Dining with a view provides a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Somehow food always tastes better when one is surrounded by splendor, and Seattle has it all - abundant bodies of water, sweeping city views and majestic mountain ranges to the east and the west.
Close to the University of Washington campus on Lake Washington, at the Aqua Verde Paddle Club and Café, one will find a most unique combination of activities. As the name suggests, Aqua Verde offers café dining or kayak rental – or both, if you really want to make a major excursion out of your visit! Seating on the deck provides a grand view of boaters and a peek at the houseboats across the way. On the menu one will find a nice mix of original and traditional Mexican fare, but the fish tacos steal the show! I recommend the Bacalao tacos - Alaskan cod fried in a coconut beer tempura, shredded cabbage with a savory avocado sauce. The light and crisp coating on the fish marries beautifully with the moist, meaty inside. And the rich avocado sauce, lightly drizzled on top, takes it to another level.
Along Alki Beach in West Seattle most restaurants boast a view, but for impressive special-occasion dining there is no beating Salty’s famous weekend buffet brunch. Complete with a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar and an imposing chocolate fountain that towers above it all, this brunch combines every traditional breakfast favorite that one could want with the most seafood you will likely ever see in one place. Not to be outdone by the view of the majestic buffet, from almost every seat in the dining room guests are treated to the eye candy of the Downtown Seattle skyline across Elliot Bay.
Down the beach from Salty's is a more casual option in waterfront dining. Marination Ma Kai is the second brick and mortar to be opened by the owners of Marination food truck. On the Islands, “Ma Kai” means “towards the sea”. With a huge patio facing the Sound, this aptly named venue serves up a unique fusion of Hawaiian-Korean street cuisine. Enjoy plate-lunch mainstays such as loco moco, katsu, and spam musubi alongside tacos and sliders topped with pickled jalapenos and the famous Nunya “secret sauce” - a spicy miso mayo. For a sweet finish, try traditional Hawaiian shave ice – served also as a boozy version for the over-21 set!
Across the Sound, for a reverse view, hidden away in The Pike Place Market is one of my favorite breakfast spots. Lowells, a mainstay in the Market since 1957, claims “almost classy” dining. From the faded black and white checkerboard flooring and the simple farm-fresh flower bud on each of the slab tables, to the exposed pipes on the ceiling, the rustic, aged atmosphere here is consistent with the 100 year old Market in which it is housed. But the unexpected delight for the eyes is the three floors of view seating that overlook the Olympic Mountains and the comings and goings of local ferries. And fresh food is taken very seriously here! Many of the ingredients used in Lowell’s menu items are sourced from Market vendors right outside the front door of the restaurant.
On the other side of town, in Ballard, an oversized neon sign beckons visitors to “RAY’S” in bold, red letters. Overlooking Shilshole Bay, Ray’s Boathouse has one of the most incredible dining views in Seattle. The upstairs deck seating at Ray’s Café promises unobstructed enjoyment of the mountains and Puget Sound in a less formal environment. The café menu emphasizes small plates which provides for a more affordable option. Favorites here are the rich, creamy clam chowder loaded with clams, and the always crispy true cod fish & chips with the house-made tartar sauce.
Daniel’s Broiler on South Lake Union offers a stunning view of the lake, historic Gasworks Park in the distance and seaplanes flying close overhead as they take off and land. The crisp white tablecloths against the warm earth tones and rich woods, high-backed booth seating, and soft lighting create an elegant setting that makes this an ideal choice for a romantic meal with your honey. With two happy hours a day, an outdoor deck and impeccable service, it’s no wonder this is a Seattle favorite. Steak is the pride and joy at Daniel’s, but the Australian lamb chops do it for me every time! Served with silky garlic parmesan mashed potatoes, the rosemary-marinated, grilled, double-cut rib chops are perfect with the standard order of red pepper jelly. But if you want your taste buds to explode to a higher level of nirvana, order the peppercorn brandy sauce to top the chops and potatoes.