After my long travel day to Seattle, I just needed to go to my happy place – red meat, red wine and chocolate cake! I asked the concierge at the Four Seasons Seattle for the best burger in Seattle, and she recommended Palace Kitchen. She did caution that they don’t take reservations (good sign of a popular spot) so be prepared to wait or maybe hope to snag a seat at the bar. It was a summer Friday at 5:30 pm so I had a good chance she said as the restaurant opens at 4:30 p.m. (they stay open until 1 a.m. if you have a late night hankering for the best burger in Seattle). With that, I started my trek from the Four Season Seattle hotel, walking past Pike Place Market looking right for a flat cross street to walk up (Seattle has crazy hills), I chose Pine Street up to 5th Avenue before I turned left. Walking toward the Space Needle with the monorail above I saw the restaurant at the end of the street next to a parking garage.
The windows of the restaurant were open (they do not have outdoor seating). The three guys in front of me left disappointed that there were no tables for them so I was a bit worried. Lucky for me, there was one seat left at the bar for me (the universe knew that I needed to eat here). It seemed that the locals know to show up early to get a table at this no reservations, Tom Douglas institution, as the place was full.
Looking around the restaurant, the open kitchen, baskets of bread and tables full of people enjoying food was very encouraging. The bartender was doing his best impersonation of a whirling dervish to mix the drinks for the servers and bar patrons. He handed me a menu in the middle of his spinning.
Once the orders calmed down, he came over to chat and take my order saying “great choice” with my burger ($22 all in with extra toppings and fries) and Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($14). I was torn with the plethora of tempting options on the menu – the rotisserie chicken with blueberry and ginger jam or the double r ranch NY striploin with garlic and herb butter.
Seated with me at the bar – three businessmen enjoying happy hour and two couples on my side and a full bar across from me with couples. Thankfully the three guys didn’t have a friend so the seat was empty for me. Good thing because I was tired and hungry and just wanted to people watch.
The bartender set up my spot and when I saw the steak knife I knew that it was a great sign of the wonderful burger to come. When my meal was delivered, I used that knife to cut into the local bun made by Dahlia Bakery and the farm to table beef by Gebbers Farms with a Walla Walla (love that town name) onion. I had added cheddar and Applewood smoked bacon to the burger and chose the fries over a salad (ugh, salad too healthy). One bite into the burger and I smiled knowing this was a really good burger, possibly the best burger in Seattle I’ve had over the years. I was slowly slipping into my happy place bite by bite and forgetting about the awful hostage situation of delays on the plane ride I had.
By this time the happy hour crowd had departed and I had free seats next to me so both bartenders stopped by to chat with me (I was sitting in front of the beer taps so its hard not to stare at each other and not talk) and see how I was enjoying the burger. I shared the story of my very long travel day and they were both surprised. One bartender asked if I was going on a cruise (most visitors are pre/post cruise nowadays) to Alaska and I said I was. He told me of his family’s cruise and then refilled my wine glass. It was really easy to dine solo here and not feel out-of-place.
As for the burger? I ate the WHOLE DAMN THING – I had no shame in doing that. Saying no to dessert was really hard for me with all the great choices offered especially the blueberry cobbler. I had zero room left at the time (my stomach would find room back at the hotel for wine and chocolate to fully immerse me in my happy place and ready for vacation) despite my long travel day of one meal. The bartender brought my bill and I noticed that Palace Kitchen automatically adds a 20% gratuity on the bill – it’s noted on their menu and many Seattle restaurants are doing this (as a former server I wish I could have done that). I probably would have tipped more because the service was good and I know what it’s like to work a summer weekend (less money) but there is no option for that on the bill (so bring cash if you want to tip extra).
My Seattle friend asked me where I ate and when I said Palace Kitchen she replied “it’s one of our favorites” noting that the concierge had done well with the recommendation. On my next visit to Seattle, I’m definitely going back to The Palace Kitchen for another meal (hopefully without the airplane drama) and will save room for dessert!
Have you dined at Palace Kitchen in Seattle? Is it the best burger in Seattle?