Best Restaurants near KeyArena at Seattle Center

Chefs Shine at Culinary Outposts near KeyArena at Seattle Center

In Seattle, KeyArena at Seattle Center serves as a hub of activity (think concerts, sporting events plus annual festivals of music, food and culture). In fact, some say that if you visit only one spot in Seattle, the Seattle Center should top your list. Here visitors find 74 acres of parks, sculptures, fountains, cultural venues, restaurants and entertainment for all ages.

This venue, the site of the Seattle World's Fair in 1962 (also known as Century 21 Exhibition), features an exciting, eclectic mix of 1960s 'futuristic' structures next to public art objects such as a Native American Totem pole, Modernist art mural, gigantesque Calder abstract Eagle sculpture and extreme architecture by renowned Frank Gehry. In warmer months, music lovers flock here for alfresco concerts (and the much-anticipated Bumbershoot Festival)under the Space Needle, which is a popular attraction any time of year. An on-site food court offers casual, quick eats, too.

After a long day of getting one's fix of art, music, sports and culture, however, folks leave here hungry. Luckily for foodies of all degrees, countless dining options exist in the streets and neighborhoods surrounding Seattle Center. While Lower Queen Anne offers several options, some of the city's most popular eateries can be found in the nearby Belltown and downtown zones. Culinary stars like Tom Douglas have established many downtown outposts (like Lola, for example), meaning good eating is never hard to find.


Toulouse Petit Kitchen and Lounge has been earning accolades since it opened. The ornate and filigreed interior of the space is just the beginning of a dining experience built on the food, style and attitude of New Orleans' French Quarter. Offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night dining, the restaurant has a voluminous menu encompassing Italian, Spanish and French-countryside and coastal-Mediterranean cuisine, along with a full slate of affordable American-style Prime steakhouse selections, traditional Northwest seafood and a multitude of house-made charcuterie and small-plate offerings. And as you might expect from a spot that takes its cues from the French Quarter, Toulouse is renowned for its happy hour, including the one timed perfectly for a leisurely and extended brunch.

Recommended for Restaurants near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: Right near Seattle Center, Toulouse Petit Kitchen and Lounge offers a dining experience built on the food, style and attitude of New Orleans' French Quarter.

John's expert tip: Only at a New Orleans-inspired restaurant will you find an extended happy hour designed to happen two times each night and around breakfast hours, too.

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Funky and hip, this Italian eatery features rustic food and boasts live entertainment in the adjacent lounge. The interior has a certain bohemian charm, but the best area to dine is on the rooftop deck, which affords a magnificent view of Puget Sound. To start a meal, begin with bruschetta or the antipasto plate of savory morsels. Entrees, then, include Tuscan grilled chicken, gnocchi with wild mushrooms, roasted pork loin, and Muscovy duck. You'll find, in fact, a range of pastas and, also, a daily risotto special that's usually a great bet! Comforting desserts include such fare as bread pudding and apple crisp.

Recommended for Restaurants near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: The Pink Door is a downtown hot spot where rustic food, live entertainment and amazing sound views draw loyal patrons.

Corinne's expert tip: Try to score a table on the rooftop deck for fantastic views of the Puget Sound!

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Shiro's Sushi
Photo courtesy of Shiro's Sushi

The straightforward decor at this popular restaurant allows taste buds to focus on the culinary adventure. Among the loyal patrons, you'll find sports celebrities, business people and local sushi-lovers. The first "edomae" restaurant in Seattle, Shiro's serves miso soup, seaweed salad, poke and a vast variety of sushi delights to please every palate. In its original translation, Edomae � "Edo", the old name for Tokyo, and "Mae", meaning front, referred to the fish caught in Tokyo Bay. Today the meaning refers to the traditional Tokyo way of preparing sushi ,but using fish from regional waters. Shiro's Tasting Menu includes an appetizer, sashimi, entrees, sushi, soup and dessert.

Recommended for Restaurants near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: This Belltown gem is popular among sushi lovers who come for consistent favorites and rotating seasonal surprises.

John's expert tip: Shiro's is known for offering samples that aren't on the menu, and when it comes to fresh and innovative raw seafood, this Seattle standby can't be beat.

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Photo courtesy of Mbar

Looking for a hot, happening venue from which to take in some of Seattle's most breathtaking views? mbar, a socially-driven bar and restaurant, wows guests with its dazzling location, providing an elevated oasis above all the South Lake Union action. Guests choose between Intimate indoor spaces and incredible rooftop dining options that provide sweeping views that simply can't be beat. Chef Jason Stratton and hist talented team send out dishes that range from skirt steak with capers and grilled ribeye to grilled trout with avocado, sumac, labneh and fenugreek. Fresh vegetables like roasted Whidbey Island broccoli and roasted young carrots with medjool dates accompany main dishes, while delightfully creative cocktails enhance every meal. Reservations are highly recommended.

Recommended for Restaurants near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: mbar, a socially-driven bar and restaurant, wows guests with its convenient SLU location, delicious fare and elevated views revealing the beauty of Lake Union.

Corinne's expert tip: When the weather cooperates, this is the prime spot for a patio happy hour (from 4 to 6 p.m.). Note that the restaurant is closed on Mondays.

