Late night dining is an instrumental part of the life of someone who works the restaurant industry. We work until midnight or later and for the majority, we are not tired enough to go straight home and go to bed; adrenaline is still running high! The search for a good beer and eats before 2am is a daily obstacle. In Volume 1 of this 2-volume series of late night dining and happy hours, we’ll explore the more well-known places to belly up, catch-up, and de-stress from the day.
Places to go to all the time (even when you get tired of them), because they are simply the best:
1. Toulouse Petit
Located in Lower Queen Anne, this huge New Orleans-style restaurant offers two daily happy hours, the first from 4-6pm and the late night 10 pm-1 am. Dont bother going in at any other time, even for daily brunch. For some reason, the food is never as good as it is at happy hour. This place is so good that even lazy Capitol Hill dwellers (no offense….) make their way over for it.
For under $5 each, you can enjoy fifty different dishes including a few of our favorites: Fried green tomatoes with Dungeness crab and remoulade, Tuna tartare with radish salad and truffle vinaigrette, fried chicken with Tasso-black pepper gravy, and sautéed mustard greens loaded with garlic. House cocktails at happy hour arent incredibly cheap but are delicious, including their “Hurricane”, a tiki-style drink with light & dark rums, pineapple syrup, passionfruit nectar, Angostura bitters, and soda, and a classic Sazerac, both $7.50. They have a creative list of $5 “Industry Shots” and a list of beers that aren’t your usual run of the mill like my favorite to get there, Dixie Lager. Although it is happy hour, it is hard not to get everything on the menu so our tab ends up being a little more than what we hope for but its all worth it..
Toulouse Petit, 601 Queen Anne Ave N, www.toulousepetit.com
2 & 3. Cafe Presse & Le Pichet
Located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood on 12th Ave & Spring lies one of the cities favorite spots, Cafe Presse, sister restaurant to the famous Le Pichet in the market. Locals gather here every time of day, all day long! Serving country French fare until 1:30 in the morning makes this a frequented spot by industry folk. The front room is smaller; walls lined with two-top tables that they pull out and push back in for you as you sit (cute! Just like in Paris…), and a larger back room which fills up quickly during breakfast and brunch hours. One of my favorite dishes on the planet is made here: their Gateau au foie de volaille (only $6!), a smooth chicken liver terrine with a dried cherry compote and whole grain mustard. I don’t know what about it, but I can eat a whole slice of this by myself. The texture of the liver is perfectly smooth, never grainy, and the mustard gives the right amount of acidity. Other year-round favorites are the simple salade verte ($5), bibb lettuce with hazelnut-mustard vinaigrette, and the steak tartare, raw, hand-chopped Oregon natural sirloin and hanger steak mixed with mustard, aioli, capers, cornichons, chive, and shallot, served with pomme frites and a watercress salad. It’s a steeper price, $16, but it is more than enough to share between three people. Cocktails and other libations are always cheap, my staple here is a Lillet Rouge, $4, and beers such as Kronenbourg 1664, also $4. They recently created a house cocktail list which highlights some classics like a Champagne Cocktail and a Negroni and some not-so-classic cocktails of their own, most around $7 all day. Servers are young hipsters, flannel-clad and possibly showered but usually nice and knowledgable.
Le Pichet, the original restaurant of owners Jim Drohman and Joanne Herron, is located near the market on 1st Ave & Virginia. They sport a similar menu, ending earlier at midnight, but more creative salads and fish options. They have an amazing charcuterie program. Most times when we visit we get their Grande Assiete Charcuterie, your choice of 5 items off of their house made charcuteries (or Chef’s choice of 8… whatever.) like a terrine with duck livers, pork, and green peppercorns, Lyon-style sausage with pork and pistachios, and spice-brined, simmered and pressed beef tongue served with cornichons. Mustard is always available on the table, used as a seasoning like salt or pepper. I recently enjoyed their cold smoked prawns served with a salad of bulgar, Walla Walla onions, cucumber, almond, and dill ($9). Service at Pichet is not very good, even sometimes rude, but I never go somewhere for the service… I come to pretend I’m back in France!
