Even PAX Conventioneers Need to Eat!
Well first of all: Welcome! And don’t worry, The Foodie Friends are also attending PAX just as we have the last several years, and as local knowledge gurus, gamers and former college students on a budget we know that you’re probably here just for a couple days, are trying to see as much of the convention as possible without breaking the bank or straying too far from the action. If you feel that’s accurate then this post is for you!
This article is going to focus on quick reviews of restaurants and food vendors near to the convention center with a focus on whether it will be busy on PAX weekend and its affordability, and it will be divided into either full service or fast food places. Our definition of fast food for this is if you don’t have to feel weird when you ask for the order to go (if you even have to ask at all) then it is fast food. If you have a bit more time to tear yourself away from panels, waiting in line to see things, playing games, waiting in line, going to parties and waiting in line, then feel free to check out other reviews on our site that venture further out of the area focused on in this article.
View The Foodie Friends Convention Food Map! in a larger map
The Green pin is the Convention Center. The Red pins are places you might want to avoid. The Blue pins are places nearby that we recommend.
We’re not in the habit of giving poor reviews (in cases like that we just decline to review the location) so if you see a location you like with a red pin, remember that for this map we’re not recommending that place just within the context of PAX weekend.
The Cheesecake Factory
This restaurant is inexpensive, close and has acceptable food, especially for the price. What’s the catch? The lines here will be at the very least an hour long, quite possibly much longer. No one wants that!
Dragonfish Asian Cafe
Medium priced, decent pan-asian food with good happy hour specials. You can usually get discount coupons from the Pacific Place concierge desk.
Blue C Sushi
Affordable sushi of the rotating-plates variety. As long as you avoid the really peak times you shouldn’t have much of a wait.
Von’s Roast House
This will be very crowded at lunch and happy hour, as it usually is even without a con in town. During an off-hour though it should be fine. All day there are drink specials, changed every half-hour by spinning a wheel. If you are in the bar at Happy Hour then all food on their menu is half-off.
Daily Grill Restaurant
A standard hotel restaurant of the “steak and ceasar salad” variety. Usually packed with con-goers and not particularly inexpensive.
Elephant & Castle
Another bar/restaurant with some fairly predictable food, but better than most hotel restaurants in the immediate area. This will have a decent amount of people in it, mostly PAX people staying at the Red Lion, but shouldn’t be too bad.
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
A chain place, owned by Gordon Beirsch’s owners. It’s off the path enough that it shouldn’t be crowded, and has decent prices for decent food and beer.
The Capital Grille
A completely standard steak place, not inexpensive but shouldn’t be full either.
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
People see this and flock over because it’s a well-known chain, so it’s more crowded than its distance would have you think.
Sway and Cake
This is a CLOTHING store, not a CAKE store. The cake is a lie. And now I have to punish myself for making that over-played joke from a million years ago.
Inside of Pacific Place is generally pretty solid for its food selection. This place is standard Thai, has a full bar and should be fine for seating.
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
Inside Pacific Place. Do you like Cheesecake Factory? Do you want beer instead of cheesecake? Then come here! A LOT of seating and for some reason not as crowded as Cheesecake Factory during PAX.
Inside Pacific Place. Not a typical mexican restaurant, it’s a little less heavy on the cheese and beans and it has more seafood and veggie options.
This is the best seafood restaurant in the city in my opinion. While the full lunch and dinner prices may be rich for a gamer on a budget, the Happy Hour prices are AMAZING. Happy Hour is from 3pm – 6pm every day, including weekends, and has some of the best Seattle has to offer for a cheap price. You must be sitting in the bar area for Happy Hour prices.
A japanese “grill-it-in-front-of-you” style chain and familiar to most people, far enough away from the action to not be absolutely crowded.
GREAT pizza, but the line is usually an hour long on a normal Friday, I can’t imagine what it’d be for PAX.
A little more spendy, but if you want a great full service experience Dahlia’s a great place to go as it’s a cool look at food from around the Pacific Northwest. Lots of seafood options while not being just a seafood place.
Wann Japanese Izakaya
Wann is pretty calm, it doesn’t get a lot of PAX traffic and it has decent food for decent prices.
