In the News

University District builds new outdoor-dining spaces with great food options close by

University District builds new outdoor-dining spaces with great food options close by

Tuesday, July 13, 2021 experience

By Jade Yamazaki Stewart, The Seattle Times

The Seattle Times

The U District Partnership, a nonprofit that serves the University District, bought 25 picnic tables in May, painted them turquoise blue and set them up on the sidewalks of Northeast 43rd Street near University Way Northeast, known as the Ave. The tables, whose color will match the next-door U District light-rail station that’s expected to be completed in October, make up a new shared outdoor dining plaza that is part of a greater expansion of outdoor seating in the U District. 

On July 11, the city closed off northbound traffic on the Ave between 42nd and 43rd to make room for 25 more picnic tables. Don Blakeney, the executive director of The U District Partnership, says the city is only permitting the lane closure through the end of September, but the tables in the plaza on 43rd will stay. A group of University District residents started the organization Outdoors On the Ave in May 2020 to help the neighborhood’s restaurants survive the pandemic. With The U District Partnership and other groups, the volunteers have been working to get a lane closure for outdoor dining on the Ave ever since, says Cory Crocker, a volunteer for Outdoors On the Ave.

So with around 200 new seats for outdoor dining, the U District is turning into a solid option for summer dining. Luckily, there are great restaurants within a few blocks of the new dining areas that offer a variety of takeout options, from mouth-numbing Sichuan fried chicken to baguette sandwiches with ham, mascarpone and apricot jam. And if you’ve always wanted to try some U District restaurants but didn’t want to mingle with the throngs of college students, summer is now in session, so it’s the perfect time to head out there.