Seattle Food + Dining
As our readers well know, it takes more than mac and cheese and a few crayons to make a restaurant truly family-friendly. So, where are those elusive family-welcoming spots with menus that adults love as much as kids? And where can we find the best sweet treats, food trucks, gluten-free pizza, global eats and — just in case we can ditch the kids now and then — date-night destinations? We asked, and our readers told us. Note: This is just a taste.
See our other regional winners:
Seattle 2015 Food + Dining — Winners + Finalists:
Winner: Mod Pizza
“Perfect little-sized pizzas,” is how one reader describes the appeal of Mod Pizza, a 7-year-old chain that delivers super-fresh custom-made pizzas in minutes. Add in an affordable price tag, vast options (including gluten-free and vegan) and you can see why Mod is rad!
Tutta Bella, the first certified Neapolitan pizzeria in the Northwest, is turning 11 this year, but this beloved family of restaurants is as fresh as ever. Aiming to be as much a community gathering place as a pizzeria, Tutta Bella’s locations offer a menu with huge crowd appeal and a welcoming vibe.
Another local chain with a passionate following, Pagliacci Pizza offers a range of classic and gourmet pies (bacon primo!) that are big family favorites. Don’t miss the chance to watch the expert pizza tossers do their thing.
With neighborhood locations dotting the regional landscape, from Ravenna to West Seattle to Issaquah, Zeeks Pizza is also on many a local speed-dial for options ranging from the meat-tastic Puget Pounder to the veggie lover’s Tree Hugger.
Known for its perfectly thin-crusted pizza pies, inventive flavors, gluten-free options and top-notch ingredients (Salumi meats, house-made sausage), Flying Squirrel Pizza Company has perfected the neighborhood-joint feel at its locations in Georgetown, Maple Leaf and Seward Park.
Proletariat Pizza, White Center's beloved pie palace, has a pizza for every man, woman and child, all created with equal awesomeness. Proletariat sells pizzas by the whole or the half, so you can mix and match and stay on budget.
WINNER: Top Pot Doughnuts
The hand-forged doughtnuts win again! Top Pot Doughnuts takes home the win again for its delicious array of fresh, handmade treats (tip: we can't get past the incredible-ness of the old-fashioned). Its personal, hand-roasted espresso drinks area also top-notch.
Head down to the eclectic neighborhood of Tangletown for the best vegan doughnuts around at Mighty-O Donuts. The tiny bakeshop offers delicious organic treats that everyone can get behind. Parents rave about its great locale for “people watching,” “supernice staff,” healthier options and “kid-friendly atmosphere.”
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts continues to draw in crowds for its super-sweet delectables, and occasional doughnut giveaways.
Next time you're on your way to Lincoln Park or to the Fauntleroy ferry, be sure to stop in at one of West Seattle's favorite carb stops, The Original Bakery, which hand-bakes and cuts breads, doughnuts, cookies and pastries.
Owned by a Cambodian couple in Mountlake Terrace, who hand-make every day's sweet creation, Countryside Donut House is said by some to create the "best donuts in Washington state."
Head to Rainier Beach for one of South Seattle's favorite donut pit stops, family-owned King Donuts.
⇐ Pizza | ⇑ Seattle Food + Dining | Ice Cream ⇒
Winner: Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
Waffle cones, locally sourced ingredients, and crazy-cool seasonal flavors (vegan lime toasted coconut, anyone?): These are just a few of the hallmarks of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, the six-location family of ice creameries that kicked off the gourmet ice cream craze in Seattle.
Get your live culture at Menchie’s, a frozen-yogurt chain that kids adore for the DIY aspect of the self-serve toppings, and parents like for the (mostly) healthy options.
Moonie Icy Tunes, an ice-cream delivery service (with a jeep and carts!) is based in Snohomish, but will truck down to Seattle to deliver classic and gourmet treats to any event.
Pinball and the other arcade games are old school at Full Tilt’s four distinct Seattle locations, but the ice cream is as 21st century as it gets, with gourmet flavors and vegan options.
Top-notch microbrews and hand-crafted ice cream? Count us in for any of Bluebird Microcreamery & Brewery's Seattle locations (also a truck!), and keep your eyes peeled for awesome icre-cream/brew combos, such as oak-barrel-aged stout ice cream.
Why does West Seattle seem to have all the great old-school spots? Stop by Husky Deli on California Ave. for standout deli sandwiches and a cone of homemade ice cream; and pick up your international groceries while you're at it.
