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Several Blocks in Seattle Feature Outdoor Dining Space for Multiple Restaurants

The U District is the latest neighborhood in Seattle where al fresco restaurant seating has expanded

Light blue picnic tables surrounded by fencing and pink umbrellas on a city street
The U District recently added some more tables on the sidewalk outside businesses on University Way and 43rd Street.
Outdoors on the Ave

In July 2020, Seattle launched a new initiative that allows restaurants and other retail businesses to apply for a special temporary street closure permit, creating European plaza-like seating. The effort was, in part, to help restaurants find more room for outdoor service during the COVID-19 pandemic, which health experts say carries a lower risk of COVID-19 transmission than enclosed spaces.

Since then, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has issued several permits that encompass multiple businesses on certain neighborhood blocks, creating parklets of a sort. The new patios could give us a glimpse into what a more robust al fresco Seattle dining scene could look like in the future, particularly since Seattle lawmakers are currently considering what a “pathway to permanency” might look like for the cafe streets program.

Below are some of the blocks that feature shared outdoor seating this summer, listed in alphabetical order by neighborhood. If there are any parklets or plazas we missed (ones not tied to just one individual restaurant or bar), send us a tip.

Capitol Hill: 11th Avenue

The area outside Chophouse Row (on 11th Ave below Pike Street) has transformed into a mutual space for Cafe Pettirosso, Marmite, A Pizza Mart, and Wildrose. Cafe Pettirosso co-owner Miki Sodos initially took the reins for the project in 2020, and it’s still going strong alongside the open-air courtyard, which sometimes features live music.

Columbia City: Ferdinand Street

The new patio on Ferdinand, right off Rainier Avenue S, was a joint project by several Columbia City restaurants. There are a handful of tables and some strings of light at night for those who want to dine al fresco, with takeout from nearby spots such as Lottie’s Lounge, Comfort Zone, Safari Njema, and others.

Pike Place: Post Alley

For the first time in its 113-year history, the Market has transformed its cobblestone streets into a plethora of curbside patios with tables and chairs. In summer 2021, it expanded the seating options with around 19 new picnic tables on Pike Street, Pike Place, and the MarketFront deck. These areas will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily until September 7, and service restaurants such as the Crumpet Shop, Market Grill, and El Borracho.

Pioneer Square: Occidental Avenue

Occidental from S Main Street to S Jackson Street is closed off, which provides a nice seamless pedestrian-friendly complement to the picturesque, tree-lined Occidental Square. The London Plane and Caffe Umbria are in that vicinity, in addition to Locus Wines.

South Lake Union: 9th Ave

The area on 9th Avenue between Thomas and John, which emptied out when many tech company employees started working from home, is taking advantage of SDOT’s street closure permit. Elm Coffee, Jack’s BBQ, and Gold Bar are some of the nearby businesses.

U District

Earlier this summer, eight local businesses collaborated with the U District Partnership (a community-driven nonprofit) to open the NE 43rd Street Outdoor Dining Plaza, located in front of the still-in-the-works light rail station. There are a bunch of light blue picnic tables outside spots such as Wann Yen/Mark Thai Food Box and Cedars of Lebanon, plus some additional tables (with umbrellas for shade) on University Way itself on the stretch between 42nd and 43rd, where buses are diverted and there’s one-way traffic only until October 3.

West Seattle: California Avenue

The section of California Ave between Oregon Street and Alaska Street is open for seating on Sundays. The operating hours are from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. after the farmers market closes. Restaurants in the area include the Matador, Supreme, Lady Jaye, and Pizzeria Credo.