Vacations are relaxing, but getting on a plane right now is not, so we don't blame you if you canceled your flight to Italy or wherever. Lucky for you, these restaurants and bars open for limited-capacity dining 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 on our complete indoor and outdoor dining directory.
Agua Verde Cafe and Paddle Club
At this combination cafe and kayak rental spot, you can take a leisurely paddle through the waters of Portage Bay and refuel with Mexican food and fresh margaritas and aguas frescas upon your return. The Stranger's Min Liao once wrote, "There is something distinctly soothing about Agua Verde, and when I'm here I feel like I'm on vacation. The place's resort-town sensibilities feel thousands of miles away from my First Hill studio: brightly painted tropical colors; scrubbed floorboards; hand-scrawled signs; a modest kitchen where busy, laughing cooks work in shorts; photos posted in the hallway of friends, babies, grinning staff members. Being here makes me wistful for places I have not yet discovered, but that are somehow familiar thanks to postcards or Travel and Leisure."
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 The Stranger's Paul Constant likened to a "relaxing vacation."
Infinity Pool + Bar
It doesn't get much fancier than the outdoor infinity pool and bar at the Four Seasons. Ethan Stowell's Goldfinch Tavern, also located in the five-star hotel, has launched a summer pop-up where you can dine al fresco on things like oysters on the half-shell, the Goldfinch burger with Beecher's cheese, lobster masters, and peach cobbler, paired with smoked, shaken, and stirred libations.
Little Water Cantina
The collage of vintage postcards on the wall of this modern Mexican standby is enough to remind you that other faraway places will be waiting for you to visit once this is all over. 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 ridiculously fresh guacamole alongside rotating summer food specials. You're going to want a fruit-shrub margarita, too.
Of this beachside restaurant started by a group of Renee Erickson alums, The Stranger's Angela Garbes wrote, "Manolin feels like a beach vacation—not the cheesy kind with blended drinks and fresh towels, but the kind of oasis you might discover at the end of a bumpy ride down a dusty road, where you take up residence in a palapa and subsist on fresh fruit, seafood, and warm tequila for weeks." Order some plantain chips and rockfish ceviche and soak up the sun.
Marination Ma Kai
Marination's West Seattle outpost serves dreamy Hawaiian-Korean fusion food like aloha tots (crispy tater tots smothered in kimchi sauce, kalua pork, Japanese mayo, scallions, and a sunny-side-up egg), plus fish and chips and boozy shave ice. Their beer garden patio with its breathtaking view of Alki is currently closed, but they have tables out front with a similarly staycation-worthy view—or you can check out the restaurant's sister Marination location downtown or Super Six restaurant in Columbia City for equally delicious food available for patio service.
Miri’s Snack Shack
If you're (safely) hitting the beach at Golden Gardens, this concession stand from Miri Plowman and Gabe Skoda (you might have seen them slinging poffertjes, mini Dutch pancakes, at farmers markets around Seattle) offers tasty, thoughtful refreshments like paletas, Full Tilt ice cream, kebab sandwiches, acai bowls, rhubarb lemonade, piña colada slushies, and of course, poffertjes.
If you're in the mood for some tropical tipples, this modern tiki bar serves an eclectic mix of libations just right for summer 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." They've just reopened their patio, but you can also pick up a tropical cocktail kit or slushie to take home.
The mind-boggling view at dockside restaurant Ray's Boathouse remains a Seattle classic.
This seafood restaurant (which was just purchased and renovated by Renee Erickson's restaurant group Sea Creatures, and which reopened for the first time since 2019 in June) has its own dock. Previously, The Stranger's Bethany Jean Clement 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, and the seafood-centered menu is great, too, though it isn't cheap."