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Everyone loves outdoor seating, even more so if you live in the Seattle area. It’s not just the Rainier views and the gentle breeze, but also the fact that there’s still light out at 9 p.m.

As someone who covers the drinking scene, I’ve been to many rooftop bars and patios, even weathering stiff winds and drizzle during the summer. Seattle can be a cruel, cruel place.

But when it’s perfect, there’s no place like it. You want to, no, you must be en plein-air.

To that end, here are my top 10 places to drink outside this summer.

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I mixed it up. I nudged aside some old favorites to make room for newcomers. I favored spots that offered happy-hour outdoors, a rarity in Seattle since the patio is prime real estate.

I also picked places with no vista because, on a beautiful Seattle day, just sitting outside with friends or a loved one, and sharing laughs over a pitcher of sangria or pilsner is picture perfect in itself.

And I can attest, that yes, your server is a bit pushy when it’s nice out, likely at the order of management. They rush you to order appetizers before you even sip your aperitif. They want you on your merry way out to make room for the next party.

My advice: tip well and retort as W.C. Fields once did, “I don’t believe in dining on an empty stomach.”

AQUA by El Gaucho

The waterfront view of Mount Rainier, the Space Needle and The Olympic Sculpture Park isn’t just for the moneyed crowd who order the $89 lobster anymore. AQUA will offer happy hour outside, 4-6 p.m. daily in late June after it completes its face-lift. It’s also adding more outdoor seats (from 125 to 200) and two fire pits. Wind screens are being brought in, to protect patrons from the elements and allow the restaurant to extend its alfresco dining and happy hour into October. 2801 Alaskan Way, Pier 70, Seattle (206-956-9171 or


This house converted to wine bar is located in the quiet Madrona neighborhood. Grab a high end table in the courtyard by the fig trees for privacy. Order one of its stellar bottles of rosé for around $30. A definite date night option. 1416 34th Ave., Seattle (206-708-7164 or

Chuck’s Central District Hop Shop

With its 50-taps, this is the hottest beer hall to debut so far this year, an IPA mecca. Now comes word that the slab of concrete has dried and the outdoor patio (seats 60) should be ready in a few weeks. 2001 E. Union St., Seattle (206-538-0743 or

Le Grand Bistro Américain

You know you’re on the Eastside when patrons look all Grace Kellyesque in scarf and sunglasses, bubbly in hand. This quaint patio on Lake Washington comes with a view of the Olympics and the Seattle skyline. You can order $3 pommes frites and other nibbles for $5 or less during happy hour. 2220 Carillon Point, Kirkland
(425-828-7778 or

Little Water Cantina

Grab a stiff happy-hour $6 margarita while you breathe in the unobstructed water view, and listen to the megaphoned barking of the coxswain and the hum of float planes. The best view and sounds of Lake Union. 2865 Eastlake Ave. E., Seattle (206-397-4940 or

Marination Ma kai

Order beer. Eat kalbi beef taco. Repeat. Less chaotic than the spring-break-like-vibe of Alki Beach’s main drag, this West Seattle restaurant allows kids in the patio during happy hour. You can make a day of it. The bike-and-kayak rental shop is behind Ma kai and the water taxi docks out front. $2 off on rum drinks Tuesdays and $2 off on margaritas on Thursdays during happy hour. 1660 Harbor Ave. SW., Seattle (

Mezcaleria Oaxaca

One of the more ambitious rooftop bars to debut in Seattle, this Capitol Hill mezcal mecca will have its own bar and kitchen up top. Seating close to 100. Expect a Oaxaca street food menu, separate from the dining options downstairs and of course plenty of mezcals and Mexican draft beers. Will open in mid June. 422 E. Pine St., Seattle (206-324-0506 or

Ray’s Cafe

To Seattle natives, this is the best water view, especially at sunset with the amber backdrop over Shilshole Bay and the seals playing peek-a-boo. An eagle resides on a nearby bluff. Heaters and blankets provided to watch this show. In addition to the deck, Ray’s may add a 24-seat alfresco dining area downstairs in the coming months. 6049 Seaview Ave. N.W.

, Seattle (206-782-0094 or


With a bull’s eye view of the downtown skyline across the water, Josh Henderson’s nautical theme joint is made for summer. Just last week, a new cocktail bar was built by the water. Your food option by the fire pit is no longer just nibbles. An expanded patio menu is coming, as long as you are willing to eat dinner on an Adirondack chair. 2501 N. Northlake Way, Seattle (206-552-8215 or

Zig Zag Cafe

Every drink geek, hipster and tourist gravitates to the bar. Most don’t realize that Zig Zag has redone its patio to add more seats and made it more inviting and open. You can order those stellar happy-hour drinks outside and not deal with the chaos inside. There’s even a new food menu from chef Tyler Moritz, formerly of La Bête restaurant. 1501 Western Ave., #202

, Seattle (
206-625-1146 or

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or On Twitter @tanvinhseattle

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