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5 Fun-tastic Restaurants for Seattle Teens and Tweens

Fondue, hot pot, moving sushi and more big-kid food fun

Published on: February 11, 2014

Triple XAre you long overdue for some one-on-one time with your teen or tween? Or perhaps you're planning a special outing for them and a few of their pals? Here are five Seattle-area spots that get a gold star in the number-one criteria for big-kid dining success: fun. 

Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-In
98 N.E. Gilman Blvd., Issaquah, 425-392-1266
Average entree cost: $9 to $12
Dietary/gluten free options: Yes
Cuisine type: 1950s diner style burgers, fries, onion rings and giant root-beer floats

You can’t go east on I-90 without seeing the iconic giant plastic Triple XXX root sign. An ideal multi-generational gathering spot, Triple XXX pleases everyone from grandparents, who love the booths with mini jukeboxes and walls covered with souvenirs from their youth, to kids, who also love the jukeboxes, as well as the huge burgers and the signature giant root-beer floats. The “drive in” consists of outdoor tables adjacent to the parking lot, popular during the summer. Celebrating a birthday? Your waiter will serve up a song and a T-shirt or a free dessert. 

Tips: On weekends, you'll often find gatherings of classic car collectors in the parking lots, perfect for grandparents (or parents) to check out with car-crazy kids. Check the schedule online.

The Melting Pot, phil G flickrThe Melting Pot
302 108th Ave. N.E., Bellevue, 425-646-2744
14 Mercer St., Seattle, 206-378-1208
2121 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, 253-535-3939
Average entree cost: $9 to $25
Dietary/gluten free options: Yes
Cuisine type: Cheese, meat, seafood and chocolate fondue

With an upscale atmosphere of plush booth seating and dark rooms, The Melting Pot makes fondue, that staple of 1970s dinner parties, seem gourmet, while still retaining the fun of cooking your own food. In addition to the cheese and chocolate fondues (where you dip bread and fruit), you can also choose a meat broth base, dipping items such as seafood, meat and vegetables. The rich food and pricey entrees won't be every family’s first choice, but most love a trip to the Melting Pot. (It does offer a selection of salads and lower-fat choices.)

Tips: For a splurge-y birthday party, the Melting Pot is tops. Try the chocolate fondue.

Full TiltFull Tilt Ice Cream
5453 Leary Ave. N.W., Seattle (Ballard), 206 297-3000
9629 16th Ave. S.W., Seattle (White Center), 206 767-4811
5041 Rainer Ave. S., Seattle (Columbia City), 206 226-2740
4759 Brooklyn Ave. N.E., Seattle (University District), 206 524-4406
Average cone cost: $1.75 to $5
Dietary/gluten-free options: Yes
Cuistine type: Ice cream cones, sundaes, floats and shakes

Full Tilt is anything but a best-kept secret, but for good reason: Where else can you enjoy excellent, hand-crafted ice cream while playing the games of your youth with your kids? As you enter the Ballard Full Tilt Ice Cream, the scent of fresh waffle cones is mixed with sounds from the past – the clang of classic pinball machines and video games. The ice cream comes in many unique flavors, including vegan, dairy-free options made from coconut milk. Those “under age 8 and over age 65” can enjoy a “Tiny Tilt” small cone for just $1.75, regular cones with two scoops and two flavors are $3.75. Five dollars gets you a sundae, shake or root-beer float.

As for the games: Classic and new pinball games at the Ballard, White Center and Columbia City locations include Taxi, Whirlwind and Jackbot; video games include Ms. PacMan and others. (My husband enjoyed teaching our teen and tween to play pinball on several machines we once played on at Arnold's while students at the University of Washington.) The small location in the University District only has one classic video game.

Tips: Full Tilt's Ballard, White Center and Columbia City locations also host birthday parties.

Swish SwishSwish Swish
14603 N.E. 20th St., Bellevue, 425-644-3545
Price: $13 to $15 per entree
Dietary/gluten free options: Yes
Cuisine type: Japanese hot pot (shabu shabu) with meat, seafood and vegetarian entrée options including delicious thinly sliced beef.

Tucked away in the same strip mall as the Bellevue Goodwill, Swish Swish is a fun Japanese restaurant where tweens and teens will enjoy cooking their meal at the table -- a style of cuisine called hot pot, or shabu shabu. The bright restaurant's modern, minimal décor adds to the experience, designed to put the emphasis on the food.

Once seated, you get to choose from a variety of entrees, including pork, beef, chicken, seafood or tofu, and broth bases and sauces. A bowl with the broth base is placed on a cooking plate in front of you at your table. Once it is boiling you drop thinly sliced meat and vegetables to cook. Each person gets to select and cook their own food – which is part of the appeal. There are also vegetarian entrée options with tofu, and parents will appreciate that tweens and teens may try new vegetables, including sliced pumpkin and enoki mushrooms.

Tips: The cooking plate does get very hot so avoid bringing young kids who might touch the hot surface, or closely monitor them.

Blue C SushiBlue C Sushi
Multiple locations, including Alderwood Mall, Bellevue Square, downtown Seattle, Fremont, Southcenter Mall and University Village
Average entrée cost: Each option is priced by the color of its plate, ranging from $3 to $8 per selection
Dietary/gluten-free options: Yes
Cuisine type: Sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, edamame

Food that meanders by you on a conveyor belt is by definition fun. At Blue C Sushi the rotating selection includes freshly made sushi, tempura, chicken katsu, edamame, salads and mini-desserts. You can also order many other dishes from a menu. Families love dining here because once you're seated you're eating within minutes. Tweens and teens love being able to choose their own (multiple) dishes and to dare friends to share something new.

Tips: This popular restaurant often has a long wait for tables so come for a late lunch or early dinner or be willing to sit at the counters, which turn over more quickly.

Lunchbox Labaratory, pinguino k, FlickrLunchBox Laboratory
1253 Thomas St., Seattle (downtown near the Cascade Playground) 206-621-1090
989 112th Ave., Bellevue (downtown) 425 505-2676
4901 Point Fosdick Dr. N.W., Gig Harbor
Average entrée cost: $12 to $14
Dietary/gluten-free options: Yes
Cuisine type: Gourmet burgers, fries and shakes

This “lunch room for hipsters,” decorated with retro metal lunch boxes and other fun-vintage touches, offers to-die-for burgers, fries and shakes. Budding gourmets recognize that the food here is superior to the usual fast-food fare and they actually enjoy the blaring loud music that may get on their parents’ nerves by the end of the meal. Parents will also love the swoon-worthy adult shakes spiked with the likes of Kahlua, Irish cream, or whipped-cream vodka.

Tips: It is pricey for a burger joint, so snag the occasional “half-price deals” when they pop up on discount sites such as Groupon.

Photo credit: In order, photos by Kathleen F. Miller; phil G flickr; Kathleen F. Miller; Blue C Sushi; pinguino K, flickr

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