⇐ Doughnuts | ⇑ Seattle Food + Dining | Treat Shops ⇒
Winner: Trophy Cupcakes & Party
Gluten-free cherries jubilee, s'mores, piña colada: Those are just a few of the inventive flavors on the cupcake menu at Trophy when we last checked, now with four locations (our favorite is still at the Wallingford Center). The secret to its sweet success? Trophy uses only the finest ingredients, such as Valrhona cocoa powder, local rBGH-free dairy products, free-range eggs and pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla; throws an amazing birthday party (with dedicated party rooms); and even delivers!
Fans cite Cupcake Royale's incredible cupcake flavors (including gluten-free), terrific coffee, and family values (in the best sense of the word). ”
The delectable Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle is one of those places that croissant lovers will drive WAY out of the way for. One fan simply says: "twice-baked almond croissants!!!"
Stuffed Cakes is another West Seattle fave, conceived by a local mom and designer specializing in “small cakes packed with personality.” “Freshest and prettiest cakes!” says one reader.
Whether you need to be gluten free, or just prefer it, Flying Apron, a certified gluten-free bakery that offers sweet and savory items, is the place for you.
⇐ Ice Cream | ⇑ Seattle Food + Dining | Family Breakfast ⇒
Winner: Portage Bay Cafe
Special occasions or Sunday mornings are the perfect excuse (in Seattle, anyway) to put away a stack of pancakes topped with goodies from the famous topping bar at one of Portage Bay Cafe’s locations in Ballard, South Lake Union and the University District. And you can feel good about your indulgence: Portage Bay is exceptionally committed to local, organic and sustainable food.
Patty’s Eggnest is known for huge portions of classic and innovative breakfasts (Greek yogurt parfait, carne asada, biscuits and gravy, yum!), but you can also opt for a “mini breakfast,” perfect for kids or smaller appetites.
Try the signature apple pancakes at The Original Pancake House, with Washington locations in Seattle, Kirkland, Bothell and Puyallup.
Your favorite morning meal is served all day long at Geraldine’s Counter, a retro-hip eatery serving Americana comfort food in the heart of Columbia City.
You loved it when you were a kid; you love it now that you have kids. IHOP still wins.
⇐ Treat Shops | ⇑ Seattle Food + Dining | Cross-Cultural Eats ⇒
Readers love so many things about Uwajimaya and its flagship Seattle store in the Chinatown–International District. Snack on bubble tea; splurge on Ellenos yogurt; try something new from the vast, eclectic food court; and wander aisles stocked with a staggering selection of fruits, vegetables and snacks from Japan and other Asian countries.
Renowned Taiwanese dumpling house Din Tai Fung added a University Village location in 2013 (it’s also in Bellevue), and we Seattle parents (and kids) couldn’t be happier. Perk: Kids can watch through the picture window as dumplings are made.
Want to try a new kind of Asian food? Head to the Chinatown–International District to find every kind of cuisine imaginable, from sushi to Asian cakes to dim sum.
Satay, Buddha rolls, fragrant wild duck, kung pao chicken: Families don’t have to be foodies to love Wild Ginger, a celebrated Pacific Rim restaurant in the heart of Seattle, near Benaroya Hall.
Excellent sushi that rolls straight to you on a conveyor belt? It's no secret why Blue C Sushi, which has six Washington state locations, including an almost-completed upgrade at University Village, is such a hit with families.
Inventive Vietnamese food, welcoming service, fun cocktails for the parents: The International District's Tamarind Tree Restaurant doesn't specifically cater to families, it's just family-friendly by nature.
⇐ Family Breakfast | ⇑ Seattle Food + Dining | Coffee Shops ⇒
Locally owned, with locations (especially the all-important drive-thru) everywhere, it's hard to beat the siren song of Starbucks for lattes, Americanos and even (new in 2014) Oprah chai tea. Caffeine rules!
A beloved stop of Ballard parents, Firehouse has not just a table, but an entire playroom to keep the kids busy.
With a spacious, bright location, a train table and drawing supplies, and a killer location in Seattle’s hip, uber-family-friendly Greenwood neighborhood, Green Bean Coffeehouse offers a nonprofit community space for all ages and quality espresso drinks.
Chaco Canyon, a family of three organic cafes in Seattle, offers fantastic food, a full vegan menu, and a welcoming vibe. The West Seattle cafe has a play area, says a reader, with "books and a train table."