Cafe Presse, 1117 12th Ave, Seattle, www.cafepresseseattle.com
Le Pichet, 1933 1st Ave, Seattle, www.lepichetseattle.com
4. Kushi Bar
We discovered this place last summer when we were tired of the same places. Kusshi Bar, located in Bellotwon on 2nd Avenue between Bell & Battery, is a Japanese street food style restaurant with an affordable menu and an even cheaper happy hour menu, during the hours of 11pm-1am. They have covered outdoor seating open all year, a full bar, and a counter at the kitchen. When you sit down they bring you a bowl of miso flavored popcorn to share. Their specialty here is ‘kushiyaki’, grilled skewers. They have over a dozen different varieties including albacore, eel, prawn & plum, scallops with ginger sauce, and chicken wings. For $10-$14 you can try “sets”, their favorite choices of multiple skewers. For $10 ($9 up until a couple of months ago, sad), you can get a sashimi plate with hamachi, Big Eye tuna, and yellowtail with traditional garnishes. Their “Grilled Eats” are especially delicious: a variety of charred fish cheeks, collars eel and mackerel. They have multiple entrees like udon, ramen, and donburis (entrees with rice and flavorful sauces). Surprisingly, they have one of my favorite green salads in the city! Simple mixed greens and cucumbers dressed with a sesame and spicy wasabi vinaigrette ($4). Japanese beers and cocktails made from a wide variety of sake are also available. Service is sweet and quick (we always get the same really polite girl), while enjoying the best music I’ve had dining around Seattle yet! Top 40 hits mixed with David Bowie, The Smiths, Beastie Boys, and more. Usually steady but only packed on Friday and Saturday nights, it’s always a fun place to go while not being annoyed by the usual Belltown antics.
Kushi Bar, 2319 2nd Ave, Seattle www.Kushibar.com
5. Sea Garden
There are dozens of Chinese “Seafood Restaurant” restaurants in the International District. It’s hard to know which are the best as they all look relatively busy with similar menus. Most of them are open late, after 2 am. Let me help you. The best are: Hing Loon (yummy pork and clam hot-pot), Sun Ya (for dim sum especially), Green Leaf (Vietnamese), Seven Stars Pepper Szechuan (this shit is HOT), and Sea Garden. There are a few more but I want to move along and once you have all of these there are no reasons to go elsewhere. Sea Garden was introduced to me a couple of years ago by fellow industry folk at 2 am, after a long night. The staff is gracious and welcoming.
Oh, hey. Look who loves his prawns and pea vines!
The menu is huge and most of it is delicious. They don’t have a menu online so I’m going to try to remember some of our favorites. I love, love the salt and pepper roasted head-on prawns (oh yeah, suck that brain out.), wonton soup, bok choy and pea vines in garlic sauce, whole roasted fish with vegetables, roasted duck, almond chicken (albeit Americanized and greasy), and any seafood in black bean sauce. Most items range $8-$15 with seasonal fish at market price. Once we had about a dozen people so we got a “Family Meal” sort of menu where for $75, we got 6-7 different dishes, each enough for everyone to try. Wow, were we full but so, so happy! They always remember regulars, too, so don’t be afraid to eat there frequently. Just beware of the usual salt hangover the next day. I am getting a craving for those prawns right now. Shit.
Sea Garden, 509 7th Ave S, Seattle. No website available!
6. Maekawa Bar
I have to admit, I have never eaten here. I know, I know!! I’m a horrible excuse for a cook, how could I not have been there. In my defense, I have tried to go twice; the first time they were full, the second they were closing up early. Located upstairs of a small shopping center, Maekawa is somewhat of an izakaya-style, or Japanese small plates, style restaurant. Small plates range from $3-$6 like seared bonito plates of tuna in marinade, larger rice and noodle dishes ranging from $6-$10 like ramen with pork and fish cake or a bowl of rice topped with chicken and onions cooked, frittata-style, in egg. They are open until 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays with a full bar, food served until 1 am. I promise, I’ll go! Geeze..
Maekawa Bar, 601 King St S, Seattle, No website available!
