With bocce ball courts, aerial artists and bathtubs full of ping pong balls, it’s all about food with flair at these entertaining eateries
Since taking young kids out to a posh restaurant can be daunting, and quite possibly cause a scene fit for a rambunctious cafeteria, we’ve got the solution to this particular foodie dilemma. Check out a dozen of Seattle’s coolest themed restaurants. From entertaining sport spots and surprising refurbs to over-the-top sweets and beachy eats, these fun restaurants have something to pique everyone’s interest, whether you’re a gastronome or just a little gnome along for the delish ride.
Seattle’s Best Theme Restaurants to Take the Kids
1. Shug’s Soda Fountain
O Decadence, Decadence, wherefore art thou Decadence? As it turns out, apparently in downtown Seattle. Tiny confectionery cuties, we know where you want to be. That’s at Shug’s Soda Fountain, a nostalgic old-school soda fountain and ice cream parlor located at Pike Place Market. Leave your no-dessert-for-me persona at the door. You and your wee Willy Wonka wannabes will be in a candy-coated oasis. Shug’s serves everything from extravagant ice cream, shakes, sodas and floats, to embellished sundaes, sugarlicious cocktails and coffee. This adorable, pastel-hued joint is dripping with sweetness, so go ahead and cap those little monsters off with a sweet sugar high.
Good to Know: Shug’s is closed Monday through Wednesday, so swing on by later in the week or on the weekend.
1525 1st Ave.
2. Mt. Rainer Railroad Dining Co.
If you have littles that go loco for locomotives, you’ll want to chug along over to Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. in Elbe. About 90 minutes outside of Seattle, it’s a bit of a drive but totally worth it to check out the quaint town and this one-of-a-kind, train-turned-noshery. Once a touring train with over 26 cars, you can now sit inside the dining train car and get a truly legit railway vibe while enjoying their yummy delectables such as steak, chicken, fish, shrimp and pasta. Or, hit it up in the morning for their breakfast lineup. Your wee conductors will be head over heels to choo, choo, chew their way through this nostalgic train car restaurant.
Good to Know: You can stay the night here, too. Check out The Hobo Inn where train cars have been refurbed into hotel accommodations for overnight fun. Rooms are complete with sinks, toilets, showers, beds and electricity. Some even have jetted tubs.
54106 Mountain Hwy. E.
3. MOX Boarding House
Do you like to treat the kiddos to some friendly competition with a family game night? Does a roll of the dice sound even better if you can do it with a bowl of rice? Then your posse needs to hit up MOX Boarding House in Bellevue. This board game themed eatery offers Rummy—make that yummy international and traditional cuisine and a scrumptious kid’s menu with burgers, noodles, chicken and grilled cheese. But the kicker is the free board game library with hundreds of titles to choose from, so you can play while you dine. If you find a game you just can’t live without, don’t forget to stop by MOX’s shop to check out their massive game and trading card collection and pick something out to bring home. With a cool library vibe and whimsical art deco ambiance, dinner really doesn’t get much more winning than this. Go any time the gaming bug bites. MOX is open seven days a week. They also have additional locations in Seattle and Portland.
Good to Know: Check out their calendar to see what gaming events are coming down the pipeline. Beyond boardgames, MOX’s treasure trove store, also carries Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon cards.
13310 Bel-Red Rd.
4. Rhein Haus Seattle
Eins, Zwei, Drei! Time to “mach schnell” over to the Rhein Haus in Capitol Hill (there’s also one in Tacoma and Leavenworth). This Bavarian-themed restaurant might sound like it’s only fit for those of Octoberfest age, but it’s actually great for the kinders, too. Rhein Haus boasts indoor bocce ball courts, an outdoor biergarten and one of the best spots in town (short of Climate Pledge) to watch the Kraken play. While it tends to lean more towards a bar atmosphere the later you get into the night, if you head out there early, you can challenge your tiny ballers to a game of bocce. They have a full kinder menu for your diminutive Deutschers, or nosh on the homemade sausages and a giant pretzel the entire family can share. Das ist gut!
Good to Know: Put this one on your date night radar, parents. It’s a great spot with or without the kids.
912 12th Ave.
Who doesn’t love a good beach excursion? We know that when you are toting around a youngster or two, there is a good chance your beach outings include more digging sand out of toddler pants than sitting with a cocktail and watching your beach bums build a sand castle. But maybe, just maybe, you can have it all when you check out Bongos, a beach-themed Caribbean restaurant near Green Lake. Bongos is the ideal place to let your tiny sand tots do their thing. Along with an indoor seating area and a patio, there is an outdoor dining area filled with sand where you can all enjoy palate-pleasing Caribbean and Cuban food like pork and cuban sandwiches, jerk chicken, black beans and yuka fries with your toes in the sand and your tots preoccupied with the restaurant’s sand toys in the dunes. It’s pretty much a win-win. Great island food, relaxed ambiance and your little beach beauties playing away in their faux seaside happy place.
Good to Know: Bongos is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so plan for a Hump Day (or beyond) chow down.