A relatively new (and very welcome) addition to Seattle's Lake City neighborhood, Kaffeeklatsch is a German cafe with excellent bread and desserts with impossible-to-pronounce German names; yummy sandwiches; a well-stocked kids' play area.
Located in the heart of one of Seattle's most vibrant neighborhoods, Ballard Coffee Works is bright, modern and offers some of the best coffee in town, hand-roasted at their small operation in downtown Seattle.
Winner: Red Robin
Oh, how we love the award-winning gourmet burger chain (Zagat’s Best Burger three years running). Red Robin wins raves not only for its endless combos of burgers, but also for its kids’ menu (with healthy sides!), table activities, lively atmosphere and — of course — the famous birthday ballads.
Tutta Bella wins more accolades, not surprisingly, for overall kid-friendly restaurant status. Have we mentioned the gelato and affordable prices?
Vios Café, a pair of restaurant cafés on Capitol Hill and in the Ravenna neighborhood, has reached cult status among parents of little ones for its combo of delectable Greek food and gated, toy-packed play spaces.
With a fantastic location just north of Woodland Park Zoo, Phinney Market Pub & Eatery would be a draw even without its bustling train table and gourmet pub-food menu.
Elliott Bay Brewing Co. is another kid-friendly brewery staple, with great happy-hour deals and enough white noise to wash out any kid rambunctiousness.
Parents love Chipotle for many reasons, including its affordable, healthy, kid-friendly menu options; and its commitment to sustainably sourced food.
⇐ Coffee Shops| ⇑ Seattle Food + Dining | Food Trucks ⇒
Winner: Moonie Icy Tunes
Snohomish-based Moonie Icy Tunes is a perennial reader favorite for its mobile ice cream service (jeeps and carts), which delivers your favorite prepackaged icy treats to events around Seattle. It has the “best selection of all my old-time favorites!,” raves one reader.
“Fish tacos, fish tacos, fish tacos!” rhapsodizes a reader about the Mexican fare dished out by El Camión’s three busy trucks in Ballard, North Seattle and SoDo.
Family-friendly street food is at its best in the saucy Hawaiian-Korean fusion fare served up by Marination’s Big Blue truck, which sets up at lunchtime in various locations in from Wednesday through Friday.
“The burger is THE BEST in Seattle,” says one reader succinctly of Skillet, which slings comfort-food faves (even poutine) from an Airstream trailer that’s on the move.
Where Ya At Matt? slings New Orleans soul food from a truck that roams greater Seattle; check the website for the latest location info.
Pie for breakfast, dinner, dessert, snacks and everything in between: That's the mantra of the mobile pie-shop named, yes, Pie; a typical menu might include chicken pot pie, English meat pie, strawberry rhubarb, pie, cherry and more.
WINNER: Trader Joe's
Gourmet eats at bargain-basement prices, a great wine selection, free samples and organic lollipops for the kids, fun seasonal offerings: These are just a few of the reasons parents flock to T.J.'s in droves.
PCC Natural Markets is ground zero for health-conscious families, with super-friendly staff, a great selection of organic produce and prepared food, free fruit for the kids, and Kid Picks labeling.
"Great buffet, easy and quick, has a toy section in the store." Those are a few of the reasons that the Seattle Whole Foods is well-loved by parents.
As one of the few year-round markets in Seattle, the Ballard Market is a Sunday mainstay, with an incredible selection of farmstands and food trucks, fun live music and always great people- and dog-watching.
The University District Famers Market, which expanded substantially last year, and runs on Saturday year-round, is another favorite, with chefs' demonstrations and live music almost every week, and a selection that regularly wins awards such as second-best farmers market in the country (by Travel & Leisure).
The Columbia City Farmers Market, located in one of the most vibrant, diverse neighborhoods in Seattle, is another family favorite; stop by Rainier Playfield for playtime before or after.
Winner: Purple Cafe & Wine Bar
Next time you're headed to a show downtown, or just want a night out with your honey or pals, Purple Café & Wine Bar is the place. with a vast selection of wines, delicious nibbles and sommeliers that will pair everything perfectly.
Hola, margarita! Cactus Restaurant, with four Seattle-area locations (including a new South Lake Union spot) specializes in innovative southwestern and Mexican food, and fun. Cool claim to fame? It was Seattle's first tapas bar.
If a perfectly cooked steak is your idea of a date-night extraordinaire, Daniel’s Broiler is your game. Choose from waterfront locations on Lake Union and at Leschi, a piano bar in Bellevue, and an award-winning wine list.