Scott, I'm very sorry you had a bad experience at Greenlake Bar & Grill. My experience has been pleasant and I have never heard complaints from friends that go. I was in no way compensated to include them in this article, or compensated to include any other spot mentioned.
As for Serafina, although it is fine dining, there is no reason to think you can't bring children, especially tweens and teens, like we suggest in the article. Happy hour is a much easier time to visit with kids in tow before the later dinner crowd show up.
Boom Noodle is a very family-friendly spot that many families regularly enjoy, including mine, especially when it comes to their happy hour menu. There are several cold options on the happy hour menu, and yes, their soups come out hot. I always ask my waiters to put the bowl in front of me (away from my smaller children) and ask for a cup of ice and even an extra bowl so I can dish out smaller portions of cooled down soup to my kids. I do the same at every pho and ramen shop across the city.
I'm sorry you think I disappointed you with these options, but hopefully you will find your own happy hour spots across the city to enjoy with your children and take advantage of the kid-friendly dining hours and easier-on-the-wallet prices.
Strike three, you're out. Have you ever been to Serafina? Not a kid's place.
Strike two (Boom Noodle). Their kids menu has huge heaping bowls of soup that, when they bring them out, they say, "Don't touch that, it's super hot."
Um, no. Greenlake Bar & Grill was evil to us when we brought our kid there. Plus it's filthy. How much did they pay you?
Eating out with kids: Expensive and stressful, right? Or simply impossible when you have to make bedtime. Enter happy hour, that magical, early-evening opportunity to nosh on the cheap well before stories are read. And increasingly, restaurants with happy hours in the Seattle area cater to families.
Here are some of our favorite spots — including some with patios! — to enjoy burgers, yakitori, empanadillas, pizza, pho and cheap microbrews with your family. You might even get your kids to try something new — pork belly skewer, anyone?
Ballard: 2320 N.W. Market St, Seattle, 206-789-0516
Redmond: 16505 Redmond Way, Bldng B, Suite A, Redmond, 425-298-0374
Happy-hour times: Daily, 3–6 p.m. (both Ballard and Redmond)
Food picks: Pork wings and empanadillas are a must on the happy-hour menu; you’ll also find half off many appetizers and discounts on drinks.
Outdoor seating? Yes
Puerto Rico comes to life at this bright restaurant in the heart of Ballard (also with a location in Redmond not far from Town Center). La Isla has been serving up some of the best Latin food in the city since it started as a food vendor at the Fremont Market. The empanadillas, filled with potatoes, chicken or cheese could be a meal on their own, but don't miss other picks from the appetizer menu, most of them discounted during happy hour. Family favorites include pork wings, pernil (slow roasted pork) sliders and maduros (sweet plantains). Mom and dad can sip flavored mojitos while kids slip on virgin piña coladas.
1618 N. 45th St., Seattle, 206-632-7010
Happy-hour times: 4:30–6:30 p.m. daily
Food picks: $1 yakitori and yakiton are favorites for kids, plus cheap edamame, gyoza and finger food. Bottled sake is half off at happy hour and wine and beer costs below $3.
Outdoor seating? No
If your kids love food on a stick then this Japanese spot in Wallingford, which specializes in ishiyaki (stone grill cooking), is the place for you. Sushi fans can get a small assortment of rolls, but the $1 yakiton (pork belly skewer) is the shining star of the happy-hour menu. These little beauties are cooked to perfection on a hot stone, creating tender and flavorful meat that almost falls off the stick. If you are looking for something a bit more substantial, try the salmon steak robata yaki with green onions.
Kids will enjoy watching the chefs prepare dishes at the wrap-around kitchen bar; just make sure they don’t try to touch the stones the meat is grilled on. They're hot, hot, hot! Another perk: Staff is friendly and service is quick.
7200 E. Greenlake Drive N., Seattle, 206-729-6179
Happy-hour times: 3–6 p.m. daily
Food picks: Green Lake margaritas for $5, cheeseburger and fries for $5.75, crispy curried cauliflower for $5.75, bacon mac 'n' and cheese for $4.50
If you are looking for an easy meal after playing at Green Lake with the kids, saunter over to the Greenlake Bar & Grill for a burger and fries, washed down with seltzer water (for the kids) or a cold beer (for you). More adventurous choices include crispy curried cauliflower, habanero mac 'n' cheese hummous and sliders. This neighborhood place boasts huge windows in the front, a popular outdoor patio that can give you extra Vitamin D, and friendly white noise that covers up loud kid sounds. Tip: It is right on busy Green Lake Way so keep a close watch on little ones if you're outdoors.
550 12th Ave., Seattle, 206-328-2030
Food picks: Discounts on pho and appetizers plus drinks. On Tuesdays, look for 50-cent chicken wings
Outdoor seating? No.
Ba Bar — a Vietnamese street-food restaurant owned by the same team as Monsoon — has recently been hailed as the place to grab a cronut in Seattle. But it is the pho and happy-hour appetizers that you really want. Be warned: The service can be a bit slow, and this place really gets hopping at night, but if you time it right you and your kids can be devouring delish bowls of chicken or beef pho, cucumber salad, grilled skewers and spicy Sài Gòn chicken wings before the sun begins to set. Combine it with a trip to Elliott Bay Book Company and Cal Anderson Park, just a quick drive north.
