Let's be honest. On winter days when it feels like the sun sets just hours after it's risen, we're ready to delve into the "going out" scene a bit earlier than usual. And thanks to Seattle's bounty of warm, inviting nightlife spaces, we're never at a loss for where to cozy up inside with friends, snacks and tasty beverages.
This season tends to particularly lend itself to celebrating Washington's thiving wine scene, and Seattle-area restaurants and tasting rooms provide the perfect spaces in which to enjoy long winter evenings.
Locals and visitors alike enjoy the ambience, delicious dishes and extensive wine list at RN74 — Photo courtesy of Galdones Photography / RN74
Start the evening at RN74 – Michael Mina's downtown outpost located in the Joshua Green Building – known for its "creative, modern, yet simple interpretations of regional French cuisine."
In the chic and comfy lounge area, snack on delectable treats like duck fat fries, bacon-flavored popcorn, jazzed-up deviled eggs, sliders and beef skewers. Or dine in the main room, enjoying locally sourced, seasonal highlights like house-aged steaks, vegetables from local organic farms and Puget Sound seafood (like Michael Mina’s Ahi Tuna Tartare).
If heading to a show afterward, try the three-course "Pre-Theatre Menu," served nightly from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. for $44.
But perhaps the biggest draw? RN74's extensive wine list – boldly showcased on a restaurant wall – highlights the Burgundy region of France, plus boutique wine producers from Washington and Oregon.
In addition to pouring at least 40 wines by the glass (priced from $6 to $32) and 1,300-plus wines by the bottle, RN74 currently features Champagne and sparkling wine from around the world. Try them by the glass, half-glass or as a flight, which represents five different countries.
The restaurant's “From the Coravin” selection brings pours of rare and notable wines from the cellar that span more than five decades. Glasses and half-glasses mean you can enjoy the wine without the investment in an entire bottle.
Early in the evening, also consider heading to hip, urban tasting rooms – many of which close around 6 p.m. to host private events – like Kerloo Cellars, an enticing SoDo hot spot that opens the second week of January.
Otherwise, journey east to the Woodinville wine hub, where traditional tasting rooms neighbor friendly newcomers like Refuge & Prospect.
This welcoming Warehouse District venue boasts charmingly authentic owners and a funky space (Think hunting lodge with a hip twist.) that proves the perfect space in which to sip tasty – and affordable! – blends. The winery's currently in the midst of completing a small expansion to accommodate parties of 30 to 35 for private events.
In Woodinville, also sample delicious varietals at Betz Family Winery, Matthews, Fidelitas Wines and DeLille Cellars. Or, if you feel the need to mix things up, head to nearby Redhook Brewery or Woodinville Whiskey Co.
If you want to create an overnight adventure on the east side, then check in at the luxurious Willows Lodge.
Eat, drink and be merry; after all, 'tis the season!
You can also find the wine of Refuge & Prospect served at downtown restaurant Intermezzo Carmine — Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting