The fact that you’re a grown adult doesn’t matter to your family. Sure, you graduated college, got yourself a stable job, and have possessions that you’re financially responsible for, like a townhome or shiba inu. But they’re still interested in your life, and if you work inside of a cushy office in South Lake Union, there’s a good chance that they want to see it.
After you give them the tour and you’ve worked up an appetite, you should stick around the neighborhood for dinner. There are a ton of restaurants that have great food, and come dinnertime, they shouldn’t be completely overrun by blue-badged people. From casual burgers and fries to upscale French bar snacks, there’s a spot for every type of family member.
You thought everything was going so well during your parent’s office visit, and then your manager called you over and gave you a PIP. You probably need some comfort food after that, so head to Cask & Trotter. It’s a BBQ restaurant that serves plates with things like smoked brisket, hot links, and pastrami. Our favorite is the pulled chicken, which tastes particularly good in the same bite as their garlicky mashed potatoes. The white, paper tablecloths come with a cup of crayons, too, so you can distract yourself by scribbling in a silent but productive rage.
If you’re trying to set up a nice dinner to celebrate a promotion, The Butcher’s Table is always a great choice. The steaks here are delicious, and you should always invest in an order of beef-fat fries with sriracha. But if someone’s not into red meat, the seafood selection’s excellent, too, from smoked king salmon to seared tuna tostadas.
You knew this might happen. Pops finally met that coworker of yours named Alexa, and started immediately making dad jokes. “The Alexa? It’s an honor.” You’ll want to get out of there and take your mind off of the whole thing, so you should go to the best spot in South Lake Union: Deep Dive. It feels like what would happen if Bezos put all of his money into a submarine speakeasy instead of space travel. They don’t take reservations, and there will be a bit of a wait to get in, but it’s worth it for a table in this impressive space. The speakeasy cocktails, as well as classic French food like salmon rillettes and Parisian gnocchi, are all outstanding, but you shouldn’t miss out on the $18 hot dog topped with caviar.
Bar Harbor specializes in seafood rolls, from Maine lobster ones to local Dungeness crab. You have a couple of dressing options, but you’ll want to stick with the mayo and celery versions. If it’s cold out, get a side of clam chowder with whatever you order. And if it’s summer (or that weirdly random 60-degree day in January), take your lobster rolls outside on the patio with a refreshing negroni slushie.
Something important is happening at this post-office-viewing dinner. Maybe you’re introducing your parents to the coworker you officially started dating, or maybe you’re about to confess that as of next week you’re unemployed. Cuoco is perfect for a serious dinner because the Italian food is great, like the ricotta-stuffed cappelletti with delicata squash and excellent seven-layer lasagna.
If you want to get your parents to buy you dinner and groceries for the week, go to Tutta Bella on Westlake - a Neapolitan pizzeria directly above the SLU Whole Foods. These pies are bubbly, charred, and delicious, especially alongside a bottle of wine and a couple of salads. The pizzas will feed two people and each of them is around $15, so don’t feel bad when you throw a jar of organic almond butter into your shopping cart downstairs.
If you all want to eat burgers and your parents suggest going to Dick’s, this is your chance to tell them what to do for once. Go to Shake Shack instead, where you can share delicious smash burgers, crispy crinkle fries, and frozen custard concretes. Make no mistake, this is the best burger joint in the neighborhood.
Maybe your family ended up swinging by during your manager’s birthday party, and you filled up on Costco sheet cake (worth it). You still want to do dinner, but you’re really only in the mood for drinks, snacks, and nothing containing blue food dye. In that case, head to Le Caviste. It’s a quiet wine bar in the Denny Triangle with delicious charcuterie, friendly staff, and a menu that’s entirely written in French. Sit among the ambient wine barrels and chill out with a few glasses of champagne, a pile of cured meats, and baguettes.
Your aunt and uncle are in town from another state, and after showing them around, they want some seafood. Take them to The White Swan, where they can have some excellent chowder, crab mac and cheese, and fish and chips. If it’s nice out, eat on their lakeside patio, which is the best place to eat seafood outside in SLU.
2120 has a strong Happy Hour crowd, big punch bowl cocktails, low lighting, and tasty food ranging from crab cakes to braised pork shank. While we normally would use it for any work-related dinners with colleagues, it also works to impress your family. For a solid one-two punch, head to Lady Yum around the corner before or after dinner for some champagne and macarons.
To get into M Bar, an upscale Middle Eastern spot, you need to enter a big building, walk down a long hallway, ride up an elevator to the 14th floor, and then walk down another even longer hallway. The rooftop view alone makes M Bar worth all of that. Whether it’s warm and you’re out on the patio drinking spritzes and eating falafel with beet labneh or it’s chilly and you’re inside with a bowl of Syrian bolognese, your family will approve.
If your family are the kind of people who would be right next to you on an all-inclusive cruise to drink lots of tequila and ride on those surfing treadmill things, take them to El Grito. It’s a great Mexican restaurant that serves excellent tacos, enchiladas, and housemade salsas - but they also serve four different types of margarita slushies that are so good that you’ll want to order one of each. It’s never too difficult to grab a table, either.
Pho Bac is super crowded at lunch - that’s because they make some of the best Vietnamese food in the city, and everyone knows it. But they’re open until 9pm and not as busy in the evening, so it works well to bring your family here after the midday chaos has died down. Slurp big bowls of pho and get a couple of banh mi sandwiches to share (the grilled pork’s the best).
Duke’s is a Seattle institution on the water, and it’s a great escape from the sounds of construction jackhammers in SLU. If you’re sitting with hot bowls of their chowder (six ounces is around $10) and some hearty crab cakes while overlooking the boats on Lake Union, everybody’s going to be comfortable. Unless your mom starts asking about your love life.
Much like the types of jokes your family chooses to share when meeting your coworkers for the first time, Republic’s farm-to-table menu is a little all over the place and unpredictable. They have everything from a classic burger and fries for you to apricot-stuffed pheasant for your mom. We like it best here in the summer when they open the front garage doors and let the fresh air in, but it’s also a great setting to get cozy with a bowl of risotto if it’s 38 degrees out.