Best Lunch in Seattle

Seattle Lunch Spots Offer Grab-and-Go Options and Sit-Down Feasts

During busy weeks, lunch is often relegated to leftovers from the night before or a quick meal found out of convenience. So while traveling, one of the luxuries becomes mapping out enough time in your itinerary to track down and enjoy a leisurely lunch, which provides just one more chance during the day to truly take in the flavors of a city.

In Seattle that means immersing yourself in numerous Asian cuisines while on a treasure hunt in Seattle’s International District, where import and gift shops neighbor Japanese sushi joints, Korean barbecue hubs and Vietnamese eateries. Even beyond this part of town, sushi and teriyaki spots abound and make for a tasty, affordable lunch.

If something on the gourmet circuit is in order, lunchtime proves a great time to check out ultra-chic, celebrity chef eateries at a discount; try daytime menus at otherwise pricey venues. Guaranteed go-to meals can be found at numerous brewpubs, too, where chefs tend to keep things interesting to match the creativity of local brewers.


Ivar's Acres of Clams
Photo courtesy of Ivar's Acres of Clams

Awhile back, tourist favorite Ivar's unveiled a massive transformation at its flagship location on Pier 54, located on Seattle's waterfront overlooking Elliott Bay. The stunning remodel, the biggest in the storied eatery's 77-year history, means expanded indoor dining space, a brand-new outdoor patio, enhanced state-of-the-art kitchen and a completely refreshed interior that pays homage to the iconic restaurant's roots. If you prefer dining alfresco, enjoy a meal on the picture-perfect patio deck, while taking in the sights and sounds of Elliott Bay. To satisfy your craving for Northwest seafood, Ivar's chefs have created award-winning preparations to reflect the season's bounty, yet they continue to showcase Ivar Haglund's world-famous original recipes. Choose between dishes that feature wild Alaska salmon, deep-water halibut, Alaska King Crab, Dungeness Crab, jumbo prawns, manila clams and weathervane scallops, to name a few of the eatery's fresh, regional delights.

Recommended for Lunch because: Ivar's flagship location on Pier 54, located on Seattle's waterfront overlooking Elliott Bay, proves a popular tourist spot to enjoy fresh seafood with a view.

Corinne's expert tip: Also, located on the street fronting the restaurant, the Fish Bar offers take-out service and casual outdoor dining until 11 p.m. For another waterside dining experience, head north of Lake Union to enjoy Ivar's Salmon House.

Read more about Ivar's Acres of Clams →

Pioneer Square
Photo courtesy of Coro by Salumi

It won't take much time here in Seattle before you hear about this popular Pioneer Square outpost. For great Italian sausages, salamis, meatballs or pork, try Salumi, whose name means "dry-cured meat" in Italian. Meats can be purchased individually as an entree or by the pound as deli take-away. If you prefer a lighter, less meat-intensive meal, order a half-sandwich (try the salumi banh mi or veggie melt), salad, vegetable dish or one of their pastas. A comfortable interior with tin ceilings and wooden floors makes guests feel at home; outside tables are available too (on a first-come, first-served basis). Check hours ahead of time (currently open Tuesday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Recommended for Lunch because: Salumi is THE lunchtime spot for quality meats and sandwiches; pick up goodies from Coro by Salumi, the country's only woman-owned certified salami company.

Corinne's expert tip: Be sure not to miss take-away offerings by Coro by Salumi (try the mole and agrumi), the country's only woman-owned certified salami company (run by Clara Veniard and Martinique Grigg). Their goods can be purchased online or found at local stores like PCC, Made in Seattle, Met Market, Town and Country and DeLaurentis.

Read more about Salumi →

Ba Bar
Photo courtesy of Corinne Whiting

Sophie and Eric Banh grew up eating street food in Saigon, and thanks to these siblings' vision and talent, Seattle diners now get to experience their sophisticated, creative takes on authentic Vietnamese fare at Ba Bar. (The restaurant's named for their dad; "ba" means "father" in Vietnamese.) Located in a stylish, industrial setting, the vibe is warm in this welcoming space, located on the cusp between Capitol Hill and the Central District. Amongst Ba Bar's paper lanterns and vintage artwork, the breakfast menu can be enjoyed daily. Dishes take on a more traditional Vietnamese bent, rather than reflecting Western sensibilities. For example, diners dive into show-stopper items like Banh Xeo; a crispy crepe of shrimp and pork belly rolled up with bean sprouts, fresh herbs and nuoc cham; or Sai Gon Beef Stew, a mouthwatering combination of lemongrass, star anise and anato seed oil.

