There’s no way around it: the parking situation in Seattle is approaching apocalyptic proportions. However, that doesn’t mean going out to eat needs to be ruined by driving around interminably or paying exorbitant garage fees. Here’s a selection of some fantastic restaurants in the city where there are usually easy-to-find spots. (Though there are plenty of restaurants that offer valet services, this list tries to lean toward free parking; those near garages were considered if at least some time was gratis or validated). If you think we missed something, feel free to send us a tip.Read More
12 Solid Seattle Restaurants Where Parking Isn’t a Complete Nightmare
No need to circle the block forever
1. Cafe Munir
This Lebanese restaurant is known for small dishes of warm hummus and ground lentils, along with other popular items like baba ghanoush and a spicy muhammara. It also helps that it’s in a heavy residential part of Ballard, away from many of the main drags, which means that street parking nearby is usually available without having to search forever.
Perched in the usually sleepy Sunset Hill neighborhood, this upscale bistro has a warm, intimate setting with fire-roasted vegetables and a crispy duck to die for. Even better is that, even during prime dinner hours on Fridays and Saturday nights, one can still find a decent spot around the general vicinity, either right on 32nd Avenue NW, or a block up on the quieter NW 65th Street.
3. Bamboo Sushi
This Portland-based sushi chain is known for its thoughtful seafood dishes sourced sustainably (there’s even a menu guide to that has a detailed map where everything is caught). The parking situation also should set diners’ minds at ease, since it’s located right in the U Village, which has a huge free lot. But the best bet is to attend on weekend nights, when shoppers aren’t as numerous.
4. Off The Rez Cafe
Seattle, WA 98105
Known for its fluffy fry breads, Off the Rez — considered the first Native American food truck in Seattle — recently opened this permanent outpost inside the New Burke Museum on the University of Washington’s campus. Which is convenient, since that means there’s a huge lot right outside. Parking also happens to be free after 12 p.m. every Saturday and all day Sunday.
Eastlake’s Pomodoro is an intimate Italian restaurant, with skillfully crafted pasta plates (pork belly linguini alla carbonara) and several excellent gluten free and veggie options. It’s also fortunate enough to have a garage located in its building, with free parking and an ample amount of spaces.
6. Champagne Diner
Seattle, WA 98119
Interbay’s new upscale greasy spoon — which features well-crafted cocktails and refined comfort food, including a satisfying pork belly “BLT” — can be hard to spot from the busy Elliott Avenue thoroughfare, but once you find it, parking’s a snap. It has a free lot right outside that it shares with some local dental businesses, and spots are easy to come by. Plus, diners can conveniently get a cleaning right after lunch.
7. The Dolar Shop Seattle
For true hot pot fans, Bellevue’s The Dolar Shop — one of the city’s best Chinese restaurants — is about as good as it gets, with simmering bowls of broth, such as pork leg bone, mushroom, Szechuan hot and spicy, or tomato and oxtail. It’s located at the massive Bravern complex, which has a self-park indoor lot, and the Dolar Shop will validate up to six hours. No need to rush through dinner.
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8. Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar
The Queen Anne outpost of Seattle’s iconic oyster destination is located right near the Seattle Center and Space Needle, which means there are plenty of lots around. And the good news is that Taylor’s offers one-hour free validated parking — just enough time to down some of the many Kumamotos, tiny native Olympias, or other bivalves, and maybe a glass of wine or two.
One of the best ramen restaurants in the city is a small spot right above QFC on Harvard Avenue. The trick is to use the lot right behind the building, earmarked for all the businesses around Harvard Market (and usually fairly barren during weekdays). For those who can slurp those tender noodles down fast, the first 30 minutes are free.
10. Pho Bac Súp Shop/Pho Bac Restaurant
Seattle, WA 98144
Pho Bac Sup Shop shares a Little Saigon parking lot with venerable sibling restaurant Pho Bac — the iconic boat that just reopened recently. Although if spots are taken, South King Street nearby usually has a few no-pay-required spots available. All the better to linger and try not just the wonderful soup noodles, but also bites like prawn ceviche, Viet sliders, and chicken wings with tamarind sauce — along with maybe a cocktail or two at both locations.
11. Marination Ma Kai
This fast casual West Seattle outpost of the dynamite Marination restaurant group is basically the flagship of a mini mobile empire, serving up popular tacos with Korean-Hawaiian tacos, loco moco, and musubi. The restaurant’s large patio overlooks the Seattle skyline, and there’s a lot right outside with free spots — although a heads up that it tends to fill up fast when the weather gets warmer.
12. Bang Bang Kitchen
Seattle, WA 98118
Weekend brunch without all the hassle? This cozy spot tucked into a corner of Othello delivers excellent New Mexico-inspired cuisine, from breakfast burritos to huevos rancheros with red and green hatch chile. And if there isn’t street parking, a good backup plan is pull into the indoor garage right next door, which has spaces reserved for the area’s retail (free for the first hour).