seats about 15 people comfortably on its tiny patio, furnished with dark wooden, lacquer-topped tables. The space opens when the weather is warm enough (permanently from July 5 to Labor Day). And while that may sound like a recipe for hypercoziness, this hot spot boasts a nice little view of Lake Washington. Madison Park, 4235 E Madison St.; 206.860.6110;

[WINE BAR] Why here: Fig trees spill over the long, side-yard deck lit with starry white lights; it’s the lush, enchanting patio of your dreams. Eat: The seasonal toasts, topped with combos such as prosciutto, chèvre and figs, and the excellent cheese plate. Drink: On a hot day, rosé by the bottle is the way to go. But Bottlehouse has the most eclectic by-the-glass list in the city—spanning sherry, bubbly and amaro—so consider trying something new to you. Insider tip: The backyard is available to rent for summer parties.Late afternoon and evenings, Tue.–Sun. 1416 34th Ave.; 206.708.7164;

St. Clouds [AMERICAN] We won’t tell if, once you’re sitting at one of the six tables in the secret back yard, you slip your shoes off. Why wouldn’t you? Glass-topped metal tables are set up as if for an impromptu dinner party. Strings of white lights sweep from fence to fence, and the “locals only” vibe keeps things warm and sweet. You’ll probably want to sip that Sauvignon Blanc and nibble those slow-roasted ribs a little slower than usual so that you can stay awhile. Brunch and lunch Sat.–Sun., dinner daily. 1131 34th Ave.; 206.726.1522;


Maggie Bluffs
[WATERFRONT] [SEAFOOD] At this classic spot situated at the Elliott Bay Marina next to Palisade, the food and drinks are your typical pub fare with an aquatic slant (crab cakes, fish and chips, and clam chowder). But what’s anything but typical about this dockside patio is that it has one of the most awesome views in town. On a clear day, the Space Needle, Mount Rainier and the city skyline can all be viewed through the masts of the massive convoy of docked boats. When it gets cold, there are heaters. There are only about a dozen tables, and they go fast—even when the weather is just summer-ish. Magnolia, 2601 W Marina Place; 206.283.8322;

Ivar’s Salmon House [BOAT-UP SPOT] Why here: It’s classic waterfront deck dining. The shores of Lake Union lap beneath the patio’s attached boat dock, which local boaters and kayakers use to pick up takeout orders of fish ’n’ chips. Here, you’ll sit under umbrellas, enjoying the cool breeze and that skyline view across the lake. Best table: The bright cloth-covered tables on the lowest level of the tiered patio (closest to the water) offer unobstructed views. What to order: Keep it simple and stick to seafood: clams steamed in white wine and butter; or splurge on a Dungeness crab Louis salad, with hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and sweet, fresh crab. And to drink: Imbibe one of the 26 Washington and Oregon wines available by the glass. And remember: no tipping! 401 NE Northlake Way; 206.632.0767;

Westward [WATERFRONT] [OYSTERS] Why here: The city glittering across the boat-dotted waters of Lake Union can be fully appreciated from the shade of a striped umbrella or around the oyster-shell-lined fire pit. It’s an absolute wonder no one thought of creating a place like Westward before. Eat: Incredibly fresh oysters, smoked Manila clam dip with house-fried potato chips, and Mediterranean-style roasted trout or branzino. Drink: A glass of chilled Muscadet from the Loire Valley will
do mighty fine. Insider tip: Your best bet for a prime outdoor seat—in one of the weathered, conjoined Adirondack chairs—is midday (3–5 p.m.). Also: select oysters are half-price Sun.–Thurs. from 9–10 p.m.North Lake Union, 2501 N Northlake Way; 206.552.8215;

Le Pichet
[FRENCH] [SIDEWALK PATIO] Four small bistro tables on the sidewalk front this downtown French bistro, beckoning passersby to sit and drink rosé for hours. Beware that, although perfect for people watching and feeling cosmopolitan, Pichet’s tables are on the west side of the street and only see sunlight in the morning hours. Ditto for the small sidewalk deck at sister restaurant Café Presse on Capitol Hill, which is perfect for eating a hearty breakfast of oeufs plats—a baked dish of eggs, béchamel, ham and cheese. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. 1933 First Ave.; 206.256.1499;

[FRENCH] It’s hard to believe a sweeping vista this brilliant and this unobstructed can still be such a well-kept secret. But we’ve lucked into tables on the large but largely undiscovered deck—perched high above Elliott Bay and framed by the Olympic Mountains, with ferries pushing through the Sound—without even having to wait. Try the eggs Benedict for Sunday brunch, escargot and soup du jour at sunset. Brunch Sun., lunch and dinner daily. 81A Pike St.; 206.682.7270;

The Pink Door
[ITALIAN] [COVERED PATIOS] A longstanding fair-weather favorite, the deck at The Pink Door offers an unobstructed view of Puget Sound happenings off the busy piers. The overhead wooden lattice provides shade, making this a perfect venue to watch ferry sailings, tune into the market hubbub below and indulge in the predictable Italian offerings, such as garden bruschetta or cioppino. Lunch Mon.–Sat., dinner daily. 1919 Post Alley; 206.443.3241;

Seatown Seabar [NORTHWEST] Whether you’re hooking a snack—the crab cocktail is spot on—or settling in for a leisurely meal, this sidewalk café (that spills over to the picnic tables at its neighboring Rub With Love Shack when it gets busy) is a prime perch for watching the world walk around Pike Place Market. Tables are set with pretty potted flowers, and if there’s a chill in the air, the servers will bring you a blankie. We love rosé with everything on the menu, including the ahi poke salad and terrific tri-tip steak off the rotisserie. Breakfast, lunch, dinner daily. 2010 Western Ave.; 206.436.0390;

Café Campagne [FRENCH] [SIDEWALK PATIO] If you pick the right seat (face south) at one of the marble-topped tables on the outdoor patio of this Parisian-style café, you’ll have a nearly unobstructed view of Post Alley and its usual flocks of tourists—the unapologetic heartbeat of Pike Place Market during summer months. Order yourself a carafe of the house red or white, some frites or a sexy slab of the pâté, and make an afternoon out of it. Pike Place Market, 1600 Post Alley; 206.728.2233;