Seafood lovers, beware: you’ll never want to leave Seattle. From the flying fish at Pike Place Market to the outlandish oysters offered in seasonal dishes, Seattle is a seafood lover’s dream. But don’t worry. There’s also something for non-seafood eaters. Here are four family-friendly restaurants in Seattle that cater to both fish-lovers and hamburger connoisseurs.
Family-Friendly Restaurants in Seattle
I’ve always loved seafood. Although my parents proclaimed me the “world’s pickiest child,” turning my nose up at pizza and eating plain iceberg lettuce as my only vegetable, I’d consume crazy quantities of shrimp, fish, crab, and lobster. They couldn’t leave me alone in the kitchen with shrimp cocktail, because I’d not only eat mine—I’d try to steal a few shrimp from everyone else’s share.
As I grew older, my seafood love expanded, as I searched out the best bouillabaisse and freshest fish. While my husband and kids will eat a bit of fish and shrimp, they’re not the seafood lover I am. So, when we decided to venture to the west coast for a week, I knew I’d need to find family-friendly restaurants in Seattle that could satisfy my seafood craving, while offering other options for the the crew.
Because our trip to Seattle involved a combination of sightseeing for the younger kids, while also spending time with our eldest son, daughter-in-law, and new granddaughter, we visited restaurants primarily for lunch while touring the city. With a 4-week-old baby, our daughter-in-law preferred not to venture out into the germy world, so we cooked or brought in food to their house for dinner.
It worked well, as delicious seafood offered at lunch inevitably costs less than a larger evening meal. Plus, I could hold a sweet, sleepy baby while eating take out.
1. Family-Friendly Restaurants in Seattle: Elliott’s Oyster House
While I’m a seafood lover, I’m also a garden geek environmentalist. I worry about pollution, drive a Prius, recycle and compost, and support local farmers. So, whenever I eat seafood, I also worry about its source: is it sustainably harvested?
At Elliott’s Oyster House, my seafood sustainability concerns disappeared. Elliott’s sustainability efforts echo throughout the restaurant, from recycling to sourcing seafood from partners committed to ethical harvests, to donating funds to the Puget Sound Restoration Fund. Restaurant staff even volunteers to seed, tend, and harvest oyster beds at the Henderson Inlet Community Shellfish Farm.
Lunch tastes better with a side dressing of ethics, don’t you think?
Delicious Food—with a Dash of History
Located at Pier 56, Elliott’s boasts a gorgeous waterfront view. Its location at Pier 56 provides a rich history. Known as Arlington Dock back in the late 1800s, it was destroyed in the the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. In 1902, the Northern Pacific Railroad built three new piers to support the gold rush, with Arlington Dock becoming Pier 5.
However, with the start of World War II, the government renumbered the piers—and Pier 3 became Pier 56. Elliott’s Oyster House opened in 1975 on Pier 56, with the restaurant named the Elliott Bay Fish and Oyster Company.
A charming host greeted us, and the friendly staff didn’t blink when asked about burger options for the kids.
I quickly found my favorite dish—cioppino, a seafood stew—and happily ordered.
It. Was. Divine.
Seattle Restaurant with Something for Everyone
The warm tomato-basil broth served over an assortment of rich, fresh Manila clams, mussels, Gulf prawns, grilled scallops, Dungeness crab, and Alaskan True Cod—with toasted bread to dip in the broth—met every Seattle seafood expectation I’d been harboring.
Now, I’m trying to figure out how to recreate it at home.
The kids happily ate their burgers, and we lingered over lunch, without any rush from the staff. It’s a perfect restaurant for a special occasion. It’s elegant for celebrating a special day, but it’s also comfortable enough for a casual lunch of delicious food. Plus, the lunch prices at Elliott’s Oyster House were also fairly friendly for a family of four. (Say THAT five times fast!)
2. Family-Friendly Restaurants in Seattle: Anthony’s Homeport Restaurant
If there’s a marina, my husband will find it. A sailor at heart, Peter is happiest on a boat. If he can’t be sailing, he’s second happiest when surrounded by boats.
When we explored Everett, a town slightly north of Seattle, he drove us to the marina, where we found darling seals frolicking in the water—and delicious seafood to feed my soul.
Anthony’s offers a lovely waterfront dining experience. In fact, the restaurant provides six hours of free guest mooring while dining, if you happen to be sailing in the sound and need a meal. The restaurant overlooks Camano Island, Whidbey Island, Hat Island, and supposedly, guests can see the Olympic Mountains. (We visited during a rainy day, so we couldn’t spot the mountains.)
The kids actually ordered seafood, with Michael bravely trying clam chowder for the first time. Kristen and I quickly ate our cups of clam chowder—we were cold!—but I’m not sure Michael cared for it. Still, he gets points for trying something new.