7. Umi Sake House
I love sushi. I would everyday, all day if I could. Sadly, I can’t, but whenever the company I am with also has a late night craving for it, we head to Umi. Umi is a fun, surprisingly large, interestingly decorated sake house in Belltown serving food until 1 am, with multiple happy hours: the first at 4-6pm everyday (4-8pm at the bar and in the cocktail lounge), and 11pm-1am Sunday through Thursday nights. The happy hour menu is cheap, a lot of tempura and Americanized rolls, all $4.50, and my favorites: traditional rolls and sashimi plates from $4-$8, Japanese beers and sake $3.50-$5, and cocktails on Fridays for around $5. The sushi rolls on their dinner menu may seem steep ($9-$15) but when they arrive, they have 12 pieces with each roll! The menu is huge, mostly consisting of Americanized rolls with fried fish or vegetables, lots of mayonnaise, cooked items and doused with sauces but laced between these are some really great rolls like their “Sunburst” roll with tuna, cucumber, shiso, tobiko wrapped with salmon and mango. They also have a wide selection of appetizers, including chawan mushi, a steamed egg custard with seafood ($6), a variety of udon and ramen, grilled seafood items like hamachi collar, and an array of miso soups. To drink, I like to get a sake ‘tasting’, $15 for three glasses of sake, each explained thoroughly. Umi is a jewel in Belltown as you can also ignore the neighborhood’s usual antics!
Go to these places for the following reasons: 1. They close earlier than the above 2. The above places are too full to seat 3. Someone you don’t want to run into happens to be at one of the above places that you wished you could go to. (Note: these will be described with less enthusiasm as I frequent these less.)
I love Quinn’s. It is one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle. It is in this ‘2nd best section’ because they stop serving food at midnight, sad. Located at 10th & Pike in Capitol Hill, this gastropub (restaurant serving upscale comfort food with a wide array of libations) has arguably the best burger in the city. Sister restaurant of Restaurant Zoe (which recently closed to relocate in Capitol Hill, with the space now occupied by the Tough-McCraken duo’s new baby, Coterie Room), Quinn’s is named after owner Scott Staple’s son, and opened a few years ago, becoming an instant hit. They have an amazing beer selection (hop-heavy beer enthusiasts go elsewhere, they don’t serve them) and the servers are incredibly knowledgable about all of the beers, liquors and food. It is a fun, casual place to share a few meat-heavy dishes with a friend or grab a burger and beer.
Quinn’s, 1001 E Pike St, Seattle, www.quinnspubseattle.com
2. Palace Kitchen
Although the burger is not as good and is more expensive than Quinn’s, sometimes we don’t want to walk, bus or cab to Capitol Hill. Palace being 4 blocks from our work is probably the only reason we visit here. The service is okay, the food good most of the time. I usually only get the burger (which you can get Beecher’s cheese and bacon added, yum!), $15, but have had other items like the plin pasta and wood oven roasted clams, also $15 each. Those other items were okay but I probably wouldn’t order them again. I think I have about the same review about most Tom Douglas’s restaurants: great concept, not remarkable, but a decent place to have a burger, beer and hang out.
Palace Kitchen, 2030 5th Ave, Seattle, www.tomdouglas.com
3. Honey Court
So, say Sea Garden was too busy, was unexpectedly flooded, someone you know got food poisoning from here once and refuses to go, or your friend thinks Jade Garden is too popular and trendy to be taken seriously. Sigh, fine. The opposite side of the street is home to Honey Court. This place is totally acceptable and fun (but you just wont feel as good the next day). You can get relatively the same menu items, but at Honey Court I get the more pedestrian things to save the really good stuff for when we visit Sea Garden. Here we’ll get the noodles or rice dishes, beef and broccoli, scallops with bean sauce, and eggplant with mushrooms. Everything is priced as usual, $9-$15, with seasonal seafood at market price.
Honey Court, 516 Maynard Ave S, Seattle. No website available!
4. Barolo Ristorante
Barolo is down the street from work so we frequent here quite often (less since Peter doesn’t work there anymore!). They have a decent burger (there seems to be a burger theme for my 2nd group here…) and everything is half-priced during happy hour, 10pm-2am, food to midnight. The burger ($7) is lamb, cheese of choice is goat, with a couple different sauces that we always get on the side. The frites are always perfect, and with a Peroni at just $3, that’s just $10 after work and you’re so satisfied. The only down side is that its very busy here, almost every night. Most people want to sit in the bar area, but it fills up rather quickly. The restaurant side feels closed off, a bit quieter with some pressure to order food. We like it a lot but can only handle the “L.A” type crowd once every two weeks or so. Great to stop in for a cheap Italian beer, and select bottles of wine are only $14 during happy hour!
