Commence Celebration

Seattle Restaurants for Graduation Dinner

Grandma's probably not into tasting menus.

By Seattle Met Staff

Ethan Stowell's restaurant at the Four Seasons knows how to do special.

On June 11, soon-to-be University of Washington graduates will descend on Husky Stadium to receive their diplomas and commence life in the real world. A version of this ritual will happen at Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, and other colleges across the city. And, hey—you might as well start that new life with a nice dinner. The restaurants below are good for larger parties and serve menus worthy of a special occasion, but friendly to kids, grandpas, and multigenerational family celebrations. Best of all, they take reservations—book early.

The Pink Door

Pike Place Market

Take in the charm of Pike Place Market, plus an accessible menu of Italian food that leans into local, seasonal ingredients. The Pink Door’s dining room exudes atmosphere and its windows look onto Elliott Bay, but if the weather cooperates, the shaded patio is one of the most charming outdoor spaces in town. Heads up: The restaurant only accepts reservations for parties of six or smaller.

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Prime patio seating at the Pink Door.

The Butcher’s Table

South Lake Union

If graduation calls for a steak, Seattle’s beef game doesn’t get any better than this sleek steak house downtown, a sibling to Beecher’s in Pike Place Market. The Butcher’s Table has a more casual dining room on the ground floor, and a moodier, tablecloth vibe on the lower level. Steaks are impeccable (the company has its own line of beef) but the menu has tons of non-beef options, a raw bar menu, and creative salads and sides.

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The Butcher's Table offers both casual and tablecloth versions of the steak house experience.

Ray’s Boathouse


Immaculate Northwest seafood and endless water views await at this staple destination on Shilshole Bay. Ray’s has ample parking, great wine, plus some festive non-alcoholic drinks. Families who like to keep things low-key will dig the more casual (no reservation) cafe upstairs.

China Harbor

Queen Anne

Chef Danna Hwang (of Mercer Island’s Bistro Vivienne) has reinvigorated the menu at this decades-old banquet hall on Lake Union’s western shore, with its views of boats in the marina. The massive space knows how to handle groups of all sizes, and serves a menu nearly as vast, including some family dinner combos. China Harbor takes reservations for groups of 10 or more, but has ample capacity to accommodate walk-ins.



The bi-level dining room and adjacent covered patio mean plenty of seating options at Eric Donnelly’s seafood restaurant. And the brunch and dinner menus stand above the best in the city, capable of impressing food nerds and satiating diners who just want a steak or some pancakes, already.

Ivar’s Salmon House


The vintage dining room, inspired by a Northwest longhouse, knows how to handle kids. But adults appreciate the vast lineup of seafood dishes, like crab-crusted Alaskan halibut or linguini with salmon. And yes, you can get Ivar’s classic chowder here. The dining room has all manner of tables and booths, but spots by the window get a view of the lake, the skyline, and the I-5 bridge soaring overhead.

At Ivar's Salmon House, the interior is retro, but the view is timeless.



One of the town’s go-to Italian restaurants offers proximity to the University District and a friendly menu of pasta and secondi. The dining room has white tablecloths, but also the relaxed vibe of a neighborhood restaurant.



If your party came to town expecting great seafood but feels ill at ease at chef-driven spots, consider this string of local restaurants with locations in campus-friendly locations like Greenlake and South Lake Union. Duke’s also has a dedicated gluten-free menu (though it’s prepared in the regular kitchen) and entree names sure to please relatives who enjoy puns.

Goldfinch Tavern


Ethan Stowell’s restaurants are reliable crowd-pleasers, but his spot inside the Four Seasons feels best suited to a celebration. The menu’s high-end but not stuffy, from the raw bar to seasonal salads and entrees like seared scallops or rigatoni in duck ragu. Goldfinch also has a kids menu, and a brunch (and lunch) in that elegant dining room feels similarly festive.

The Goldfinch Tavern does lunch, brunch, and dinner.

Wild Ginger

Downtown, South Lake Union

Big tables, a big menu of broadly Asian flavors, and three decades of practice feeding people. This longtime local favorite also has an impressive wine list. The two-level flagship location downtown has private rooms for groups of 12 or 16 (or larger) and a new location in South Lake Union offers easier parking.

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