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SEA lunch - w/o parking nightmare

Please help! I work on Mercer Island. Friends work in downtown Seattle. I have about 60-75 min I can take for lunch. MI is a restaurant deadzone. Bellevue/eastside is kind of far for the Seattlites to drive. Where can we meet in Sea without me dealing with a parking nightmare (i.e. not downtown)? I'd like to split my time between the drive and the socializing, and devote a minimum to putting my car somewhere (both time and money wise).

Our first meet was at Columbia City bakery which was ok for pkg, but very limited lunchtime eats and seating...

Thank you!

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  1. International district, and east Cap Hill - parking can be bad in both areas, but at least there should be some free spots, and I think Cap Hill parking gets better the further east of Broadway you are. Monsoon or Ba Bar (same owners, I prefer Monsoon), Vietnamese around 12th & Jackson, Wandering Goose on 15th.

    1 Reply
    1. re: babette feasts

      We've had good success with ID on-street parking.

    2. Doesn't seem like a particularly hard...
      There are at least a few places downtown that validate parking. I've done O'Asian several times.

      Places in the ID, especially as you head East, both up toward 12th (Tamarind Tree, Hue Ky Mi Gia) and toward Rainier (Tea Garden) would be good.

      Parking's a little harder toward Capitol Hill, but there's usually spots to be found around lunchtime. Definitely not as bad as at night. And again there are places like 8 oz Burger (one of my fav. burgers in town) that have their own parking.

      UPDATE: may be a little outdated, but I found this... http://www.seattlemet.com/eat-and-dri...

      1. Thanks so far! In the little time that I worked in dt SEA, I had paid pkg in my bldg. So I didn't drive anywhere for lunch and don't know much about the parking situation. I was concerned my choices were $25 first hour $30 max for the day, or circle circle circle.

        1. How about Fremont? You can zip across 520, and your friends can come up Eastlake/Westlake. Lots of street parking at The Whale Wins, Revel, or Westward (which has a gorgeous view of downtown). Also, lots of new places at U Village- the wait at Din Tai Fung is pretty minimal during weekday lunch, or you can try the Beecher's Cheese guy's full service place (I haven't been there but I really dig Beecher's/MaximusMinimus).

          3 Replies
          1. re: chococat

            After exiting I-5 It can take a lot of time during mid-day to cross through Wallingford to get in order to reach Fremont or Ballard. I wouldn't try that if the OP has a grand total of 75 minutes to commute both ways from Bellevue, park, and eat. I think that I would tend to still favor downtown, with a little bit of advance planning to get directly to an affordable lot near the restaurant..

            There are some good online tools these days to help put together a parking strategy. Here's one: http://downtownseattle.com/parking/in...

            1. re: Gizmo56

              I would agree. The one time I drove to dt, grabbed a pkg spot, bought a turkey sandwich at Bakeman's, and drove back to my office, I was gone for 45 min. Driving and pkg always take longer than one realizes, and there is no time left to actually lunch with someone.

              1. re: sasha1

                Chococat's reference to 520 through me off a bit and it had me thinking you were coming from Bellevue (sorry). Since you are on Mercer Island, you'd be crossing on I-90, and that means it would be an even longer haul up to the north end, so I think (even more than before) that you'd want to focus on downtown, or Pioneer Square, the ID, or SODO.

                There are several lots in a cluster around 4th and Virginia that I often use. They are all very close to the Tom Douglas spots Dahlia Lounge, Serious Pie, Lola, and also to Assagio, if you are in the mood for Italian. And from there you are only about a three block walk from the Market and all the nice spots there, like Le Pichet.

                I find it helps with parking to schedule your lunch on the early or late side, because the cheaper lots tend to fill up during the noon hour.

          2. While "zipping" across 520 sounds good, it will cost you. Tolls troll doncha know?

                1. re: sasha1

                  I'm not Kaleo, but I can recommend Via Tribunali, Stellar Pizza (american style pizza), Daimonji, Pho LD. In/near the ID, Tamarind Tree, Tsukushinbo and Pecos Pit (though the latter has only outdoor seating). Nearly next door to the bakery in columbia city is Island Soul, though I've never been for lunch.

                  1. re: sasha1

                    Hi, sasha:

                    Gosh there are lots of good eats around beautiful downtown Georgetown. I suggested that hood because of easy/fast freeway access and I've never had to circle a block at lunchtime.

                    I like Jules Maes, Smartypants, Via Tribunale, Fonda La Catrina, Calamity Jane's. A little further out from center is Kaua'i Family and Katsuburger. The upscale choice is The Corson Building.

                    Have Fun,

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      +1 for Fonda La Catrina if you like Mexican food.

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        I do believe Corson Bldg only open for dinner on Fri-Sat-Sun?
                        OP asked for lunch meeting?

                        1. re: grangie angie

                          Yeah, that's correct on Corson. 2-3 years ago, they did an amazing Sunday brunch, and there are occasional rumors that it might come back. If it does, I'll jump right on it.

                        2. re: kaleokahu

                          I forgot Katsu and Jules Maes. Went to Fonda La Catrina shortly after they opened; sounds like I need to give them a second chance.

                          What do you recommend at Kaua'i Family? I've been a couple of times. Both times I was impressed enough to think it's worth trying again, but not impressed enough to say "hey, I've got to come back here."