Recommended for Lunch because: Sophie and Eric Banh grew up eating street food in Saigon; thanks to these siblings' vision, Seattle diners enjoy creative takes on authentic Vietnamese fare.

Corinne's expert tip: Thanks to the use of rice ingredients, many Ba Bar items are gluten-free, and several are vegan, too. Check out the newer Ba Bar locations in South Lake Union and University Village, too.

Read more about Ba Bar →

Marination Ma Kai
Photo courtesy of Marination Ma Ka/GreenRubino

In West Seattle, Marination Ma Kai brings the delectable flavors and happy vibes of Hawaii to a stunning beachside setting (near Alki). The venue's Hawaiian-Korean cuisine "melts delicate heat and the flavors of aloha together in [diners'] mouths," while the expansive patio offers to-die-for skyline and water views. As the owners put it, "it started with a truck, some exquisite marinades and a lotta love," and now, more than one million tacos and five years later, Marination has expanded to three separate venues and "one big aloha family." Loyal fans rave about the Kimchi Fried Rice Bowl, spicy pork tacos, award-winning Pork Katsu Sandwich, the boozy shave ice bowls, hibiscus-tinged cocktails, the special tangy "NUNYA" sauce and so much more. At Marination, life is good!

Recommended for Lunch because: In West Seattle, Marination Ma Kai brings the delectable flavors and happy vibes of Hawaii to a stunning beachside setting.

Corinne's expert tip: Also, check out Marination 6th & Virginia (downtown) and the venue's delicious sister restaurant Super Six in Columbia City (

Read more about Marination Ma Kai →

Photo courtesy of Paseo

Keep your eyes peeled, or you may just drive past this little Caribbean eatery, home to what many refer to as "the best sandwich in Seattle." Indeed Paseo offers a terrific change of pace from standard options found at quick-food joints, doing a healthy amount of take-out business as well as hosting dine-in visitors at its friendly yet compact spaces in SoDo and Fremont, too. Loyal regulars swear by the kitchen's grilled pork sandwiches with slow-caramelized onions, dinner-sized orders of spicy black beans and rice, chicken, and more. Seasonal seafood dishes are also available, and popular sides include the eatery's "Famous Roasted Corn."

Recommended for Lunch because: Many claim that Paseo ("a little Caribbean eatery in SoDo and Fremont") is home to the best sandwich in Seattle.

Corinne's expert tip: Happy hourâ€"Tuesday through Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m.â€" means deals on Caribbean roast nachos, half-citrus salads, half-sandwiches with fries and other alluring temptations.

Read more about Paseo →

Ray's Boathouse
Photo courtesy of Ray's Boathouse

A quintessential Seattle experience consists of having a meal at Ray's. (At lunchtime, head upstairs to Ray's Cafe.) Views of the mountains and the water, especially in sunset's glow, thrill diners almost as much as the cuisine. Located close to Golden Gardens, this venue makes the perfect dining spot before or after a windswept or sun-tinged day at the beach. While many dishes have Asian flair (like pan-seared scallops in green curry or kasu-marinated black cod), others revel in simple preparations, like oysters on the half-shell, crab cakes and grilled wild salmon. The downstairs venue offers upscale dining; the cafe upstairs is a bit more casual. A wonderful wine list ensures that you'll have a terrific vintage to complement the food.

Recommended for Lunch because: A quintessential Seattle experience consists of having lunch at Ray's Cafe (served with a view!), located in between Ballard and Golden Gardens beach.

John's expert tip: At lunchtime, head to Ray's Cafe (upstairs); this restaurant proves the perfect pit stop during a day out in Ballard or at Golden Gardens beach.