6501 Aurora Ave. N.
6. The Pink Door
Move over, PT Barnum! The greatest show on earth might just be housed right here in Seattle. If your kids are ready to be a ring leader, let their imaginations run away with the circus at The Pink Door, a spectacular trapeze and entertainment-themed Italian-American restaurant in Post Alley. Each night features an eclectic mix of entertainment such as jazz and blues musicians, tap dancing and tarot card reading. While some of these gigs start a bit late for the miniest of maestros, don’t let this culinary, old-timey experience pass you by. You will want to hit this joint up on Tuesdays for their delightful aerial performances, with all the twists, turns and contortions performed right above you. There are four short performances between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., first come, first served. This is one pasta and farm-to-table eatery where you and your posse can enjoy your vittles while someone else swings from the rafters.
1919 Post Alley
7. XXX Rootbeer Drive-In
There is no place more decked out in mid-century nostalgia then the one and only vintage-themed restaurant, XXX Rootbeer. Literally covered from floor to ceiling in '50s and '60s memorabilia and antiques, this former drive-thru will be so captivating for your groovy little gang they won’t want to leave. One of only two XXX Root Beer restaurants in the entire country (with the largest lighted Plexiglass sign in the west), it’s definitely a landmark you will want to experience. Grab some American diner fare for your little sock hoppers from the kids’ menu (hot dogs, burgers, fries), play a few songs on the old-fashioned jukebox and grab a sweet for the road from the oversized gumball machine. Don't forget quarters for the ride-ons outside. They're irresistible to toddlers.
Good to Know: The restaurant has outdoor seating for sunny days and a classic car show on most Sundays.
98 N.E. Gilman Blvd.
8. SPIN Seattle
Looking for a restaurant where you can really have a racket? Why not try SPIN Seattle, an eccentric, graffiti-gorgeous ping pong restaurant. Yep. This is a legit ping pong eatery. Located in downtown Seattle, SPIN is a 10,000 square foot table tennis social club where you can reserve a ping pong table, unlimited balls, paddles and dedicated seating for up to 10 people. Reservations go for $39 an hour per table (they have 10 tables available). While this quirky, cool place does give off a pretty hip bar vibe, kiddos are welcome to come in and enjoy a bite and game (or two) before 9 p.m. The menu includes farm-to-table goodies like apps, pizza, tacos and sandwiches, perfect fare to refuel after all those backhands. Make a reservation for your petite ping pongers online before heading over. Don’t forget to check out their signature bathtub filled with ping pong balls. It's as amazing as it sounds.
1511 6th Ave.
9. NEKO Cat Cafe
Got a crew of feline fanatics? Head over to this Capitol Hill cafe right “meow.” It’s not just a cat decorated cafe with “Hang In There” posters on the wall. It’s an actual café where you can dine and also play with the furry critters IRL. At NEKO (it means cat in Japanese, where the cafe got its inspiration), your little kittens can nibble on light treats (think: donuts, cookies, bentos, savory breads), while you sip on coffee, wine or beer. If an afternoon spent petting the purr-fect pal is on your bucket list, also make a reservation in the cat room. Reservations are highly recommended, but if the kitty room is full, the café is always ready to welcome you and your feline fanatics. This will be an experience your tomcats and tabbies won’t want to hide from.
Good to Know: Kids 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult, and there must be one adult for every two kids under the age of 10 when in the cat room. Also, the feline friends here are adoptable.
519 E. Pine St.
10. Queen Mary Tea Room
Who says you have to be a queen to enjoy a spot of tea? The petite royals in your life can feel like princes and princesses when they visit the Queen Mary Tea Room—the oldest independently owned tea room in America! How very delightful. Located in Ravenna, this quaint Victorian-themed restaurant will charm your booties off. Come for brunch, lunch or afternoon tea and let your kids order off the kids’ menu that includes shortbreads, sorbets, fruit, tea cakes, tea sandwiches and grilled cheese. Set up your reservation for parties of two or three (1 hour and 45 minutes), or plan a two-hour reservation for up to six. Get your little royalty ready to put their pinkies up and head over to Queen Mary for a tea-rrific time. They also serve tea, ice tea and crumpets to go.
Good to Know: Booster seats and highchairs are not available, so plan accordingly. Also, Queen Mary needs her beauty sleep on Mondays and Tuesdays, so schedule your visit Wednesday through Sunday.
2912 N.E. 55th St.
11. Summit House Crystal Mountain Resort
Want to dine with your adolescent alpine lover? While not a themed-restaurant per se, this place certainly has its own particular milieu that makes it worthy of this list, and your pocket-sized explorers will go gaga over it. It’s Washington’s highest elevation restaurant, the Summit House at Crystal Mountain Resort. While it’s got the lodge/ski resort feel, the novel fun for your young cliff connoisseurs is how you get there. When you get to Crystal Mountain Resort, you will need to climb the mountain. And by climb, we mean ride the enclosed ski gondola all the way up to the 6,872-foot top. Summit House gives you the most spectacular views of Mt. Rainier (like you could reach out and touch it views). The Summit House offers traditional faves, as well as a scrumptious “pasture, land and sea” menu. There is also outdoor seating (yes, please!) available first-come, first-served.
Good to Know: Always check the website before you go. If bad weather strikes, the gondola may not be operational. Also, your reservation does not include the gondola ride.
33914 Crystal Mountain Blvd.