Hidden Gems

Eight Places to Eat Your Lunch Outside

Brown-bag it to these urban retreats around downtown and add a vitamin D boost to your day.

By Rachel Breiwick May 23, 2013

Look how happy he is, chatting on his phone in the sun. Via Russell Investment Center.

You’re tired of the cafeteria, and can’t do another desk lunch. And, hey, the sun is actually out. Sometimes. At a reader's suggestion (thanks, kind reader) we searched, wandered, and lunched (such hard work) to find unique urban sanctuaries that will add a vitamin D boost to your normal lunch hour. 

Harbor Steps
If the sun is out, you’ll be likely to find at least a few dozen people already relaxing at some of the shaded tables... or sitting on the steps themselves. Two sleek water fountains divide the stairwell that connects First Ave and Western Ave, intercut only by the downward-sloping Post Alley. Close to surrounding bites and coffees on-the-go, the steps even have free Wi-Fi.

Pioneer Square Waterfall Garden
Tucked away in Pioneer Square is an enclosed and tabled seating area, complete with sweet-smelling plants and the sound of falling waterfalls to drown out the normal hum of the city. Lunchers and seekers of urban quiet can be found at this gem right off Occidental Park between Second Ave and Main St.

Picnic tables at End of Pier 56 ­
Mere steps from the waterfront boardwalk are a smattering of picnic tables at the tail end of Pier 56. Though completely open to the public, most don’t think to walk past those dining on the pier at Elliott’s Oyster House and its new sibling Café 56. But on a sunny day, you’ll find a gathering of sandwich-eating sun worshippers on the dock, including a few lost seagulls looking for Ivar’s.  

The vantage point looking South. Via Virtual Tourist.

The Top of Pier 66
Climb the ramped stairs just north of Anthony’s and find a vantage point of Elliott Bay rivaled by few. Telescopes dot the perimeter at the Port of Seattle viewpoint, and a pedestrian overpass connects the lofted oasis to Elliott Ave. Forgot your lunch? Nearby Anthony’s Fish Bar and Bell Street Deli have you covered.

The Washington State Ferries 
Have over an hour for lunch? Hop on a Bainbridge-bound ferry. Unparalleled views of Mt. Rainier, the Olympics, and Puget Sound’s surrounding islands await sailors. And if you walk on, it’s only $7.70 on your way over and free on your way back. Bring your lunch or buy at the cafeteria and enjoy your extended retreat on the top deck. Did I mention there is beer on board?

Frolik Kitchen+Cocktails 
At 4,000 sq ft., welcome to the largest rooftop-dining patio in the city. Okay, technically you can’t bring your own lunch to Frolik, but you can order decently affordable munchies like bacon bourbon popcorn or oysters on the half shell. For a little fun, don’t neglect the ping-pong tables and shuffleboard after your meal. Frolik can be found at Red Lion Hotel, and the happy hour runs from 4 to 10, which is absolutely nuts.  

Garden of Remembrance
On the northeastern corner of Second and University is the perfect mix of sun and shade at the Garden of Remembrance. Plant yourself at a table near the World War II memorial and enjoy the quiet sanctuary, even though it’s just a stone’s throw from Second Ave.

The 17th-Floor Garden at Russell Investment Center
And finally, a gem so rare and worthy we debated keeping it to ourselves. Although this is a private building, if you're lucky enough to work in this building, or can finagle a lunch date with a friend who does, on the 17th floor you'll find a landscaped urban wonder (and a cafe should you want to grab a salad or sandwich). Its amenities include garden paths, benches and tables, indoor seating, and sprawling views of the Sound and surrounding skyscrapers. Basically, you will be kicking yourself for living here this long without knowing of this sky-high jewel. 

So this really exists. Via Russell Investment Center.


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