Rejoice: The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), which runs from May 11 to May 21, is almost here. The sprawling fest (there are 264 films in it this year) spans genres and continents and is the biggest event on the calendar for movie buffs — it’s popular enough that the more affordable multi-day passes have already sold out.
We’re not going to weigh in on what films you should see, but we do know our restaurants, and we also know that you can’t live on movie theater popcorn alone. Whether you’re visiting for SIFF or whether you’re using the fest as an excuse to party like a film student in your hometown, here are some suggested dining options around the SIFF venues:
If you’re downtown
The Paramount and the Egyptian are beautiful cinemas and the AMC at Pacific Place is also fine. All three SIFF venues are clustered in a part of downtown that is unfortunately not a culinary dreamscape and more of a hotels-and-construction vibe. Our advice? Make the trek across I-5 to get the ramen at Kizuki, mezze and bread and cocktails at Mamnoon, or oysters at Taylor Shellfish (the last one is particularly good if you’re a tourist who wants a taste of PNW bivalve). If you want something closer, try the Din Tai Fung outpost at Pacific Place.
If you’re uptown or at Seattle Center
SIFF has two theaters in the Seattle Center area, and if you’re over there in the daytime, Bake Shop is a must-visit for its coffee, Yukon gold rolls, and salads. (We’re not saying you should do this, but it’d probably be pretty easy to sneak a couple cookies into a screening.) For dinner, try Korean restaurant Paju, where you can get fried rice with squid ink and a quail egg. Any time of day you can go to Cajun-Creole mainstay Toulouse Petit, with a sprawling menu and $12 cocktails before 6 p.m.
In Columbia City
Ark Lodge Cinemas is smack-dab in a great dining neighborhood. Olympia Coffee Roasting has a shop right next door, and down the street are classic diner Geraldine’s Counter, the legendary Columbia City Bakery, and Island Soul if you want Caribbean food and some of the city’s best rum cocktails. A little further away is Flying Lion Brewing, if you want to fuel your post-film discussion with some flavorful stouts. For a big big night out treat yourself to Off Alley, one of Seattle’s most in-demand restaurants. Just be prepared to navigate a wait.
The Shoreline Community College theater is a little bit more out of the way. One option is to hit up Hae-Nam Kalbi and Calamari for some Korean food on your drive north; also consider heading up to Pho 99 Authentic Vietnamese for some of Seattle’s best pho.
If you’re streaming
All of this sound exhausting? SIFF will also be screening some films in the week after the festival, so you don’t need to fight for seats. We’ve got two words for you: takeout.