For some bizarre reason people don’t seem to walk this direction when looking for places to eat. Six Arms is a great place to hide away from the crowds. their Happy Hour goes until 6pm and includes food specials.
Pike Place Bar & Grill
They serve breakfast until 2pm and have an All You Can Eat waffle special for under $10! There is also a full bar and great lunch options.
Hard Rock Cafe
This gets crowded because of the touristy aspect to it all. If you are looking for food like this, there are other places around for cheaper that will be less crowded. They don’t even play Nirvana here!
Japanese Gourmet Restaurant
One of my favorite Japanese places, they have sushi as well as a complete Japanese menu.
Pike Pub & Brewery
If you like beer, you owe it to yourself to stop here at least for one of your meals while in Seattle. Some of the best local beers, with burgers and beer on the menu.
The Pine Box
We have a full review of The Pine box on the site so I’ll just say: Great Pizza, Awesome Beer! Prices are totally reasonable, a local favorite.
Sun Liquor Distillery
The only food they have here is burgers and fries, but they do them well and make their own liquor!
The Hurricane Cafe
This is the only 24/7 diner in downtown Seattle. If you’re out late at parties and want a place to eat, this is it.
We’ve done a full right up on Taphouse in the archives, but it’s good to mention them again. 180 beers on tap, plenty of well priced food, and they have a Happy Hour at the normal early-evening time as well as a late night one.
There are many Subways in Downtown. Wait times at the one inside the Convention Center are ridiculous for a sandwich, and the times for the one right outside the Center are almost as bad. If you must have Subway, there is one on 8th and Olive that is reasonably close and not usually packed.
Nyc Deli Market
This deli has a great selection of drinks, chips and snacks as well as a lot of really great sandwich options for cheap. We’ve found that it’s not usually crowded.
La Creperie Voila
There aren’t many long lines here usually, but it’s selling crepes, which aren’t generally very sustaining. Your mileage may vary though.
Georgio’s has decent sandwiches and they will actually toss your salad for you! Not any more expensive than Subway.
Westlake Center is a small mall with the only food court in downtown Seattle. It has a bunch of smaller fast food places like you’d expect in a food court. It also has the only Indian food downtown which is actually really good considering the price and location. You can also get cheap sushi and mediterranean here.
During standard lunch time this will be busy and it closes early but it’s a good hidden spot. They serve mostly soups, salads and sandwiches of a higher quality but also higher price than chain sandwich places.
Il Fornaio Cafe
This is not inside the Il Fornaio restaurant, which is a full service Italian restaurant (and, by the way, really good). The cafe is actually open on the first floor of Pacific Place and is a soup/salad/sandwich place. During lunch they have $10 boxed lunches that have a sandwich, fresh fruit, and chips- all of the highest quality.
Pike Place Chowder
While there is a location at Pike Place Market, there is a much closer location inside the Pacific Place shopping center. Fast, cheap, everything is fried except the chowder- which is actually the best chowder in the city.
Inside Pacific Place. Not really FAST food, but a solid burger chain with some even more solid milkshakes.
One of the best burger places in Seattle. Expect to pay more than a chain burger joint, but expect much higher quality. They also use locally made ice cream from Molly Moon’s for their milkshakes.
A sandwich and salad place fairly close to the Convention Center. A little off-kilter, which is why we love them.
If you HAVE to go to McDonald’s, go to the one in the Westlake Center. It’s clean, has no drug users chilling in it and doesn’t require a police officer in it 24/7 like the one on 3rd and Pine does. If you must go to one before or after the Westlake Center is open, try the one on 6th and Westlake Ave.
Top Pot Doughnuts
The best donuts on the west coast, no matter what people tell you about Voodoo Donuts in Portland.
Mae Phim Thai Restaurant
Thai food, pretty basic, pretty cheap! I recommend it especially for lunches. They have inside seating but also do a LOT of to-go orders.
There are two Jimmy John locations: One on 6th between Olive and Pine, another in the City Center complex on 6th and Pike.
Kress IGA Supermarket
Not a restaurant, but it is one of the only full grocery stores downtown.
Also not a restaurant, but the other full grocery store in downtown. A good one to know about, it wasn’t here last year.