Fish for the Entire Family!
Both kids ordered fish and chips, Peter selected Alaskan True Cod, while I hesitantly order mussels and fries. French fries and mussels? It seemed like an odd combination.
The large, sweet mussels and the salty fries offered the perfect sweet/salty mix. And the fresh, plump mussels made me regret all of the dry, sad landlocked mussels I order at our local restaurants. Pure happiness.
The sourdough bread wasn’t a hit with my family. I usually don’t mind sourdough, but this one was pungent.
The best part of Anthony’s? Staying warm and dry, eating yummy seafood, while watching the rain outside.
Oh—and dessert. The Melting Chocolate Cake made us all happy.
3. Family-Friendly Restaurants in Seattle: Lombardi’s
After our very cold and wet day of attempted whale watching aboard Island Adventures, we left the boat and headed straight to Lombardi’s. We were freezing, wet, and hungry!
Lombardi’s is also located near the Everett marina. Founded in 1987 by Diane Symms, a restaurateur who sought to bring fresh, seasonal dishes with flavors inspired by her travels, Lombardi’s offers Seattle a taste of authentic Italy.
Missing the lunch rush, we arrived around 2 p.m, found a place for our very wet raincoats, and anxiously looked at the menu for something warm to eat.
We ordered garlic cheese bread, not noticing the addition of gorgonzola to the starter until after we’d ordered. The kids and I are not fans of stinky cheese, but after Peter tried a piece, he urged us to take a bite.
It was yummy. In fact, I didn’t taste gorgonzola at all.
The kids opted for landlubber food—chicken and burgers—while Peter selected a traditional Italian pasta. I, of course, needed seafood, so I ordered salmon picatta with capers, lemon, and white wine sauce.
While the food was good, the service wasn’t very attentive. In fact, I had to rustle up some silverware from another table, as our table wasn’t set. We asked the server for silverware, but he never brought it. Drink refills were slow, too. Ah, well. At least the food was good.
4. Family-Friendly Restaurants in Seattle: Ridge Pizza
I’ll admit, I really didn’t want to eat at Ridge Pizza.
From the moment we decided to fly to Seattle, I told my family that we MUST eat dinner at Delancey. After all, I’ve followed the blog, Orangette, for ages and read both of Molly Wizenberg’s books, which detailed the start-up of the restaurant. Sure, it’s just a pizza place, but with its commitment to using local, seasonal goods, I was dying to visit it.
Because Delancey only accepts reservations for parties of 6 or more, I knew we’d need to arrive when the doors opened at 5 p.m. to get a table. At least, that’s what Yelp told me.
So, excited to venture to the restaurant I’d read so much about, we arrived at 5:15, with Peter dropping the kids and me off, while he searched for parking. We ran through the rain to the restaurant, opened the door, and saw that the tables were already filled, with a few people waiting.
A Not Very Welcoming Welcome
We waited for the hostess, and when she finally appeared, she looked at the kids and me with barely concealed disdain, and asked, “Can I help you?” After asking for a table for four, she stared at me like I was mad. “You know there’s at least an hour-and-a-half wait, right?”
Well, no. How would I know that? It was 5:15 p.m. on a rainy Thursday night. That’s not typically prime time for full restaurants.
After she made no attempt to take my name, offer a seat at the bar, or basically show any interest, I decided that the image I’d formed in my mind of Delancey was, sadly, fictional.
But We’re Hungry!
Instead, through the power of Google Maps, I searched for the nearest restaurant and found Ridge Pizza.
Granted, my disappointment permeated the car. My poor family tried to cheer me, but I pouted. (Apparently, nursing my disappointment, I failed to take any photos at Ridge Pizza.) Still, we needed to eat. Again, Peter dropped us off in front of the restaurant while he looked for parking.
Guess what? The hostess seemed happy to see us.
Opened in 2012, Ridge Pizza is named after the Phinney Ridge neighborhood, where it resides. Ridge Pizza is your classic pizza joint: family friendly, kids laughing, baseball games blaring from TVs. It’s just a good, non-pretentious neighborhood hangout known for its local craft beer and “charity case” pizzas, where a $1 from each specialty pie ordered supports local causes, like an elementary school, firefighter fund, or the neighborhood association.
We ordered garlic bread and a surprisingly good wine, which helped ease my Delancey disappointment. The kids and I ordered pizza, while Peter tried the roast beef dip.
While our server was very nice and friendly, we canceled the garlic bread starter that never arrived before the meals. Ah well.
At least we enjoyed good food, friendly people, and left with full bellies.
Enjoy eating your way through Seattle restaurants! Do you have a favorite? Please let me know—we’ll be returning to Seattle often to cuddle our sweet grandbaby. Bon appetit!