Critic’s Notebook

Seattle, Where the Best Outdoor Dining Happens Indoors

The restaurant trend of the year is the patio with four walls and a roof. We thought you might like a list, it being June and all.

By Kathryn Robinson June 4, 2012

Inside Poquitos’ indoor-outdoor patio. Photo via Facebook.

Long hot in the tropics, so to speak, covered patios with or without windowy walls allow for breezy dining in rainy places. Seattle has caught on to this trend and now has quite a few places that look like rooms but feel like patios.

Places like 22, the eatery on Capitol Hill’s 15th with the secret fully-roofed courtyard, or Café Flora, with the sliding windows in its atrium, were trendsetters. But the big push has happened in the four years since Kushibar opened in Belltown; its covered, heated sidewalk area fitting for its Japanese street-food theme. The new Capitol Hill iteration of Restaurant Zoe is the most recent; a sun-bright room whose windows slide open for a breezy, outdoor feel. Owner Scott Staples calls it his “four-season patio,” and built a similar enclosure off his gourmet burger joint in Fremont, Uneeda Burger.

He was inspired, he says, by the dreamy side patio at Bastille, a heated, covered “room” with zip-off panels for “windows,” enabling prime Ballard Avenue people watching. The guys who built that went on to give us Poquitos, the Mexican joint on Capitol Hill, whose indoor-outdoor space includes two firepits, a sumptuously-tiled bar, and—bonus!—heated seats.

Best of all is the greenhouse at Book Bindery, an airy glass space with languid Ship Canal views and a retractable roof and windows for the optimal faux-outdoors experience.

What have I left out?

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