It's as hot as Hades out there and all you want is to enjoy a glass of rosé or a cool beer beneath an equally cool umbrella. To celebrate our recent Mediterranean weather, here, in no particular order, are the very best places to indulge in the equally Mediterranean habit of watching the sun go down from a restaurant terrace. You just need to figure out who to bribe to stake a claim on one of these coveted outside tables.
Westward: I hesitate to mention Westward as it's the restaurant closest to my house and it is almost impossible to grab an outside space without waiting in line, but this space is as close to perfect as any outside terrace gets. There's either a bar menu with seating in the ranks of adirondack chairs around the fire pit (first come, first served) or restaurant tables outside, where the full restaurant menu is served (outside tables can be reserved, though space is also available for walk-ins). Either way, the view, straight down Lake Union with a backdrop of downtown, can't be beaten and you can sail or kayak straight up to their dock if you're superhumanly cool. In our experience you stand the best chance of grabbing a table at weekend brunch times (I really shouldn't have mentioned that).
Joule/The Whale Wins: Joule is our alternative spot for weekend brunch. The outside terrace and fire pit is comfortable and pleasant, though the view, of Stone Way, is somewhat less beautiful. The brunch menu here though is outstanding, including a glorious serve yourself brunch buffet with every meal.Two tables on the patio can be booked ahead, the rest of the seating is first come, first served. At supper time the lovely terrace next door at Renee Erickson's award-winning The Whale Wins is a great alternative.
Rock Creek: Rock Creek is not only one of Seattle's premier seafood restaurants, it also has a large and comfortable outside terrace. The view, over Fremont Avenue North, is not amazing but you'll be too busy enjoying the incredible food and fabulous cocktails to care. We love this place for happy hour. Outside seating is available on a first come, first served basis. (RockCreek shares a corner with Uneeda Burger which also has a great outside terrace, perfect for less-fine dining or for when you have kids in tow).
Little Water Cantina: If it was up to me the whole of Lake Union would be lined with restaurants with outside terraces. Instead hardly any exist, which makes Little Water Cantina's Eastlake terrace overlooking the water with west-facing sunset views even more special. The upmarket Mexican food and cocktails are delightful too. Terrace seating is available on a first come, first served basis.
Terra Plata: This recent addition to Capitol Hill's Melrose Market boasts a glorious rooftop terrace where you can look down on all the hustle and bustle below. The food is wonderful and it's a great place for an al fresco lunch. My daughter is still raving about the churros a week later.
AQUA by El Gaucho: This is your best bet for watching the sun go down over Elliott Bay. Great food, great cocktails and an unbeatable view. Outdoor seating is managed on a first come, first served basis but with a total of two hundred seats there isn't usually much of a wait.
Frolik Kitchen + Cocktails: How is it possible that this is the only rooftop terrace in downtown? Fortunately this space, the restaurant of the recently opened Motif Hotel, is a doozy, surrounded by the lights of the downtown skyscrapers and perfect for happy hour, though it is amazingly popular. To beat the crowds, reservations are accepted for parties of 15 and over.
Marination Ma Kai: West Seattleites rave about the Korean-Hawaiian fusion food served on this patio with a side helping of awesome downtown and Space Needle views (Ma Kai means 'by the sea' in Hawaiian).
Ray's Café and Ray's Boathouse: There's a reason that Ray's has been a stalwart of the Seattle restaurant scene for so long - that view. One of very few restaurants which looks out over Shilshole Bay, it's the perfect place to watch the sun set slowly over the Olympics. In addition to the deck at Ray's, there are now a small number of outside tables at the Boathouse.
Serafina/Cicchetti: If you prefer a garden vibe, then the lovely secluded patio and classic Italian cooking at Serafina, another Seattle stalwart, should be your jam. Sister restaurant Cicchetti also offers outdoor seating on the small side terrace. Serafina gives precedence to reservations which request outside seating but cannot guarantee an outside space.