Amanda Koster

Try these favorite spots for the tastiest alfresco meals around

The salad days of summer are the payoff for living throughmonths of rain. We love to take advantage of the steady sunshineand the daylight that lasts well into night by eating outsidewhenever we can.

Because outdoor dining is so hard to come by in Seattle, wedon't limit our search to any one particular kind; instead, we lookfor the best of it all, from fries served in paper-lined baskets ata plastic table to seared scallops and a glass of Pinot Gris inwhite-tableclothed elegance.

What all of these places have in common is that elusivecombination: a great outdoor setting and tasty food.

Best view
Kick back with the richest clam chowder in the West (with aswirl of basil oil on top) and take in the sweepingnothing-but-water-between-you-and-the-Olympic-Mountains view at Ray's Cafe. There are plenty ofsimple seafood preparations for those who can resist the clam-ladenchowder, and the signature Smokin' Joey mocktail (lime, ginger ale,sugar, and bitters) cools off the summer's heat.

$$; lunchand dinner daily. 6049 Seaview Ave. N.W.; 206/782-0094.

Most romantic
A cozy and eclectic atmosphere is just a flight of stairsdown from the Post Alley entrance marked only by the eponymous Pink Door. The patio beckonsdiners with views of Elliott Bay and oodles of charm. A pasta dish,a bottle of vino, and an adoring sweetheart should complete thepicture at this bit of Italy in Pike Place Market.

$$; lunchMon-Sat, dinner daily. 1919 Post Alley; 206/443-3241.

Best oysters
Don't miss the staggering variety of oysters served withclever frozen champagne mignonette at Elliott's OysterHouse. The patio is perfect for soaking in the sights ofElliott Bay. Progressive happy hour starts at 3 p.m. Monday-Fridaywith chef's choice oysters for 50 cents each. The price increases20 cents every half-hour, but you'll be too content to notice.

$$$$;lunch and dinner daily. 1201 Alaskan Way; 206/623-4340.

Best fish 'n' chips with kids
This is Seattle, after all, where not just any fish will do.At Little Chinook's you can choosebetween salmon, cod, and halibut (prawns and clam strips are alsoavailable) to accompany the crispy seasoned fries and poppyseed-studded coleslaw. The patio furniture overlooking Fishermen'sTerminal leaves something to be desired, but kids love watching theboats.

$; lunchand dinner daily. Fishermen's Terminal, 1900 W. Nickerson St.;206/283-4665.

Trendiest
Salads and seafood stand out on the ever-changing menu at thepretty 35th Street Bistro. Cool downwith a cucumber martini while absorbing the Fremont scene.

$$$;lunch and dinner Tue-Sun, brunch Sat-Sun. 709 N. 35th St.;206/547-9850.

Best boatside burger
Nestled among the boats at Elliott Bay Marina, Maggie Bluff'sMarina Grill has perspective-enhancing water-level views ofdowntown. Arm yourself with a burger and a beer and while away asummer's day, or take advantage of $3.99 buckets o' clams and crabbites during happy hour (3 p.m.-6 p.m. daily).

$; lunchand dinner daily, breakfast Sat-Sun. 2601 W. Marina Place;206/283-8322.

Best brunch
Baked eggs and homemade scones and coffee cake are served onthe charming brick patio of Madison ParkCafé. Well-behaved dogs and cats are welcome.

$$$$;dinner Tue-Sat, brunch Sat-Sun. 1807 42nd Ave. E.; or206/324-2626.

Best sidewalk dining
Considering that so many months of the year in Seattle demandindoor dining, a surprising number of restaurants here bother tostore a few tables to pull out to the sidewalk once summer arrives.Tom Douglas's take on a Greek diner, Lola ( $$$$;breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily; 2000B Fourth Ave.;206/441-1430) serves up season-perfect grilled food and a Greekmartini (made with feta-stuffed olives).

At Le Pichet ( $$;breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily; 1933 First Ave.; 206/256-1499)you can experience a bit of Paris while grabbing a meal or simplyan espresso and watching the town walk by.

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