Read more about Ray's Boathouse →

This welcoming restaurant offers incredible views of the Market and Puget Sound, courtesy of huge, semicircular windows. Flawless seafood is the name of the game, and the menu features fresh fare collected from vendors below. Oysters and fish sandwiches are much-coveted at lunch, and dinner calls forth such delicacies as tortilla-crusted Alaskan halibut, pan-roasted wild salmon and mussels steamed with chorizo, charmoula and cava. In the evenings, the atmosphere is candlelit and romantic, although tables are at a premium. Don't leave without treating yourself to desserts like the Candy Bar Square, featuring salted caramel mousse, peanut butter nougat, chocolate cookie crumble and fried peanuts.

Recommended for Lunch because: This charming, upscale spot serves up delightful seafood lunches and cant-beat views of Pike Place Market busting below.

John's expert tip: For an authentic local lunch, try oysters on the 1/2 shell or a white prawn roll.

Read more about Matt's in the Market →

Portage Bay Café
Photo courtesy of Portage Bay Cafe

Inside bright and airy spaces around town, enjoy consistently delicious fare at four Portage Bay locations, where the food is always "local, organic and sustainable." The menu boasts the tagline "eat like you give a damn" and an impressive list of local farms and producers that the restaurant's chefs proudly work with. Breakfast and brunch items include migas, an array of Benedicts (from pork belly to Dungeness crab cake), gluten-free French toast (topped with unlimited fresh berries), goat cheese omelets and Swedish pancakes. Tuck into a pitcher of refreshing mimosas, or savor Columbia Gorge fresh-squeezed juices (the berry-lemonade is a sure bet). These restaurants are ideal for large groups and families, and patios prove popular summer hangout spots at the 65th and SLU locations.

Recommended for Lunch because: At four bright and airy spaces around town, enjoy consistently delicious fare at Portage Bay, where the food is always "local, organic and sustainable.

Corinne's expert tip: Find three other locations around town, including a location near downtown in South Lake Union (by the Amazon HQ) and one located on the stretch between Ballard and Golden Gardens beach.

Read more about Portage Bay Café →

Zylberschtein's Delicatessen & Bakery
Photo courtesy of Holly Dirks

In spring 2019, Zylberschtein's Delicatessen & Bakery owner and baker Josh GrunigI decided to realize his dream of opening a Jewish deli, focusing on recipes inspired by his family's past. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, supported in a huge part by the Pinehurst neighborhood of which it's part, this small, family-owned businesses allowed Josh to offer a menu "that is all about comfort food and nostalgia, from our exceptional house-made breads and bagels to cured meats and pickles (my dad's specialty). And of course our fresh baked pastries." Breakfast specials range from bagels and lox to potato hash, while lunch highlights include pastrami, cornbeef and Reuben sandwiches served with Russian potato salad, classic potato salad, fries or coleslaw. (Babka buns and popular Pinehurst Poutine are weekend specials.) 

Recommended for Lunch because: This welcoming, small, family-owned Jewish deli in Pinehurst serves delightful fare that is all about comfort and nostalgia.

Corinne's expert tip: Locals will want to look into signing up for the Bagel Club, a home delivery service to get bagels and other deli favorites delivered right to your door. A free bonus bagel comes with your first order each month.

Read more about Zylberschtein's Delicatessen & Bakery →

Local Tide
Photo courtesy of Kyle Johnson (

Enjoy sustainable seafood at one of Fremont's most popular lunchtime outposts, Local Tide. This airy cafe brightens the neighborhood with its friendly service and tasty Northwest offerings. The team here feels fortunate to have access to incredible ingredients from land and sea, and aims to support all the like-minded small businesses and communities that make this possible. They source locally and sustainably whenever possible; don't miss the weekend crab rolls, the everyday salmon sandwich (served slow-poached and cold with butter lettuce, house tartar and pickled red onions, in a warm brioche bun), the tasty rockfish (served on a banh mi sandwich with fermented veggies and housemade mayo or in a bowl) or the Veggie Sando for vegan diners.

Recommended for Lunch because: Enjoy sustainable seafood at one of Fremont's most popular lunchtime outposts; this bright and airy cafe offers friendly service and tasty Northwest offerings.

Corinne's expert tip: Weekend crab rolls can create queues and sometimes run out; arrive early, because you won't want to miss this goodness! When you purchase a gift card, you're helping out Rainier Athletes - a local nonprofit committed to mentoring youth in the classroom and on the field; Local Tide donates $5 to them for every gift card purchase of $25 or more. 

Read more about Local Tide →


Meet Corinne Whiting

Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's...  More About Corinne