We’ve walked below the overshadowing black brick of The Butcher’s Table as the smoke of a prime Wagyu cut beckons. We’ve gazed upon the wood-fired hearth of Rider, as flames lick drool-worthy catches of the day from land and sea. And of course, we’ve glanced through tinted windows into the low lights of El Gaucho, as our pupils dilate at the sight of tuxedoed servers laying plates of 28-day dry-aged steaks.
And yet, we turn away with a sigh of self pity and the mere jingle of a couple coins and a few crinkled bills in our coat pockets. We continue along our mopey commute home, swearing at a driver or two, running a risky yellow to red at the four-way we loathe, and later preparing boxed potato soups, yesterday’s leftover Thai, or for a special treat, a sticky serving of Trader Joe’s mandarin orange chicken.
The average price for lunch in downtown Seattle has jumped 50% in the last 10 years, according to a recent report, so no wonder Seattle’s restaurant business is in a flux — it’s become recklessly unaffordable for most chef-curated plates in the city.
At least, at first glance of nearly any Seattle menu, that’s what we think.
However, we’re happy to announce these days of boxed soups and leftover cheap eats are over. Why? Because despite the pricey rumors, even Seattle’s most expensive eats have a few loopholes for bites on a budget.
From a dark glass of red at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, to a ménage à trois of cheeses at Matt’s in the Market, we’ve cracked the code for frugal foodies who want to get their feet (and bellies) into some of Seattle’s most expensive restaurants.
Read on below for all the pricey eats on the cheap we could find around Seattle, so next time the opportunity for a boujee pasta night arises, you’ll finally bring your stretchy pants from the couch, to the white linens.
While the eclectic downtown wine bar will close its doors for good after New Year’s Eve, the space with pacific northwest plates for around $30 a piece dishes out a 3-course lunch for $25. Included in the lineup is a chef-selected appetizer, entree, and dessert (with a surplus of bread and butter, of course.)
The Capitol Hill hot spot for all manner of Spinasse-level pasta and small plates doles out a “pasta night” on Sundays and Mondays. The special wins you a choice of two pasta bowls alongside a bottle of wine, all for $40.
The downtown wine-lovers haven, boasting a (quite literal) tornado of bottles rising to the ceiling, also divvies out a decent happy hour. While their single plates average anywhere from $30 to $40, their happy hour from 2-5 p.m. daily offers $7.50 wine pours and a multiplicity of small plates like mini baked brie with apricots and caramelized onions, lemon-chile calamari, and petite flank steak frites with chimichurri, all for around $10.
Purple Cafe and Wine Bar’s wine tower reaches from floor to ceiling. The 5,000-bottle tower is used only for popular by-the-glass servings. The wine list encompasses some 300 bottles, more than 75 glasses and pages of selected flights. Keep clicking for news on recent restaurant openings in Seattle.
The lofty New American restaurant in Greenwood encapsulated by walls of windows prices each of their main cuts for around $30, but their happy hour at the bar every day from 4 to 6 p.m. boasts a blue cheese butcher burger for $8, sticky short end ribs for $9, and Kamilche mussels smothered in jalapeno-lime butter for $8, to name just a few of their happy hour steals.
The Belltown hook-up for all manner of izakaya and quirky sushi rolls normally prices each roll at around $18, but their daily happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. serves up sashimi sets for $11 and a lineup of nod-worthy rolls, all under $7.
Chef Dan Mallahan works his own magic with a pair of kitchen tweezers, a wooden spoon, and regionally sourced grub to whip out nod-worthy plates for a fancy night out. Yet, the rotating happy hour menu daily from 3 to 6 p.m. and 10 to 11 p.m. dishes out bites like pub burgers for $9, and oysters with a dash of cucumber mignonette for $1.50 to $2.50.
Belltown’s tuxedoed staff might roll out a $68 New York Steak and a $77 Steak El Gaucho, but their happy hour at the bar notes $10 filet sliders, a $16 steak sandwich with a healthy helping of duck fat fries, and a $15 tenderloin diablo sauteed in a Cajun style cream sauce.
The sleek eatery for all means of prime cuts slides out 8-ounce steak slices for $50 to $90, but Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m., their happy hour dishes out steak kabobs and beef carpaccio with fried oysters for $10. Not to mention, they pour out a fall-inspired sangria for $9.
The French steakhouse nestled downtown bellies up to the bar with $50 steaks and $40 pacific northwest cuisine, but Monday through Saturday from 3:30 to 6 p.m., they dole out shareable plates of escargots, beef tartare, and roasted bone marrow, all of which are less than $10. Not to mention, you can build your own charcuterie board with hunks of cheese and piles of meats or vegetables for well under $20.
While the Belltown eatery boasts unbeatable views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, they also bring $30 to $50 entrees to the table. Their happy hour from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday in the lounge, however, pours out cocktails for under $10, amid a multiplicity of light bites like flatbreads dusted with Parmesan, goat cheese, and kale pesto, or spicy tuna tacos with sriracha, all under $10.
The Pike Place gem boasting pacific northwest fare and views of Elliott Bay runs $35 to $57 for an entree, but the views are equally as impressive with a $9 cheese plate, $10 crab hushpuppies, and $5 drafts during their happy hour Monday through Saturday from 5 to 6 p.m. at the bar.
The Penn Cove Mussels dish photographed with the spectacular view of a Seattle landmark at Matt’s in the Market on Thursday, August 23, 2007 in Seattle. Photo by Joshua Trujillo