2043 Eastlake Ave. E., Seattle, 206-323-0807
Happy-hour times: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Happy hour picks: Fettuccini bolognese and bruschetta duo are favorites of the plates offered for $5–$8 during happy hour at this lovely Eastlake spot. Drink specials are also offered.
Outdoor seating? Yes (a wonderful patio), but happy hour is not served on the patio.
Whether you live in Eastlake or just love to hang out in the neighborhood, you will soon find out why Serafina is a local favorite. The dishes not only taste as if they came straight from Italy, but also are also beautifully presented. Pasta is a staple on the happy-hour menu, while pancia di maiale (braised pork belly with rhubarb sugo, almonds, and frisee) brings a bit of fine dining to the table — just be sure to mop up the sauce that just dribbled down your toddler’s chin. Calamari and bruschetta can round out your late-afternoon dining experience. Tip: Don’t let the upscale interior and tables filled with couples intimidate you. Serafina is happy to have the whole famiglia. Combine with a walk along the lake to see the houseboats.
1660 Harbor Ave. S.W., Seattle, 206-328-TACO (8226)
Happy-hour times: 3–6 p.m.
Food picks: The food prices are already ridiculously cheap, so dive in with the kids and make a night of it. During happy hour, well drinks, wine and draft beers are $1 off.
Outdoor seating? Yes — one of the best views around
When one of Seattle’s most popular food trucks — Marination Mobile — added another brick-and-mortar in West Seattle, the crowds rejoiced. With a fantastic location at the south end of Alki (the King County Water Taxi stop is right there) — Marination Ma Kai is, not surprisingly, hopping day and night. Luckily, the lines move quickly. Choose from tacos, sliders, kimchi fried rice, loco moco, fish and chips; add a microbrew, and head straight for the outdoor patio for a knockout view of the Seattle skyline. Or take food to go and picnic along the Alki trail. Don’t forget Hawaiian shave ice for dessert. On a rainy day, inside is just fine as well: There are tables and stools to enjoy your food (and view).
Columbia City: 4918 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, 206-721-3501
Crossroads: 15600 N.E. Eighth St., Suite J1, Bellevue, 425-502-7402
Issaquah: 715 Northwest Gilman Blvd., Issaquah, 425-391-6838
Stone Way: 4411 Stone Way N., Seattle, 206-633-3800
Westlake: 2200 Westlake Ave., Suite 112, Seattle, 206-624-4422
Happy-hour times: 3–6 p.m. daily (also, 9 p.m. to midnight, should you be looking for a date-night option)
Food picks: $6 pizzettes, $5 appetizers plus discounted drinks
Outdoor seating? Varies by location
Tutta Bella has long been a family favorite for its wood-fired pizzas, amazing salads and gelato, but another reason to love them is the happy-hour deals. Their $6 pizettes make sure everyone in the family gets something they will enjoy. Among the antipasti options, try the polpette (meatballs), which kids will enjoy rolling around their plates, and a plate of bietole marinate (roasted beets, red onions, pistachio, chevre with a red wine vinaigrette).
460 106th Ave N.E., Bellevue, 425-440-0025
Food picks: Plate o’ bacon, pretzels, popcorn and sliders, all for under $4, plus drink specials
Outdoor seating? Yes, but minimal
Bacon. Need we say more? If you find yourself in downtown Bellevue pop into Lot No. 3, a sister restaurant of Purple Wine Bar next door, for its infamous Plate o’ bacon with a side of popcorn and sliders. The staff can be a bit inattentive at times, but food comes out fairly quickly. Ask for a seat at one of the couches so your kids can eat at the coffee tables. Although with its masculine décor of leather couches, dark woods and hard metal interior, this spot may not seem kid friendly at first, high chairs are available and you will see more than one family getting together after mom and dad get off work.
Elliott Bay Public House & Brewery, 12537 Lake City Way N.E., Seattle, 206-365-2337Happy hour times: 3–6 p.m.Happy-hour picks: Mini-corn dogs, pork quesadillas, sloppy fries and kimchi lamb sliders are a few of the happy hour favorites. $1 off the house-made beers on tap
Outdoor seating? NoBest ages: Babies and up
Lake City residents cheered when this favorite Seattle brewpub moved into the neighborhood a few years ago. Large tables, booths and friendly staff make it easy for families to meet up for happy hour or watch a game on the big screens — and no one blinks at rambunctious toddlers or loud preschoolers. Kids love the mini-corn dogs, pork quesadillas and sloppy fries (sloppy Joes poured over fries), while more adventurous eaters will devour a staff favorite, the kimchi lamb sliders. Make sure you bring the kids to the back to see the large brewing tanks to pass the time if you have to wait for a table. Pair it with a trip to the Lake City Library (two blocks away) or a visit to the Thursday farmers market. Additional locations also have happy hour. Additional locationsElliott Bay Brewhouse & Pub, 255 S.W. 152nd St., Burien, 206-246-4211Elliott Bay Brewery & Pub, 4720 California Ave. S.W., Seattle. 206-932-8695