It’s a weekday, and you leave work to meet a date or some friends. You’re planning on having a somewhat rowdy dinner that’ll make you feel better about how many holes you have to punch tomorrow morning before noon. But when you swing the restaurant door open, the Fleet Foxes are playing gently over the speakers, someone is sweeping the floor, and the only other five customers in the place are whispering to each other. This sucks, and unfortunately, it’s a scene that plays out all too often in Seattle.
Dinner doesn’t have to be a buzzkill just because it’s not the weekend. Our guide is full of restaurants that are actually exciting on weeknights. And if they’re going to play Fleet Foxes, at least it’ll be really, really loud.
Near Golden Gardens in Ballard is a small Lebanese restaurant with fuchsia lighting, couples on dates, and grilled meat. This is Cafe Munir, and it’s one of the best places in this city to eat Middle Eastern food while eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. Prepare for a substantial wait for a table, but know that it will absolutely be worth it for the steak and the chicken kabobs with garlic sauce. Don’t get us started on the garlic sauce.
We recommend Homer for any kind of one-on-one situation. The small dining room is usually pretty busy (and we’re not just talking about the ostrich-patterned wallpaper), but you’ll want to sit at the counter - where you’ll have a front-row ticket to whatever smells are coming out of the oven. Still, don’t be afraid to roll in with a group. The food here is sharable and delicious, from the burnt cabbage and crispy basmati rice to the roast chicken and grilled pork.
For an instant upgrade to a normal weeknight, add margaritas and cheesy shrimp tacos at D’ La Santa, a great Mexican spot on North Capitol Hill. They have a DIY taco platter that could serve a few people, so do this with your friends instead of hosting a midweek Shark Tank screening party. That show isn’t what it used to be.
The only way you could have a bad time at Bizzarro is if your ex is at the table over, you have a very high fever, or the skeleton in the wheelchair hanging from the ceiling gives you the creeps. Share plates of snap pea carbonara and the giant lasagna while surrounded by other happy people.
Surprise: your old college roommate is in Seattle, and wants you to show him “a good time.” Problem is, it’s Monday. The Walrus And The Carpenter is your not-very-secret weapon. It’s a classic Ballard spot that’s known for wine and oysters, and is just as overloaded with adrenaline-filled humans on a Tuesday afternoon as a Saturday night. Take your roommate here for seafood and a few cocktails, and it’ll pretty much feel like a wild weekend until you realize that you have six meetings and a 5am workout tomorrow.
The clock strikes five at work. You immediately slam your laptop shut, swing your office door open, and army-crawl to the elevator before anybody realizes you’re gone. You make it out unscathed, and the last thing you want is to hear crickets at a lame Happy Hour. Go to Chan, where there’s a lively crowd and Korean bar food. Make sure the spicy pork sliders hit the table, but don’t ignore the bulgogi ones, either.
Some people only consume unprocessed foods during the week and wait until Saturday to have pizza. We don’t understand these people, and neither does Delancey. They make some of the best pies in the city, but the environment is less slice joint and more dinner party full of outspoken intellectuals. Make a reservation online and get excited about some hot salami pizza. Let someone else boil a chicken breast at home.
Kedai Makan is best used for those moments when you find yourself on the couch with your significant other, and one of you blurts out, “What should we do tonight?” Kedai Makan is what you should do tonight. Just give yourself a two-hour buffer. The wait for a table is usually around one or two hours on the weekend, but during the week things tend to move much faster. What awaits on the other side is a fun blue room with tropical cocktails and outstanding Malaysian noodles, curries, and fried rice.
The Pink Door knows you’re not here to sleep. They have a beautiful dining room, live music, the occasional aerial performance, and some of the best Italian food in the city (get the lasagna). Show up with a group, and don’t be alarmed when a trapeze artist does flips above you and your pappardelle bolognese.
We get it - it’s a Tuesday, and it would be so easy to just grab some takeout pho and spend the next half hour in front of your TV stirring a block of congealed rice noodles into some tepid broth. But unless you’re physically ill or have broken every bone in your body, we think you should make a trip to Reckless Noodle House. They serve a mix of Thai, Vietnamese, and Szechuan (get the braised beef noodles), and while the dining room is busting with energy, it still feels lowkey enough for dinner with the parents.
You might know about Artusi’s deal of two pastas and a bottle of wine for $40 flat. You can get that on Sundays and Mondays, but even if you pop in on a Wednesday, you can still count on having an exciting mix-and-match meal of Italian snacks and hot bowls of carbs. Don’t you dare skip the fried risotto balls, and try to get a seat at the counter, where you can watch the cooks swirl cavatelli around in their pans.