8 Great High-End Happy Hours Around Seattle

By Leslie Kelly  |  May 5, 2014

Matt's in the Market, The Whale Wins, Aqua by El Gaucho - you've been dying to splurge at these restaurants but what you may not realize is that there's a very budget-friendly way to experience them. Exclusive-feeling happy hours are here with everything from crab cakes and oysters to steak frites and champagne for far less than you expected to spend. Here now: Eight High-End Happy Hours that should be on every serious Seattle diner's to-do list. 

  • Matt's in the Market

    There are only 10 seats at the bar and they're highly coveted during the popular happy hour from 5 to 7 PM Monday through Saturday. Come early to snap a stool and you'll be rewarded with an expertly made $7 cocktail. We love the Bourbon Sprawl, with honey syrup, sherry and orange bitters. An eclectic assortment of small plates includes deviled eggs - usually topped with some seafood - and an amazing Oregon shrimp tostada with housemade kimchi that shows chef Shane Ryan's willingness to experiment. 94 Pike St.; 206-467-7909

  • Dahlia Lounge

    We love this romantic room best when the lights are dim and the corner spot at the bar is a perfect spot to watch day turn into night. Let seasoned bartenders Bill Arvish and Amber Gephart steer you to an outstanding glass of wine or shake up a $6 signature cocktail. Cheers to the Swedish spin on a Corpse Reviver featuring housemade aquavit, Cointreau, Lillet, absinthe, lemon and cardamom bitters. Feast on mini portions of some of the dishes for which Tom Douglas' flagship restaurant is best known: crab cakes, shrimp scallion potstickers, the bread salad featuring the excellent loaves from TD's Dahlia Bakery - all priced at just $5. This happy hour is a quick one: from 5-6 PM, weekdays. 2001 Fourth Ave.; 206-682-4142

  • Credit: Leslie Kelly

    The Whale Wins

    Renee Erickson's sexy spot on Stone Way is on fire during lunch and dinner, but the mid-afternoon lull is chill, making it the perfect time to snag a hard-to-get table on the lovely, sun-dappled patio and dive into some of the offbeat seafood preparations the place has staked its rep on: dishes like sardines on toast backed up with a bracing plate of pretty pickles, pictured. Only the food's marked down during happy hour, but most glass pours are under $10 and the exotic house cocktails like the nicely bittersweet mezcal- and Averna-fueled Smoking Jacket ring in at $10. 3506 Stone Way N.; 206-632-9425

  • Credit: Leslie Kelly

    RockCreek Seafood & Spirits

    We're tempted to order one of each from the fish-centric happy-hour menu, served from 4 to 6 PM daily at Eric Donnelly's red-hot seafood palace. The selection changes often, but must-try dishes include the $5 Oysters Brock-A-Fella, baked bivalves topped with crispy bacon, and the buttery tomba tuna crudo with bonita pickles, which goes for $7. Featured wine and drafts are $5 and $4, respectively, but we're on board with the bar's Champagne Campaign. It's a bottle of bubbly for $25, which works out to less than $6 a glass. We'll drink a toast to that. 4300 Fremont Ave. N.; 206-557-7532

  • Credit: Luuvu Hoang

    Aqua by El Gaucho

    One of the city's prettiest restaurants - on Pier 70 - also is one of the priciest with entrees in the $30 to $40 range. But there's sweet relief daily between 4 and 6 PM when well drinks and house wines are $6 and dishes are deeply discounted. Standouts include the aptly named Wicked Shrimp ($7), the Ling cod and chips with Cajun remoulade ($8) and the outstanding steak frites for $14. Yes, that's pushing the limit on what passes for a good deal, but that crazy good demiglace makes it worth the extra expense. 2801 Alaskan Way; 206-956-9171

  • The Attic at Salish Lodge

    This gorgeous dining spot overlooking the dramatic Snoqualmie Falls is a favorite destination for Seattle-area food fans, who often go for the 35-minute trek and make it an overnighter. But it doesn't have to be that involved. Drop in for a casual happy hour after a hike in the Lodge's hideaway lounge. Start with a Harvest Moon, a shaken vodka drink that showcases the honey from the Lodge's own hives. That distinctive sticky stuff is also the star of a couple of the happy-hour dishes: drizzled over figs, served with nutty chunks of smoked Parm, and in a beer jam that accompanies baby greens. We love the combo of a grilled cheese on sourdough with the Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Company's honey ale. Happy hour runs between 3 and 6 PM Monday through Thursday and from 7 to 10 PM Sundays. 6501 Railroad Ave. SE, Snoqualmie; 800-272-5474

  • Credit: Metropolitan Grill

    Metropolitan Grill

    Get your meat-y fix in the bar where a trio of beef dip sandwiches is $4 and the outstanding burger is $7, the same price charged for bacon-wrapped teriyaki tenderloin skewers. No wonder this is often called the best happy hour in Seattle. Drinks are not discounted and you're required to buy at least one to score those prices. Ask the polished bar staff to point you toward the best values on the award-winning wine list, which includes a section on hot deals and close-outs. 820 Second Ave.; 206-624-3287

  • ART Restaurant and Bar

    This Four Seasons Hotel lounge is a beautiful space often filled with beautiful people, enjoying beautiful food. You get the picture. We so appreciate the daily double shot of happiness, from 5 to 7 PM and again from 9 to 11 PM, when a long list of stellar dishes is priced right. Mini burgers - beef, salmon or veggie - are $3 apiece and a shareable trio of fries is $8. Come for the late happy hour and you'll find the all-you-can-eat cheese and charcuterie counter, pictured, going for $7, half off the regular price. Featured drafts are $5, house pours are $6 and a few cocktails run $10 and under. Go for the Lusty Lady, a combo of Absolut Ruby Red vodka, cranberry juice and a float of Prosecco named for the legendary lap dance palace that used to be next door. 99 Union St.; 206-749-7070