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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 global (mostly 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.


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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 →


Otium Grill & Greens
Photo courtesy of Astra Hotel

Inside South Lake Union's brand-new Astra Hotel, part of Marriott's Tribute portfolio, there's a welcoming restaurant where hours can easily pass among the friendly staff in this beautifully-designed space. The menu showcases Mediterranean influences with some fresh, regional twists, and sharable dishes make the communal dining experience all that much more memorable. While seasonal veggies and locally-sourced meat dishes no doubt delight diners, the seafood options seem to steal the show; don't miss those starring fresh salmon and tuna crudo, too. Complementary cocktails and an enticing roster of Washington wines top off a sensational yet laidback dining experience for all. The restaurant's latest addition, a dynamic lunch menu, features scene stealers from the marinated kale fennel salad and sustainable albacore sandwich to white gazpacho and the chicken avocado sandwich with kimchee slaw, baby Swiss and lime mayo.

Recommended for Lunch because: New lunch hours lure diners into this beautifully-designed South Lake Union space, where the menu showcases Mediterranean influences with some fresh, regional twists.

Corinne's expert tip: Beginning in late summer, don't miss the chance to also savor a drink-with-a-view at the hotel's ALTITUDE Sky Lounge®, being billed as Seattle's newest rooftop bar experience. Think stunning panoramic views, craft cocktails, locally sourced charcuterie and a live DJ on a weekly basis.

Read more about Otium Grill & Greens →


Portage Bay Café
Photo courtesy of Portage Bay Cafe

Inside bright and airy spaces around town, enjoy consistently delicious fare at several 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 several 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 several 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 →


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Paseo
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: Sign up online to get $5 off your next order.

Read more about Paseo →


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). The venue's sister restaurant Super Six in Columbia City closes at the end of August, but soon reopens as Marination - Columbia City.

Read more about Marination Ma Kai →


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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. On chillier and wetter days, this eatery is a great complement to cultural outings at the nearby Nordic Museum.

Read more about Ray's Boathouse →


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Ba Bar Green
Photo courtesy of Look at Lao Studio

The owners of Seattle's popular Ba Bar have opened up Ba Bar Green as a walk-up window at the restaurant's South Lake Union location. The dazzling vegan, East Asian street food concept by husband-and-wife proprietors Eric Banh and Teresa Nguyen, along with Chef de Cuisine Chris Michel, offers an entirely plant-based menu (showcasing both made-to-order and grab-and-go options). Menu highlights include the Kabocha & Sweet Potato Malay Laksa, cooked with red curry, coconut milk, tofu crackling, tofu puffs, cilantro, bean sprouts, green onion, chili oil and rice noodles; the Lao Crispy Rice & Quinoa Salad; Lemongrass Tofu Singapore Noodle; and the not-to-be-missed Dan Dan Noodles, that combine mustard greens, roasted sesame vinaigrette, Beyond Meat, green onion, toasted sesame, Tianjin preserved vegetable, Szechuan peppercorn oil, noodles and tamari.

Recommended for Lunch because: Brighten up lunchtime in South Lake Union at this dazzling vegan, East Asian street food concept that offers an entirely plant-based menu.

Corinne's expert tip: There's free parking available behind the restaurant ( in an underground garage), off Republican. Remember to bring your ticket for validation.

Read more about Ba Bar Green →


Made in House
Photo courtesy of Helen Kwak

Made in House, deli sibling of Georgetown's popular BopBox, opened awhile back in the heart of Fremont and has delighted neighborhood diners ever since. The lovely, light-filled space has some tables and counter seating too. The fast-casual Korean spot features a delicious, takeout-friendly lineup of colorful bibimbap, japchae and bentos. Recent menu additions included chickpea korokke (vegan) and kimchi pancakes, among other treats, and beverage options range from Timber City ginger beer and hot matcha green tea with fresh mint to lattes featuring House Hemp Cashew Mylk. (Find beers and wines here, too.) Order at the counter before getting seated, and be prepared to be dazzled.

Recommended for Lunch because: Fremont's Made in House is a fast-casual Korean spot that features a delicious, takeout-friendly lineup of colorful bibimbap, japchae and bentos.

Corinne's expert tip: The venue is currently open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will offer online ordering soon.

Read more about Made in House →


Local Tide
Photo courtesy of Kyle Johnson (https://kjphotos.com/)

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! Home fries are another weekend treat (Thursdays only).

Read more about Local Tide →


Café Flora
Photo courtesy of Cafe Flora


One of the country's oldest vegetarian restaurants, and a Seattle institution for 30-plus years, this neighborhood venue is innovative and flavorful enough to win over even the most ardent carnivores. Alongside your morning coffee, savor brunch in the sunny atrium where you can take in the soothing sounds of the indoor waterfall, or in the newly renovated back garden that proves a tranquil sanctuary in any season. Choose between options like the Citrus Pancakes, buttermilk pancakes topped with citrus supremes, housemade lemon curd and pistachio crumble, or the Apricot & Apple Belgian Waffle, cornmeal Belgian waffles topped with poached apricot-apple compote, sage butter and millet-quinoa crumble. You'll also find plenty of specialty teas and juice blends to choose from as well. The lunch and dinner menu offers must-try items from superfood salads and grain bowls to Oaxaca tacos and nettle risotto (with ingredients rotating seasonally).

Recommended for Lunch because: One of the country's oldest vegetarian restaurants, and a Seattle institution for 30-plus years, this eatery boasts a recently transformed patio space with central fountain.

Corinne's expert tip: Cafe Flora has completely renovated its back garden, transforming the space into a covered outdoor dining space, complete with a new central fountain. Open year-round, the patio seats about 44 to 46 guests in 800 square feet. Additionally, the newest addition to this restaurant family is Beacon Hill's Flora Bakehouse, that serves freshly baked sweet and savory pastries, croissants, muffins, pies, quiches, brownies, cookies and many gluten-free and vegan options, too (including Cafe Flora's beloved vegan cinnamon rolls).

Read more about Café Flora →


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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

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