The Great Outdoors

3 Bars (and Cafes) Where the Patio Is the Point

You've heard of destination restaurants? These are destination patios.

By Allecia Vermillion September 2, 2021

Citizen Campfire's open-air bar.

Sidewalk tables, streateries, and restaurant patios: all fantastic. But a few memorable spots around town built their whole business around their outdoor space. As we enter the last reliably warm weeks of summer (and as the entire city seemingly clamors to get together out of doors) these sizable patios offer plenty of seats.

Citizen Campfire

If your rowdiest friends took over a patio furniture showroom, the resulting setup might look something like Suzana Olmos’s outdoor bar in Lower Queen Anne. A network of shelters, Adirondack chairs, fire tables, umbrellas, heaters, paper lanterns, and string lights fill this walled-in lot, a secret garden watered by boozy slushies. An outdoor bar dispenses drinks, sandwiches, nachos, and “Korexican” fare. By day the yard serves as seating for Citizen Cafe, the bar’s around-the-corner sibling. File this spot away as a future hangout before Kraken games.

Agua Verde Cafe /Marina Cantina

This little house-turned-cafe clinging to the Portage Bay shoreline has been a patio favorite for years. Then Rumba owner Travis Rosenthal purchased this Seattle classic and imported a few tropical high notes from his Capitol Hill rum bar. Credit him (and Rumba bar manager Jen Akin) for the excellent drinks, but also the relatively new Marina Cantina, an entirely separate patio downstairs and right alongside the water. The cantina runs seven days a week from May to September with its own bar, a dedicated taco truck, and draft margaritas and other beachy cocktails. After Labor Day, hours will scale back to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.


Sure, the outside is very clearly a former gas station on Aurora Avenue. But a beach getaway hides inside a perimeter wall painted with scenes of palm trees and sunsets. The overhang that once protected gas pumps now shelters tables and chairs; they sit on an expanse of sand, bisected by an actual boardwalk. (Over on the concrete, some high stools surround an oversize fire table.) Sometimes a cool patio excuses lame food. Here the menu of citrusy pork sandwiches and bowls of spicy shrimp or Jamaican chicken curry are a destination unto themselves.

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