Barolo Ristorante, 1940 Westlake Ave, Seattle, www.baroloristorante.com
Okay, don’t go to these unless for the following reasons: 1. It is past 2am and you are drunk, 2. You are already drunk and it is only 3pm, 3. You went to the gym so much this week you wont feel bad when you wake up in the morning, or 4. You have to see for yourself how bad they are:
1. Hurricane Cafe
We have been visiting the Hurricane Cafe since 2005 when we lived a few blocks away at student housing. The only justified reason of going here is you are hungry after 2am and you want breakfast. It’s a greasy spoon, where most things are swimming in fat but once in a while you’ll get something decent; I usually get a skillet thing with potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and poached eggs. They have legitimately delicious milkshakes. In a booth next to you will be a group of drunk club goers (one to three of them passed out in their eggs Benedict) talking louder than everyone else in the place, and on the other side of you a group of gamers taking a break from their player-binge on the new Halo, or whatever.
Hurricane Cafe, 2230 7th Ave, Seattle. No website available.
2. Night Kitchen
Oh, God. This place is so bad. Not much to say except I understand what they were going for: a place open from 6pm-9am daily that serves actually good late night food. Well, they failed. Its gross. There is no reason to go here unless for some reason it improved from the last place I went there. It isn’t even cheap enough to justify going back.
No address or website given because I don’t want you to think about it. Ever.
3. Dick’s Drive-In
Everybody loves Dick’s burgers! It’s a Seattle establishment that if you deny liking it you’re not a real Seattleite (and you’re lying). Everybody has had one so explanations and descriptions unnecessary. Remember: cash only and you have to ask and pay for condiments, whatever, they’re five cents each. You can get their milk shake mix to take home.
Dick’s Drive-In, multiple locations: Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Lake City, Wallingfor, and more. www.ddir.com
4. 13 coins
I’m not really sure what to say about 13 coins. I’m not even sure it really exists. It is in a parking lot? Its like one of those places you only go to for a drug deal, a mob gathering, or you are with someone you don’t want to be seen with. Obviously, I havent eaten there but I am told it is remarkably better than it used to be. Maybe after this article I will visit just to see if I’m being out of line. Until then, I get a laugh out of the mission statement on their website:
The “13 Coins” name is of Peruvian origin. The story goes that a poor young man loved and wished to marry a wealthy girl. Her father asked what he had to offer for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The young man reached into his pocket. He had only 13 coins, but assured the father he could pledge undying love, care and concern. The father was so touched, he gave his daughter’s hand and “13 Coins” has come to symbolize unyielding love, care and concern.
Probably a lie.
Anyways, they have happy hour twice daily 4-6pm and 10pm-1am.
13 Coins, multiple locations: Seatac, Boren Ave. www.13coins.com
5. Beth’s Cafe
The food at Beth’s is not incredibly great but it is so fun! I have been there once and during our experience, a dance competition ensued. I think it was between this white nerdy guy that was in our group and a group of dancers from UW. To be honest, I can’t remember who won. There are drawings on the wall that kids (and drunk adults) create. Our friend licked a drawing of bacon on the wall and because it’s a diner, exclaimed “It actually tastes like bacon!”. Awesome. It is on this list because it’s quite a drive and not a lot of people I know are not sober enough past 2am to drive up there. If you happen to make it up there, you can order the 12-egg omelet but please, don’t try to eat it all, you’ll vomit.
Beth’s Cafe, 7311 Aurora Ave N. Seattle. www.bethscafe.com
6. The 5 Point Cafe
Oooooooh The 5 Point. Everyone that lives within the Seattle city limits knows about this place. It is where you go usually after 2am, drunk, or when you have the munchies from other recreational activities and nothing else is open. It has a quasi-cult following, those frequenting as a regular bar. The servers are saints. I can’t imagine having to deal with the likes of us at 2am. Food here is like any other diner, lots of breakfast items and sandwiches. I usually get the Rueben (with tots, of course!) or something similar to the “skillet thing” I order at the Hurricane. They have a jukebox which is fun. I have had some of the most outrageous conversations at this restaurant (ask me sometime about the term “raw dog”. I can now tell you all about it, thanks, Nick.). People from all walks of life stroll into the 5 point. If you live in Seattle, you have to go here at least once. We usually frequent every 3 months. It’s just plain, dirty fun.
The 5 Point Cafe, 415 Cedar St, Seattle. www.the5pointcafe.com
Okay, folks, that’s it! I’m off to do research for Late Night Eats, Volume 2: less known and new late night and happy hour eats!