Winter is a trying time for a good portion of the country. The northeast has its blizzards, the midwest is an unbearable tundra, and Southern California has to wear light jackets. Seattle is no different. We have the rain - not enough to kayak to work, but enough to sail a motorized toy boat across a puddle.
So when the sky resembles Pantone 14-4107 and you’ve been continuously damp for the fourth week in a row, you might be tempted to pop Vitamin D gummy bears or get hopped up on Hallmark movies. Just remember that somewhere, someone is digging their car out of six feet of snow, and that somebody is not you. Then, celebrate your good fortune at one of these restaurants that’s dry and full of happy people and warm food.
This place just gets it, and it’s not only because their name is a big middle finger to the rain. We like to post up, cocktail in hand at the all-brick bar with a nice piece of fish, a burger and fries, or a bowl of pasta. If you’re alone, this is the kind of warm spot to strike up a conversation with other people who are escaping the drizzle.
We understand that a multi-hour wait for a table compounded with a lot of rain is not ideal. But it’s worth the trouble at Kedai Makan, where you’ll end up with delicious Malaysian noodles, rice, and fried chicken. The comforting food here is spiced perfectly and pairs well with their tropical island cocktails - especially the mushroom pan mee.
It’s wet out, and you’d rather be in a living room than anywhere else. But Harry’s Fine Foods, a quiet corner spot on Capitol Hill, looks like someone’s dark, antique-filled parlor, so it’s basically the same thing. They make one of the tastiest burgers in town, but if you’re feeling a little fancier, they have things like braised short ribs and crudo. Whatever you do, get a negroni.
When the sun is finally out of PTO (so, during spring and summer), Marination Ma Kai is a paradise of patio chairs, waterfront skyline views, and excellent Hawaiian food that pairs well with the warm weather. The good news is that even when it’s raining buckets, the tacos, kimchi fried rice, fish and chips, and spam macaroni salad taste just as great. Then, you can vow to come back when the thermometer hits 60 for the full Marination experience.
Stateside is a terrific choice when your priorities include both upscale Vietnamese food and living in denial about Mother Nature’s grudge against Seattle. There’s no way you’ll regret your decision to hang out among the palm wallpaper, sip sparkling passionfruit bourbon cocktails, and relax like it’s a balmy 75 degrees - unless you truly do enjoy feeling cold, wet, and grumpy all the time.
A big steak always feels good when it’s raining outside. We know this because it rains in Seattle fairly often, and we often find ourselves at this beef place, Asadero. They make outstanding steak that comes with fresh tortillas and salsas so that you can DIY the best carne asada tacos in the city. When you’re sitting in the chill darkness with a tasty margarita and someone you don’t hate, it’s hard not to turn a mopey mood around.
Speaking of steak, Flintcreek is also an excellent place to get one. We could write this caption based solely on the paprika anchovy finishing butter alone, but the seared beef that it melts on is equally tasty. Paired with a wedge of nutmeg cream-topped scalloped potatoes, you’ll have yourself a very comforting meal. If you’re alone, we highly recommend doing this all at the bar - or better yet, securing yourself one of the 12 butcher’s burgers available during Happy Hour.
Unless you’re allergic to lime or mint or parties, it’s impossible not to have fun at Mojito. This bright Venezuelan spot in Maple Leaf is a great escape from the soggy outdoors mainly because of the delicious arepas, pastelitos, and braised meats. The mango dressing on the salads is great if you want something lighter, too. We once had our entire table ambushed with free tequila shots on arrival, so just be prepared.
Much of the food at Manolin is kind of summery, like the plantain chips, rockfish ceviche with avocado, and the occasional piece of grilled fish or steak. The walls are a shade of sky blue at least one person in your group might call “delightful.” If you find a spot at the bar, it’s particularly fun to watch the chefs prep food and cook stuff on the medieval-looking grill device.
You could sit on your couch and order a pizza while watching raindrops drip down your windowpane. Or, you could go to Bar Del Corso instead, where the heat from the big oven will warm your body, the charred margherita pie will warm your soul, and the fried risotto balls will burn your tongue. Be careful with those things. Add a spritz and an affogato, and you may never want to return to that couch ever again.
Joli could have been called Get In Here To Escape The Rain And Eat Unpretentious Things. Of course, that’s a terrible restaurant name, and, luckily, this is the opposite of a terrible restaurant. The Phinney Ridge space is really nice, with candles, big wooden booths, and paintings of snow-capped mountains on the walls. It’s a great spot for Happy Hour - order wine and mini chorizo corn dogs - or a full dinner. The menu has things ranging from smoked squash agnolotti to burgers with duck fat fries.
If you whiz by on your bike, you would probably mistake The Maple for someone’s home. But inside this house, you’ll find a pub with antique photos, popcorn ceilings, and good food and cocktails. The dishes range from rigatoni with lamb ragu to fish and chips that come with a lemon-y crust.
Volunteer Park Cafe is like a farmhouse/bistro hybrid in the middle of residential north Capitol Hill where housing prices are much higher than they probably should be. With excellent dishes like mini chicken pot pie and braised brisket with polenta, we almost prefer to eat here when it’s gross outside. Don’t leave without the chocolate muck muck cake, which looks like sludgy potting soil and tastes like joy.