We all have ways of dealing with a bad day (or several), but some are downright unproductive. Like crying. Or drinking one too many Irish coffees and ripping open a piñata with your bare hands at a five-year-old’s birthday party, screaming, “Take that, universe!” while the children watch in horror.
Allow us to suggest going out for a comforting meal instead. If you have to yell into a pillow afterwards, or slam a few doors, that’s fine, but at least you’ll be full of some delicious food.
If something truly depressing happened, like the love of your life dumped you or you had to sit through two episodes of Intervention reruns, you’ll want to head to Katsu Burger immediately. It’s a brightly-colored spot where giant Japanese deep-fried cheeseburgers are waiting for you - and they’re as comforting as they sound. Add the roasted seaweed fries with spicy mayo and a green tea milkshake (yes, with whipped cream on top) to fully distract yourself.
You have no clean laundry left, but that’s hardly a good enough reason to deprive yourself of chicken and waffles. The waffles here are thin but fluffy, and come with Hennessy-infused butter - plus the chicken stays crispy even if you can’t leave the couch and opt for takeout. If you do stop by the casual dining room to eat, you won’t get strange looks for wearing those unwashed sweatpants, and you can grab a spiked fruit punch or sweet tea to go with your meal.
We’re not telling you you can’t come here and eat a whole New York-style pizza meant for at least four humans by yourself. But it’s a particularly good place to come with friends. If you need to ingest so much spice that you can’t feel your face anymore, the pie with ricotta, coppa, and Carolina Reaper powder is a good choice - and we also like the much less spicy broken meatball pie. But the fried chicken-kimchi-American cheese pizza (trust us) is actually the sleeper star. No matter what, a spiked creamsicle slushie and some scallion garlic knots can really turn things around for you.
If you were in a terrible mood somewhere on the East Coast, you might end up eating a pastrami sandwich, or a Philly cheesesteak, or literally anything covered in buffalo sauce. Head to Tat’s instead - it takes less time to get there. This is a dive with subs, wings, and lots of Pennsylvania-based sports team flags on the walls. Go for a cheesesteak with hot peppers or the Tatstrami sandwich (homemade pastrami with creamy coleslaw, melted Swiss, and Russian dressing on a hoagie roll).
Someone stole your wallet and already tried to spend $1,387 on gourmet dog food with your debit card. Go to Chan, get a lychee Rickey, and do two orders of Korean sliders: the beef bulgogi and the spicy pork. Repeat as necessary. Just bring a friend who will accept an IOU.
North Star Diner & Shanghai Room
You tried eating Skittles for every meal to cheer yourself up. That didn’t work. The good news is, you have nothing but better options. One of which is North Star, a diner with glittery gold booths and a wall full of astronaut portraits (unusual, yes, but weirdly inspiring). It’s open 24 hours and serves breakfast all day, so by all means, load your table up with corned beef hash benedicts, pancakes, and omelettes. Or just get a big grilled cheese. Inviting your friends for some group therapy in the form of karaoke next door is also very much encouraged.
A tiny neighborhood spot in Madison Park where nobody will bother you, so you can devote your full attention to the charred Neapolitan pizzas. Which is exactly what you’ll want to do, because they are excellent. So when you’re in the middle of a messy breakup but still want to salvage some self-respect, grab a margherita or New Haven-style clam pie with caesar salad and a tallboy of hard cider. It’s also a great first date spot when you’re ready for a rebound.
There are plenty of good ramen places in Seattle, but when the sh*t really hits the fan, you need the best. You need Hokkaido Ramen Santouka. The miso and spicy versions are our favorites here, but it’s hard to go wrong. Get some gyoza, too.
We all need a “break glass in case of emergency” restaurant - a really nice place to go when we feel terrible - and if you don’t have one yet, consider Bateau. This is a serious steakhouse, but it feels more like a garden party, with a bright interior and tons of natural light. Come with your significant other so you can both enjoy the best burger in the city, made with freshly-ground beef, garlic aioli, and caramelized onion jam on a homemade bun. Don’t forget the fries, which are cooked in beef tallow and served with even more aioli. Dip the burger in the extra aioli, too, because you’ve got nothing to lose at this point. While you’re at it, finish that dirty martini and order another one.
At La Cocina Oaxaquena, the tortilla chips are fried fresh to order and served in unlimited quantities. Eat those with the (also unlimited) homemade salsa, then round things out with fish tacos, tamales, spicy shrimp, and/or tomato-braised pork with rice. Not to mention some pint glass-sized margaritas. Come with friends - this place is ideal for groups.
Ma’ono Fried Chicken & Whisky
The fried chicken here is outstanding, and comes with a chili sauce you should apply to everything else on the menu - like the kimchi mac and cheese, corn with miso caramel and furikake, and sweet rolls. Ma’ono is the kind of place where you can put your elbows on the table, sip an old fashioned, and end your meal with a huge slice of banana cream pie. If you’re still having a bad week after all that, get the spicy fried chicken sandwich. That’ll work.
The burgers at Red Mill Totem House are definitely not fancy date-night food. They’re meant to be eaten on a picnic table with homemade onion rings, piles of fries, and milkshakes that come in flavors like s’mores and mint truffle. But if you’ve spent your afternoon moping around the Ballard locks and pressing your face on the glass at the salmon ladder explaining your troubles to the fish, this is absolutely an appropriate feast for afterwards.
Dough Zone is one of our favorite spots in the city for dim sum and dan dan noodles. After a few orders of pork jian buns, soup dumplings, and green onion pancakes here, things should be looking up. It’s ideal for a casual weeknight dinner where you share a bunch of things, so bring your roommates or coworkers, too.
The Caribbean roast pork sandwich at Un Bien would probably make you feel better on your deathbed, let alone cheer you up after that minor mixup with the reply-all button at work. The email error still feels pretty fresh right now, though, so have at it. This place is a tiny operation by the side of the road, so plan to park nearby and grab your baguette sandwich to-go.
If your bad mood has started annoying even you, you may find yourself craving the square pies at Dino’s. The super-crispy crust just makes these special. Sit in the casino-like darkness where nobody can see you sulk over your hot salami slices and on-tap Long Island Iced Tea.
Witness is slightly more upscale than Fat’s, and serves the best chicken and waffles in the city - only downside is, it takes more effort to get in. Once you’re here, though, you can also eat honey butter hush puppies and pimento cheese poutine with bacon gravy. We’re jealous already.