Surrounded by water, mountain ranges and forests, and home to several iconic structures, amazing views aren't hard to come by in Seattle. Whether you crave something casual or more refined, it's not just the food that's Instagram-worthy at these spots.
Long before the Seattle Aquarium was built, another smaller aquarium attracted visitors to the historic waterfront. It was opened in 1938 by Seattle icon Ivar Haglund, a folksinger of Scandinavian descent, who had the idea to charge curious customers a nickel to view his collection of sea life. He soon added a fish 'n' chips stand to his attraction, which also proved a great success. Some years later, he opened a standalone restaurant called Ivar's Acres of Clams and it's still right there at Pier 54 delighting visitors with fresh catches and awesome views more than 70 years later. The Ivar's empire has now expanded to more than 20 locations across the state, including Ivar's Salmon House, which features traditional Northwest seafood dishes, lodge-style décor and views of Portage Bay and Lake Union.
Grab a seat by the window or on the patio at Anthony’s Pier 66 overlooking the Bell Harbor Marina and take in the panoramic views of Elliott Bay, downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier. With the help of their own seafood company (which ships all over the country), Anthony’s serves simple preparations of the freshest catch available including seafood like scallops, king salmon and Dungeness crab. The same location also features Anthony’s Bell St. Diner and Anthony’s Fish Bar, two more casual spots that are open for lunch and dinner.
If it's surf 'n' turf you're after, you can't go wrong with Daniel’s Broiler. Head to the Lake Union location for dining on the deck, where you can watch the sailboats and seaplanes come and go on busy Lake Union. The Leschi location, set in a converted 1919 boathouse on Lake Washington, boasts a dramatic 30-foot Palladian window that offers views of Mount Rainier. Both restaurants are open daily for happy hour and dinner, with plenty of menu options for steak and chops, fresh seafood specials, salads and small plates.
Built in 1914, Smith Tower was Seattle's first skyscraper—and was at the time the fourth-tallest building in the world. It’s since been eclipsed in height, but not in class. In the 1920's speakeasy-style Observatory Bar on the tower's 35th floor, you can bask in elegant woods and detailed ceiling tiles and enjoy deviled eggs, crab cakes, artisan flatbreads or a charcuterie and cheese plate with an era-appropriate cocktail.
Smith Tower—and the rest of Seattle's rapidly changing skyline—are visible from The Nest, the luxe rooftop bar perched atop the Thompson Seattle hotel. Featuring gourmet snacks like albacore poke and teriyaki skewers grilled on the rooftop, plus inventive cocktails, the lounge is filled with stylish furnishings, but between the city and seascapes stretching into the horizon, you might not notice. Avoid the wait for seating on sunny days by booking a spot online in advance.
Getting to Marination Ma Kai is half the fun. Located right next to the West Seattle water taxi terminal, the casual Hawaiian-Korean fusion eatery offers outstanding views of the Seattle skyline and a laid-back island vibe. Its loyal fans rave about the kimchi-fried-rice bowl, Kahlua pork tacos, award-winning fish and chips and special tangy "nunya" sauce. (The owners say the recipe is "nunya" business.) Sunny days on the deck call for one of the tropical cocktails or a bowl of sweet and fruity shave-ice.
The people behind acclaimed Lebanese restaurant Mamnoon, had an instant hit when they opened Mbar in South Lake Union. The contemporary menu drawn from Chef Jason Stratton's experience working with some of the city's finest chefs, melds Middle Eastern, Northern Italian and Spanish influences in dishes like slow-roasted duck with cumin and rose-pickled rhubarb. Both the colorfully furnished patio deck and the chic dining room (which features works by regional and Lebanese artists and double-height windows) offer views that encompass city, water and mountains.
Also on Lake Union, Little Water Cantina has a hip interior with antique gramophone horn light fixtures hanging above a live-edge Pacific Madrone wood bar, but the real wow-factor comes from floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to a sprawling patio with picnic tables and impressive views. Order a selection of antojitos (small plates), such as empanadas, to share or a larger plato (entrée), like the wild boar torta ahogada, to keep all to yourself.