With COVID cases decreasing and traveling starting to pick up more across the U.S. (along with airfare), this week marked a major step for Sea-Tac International Airport. The facility started to roll out its long-in-the-works North Satellite phase 2 project to passengers with two new gates ahead of Memorial Day weekend. By the end of June, there will be ten more gates open, along with a new area called Marketplace at N, which will include a stage for live performances, an art installation, and a variety of new dining and retail options.
This summer, the North Satellite plans to open Tundra Taqueria (a restaurant-bar with Mexican food), SEA Roast Coffee House (serving Caribou Coffee), and a Wendy’s. In 2022, the N Gates will also get a Beecher’s Handmade Cheese outpost and a Salty’s as well.
But other than those latter two chains (a long way off), there isn’t much throughout the multimillion project that appears to represent the local scene. Not unless you count the name on the North Satellite’s new Hudson newsstand, Pike & Pine, which may just confuse tourists when they realize that’s not an actual intersection. (This seems to be a running theme, as the airport’s Capitol Hill Food Hall has very little to do with Capitol Hill.)
Popular burger chain Lil Woody’s is still on the way, aiming to open at the airport in 2022 pending final details, and chef Monica Dimas’s Sunset Fried Chicken was reported to be landing at the airport at some point. Prior to 2020, a few of the more well-known local names added to Sea-Tac’s array of dining options included Skillet (at the N Gates), Sam Choy’s, Lady Yum, and Floret (an offshoot of Cafe Flora).
No doubt the pandemic has impacted the airport’s hospitality additions, in which traffic in the airport fell to a 26-year low in 2020. Among one of the newest bar and restaurant debuts in 2021 was an all-shots bar attached to burger-focused Re’Lish Lounge in the B concourse, accommodating those on the go who simply want a quick drink before boarding, since takeout booze isn’t allowed at Sea-Tac.
Not all of the airport’s most recent dining developments have been disappointing, though. In fall 2020, Africa Lounge switched up its menu to offer Congolese cuisine from chef Yves Maganya, who is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and influenced by co-owner’s Rod O’Neal’s heritage. The Port of Seattle billed it as the “first-ever menu of African foods in a U.S. airport,” and The Stranger’s Charles Mudede wrote about the significance of the change.
UPDATED, May 26, 2021, 7:20 p.m.: This article has been updated to reflect that Lil Woody’s is still planning to open at Sea-Tac in 2022.