If there’s one thing Seattle’s not short on, it’s water. So it makes sense that there would be an abundance of Seattle waterfront restaurants. In an ideal world, the Seattle waterfront would be home to all of the best restaurants the city has to offer. But truthfully, there aren’t very many *great* food spots to be found on the water. Most, as you can imagine, are packed full of tourists and forgettable food. But we’re here to tell you that it’s not impossible to have incredible views and incredible food in Seattle. We hope you enjoy our compilation of the best Seattle waterfront restaurants just in time for summer — which doesn’t start until July 5th if you ask a local…because y’know, rain. Happy eating!
10. AQUA by El Gaucho
There is a time and place for sophisticated (almost stuffy, but not quite) seafood. The time is a special occasion and the place is AQUA by El Gaucho’s waterfront deck overlooking Elliott Bay. Unwind and marvel at sailboats, ferries, and even cruise ships drifting by as you sink your teeth into delectable fresh-caught fish or locally sourced pasta at one of our favorite Seattle waterfront restaurants. Most of AQUA’s menu items are quite expensive, as is the norm for restaurants in this area, so we recommend ordering a starter, entree, and side to share between two people. Your waiter will happily plate your dishes as two smaller portions for an easy sharing experience. While the vibe here is surf-and-turf piano bar and most people are dressed up, Seattle is a very casual city so there’s bound to be someone in khaki shorts and crocs. You do you.
9. Elliott’s Oyster House
Located on Seattle waterfront’s Pier 56, Elliott’s Oyster House is most likely going to be filled with hungry cruise-goers and selfie-takers because going to Elliott’s Oyster House is a touristy move. Although locals usually avoid this part of town unless they’re catching a ferry, they also know that at its core, Elliott’s is one of the best places in Seattle to slurp down a wide variety of beautifully shucked oysters while soaking up the sun. The rest of the menu is good, but the oysters are outstanding. Plus, it’s really hard to be in a bad mood with those stunning Elliott Bay views. We give this Seattle waterfront restaurant two mignonette-covered thumbs up.
8. Agua Verde Cafe
Is there anything that sounds better after a long paddle boarding sesh than a heaping plate of chips, salsa, and guac? We don’t think so. Agua Verde Cafe, a casual Mexican restaurant and paddle board rental shop located in Portage Bay, is the perfect spot for an after-SUP meal. Once you return your paddle board, head upstairs to find out why Agua Verde deserves a spot on our best Seattle waterfront restaurants list. As if their airy, picturesque lakeside deck wasn’t enough, Agua Verde dishes out fantastic tacos, nachos, quesadillas, and more. Our favorite? Their Bacalao Tacos: handmade corn tortillas filled with beer-battered cod, pickled cabbage, pico de gallo, and a drizzle of avocado crema. We’re hungry just thinking about them!
7. Miri’s at Golden Gardens
We live by one rule and one rule only at the beach: snacks are mandatory. Luckily, one of our favorite beaches in Seattle happens to also host one of our favorite Seattle waterfront restaurants. Picture this: it’s a bright, beautiful day at Golden Gardens beach. You feel the ocean breeze and sand between your toes. Sea lions bark in the background and the smell of freshly baked Poffertjes fills the air…wait, Poffer-what? That was our initial reaction as well. But once you’ve tasted these heaven-sent mini dutch pancakes, it will all make sense. Though they’re traditionally drizzled in butter and sprinkled with powdered sugar, Miri’s offers other delicious toppings including farmer’s market berries, whipped cream, and Nutella. Miri’s is family-owned (yes, there’s a real “Miri”!) and serious about utilizing seasonal Northwest ingredients, which we really appreciate. Aside from their famous mini dutch pancakes, Miri’s serves lots of sweet and savory made-from-scratch snacks to ensure you never go hungry at the beach. We guarantee this seaside snack shack will blow all the concession stands you’ve ever visited out of the water.
