Summer is here, and that means it’s time for outdoor drinking and snacking. These four spots are worth a visit.
Summer is here. But we’re still waiting for the openings of the two most-anticipated outdoor spots — the rooftop bar at the Charter Hotel by Pike Place Market and the 2,000-square-foot beer garden of Magnuson Cafe & Brewery by Lake Washington; both have been delayed. They’re opening maybe by late July. Maybe August. What a bummer.
But it’s not like there aren’t other new al fresco spots around. We scouted a bunch of new patios and sidewalk cafes and under-the-radar haunts as well. The four best? Read on.
Half of the reason to hit Jerk Shack is to walk straight to the back, where you will find an unladen backyard with only the blue roof of a sky. The trellises are woven with rosebushes and lit at night by bare Edison bulbs.
Oasis is a cliché, but there aren’t many spots where you can duck out from the granite streets at 6 p.m. in the middle of happy hour and be surrounded by greenery and island beats under a warm July sun, sipping a Red Stripe ($5) or a rum drink ($10-$11) while you munch on a Cuban press or soft-shell-crab sandwich. Others order the signature jerk fried chicken.
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On a date? Come midweek, late at night, when Belltown feels more like a ghost town, and Jerk Shack has a “meet me in the arbor at midnight on the next full moon” kind of vibe.
2510 First Ave., (Belltown) Seattle; 206-441-7817, jerkshackseattle.com
The new snack shack sits on the south end of the Golden Garden Bathhouse. Just look for the rainbow-colored parasol. There are slushies, root-beer floats and lemonade to quench your thirst. Or choose from a freezer stacked with ice-cream bars and Popsicles. You know, the usual beach concession stand.
For something more substantial, Miri’s also grills up chicken and beef kebabs in the back, or the special-of-the-day like baby back ribs. Is the grub great? Um, it’s not quite inspired. But the smell of the grill and the taste of charred meat will conjure images of family backyard barbecues and tailgating to put you in the right frame of mind.
Sometimes that’s enough.
There are eight stools inside if you’re an SPF-100-style beachgoer. In front of the shack are nothing more than thick concrete blocks as benches. But if that is all you see, then you don’t see the endless possibilities of a Seattle summer. Just 50 yards beyond the shack is the Sound, bright triangles of sails leaning against the wind, a cruise ship stacked white as a wedding cake plowing toward Alaska and, beyond them, the dark, majestic Olympic Mountains.
Lovebirds are sinking deep into the benches and sucking the shallow remains of their slushies while soaking in the dog-watching scene: a Shih Tzu nuzzling a mutt, some chihuahuas chasing each other, a pampered poodle prancing as if it were in a Westminister Kennel Club show.
Nearby are middle-aged men playing Spikeball — very poorly — laughing at themselves and seeming to have the time of their lives.
8498 Seaview Place N.W., (Ballard) Seattle; mirisseattle.com
Stampede Cocktail Club
Its wooden deck looks like the porch of a frat house, complete with a Ping-Pong table on the side. It can seat 70. The setting is apt for a keg party or a beer bong.
Mercifully, it’s a craft-cocktail bar, one of Fremont’s best, a well-curated, seasonal list that deviates from the usual Manhattans and bar staples to feature sherries, amari, genepy and grappas, distinctive libations that are a step up from all the well-worn, copycat bars.
The interior screams Old West saloon or a stagecoach, which makes the painted dinosaur playing peek-a-boo from a side room all the more confusing. The menu is Asian dumplings. The hodgepodge of themes don’t make sense. But accept it for what it is: a good spot for cheap dumplings and cocktails.
Out front, on windy nights, the overhead paper lanterns bob like buoys and look precarious, as if they might float right onto North 36th Street.
But when those lanterns hold steady, take that as a sign from the higher-ups that its en-plein-air space is the place to be. Grab a stool or a seat at one of the six dogwood picnic tables. Order some pork or chicken dumplings ($8 for 10); they’re from the excellent Little Ting’s Dumplings, served piping hot out of bamboo steamers.
Grab a cocktail or three ($10-$11). They’re about three bucks cheaper here than what you would pay on Capitol Hill. In a city that shuts down at midnight on weekdays, the Stampede barman winks and said “we’re here for you man,” keeping doors open til 2 a.m. Every. Single. Day.
119 N. 36th St., (Fremont) Seattle; 206-420-2792, stampedecocktailclub.com
This hotel restaurant faces the south end of Lake Washington, still waiting to be discovered. There’s plenty of empty lounge chairs and dining tables staring out into the Olympics.
This stretch along the waterfront gets less foot traffic than around Leschi and Carillon Point and seems so tranquil that the Emerald City seems even farther away than the Seattle skyline you see across the lake.
Order a stiff Mai Tai and snacks if you don’t want to shell out $30 for the entrees. The food is Asian fusion, nothing remarkable but serviceable if you choose wisely. Avoid the gummy pot stickers. The chicken pieces are vaguely like karaage but work just as well as deep-fried snacks. For dinner, grab the grilled cheese melted with kimchi or the seared duck breast coated in shoyu-yuzu. Post dinner, take a stroll to Gene Coulon beach park 30 feet away from the exit door.
When the sun goes down, the patio heats up — literally — with embedded heaters in the ceiling. The 58-seat patio is built for all seasons, shielded with thick glass reinforced with so many latches that the panes shouldn’t rattle in the stiffest of winds. It would be a cozy hangout even on a chilly autumn night.
Just don’t let the staff Jedi-mind trick you into thinking you’re in this mythical land called Seattle’s Southport. That’s what they go by here despite its Renton ZIP code. It’s even a part of the hotel’s name: “Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport.” Seattle’s Southport refers to a new mixed-use development that everyone here from marketing to the hostess is selling.
Other words used to describe this locale: on the “southeastern shore of Lake Washington” and adjacent to a “beach park.” There’s a lot of verbal gymnastics going on. We’re in Renton, people. Not that it’s bad.
Water’s Table is located inside the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport, 1053 Lake Washington Blvd N., Renton; 425-207-2240; hyatt.com (search for “Renton”)