                          1. re: seattle_lee

                            Hi, Lee:

                            Most grinds at Kaua'i Family are 'ono. I get the pua'a (pork) kalua plate w/o cabbage and the Lawai crispy ginger chicken mostly. Their lau lau, Portagee sausage, and tripe stew is really good.

                            For a short-order kine place, they have a very extensive menu. http://www.kauaifamilyrestaurant.com/...

                            Hawai'ian food is simple food. Can't imagine the best lau lau garnering a Michelin star.


                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              aloha kaleo
                              can you please describe the lawai crispy ginger chicken?
                              i know cold ginger chicken, but not this



                              1. re: macsak

                                Hi, steve:

                                It's chopped, bone-in, then breaded in a heavily-gingered batter, deep fried and served hot. You nibble around the bones and wash it all down with POG.

                                This was a signature prep that Peter's ex-in-laws on Kaua'i offered for years in their Lawai cafe.

                                Order only if you like ginger.


                            2. re: seattle_lee

                              They have a smoked pork plate that I absolutely crave.

                              1. re: Lauren

                                Ooh, haven't tried that, but I will, thanks!

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  We used to go there every week when my son took a class at the circus place nearby. We were very happy with saimin and the crispy chicken. We got the BBQ beef once and liked that too. And of course POG juice.

                      2. The 550 express bus gets you to downtown in 10-15 min. from the Mercer Island park and ride.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: HungWeiLo

                          I think that this would be the best option if you want to avoid parking downtown and get there and back quickly. The 550 runs in the tunnel every 15 minutes, AND the 3rd and James stop is literally across the street from Il Corvo.

                          1. re: Brunhilde

                            And close to Tat's. Brilliant, you guys.

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              And close to Little Uncle. I love it when a plan comes together.

                          2. re: HungWeiLo

                            Thought has definately crossed my mind. I may try it. Would the RT fare be less expensive than one of the lots people have referred to in this chain?

                            1. re: sasha1

                              Lunch would be an off-peak fare, which is $2.25 each way. Parking in a lot would almost certainly be at least a little more than a $4.50 r/t bus fare (the online tool for which I provided a link shows rates as well as locations, so you can compare).

                              You would still need to factor in the time to get to (and park at) the bus stop on Mercer Island, and weigh whether the wait times between buses work well for your timing. If so, and if the bus ends up near a restaurant that you want to visit, it is certainly an option worth trying.

                              1. re: Gizmo56

                                I think street parking downtown is $4/hr. I'm sure the lots will charge more than that.

                                The time it takes to get to the park and ride / bus wait times will probably wash out with the time it takes to find a space in your car. But the advantage is that it takes the downtown driving aggravation away.

                                1. re: HungWeiLo

                                  Wow, I agree! Finding a parking spot in Seattle weekdays is a real pain. I agree with HungWellLo - take the bus and enjoy your lunch stress free!

                                  1. re: firecracker

                                    May also start for the nearby places that have their own lots, such as was recommended earlier in the chain.

                                2. re: Gizmo56

                                  don't forget the 2-hour transfer. so it'd only be $2.25 round trip in the OP's time frame.

                                  1. re: Gizmo56

                                    She could get a transfer when paying fare when getting on; good for 2 hours (often marked 3+ hours IME)... so could go DT, have lunch, and go back on the transfer for $2.25 total cost.

                                    1. re: gingershelley

                                      Sound Transit (which includes the bus we're speaking of) stopped giving paper transit tickets a few years ago, so you only get the transit credit if you have an ORCA card.

                                      1. re: Brunhilde

                                        Oh; I usually am only on SEA metro, so didn't know that. Lame! Metro still gives paper transfers - if you have an Orca it shows up on that instead.

                              2. Issaquah is near, with Noodle Boat, Saffron Deli...?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: mrnelso

                                  Thanks MrNelso. Issaquah isn't near the folks in downtown SEA that I'm trying to meet for lunch...

                                2. If you like Chinese food there are a number of non-descript places in Chinatown worth trying. I've never had a problem parking on the street and you can always park at Uwajimaya.
                                  For the better known places, try Canton Wonton House for traditional wonton soup. Or the "newcomer" Mike's Noodle House. Mike's will be croweded at lunch so that might not work. Pings for dumplings. Parking lot right across the street. Tom Kiang 668 S Weller St, Seattle has really good BBQ pork and duck. As evidence of their popularity with their customers, peek into their kitchen and notice the enormous number of ducks waiting to be cooked. Really good.
                                  If you are adventurous, do the Chinatown Roulette. Go into the first place that your spidey sense leads you and have fun. Tell the server you've never been there before and let them lead the way. Might be great, might suck, lot's of fun either way.
                                  Another version of the Roulette is Martin Luther King Way. Easy off I-90 and it's one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the US.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JayDK

                                    We always go to Uwajimaya after dim sum and it's quite easy to spend enough to get a couple of hours of free parking :)

                                  2. For parking in ID, one option is the building at 900 S. Jackson which houses both Uway Malatang (ate there a few weeks ago) and Rocking Wok (#2). There are two levels of parking there and the building is still seeking more lessees. It was designed with a ticket gate, but it currently is unused. Don’t imagine it would be hard to walk to most any other venue in ID from there if so inclined.