An enthusiastic diner at Lincoln South Food Hall. Credit: April Chan
Families with small children in search of an affordable meal appealing to both kids and adults might not think of Bellevue's upscale Lincoln Square as a dining destination. But that perception is changing, thanks to the new Lincoln South Food Hall. Here, both kids and adults can find something to please.
Sitting kitty-corner from Bellevue Downtown Park and its pheonomenal playground, the food hall on Lincoln Square South's second floor is comprised of six kitchens. These offer everything from street tacos to burgers and pork belly ramen to baguette sandwiches. And there's also Full Tilt ice cream.
On a recent weeknight, I took my two kids, ages 6 and 4, to check it all out and taste the offerings.
The great surprise for hungry families is that five of the kitchens offer their own children's menus, with prices ranging from $2–$6, and nary a chicken nugget in sight.
The great surprise — and attraction — for hungry families is that five of the kitchens offer their own children's menus, with prices ranging from $2–$6, and nary a chicken nugget or mac and cheese bowl in sight. The prices for grown-up items, including beer and wine options at Burger Brawler and Crosta E Vino, respectively, are what you would expect for casual dining around the Eastside.
My kids gravitated immediately to Fat & Feathers, a self-dubbed bao sandwich and slurp shop, where we ordered the kids' $4 pork belly ramen. My 6-year-old finished his entire bowl, which was sizable for a kid portion. We washed that down with horchatas from Barrio Luchador, which also offers kid tacos starting at $2 and a chicken quesadilla for $4.50.
Burger Brawler's kid offerings range from a $2 order of sea salted fries to a $6 fish sandwich. Don't miss the vanilla and chocolate milkshakes for $3.
Across the hall, Crosta E Vino offers personal pizza to kids for $5, and Baguette Epicerie makes comfort-food favorites like a grilled ham and cheese baguette for $5. If your kiddo has a special sweet tooth, try the $3 Nutella toast too, with salted caramelized bananas.
For drinks, find fresh juices at Avo-Poké or help yourselves to water available at two dispensers in the dining hall.
Overall, at the right time of day, we found the food and atmosphere enticing for families, occupying a niche between fast food and fine dining that will please kids and grown-ups. Even if your kids are picky eaters, the affordable kid-portion prices make it a good place to be brave and give new tastes a try.
Eat in or order out
There is a main communal hall set up with counters and stools along with tables and chairs where diners can bring their food out to enjoy — akin to most mall food courts.
Several of the kitchens also have seating within their own restaurant space, and diners are free to cross into the different spaces. For example, take your tacos from Barrio Luchador and grab a booth at Burger Brawler for a beer with a friend, who'd rather have a burger. Note that alcohol must be consumed in designated spaces and cannot be taken into the communal hall. Costa E Vino has a few high tables where children can sit with parents as they enjoy their wine.
The novelty of this fairly new dining option for visitors and office workers nearby means that this space tends to be crowded around lunchtime and on weekends. Seating can be hard to come by, and the din of a noisy space like this can be a challenge for small children and for parents to keep track of them in the crowd.
On our early dinner-time weekday visit, we had no trouble finding seating. The kids freely ran about eyeing their dessert options. A manager told us a good time to come with small children is between 2 and 5 p.m.
With the summer months on the horizon, a great option for families is to order out. Let the kids run wild at Inspiration Playground across the street and order food for take out to enjoy a picnic. Kidsquest Children's Museum is also in the area and makes for a nice stroll on a sunny afternoon.
Tips for parents
- The food hall's restrooms are equipped with changing tables in both the mens' and womens' restrooms.
- Most kitchens offer up a printed children's menu for your perusal with their options on the front and the other kitchens' options on the back. These double as coloring sheets. Bring your own crayons if you have an avid colorer.
- If you're coming from The Bellevue Collection, there are skybridges that connect you all the way to the food hall so you don't need to walk outside in case of inclement weather.
If you go...
Address: Lincoln South Food Hall is located at 500 Bellevue Way, on the second floor of the Lincoln Square South complex.
Hours: Monday–Thursday, 6 a.m.–10 p.m.; Friday, 6 a.m.–11 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.–midnight; Sunday, 9:30 a.m.–10 p.m.