Alfresco Dining

The Seattle Outdoor Patio Hall of Fame

Claim your spot at the city’s rooftops or decks. It’s packed? Industry insiders share how to score a seat (without throwing elbows).

By Rosin Saez May 29, 2019 Published in the June/July 2019 issue of Seattle Met

Summit to a seat at the University District’s rooftop Mountaineering Club.

Lofty Perches


Situated on a sky-grazing rooftop in South Lake Union, this bar traffics in Levantine fare and views of the Space Needle. Up close, picture grilled halloumi cheese and a spritz fizzing with sparkling rosé.

Terra Plata

Chef Tamara Murphy serves savory combinations like roast pig, manila clams, smoky paprika, and bay-scented potatoes on a wedge-shaped rooftop one floor above the harried shuffle of Capitol Hill streets.

Mountaineering Club

If a hiking influencer’s Instagram account and herb-forward cocktail menu collided it would create this University District rooftop bar that’s worth the summit (ahem, elevator ride). 


June through September, the Ballard restaurant’s rooftop garden sets up long tables and hosts an intimate summer dinner series, serving beautiful seasonal fare right next to the raised garden beds whence it came. 

The Nest

A bird’s eye view of Pike Place Market and Elliott Bay from the tip-top of the Thompson Hotel is rarely a bad idea. Neither is a daiquiri made with strawberry-infused rum inspired by early aughts cocktail trends.


The elegance inside North Capitol Hill’s destination-worthy Vietnamese restaurant belies the neighborhood cookout feel up on its breezy roof deck—but both levels serve up five-spice pork ribs, crispy chicken, and wok-seared squid.

Can't Beat the Square Feet

King's Hardware

Mismatched chairs. Chipped paint, sun-worn picnic tables outside. Divey burgers and fries. This Ballard watering hole isn’t fancy and that’s exactly why it’s beloved.

The Masonry

The pizza bar specializes in absurdly good wood-fired pie, with an absurdly good beer list that leans European in style and, at its Fremont location, a wraparound deck that always seems to have a free table on a sunny day.


In Georgetown, an enclosed patio does double dining duty as seating for both Ciudad and Bar Ciudad next door. But it’s so spacious, you won’t have to jockey for tables; you can have your sangria and harissa-spiced chicken with room aplenty. 

Wood Shop BBQ

The barbecue is great—a lineup of pulled pork, brisket, and mac and cheese bowls devised by unabashed barbecue geek Matt Davis. But the sprawling, dog-friendly patio out the side door? That’s even better.

Pono Ranch

The food is fuss-free and homey; craft beer floweth freely. And, oh, the real estate—an urban secret garden fenced in from Ballard’s busy Shilshole Avenue.

White Swan Public House’s dockside patio.

Whoa, Those Views


Striped umbrellas and low-slung adirondack chairs do a convincing impression of a Mediterranean beachfront, and while the menu hews to those warm-climate flavors—fried octopus, clams in saffron fish broth—the Wallingford restaurant is all city skyline and Lake Union vistas.

Captain Blacks

Off East Olive Way lives a bar that checks many boxes: reliably divey vibe, a nautical theme that’s less yacht club and more goth beach house, plus a deck that overlooks Capitol Hill and some downtown skyline.

Marination Ma Kai

The Hawaiian-hewn restaurant nestled along West Seattle’s Alki shoreline delivers island-style vibes via bundles of Spam musubi, kalua pork tacos, and tropically flavored shave ice (guava, coconut, mango)—not to mention a sterling beer list and cocktails built for warm weather.

Magnuson Cafe and Brewery

The brewery, cafe, and instant favorite al fresco destination opened last year on the grounds of this former naval air station. No wonder Lake Washington boaters and area residents park themselves here on good weather days.

White Swan Public House

At Matt’s in the Market’s waterside sibling, boats bob in the surrounding marina, while sea planes and waterfront provide a backdrop to trays of fresh-shucked oysters on ice or cornmeal-crusted fish and chips.

Praise macaroni and cheeses at Jerk Shack.

Image: Lauren Segal

Hidden Gems


With a liquor list as long as a graduate thesis, Jamie Boudreau’s much acclaimed Capitol Hill bar is everything good about our local drink scene. Ditto the back patio which, unlike the bar, is only open Tuesday through Saturday. 


A charming vine-entwined courtyard delivers a slice of Italy in Eastlake, complete with decadent rabbit cavatelli and balanced cocktails made of sharp limoncello and smooth amaro. 

Jerk Shack

The Caribbeanesque interior, with its repurposed rum barrels, bright murals, and wide-frond plants, may subtly evoke tropical climes, but an evening spent with punch and jerk-spiced chicken out on the back deck is as close as one gets to island life in Belltown.

Stampede Cocktail Club

Barman Paul Shanrock is not one to hold back. Dinosaur head wall mount? Check. Sharply crafted and oft changing drink menu? Yup. The front deck at his Fremont watering hole even assumed a new secret garden identity recently, complete with booths and late-summer movie nights.


The Madrona wine bar’s leaf-shrouded patio is barely visible from the street, but inside it’s like your friend’s cool back deck—with surprisingly ambitious snacks and a ferociously legit roster of options by bottle and glass (including, yes, frosé…see "In Seattle, Frosé Is Here to Stay").

How to Patio Like a Pro

1. “We don’t offer reservations for any of our outdoor seating, [but] whenever a guest does make a reservation, they can request outdoor seating. We do our absolute best to accommodate but it’s not 100 percent possible all of the time.” —Sarah Zehner, general manager, Westward

2. “At Mbar, make a reservation for the dining room and then you can walk out to the patio, either before or after your meal, because we have kind of a free flow area where you go out and enjoy that.” —Jason Bitsko, former general manager, Mbar

3. “My best advice is [go on] weekdays. You’re going to get way more bang for your buck on a weekday. Seattle is very much a weekend warrior town. You come on Friday and Saturday—it’s going to be busy.” —Paul Shanrock, bartender-owner, Stampede Cocktail Club

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