1. Aqua by El Gaucho
Even if your back is to the views of Magnolia and Elliott Bay, there’s a wave in sight: the blue-green curves of the 85-foot bar. The menu’s most indulgent offering is the Seafood Bacchanalia, a veritable aquarium of fish dishes: king salmon, lobster tail, diver scallops, prawns, and king crab. Best Table A private dining room occupies the end of the pier—and has some of the best indoor views—but the summer outdoor deck is 4,000 square feet, with the lightest winds on the restaurant’s southern side.
2. The Book Bindery
The restaurant, one of very few on the Ship Canal, has an unapologetically grownup vibe; dishes epitomize the old-fashioned trio of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Next door is the tasting room of the Almquist boutique winery. Best Table The four tables on the canal side of the greenhouse room get pleasantly breezy when the windows and roof open in warm months.
Of the local chain’s four locations, the Alki outpost is the beachiest, located just across the street from the water. Roll-up garage doors let in sunshine on nice days, illuminating the southwestern fare and electric--bright cocktails. Best Table Try to score a hedge--adjacent table outside near the water’s edge for an unobscured view of the Denny Monument commemorating the “Birthplace of Seattle.”
4. Daniel’s Broiler
Classic. Old standby. Butt of the joke in blockbuster Seattle novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Whatever’s said of the chain, its 32-year-old Leschi location in a converted boathouse has porterhouse and prime rib and Lake Washington views to spare. Best Table Try for the corner table on the patio overlooking the marina, or better yet sail in and a waiter will deliver right to the boat.
5. Elliott’s Oyster House
Since the 75-cents-per--oyster happy hour begins at 3pm, tables fill quickly on Pier 56. A new sidewalk cafe replaces bay views with easy access to varieties of oysters on ice. Best Table The cafe’s deck dining is practically on top of the Argosy docks, but the -outdoor tables belonging to the restaurant offer a more scenic view.
6. Le Grand Bistro Américain
Welcome to yacht central on Kirkland’s northern waterfront at Carillon Point. Not flush enough to have a boat in the marina? The rummy creme brulee is rich enough to make up for it. Best Table While patio tables are closest to the water, the stools and counter table in the bar are a cosmopolitan perch for enjoying oysters and prawns from “Le Raw Bar.”
7. Marination Ma Kai
Watch the sun rise over downtown Seattle before a Hawaiian-themed breakfast. The eatery began as a food truck serving Spam sliders and kimchi quesadillas before opening a brick-and-mortar location next to West Seattle’s water taxi dock; the owners even imported a shave-ice machine from the islands. Best Table If you can’t muscle your way onto one of Marination’s outdoor Adirondack chairs, eat out on the docks in front of the cityscape view.
The best dining on the Alki strip is just as good as it was when founder Hussein Khazaal ran the Lebanese--inspired spot. Though nearly every dish has a Mediterranean bent, the pizza is notable simply for its fire-blistered crust. Best Table The people watching is almost as good as the beach view at every single seat of the long patio bar.
9. Ray’s Boathouse
Envy the bartenders—upstairs at Ray’s Cafe in this Ballard institution, the staffers get a waterfront vista from behind the bar. But downstairs is the more formal dining room, with chairs clad in nautical blue leather and seafood specials written on a glass wall. Best Table Any seat at the renovated 30-foot mahogany bar is dead center to the Shilshole Bay views.
10. Six Seven
Back in 1964, the Beatles went fishing out the window of the Edgewater on Pier 67; these days the hotel’s restaurant will bring ling cod, king salmon, or diver scallops right to your table. Best Table From the leftmost table on the outdoor patio, diners can feast on views of Elliott Bay, including the ferry docks downtown.
WAIT FOR IT
Word is that when Skillet man Joshua Henderson decorates his new north Lake Union restaurant, he’ll look to Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (picture Jacques Cousteau lost in an episode of H.R. Pufnstuf). The fishy eatery and oyster bar not far from Gas Works Park is likely to open in July.