Cake counts as dinner, right? El Diablo at Tango.

We know the drill all too well: You have tickets to an evening show in downtown Seattle but only an hour (or less) to grab dinner thanks to work/late babysitter/traffic on 520. To stave off hunger pangs, you resort to sneaking in snacks in an oversized mom purse. But who wants “a granola bar and a show”? It’s dinner you’re after, and it’s possible to find upscale meals (post-haste) that cater to theater snobs’ dining standards.

First, select a show from our Fall Theater Picks.

If you’re heading to the Paramount Theatre at 911 Pine Street, look no farther than the next block, where you can grab a small plate at Tango and top it off with one of the city’s best desserts—the sinful chocolate Diablo cake with a dash of cayenne pepper. Skip over after the play if you must—it’s open until midnight on weekdays.

Meanwhile, MistralKitchen is just five blocks away on Westlake Avenue, and its decadent happy hour goes until 6:30. Enjoy oysters on the half shell for $1 each, a margherita pizza for $5, or the popular foie gras mousse, just $4. (Menu is seasonal and subject to change.) And truth be told, the Paramount’s concession stand is worth checking out—Tom Douglas offers a seasonal menu with great grilled cheese sandwiches.

The 5th Avenue Theatre has plenty of restaurants nearby, but we recommend long-time favorite Purple Cafe and Wine Bar. It boasts a long menu of quickie meals—cheese plates, sandwiches, salads, pastas—with a standout Maine lobster baked mac and cheese, perfect for a couple to split on date night.

New to the ACT Theatre neighborhood is wine bar RN74 at Fourth and Pike. Michael Mina’s latest offering has been creating quite the buzz locally with its impressive wine list and distinctly un-Seattle vibe. Splurge a bit on the pre-theater menu (three courses for $49), or try the Ahi Tuna Tartare with hints of scotch bonnet pepper, sesame, pine nuts, and fresh Asian pear—it’s their most popular dish.

Last but not least: If you’re visiting Seattle Center for a performance at McCaw Hall, Intiman Playhouse, Center House Theatre, or Seattle Repertory Theatre, your best bet is Panos Kleftiko Greek Taverna for Mediterranean cuisine that surpasses the average gyro. They do a brisk service and our Seattle Met foodies rave about the kota nafplion (boneless chicken stuffed with cheese, bacon, and garlic).

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