Maybe it’s a national holiday. Maybe you have an out-of-town visitor and called in sick to play tour guide. Or, maybe your boss is superstitious and closes the office every Friday the 13th. No matter the reason why you have a day off, you should be making the most of it by sitting down to a great lunch. On this guide, you’ll find a bunch of restaurants where you can get something way better than your normal weekday meal, and, as an added bonus, they should all be easier to get into during the day.
Marmite does normal lunch stuff that’s fancier, fresher, and tastier than the wrap or salad you usually get to-go every Tuesday, and it’s probably only a few bucks more expensive. This means you’ll find interesting soups with sunchokes in the mix, plates of really fresh leaves, and sandwiches you definitely can’t get at your local deli. We’ll make this easy and tell you to order the smoked pork sandwich that comes topped with charred greens and anchoïade on a baguette.
In a fit of pent-up rage, something snapped during a partnerships meeting - you screamed, “Nope!” just before flipping over the conference table, and it resulted in your immediate termination. But it’s only 11am, so now what? Lunch at Matt’s In The Market could turn around any unfortunate scenario, even if nothing catastrophically bad happened to you today. Get the same fried catfish sandwich that’s been around since 1996, potato chips with bacon dip (both of which are only available at lunch), and end with the candy bar square.
You want a steak for lunch, and we support you. The Butcher’s Table is a modern steakhouse in South Lake Union with antique leather barstools and statement piece light fixtures, so you’ll probably feel comfortable using the word “panache” here. That said, it’s relaxed enough for you to show up in jeans and eat a burger and beef fat fries at the bar.
Kirkland is primarily associated with two things: Costco, and the city where Jason and Molly from The Bachelor live. Sure, it probably has a few more claims to fame, but none are more important to us than Deru Market. It’s a magical little cafe smack in the middle of a quiet neighborhood with delicious sandwiches, soups, pizzas, an entree salad that will inspire you to become a farmer, and massive layer cakes in flavors like coconut and salted peanut butter dark chocolate.
When you have no obligations for the rest of the day, you should probably take a drive along the lake followed by a margherita pizza drenched in chili oil. For a big step above a heat lamp-warmed slice, head south to Pizzeria Pulcinella, a little neighborhood spot in Rainier Beach that serves excellent Neapolitan pizzas and baked pasta dishes. You should also grab some spumoni ice cream for the ride home.
While we’d do a birthday dinner or date night here, lunch is a nice time for a casual combo of shawarma, mezzes, and mint lemonade. Choose your own meat or falafel adventure, but no matter what, get an order of the harra fries. Have them as an appetizer, stuff them in your flatbread - we don’t care. Just have them.
There’s no turning back once you’ve begun your quest at Il Corvo. This is a macaroni matrimony, a sacred commitment. Here are the rules: show up at 10:30am, wait for a half-hour before the doors open, and then incredible bowls of pasta, focaccia, and shortbread cookies will be yours. Make sure to bring a buddy or two so that you can try one of each of the three pastas offered that day, and hope for some kind of pesto.
Speaking of waiting for doors to open, you might be toying with the idea of heading to Tsukushinbo for some ramen. Don’t do that. Go to Junkichi instead. Not only are their noodles and shoyu broth better, but the dining room is more spacious, and the staff is super friendly. Add some char siu pork and sushi for good measure, too. Just avoid eye contact with the creepy little robot if Terminator (or Wall-E) gave you nightmares.
If you’ve been trying to get into The Pink Door lately with no luck, come for lunch. Order some lasagna and the grilled garlic bread. Both should be consumed with some (OK, a bottle of) wine for maximum enjoyment of the waterfront pier.
If you feel guilty about hanging out inside in the middle of the day, Damn The Weather might change your mind. It’s a chilled-out natural wine bar that serves oysters, fresh pasta, and sandwiches. Even though you’re calling the shots today, we highly recommend grabbing a seat at the bar and a burger alongside the illustrious fennel-dusted chicken fat fries.
Salumi is a fast-casual institution with Italian sandwiches that work for any kind of lunch, but don’t kid yourself - (if you don’t work in Pioneer Square) you’re not coming here unless you’re playing hooky. The homemade cured meats and mozzarella will make a nice day-off treat, and you can also do a bit of charcuterie shopping. Also, did you know charcuterie makes a great gift? You’re such a good friend.
There are times when it’s appropriate to stare into space as conveyor belts of tempura-battered sushi rolls orbit around you (like at an affordable group hang, or during an existential crisis), but lunch on your day off is not one of them. Instead, go to Sushi Kappo Tamura for quality nigiri in an elegant space. The fresh fish here is great across the board, but we’re big fans of the scallops and sockeye salmon.
Ba Bar is an excellent Vietnamese spot that doesn’t take reservations. So if you had the choice between dinner (where your table competition is eight families of four, a handful of first dates, and an entire office building’s Happy Hour) or lunch, when you will be seated instantly ... you get where we’re going with this. Come for lunch, eat a big bowl of pho or some bun cha, and then make the transition to a coconut ice cream coffee float.
At night, Nirmal’s does some great upscale Indian food. But in the daytime, you can get five-course thalis with naan and rice - which pair nicely with cocktails. It works perfectly if you want some butter chicken in a celebratory environment.
You can probably count on your fingers and toes the amount of times you unsuccessfully tried to get a table at Serious Pie for dinner. But at lunch, you won’t have to wait long at all, and you can hoard an entire pizza to yourself because the pies here are kinda small. Might as well make it two.