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Palace Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Palace Kitchen

Owned by football player-turned-restauranteur Tom Douglas (who reigns over a culinary empire of sorts in this city), this hip downtown dandy is a favorite of everybody from the happy hour crowd to night owl diners. Entrees include pan-roasted quail, sheep's milk ricotta ravioli, and Sara Joe's organic pork loin, served with sauteed greens and mustard fruits. If you're so inclined, opt for something straight off of Douglas's famous apple wood grill menu; you can't go wrong with the Copper River sockeye salmon, Idaho trout or rib-eye steak, served with Walla Walla onion. Reservations accepted for parties of six or more.

Recommended for Restaurants near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: Palace Kitchen is a Tom Douglas gem where creative dishes with a twist showcase local delicacies.

Corinne's expert tip: This venue gets busy; reservations accepted for parties of six or more.

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As the name suggests, this cozy Belltown outpost is a sustainable restaurant and food producer that fiercely promotes local sourcing. At this popular eatery based in the heart of downtown (at the corner of 1st and Bell), chefs make beautiful, flavorful dishes with fresh and seasonal ingredients, the majority of which come from within a 360-mile radius of Seattle. Restaurant staff members say, "We believe that local produce, meat and grains are more than mere vehicles for nutrients, but vital parts of the intricate system that supports our environment and the good folks who live here." Start with the deviled eggs, PB&J bon bons or a delectable beet salad, before tucking into heartier dishes like braised rabbit leg and vegetable ragout, smoked pork shank or heirloom farro with sugar pumpkin, mascarpone and mushrooms.

Recommended for Restaurants near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: As the name suggests, this cozy Belltown outpost is a sustainable restaurant and food producer that fiercely promotes local sourcing.

Corinne's expert tip: Cozy up to the bar for a nightly happy hour form 3 to 6 p.m.

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If zesty food, full-flavored and rich, constantly tempts you, Cactus (in neighboring South Lake Union) stands poised to satisfy the craving. You should be prepared to wait a bit when you go, especially during the week at lunchtime when the Amazon employees descend, but the food is worth it! Offerings are consistently good and inventive. The menu is full of well-prepared delights, such as carnitas, tamales, fajitas and pork steak adobo. You'll also find a great selection of tapas items, which could satiate your appetite on their own. The festive atmosphere adds to the good mood, and the staff is helpful and friendly too. While you wait, try a mojito!

Recommended for Restaurants near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: In South Lake Union, Cactus brings its festive flare and delectable Mexican dishes to an airy space (with patio tables).

Corinne's expert tip: The weekday lunch crowds here can be quite large; show up early to get seated quickly!

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Sophisticated yet unpretentious, this popular destination in downtown Seattle envelops diners with soft jazz and rich, muted surroundings. Asian inspiration and fresh ingredients from the Northwest collaborate on a menu where everything sounds tempting. The restaurant's signature goat cheese, which figures into several dishes, is made on-site. Also look for Thai wood-smoked duck salad, crostini with white Spanish anchovies and olives, Asian shrimp dumplings, salmon and crab cakes. Save room after the meal; you'll also find a range of fabulous desserts, including pear tart with dark caramel and white chocolate coconut cream pie. Dahlia also offers an impressive wine list.

Recommended for Restaurants near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: An Asian-inspired menu and sophisticated decor help Dahlia Lounge stand out from the crowd.

Corinne's expert tip: Looking for an even more intimate setting? The Dahlia Lounge private dining room offers a warm and elegant setting and can seat up to 50 guests (or can be partitioned for smaller groups).

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Tavolata (Belltown)
Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Smith

In Belltown, Ethan Stowell has done it once again by wowing diners at his Italian gem Tavolta. Here, pasta reigns--from rigatoni to casarecce, conchiglie to linguini. A restaurant whose name means "to gather around a table," Tavol?ta is an ideal space for large parties and private events. Monthly Sunday Feast dinners mean four-course family meals served at the communal table (that seats up to 26 diners), perfectly embodying the venue's philosophy. Enjoy nightly happy hours (from 5 to 7 p.m.) as well as dishes like brushcetta and salumi boards to start, rigatoni and potato gnocchi for pasta options, salmon and beef short ribs as entrees and grilled carrots as a side.

Recommended for Restaurants near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: Tavolata features Ethan Stowell's culinary genius at this Belltown Italian eatery where dishes like gnocchi steal the spotlight.

Corinne's expert tip: Enjoy the monthly Sunday Feast, a four-course family meal served at the communal table, where seating is limited to 26 diners. Take note that Ethan Stowell Restaurants include a 20% service charge on each guest check. (The entirety of this service charge is retained by the house, and they pay their employees "a fair, living wage in the form of hourly wages and/or commissions.")

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Photo courtesy of Lola

This upscale dining room downtown serves inventive Greek cuisine. Making an excellent starter, pita bread is served with your choice of spread, like roasted sweet red pepper, barrel-aged minty feta or skordalia. Meze, such as grilled octopus and dolmades with rice, and a variety of kabobs appear on the menu, too. Lola doesn't skimp on main courses either; offerings may include a tagine of stuffed artichokes, avgolemono and saffron couscous or a whole fish with pickled green garlic and herbs. Happy hour happens Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.; find specials on beer, cocktails and snacks like Penn Cove oysters.

Recommended for Restaurants near KeyArena at Seattle Center because: Tom Douglas brings flavorful Mediterranean fare to this bustling downtown spot, which is especially memorable during brunch hours.

Corinne's expert tip: Celeb chef Tom Douglas is a regional foodie hero, and this is one of his first and still-loved downtown restaurants.

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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