Food & Drink

Check Out These Seattle Restaurants & Bars to Make the Most of Your Staycation

May 21, 2024
More from Our Summer Guide
Paddle through Portage Bay with a kayak rental from Agua Verde Paddle Club, then refuel with Baja-style Mexican food and margaritas at Agua Verde Cafe. (Agua Verde Cafe)
If a trip to somewhere warm and beachy simply isn't in the cards for you this Memorial Day weekend, don't discount the power of the staycation. These Seattle restaurants and bars will make you feel transported—minus the hassle and cost of airfare. Read on for details on local spots that should be on your bucket list if they're not already, and find even more options in our our food and drink guide.

Agua Verde Cafe and Agua Verde Paddle Club List
Agua Verde Cafe, a colorful Baja-style Mexican spot with a patio, bar, and cantina overlooking Portage Bay, feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the city. A cocktail menu from the team behind Rumba List adds to the tropical feel, while food options range from quesabirria to rockfish tacos. Not only that, but you can conveniently rent a kayak or paddleboard from the adjacent Agua Verde Paddle Club to complete the experience.
University District

Bongo’s Cafe
This perpetually underrated spot in Phinney offers super-solid Caribbean and Cuban food (try the Desi sandwich) and a stretch of white sand with colorful patio furniture that former Stranger books editor Paul Constant once likened to a "relaxing vacation."

Little Water Cantina List
The collage of vintage postcards on the wall of this modern Mexican standby is enough to stoke your daydreams of faraway places. Better yet, the restaurant boasts a view of Lake Union's many marinas, with Gas Works Park in the distance, that you can gaze upon while you sit on the patio and eat guacamole alongside rotating summer food specials. You're going to want a fresh fruit margarita, too.

Marination Ma Kai List
There's no better place to contemplate the Seattle skyline and pretend you're on an island getaway than the local Hawaiian-Korean franchise Marination's West Seattle outpost Ma Kai. The restaurant's beer garden patio offers a breathtaking view of Alki. Order some "aloha fries" (hand-cut twice-fried fries, kalua pork, mayo, kimchi sauce, furikake, and a sunny-side-up egg).
West Seattle

May Kitchen + Bar List
A day trip to Vashon is a great adventure to fit into your long weekend, and this Thai restaurant is one of my favorite places to eat on the island. The best part is the tableside pad thai preparation: A server dresses your rice noodles before your eyes, asks you how you like yours, deftly flicks the corresponding amount of cane sugar, chili flakes, and crushed peanuts right onto your plate, and blends it all with lime juice and banana flowers (slender white tubular blossoms that create a puckeringly astringent sensation in your mouth). The whole thing is served wrapped in a banana leaf and with the fixings on the side, so you can adjust your own plate accordingly as you eat. It's well worth the trek for this and various other delights on the menu.
Vashon Island

Navy Strength
If you're in the mood for some tropical tipples, this modern tiki bar serves an eclectic mix of libations just right for warmerx days. Stranger contributor Naomi Tomky writes, "It evokes a summer afternoon on a patio in 1958 more than the typical plastic and pupu platter tiki bar: elegant but fun, both tasteful and tasty."

Perch beside a fire pit on one of the famous Adirondack chairs at this seafood-centric Mediterranean restaurant (which was purchased and renovated by Renee Erickson's restaurant group Sea Creatures in 2018) and admire the view of Lake Union. Former Stranger restaurant reviewer and arts editor Bethany Jean Clement once wrote, "It is directly on the shore of north Lake Union, so there's an unbeatable view of the downtown skyline, looking like a distant dream of busyness across the sparkling water...It's so wonderful, you might pass out." Feeling really decadent? Get the seafood tower.

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