The Blue Angels roared into town yesterday afternoon (in case you didn’t notice), heralding the approach of Seafair Weekend. The I-90 bridge, which closed in years prior to 2019, will remain open this year, so trying to get around town may not be total folly. But you probably want to stick close to the Columbia City/Mount Baker area if you’re hoping to secure a prime spot for watching the Boeing Air Show Friday-Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Here are a few of our favorite spots near the heart of the festivities to get drinks and messy, celebratory finger food, whether you’re trying to pack a picnic or just stay caffeinated.
Fittingly (if you know, you know) Budweiser is sponsoring the Log Boom, but for those who won’t be joining the bacchanalia on Lake Washington, a stop at this eminently chill Columbia City microbrewery might do the trick. They’re open every day until midnight, so this is a good option for a post-Seafair nightcap.
Some of Seattle’s best ice cream is tucked away in a plaza off Rainier Avenue, right next to Flying Lion. Old-school arcade games and a fun selection of novelty sodas make for a nostalgic, family-friendly atmosphere, and there’s a notable abundance of creamy vegan options (beyond the typical sorbet).
If you’re rolling up bright and early to stake out territory along Lake Washington, swing by this Vietnamese coffee shop for a boost. The bright, cheery atmosphere matches the playful beverages, which include a hugely popular ube latte and a hazelnut coffee topped with salted cheese foam. Lest you think the extravagant toppings and flavors are intended to mask mediocre coffee, rest assured — both the phin coffee and the espresso are highly legit.
You’ll find one of the city’s top barbecue joints a short walk from Genesee Park, where owner Erasto Jackson masterfully marries soul food with Jamaican influences. Lil Red is takeout only, so it’s the perfect place to order ahead for a lakeside picnic.
The newest member of small local chain Marination’s brood, this spot in Columbia City replaced neighborhood favorite Super Six earlier this year. As at the other two Marination locations, stellar Korean-Hawaiian fusion dishes like the signature aloha fries — topped with kalua pork and a sunny-side-up egg, drenched in kimchi sauce, mayo, and furikake within an inch of their lives — abound.
What can be said about Ezell’s that has not already been said, over the course of the almost four decades it’s been serving Seattleites perfectly crisped bird? Oprah once said it was her favorite fried chicken. It was named by Esquire as America’s most life-changing fried chicken (whatever that means). Either way, the consensus is that it’s pretty dang good — and that you shouldn’t forget the side of rolls.
This spot is from another Seattle barbecue great, Texas transplant Jack Timmons of Jack’s BBQ, and brisket appears on the menu alongside Tex-Mex classics like chile con queso and decadent enchiladas. They also do weekend brunch 10-2.