6. Ray’s Cafe
If we had to describe Ray’s in one word it would be iconic. This seafood-focused eatery has been a dockside legend since 1939 and is the casual sibling restaurant to the more upscale Ray’s Boathouse, which is located just downstairs. But on blue sky days you’re not looking to be cozied up in the Boathouse. No, you’re heading straight for the Cafe’s open-air deck to order yourself a Blackened Salmon Sandwich and some Crispy Calamari to share. Ray’s Cafe is great any time of day, but if you happen to catch one of Shilshole Bay’s spectacular sunsets while dining on the deck, you’ll be witnessing one of the most draw-dropping scenes in the entire city. On your way out, stop for a photo op under the massive red neon “RAYS” sign to prove to your friends that you know where the best Seattle waterfront restaurants are.
5. The White Swan Public House
The White Swan Public House proves that dining al fresco is always the answer. At this family-friendly joint, twinkling bistro lights are strung above a patio peppered with picnic tables. Those tables are filled with great food and great conversation. The White Swan Public House (along with its outdoor walk-up bar, the 100 Pound Clam) is always buzzing with good energy and is, without a doubt, one of the best Seattle waterfront restaurants. Grab a plate of their unique and delightful Poutine O’ the Sea featuring seasoned french fries topped with chowder, little neck clams, bacon, and scallions, and watch as sea planes take off and come in for landing on Lake Union.
Perfectly perched high above Lake Union on Queen Anne Hill, Canlis is THE fine dining experience in Seattle. No really, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime type place, which is why (sadly) we don’t have any images of their glorious food or waterfront views to share with you. We visited Canlis in the summer of 2018 for a celebratory dinner sans phones or cameras to truly immerse ourselves in our meal and although we wish we had the pics to prove it, we believe that this is the type of attention a night out at Canlis deserves. From appetizers to dessert, Canlis doesn’t miss a beat. The food: inimitable. The service: impeccable. The views: incomparable. This place really is a revelation and our list of the top Seattle waterfront restaurants wouldn’t be complete without it. Oh, and trust us on this one: get the salad.
If you’re not at Westward sitting under a striped umbrella on an adirondack chair with a fried oyster sandwich in hand and water lapping at your ankles, is it even summer? This place sums up summer in Seattle and if we were basing the order of this list solely on ambiance, Westward would be at the very top. With its balmy resort feel and mediterranean-infused menu, we can’t help but claim this as one of our very favorite Seattle waterfront restaurants. Go with a group for weekend brunch or an early dinner that will inevitably turn into a dreamy twilit evening gathered around Westward’s fire pit.
2. Un Bien
Just one bite of Un Bien’s Caribbean Roast Sandwich and you’ll be a fan for life. This little beauty showcases pork shoulder coated in marinade and slow-roasted until it falls into succulent morsels. Those succulent morsels are then piled onto a lightly toasted baguette (#teamnosoggybread) which is slathered with aioli, then topped with fresh cilantro, crisp romaine, pickled jalapeños, and the thickest, tastiest caramelized onions you’ve ever had. It’s a big, juicy, delicious mess and we know you’ll love it as much as we do. Un Bien’s Shilshole location is one of our favorite Seattle waterfront restaurants and has a breezy beach town feel with its bright pink exterior, communal patio tables, and proximity to Puget Sound. Next door, you’ll find a kayak rental shop so you can lunch and then launch your kayak from the beach across the street. We can’t really think of a better summer day.
1. Marination Ma Kai
When it comes to Seattle waterfront restaurants, Marination Ma Kai just simply can’t be beat. Situated in West Seattle on the lovely Alki Beach, Marination Ma Kai’s charming outdoor patio serves up mouthwatering Hawaiian-Korean eats and a sweeping backdrop of the Seattle skyline. This is the spot locals return to again and again and visitors can’t afford to miss — you’ll find it on both our Best Seattle Restaurants and Best Fish and Chips in Seattle lists, too. Nosh on their Kalua Pork Sliders (our personal fave!), Mac Salad, Kimchi Fried Rice, and remember to snag a shave ice for dessert. Every single menu item is phenomenal, especially when paired with the best views in the city. You can get here by car, but we prefer to take the scenic route by hopping on the downtown water taxi that takes you right to Marination Ma Kai’s front door.