Where to eat near the Seattle Convention Center


First of all, a quick disclaimer for this blog series about where to eat in Seattle: Because there are so many great options, my suggestions are anything but comprehensive. Restaurants mentioned are limited to ones I had either been to myself or that friends and/or family had been to and recommend. I started by polling everyone at work in our lab and received lots of great recommendations — ophthalmology researchers are also often foodies, it seems. This blog post is dedicated to places to eat that are within a 10-minute walk to the Seattle Convention Center (home to ARVO 2024, May 5 - 9).


Very close by...

I’ll start with the two big dumpling restaurants that are well-known in Seattle and located very close to the meeting:

  • Din Tai Fung — Originating in Taiwan, this restaurant has several locations in Seattle, including one in the Pacific Center, an upscale shopping center about a five-minute walk from the Convention Center.
  • Dough Zone Dumpling House — Originating in Bellevue, Wash., Dough Zone is more of a local institution. It is also only a five-minute walk away, in a slightly different direction.

Both of these restaurants are hugely popular with extensive menus that offer something for everyone (many varieties of dumplings, noodles, soups). Because they are so popular, there is sometimes a bit of a wait (Din Tai Fung takes reservations).


Seattle has a few of its own celebrity chefs as well, and Tom Douglas might be the most well-known of them. He has won several James Beard awards and has written several cookbooks. He owns a collection of restaurants in Seattle, including:

  • The Carlile Room — an upscale American-style bar and grill type place with a creative menu and interesting cocktails that is a short walk from the Convention Center (reservations recommended).
  • Dahlia Bakery — worth a visit especially for the iconic triple coconut cream pie, which is possibly the most famous of Seattle desserts.

The bakery is slightly farther away (11-minute walk) from the Convention Center, but the Carlile Room and all of Tom Douglas’ restaurants serve the famous coconut pie.


Quick lunch between sessions

Spam musabiIt’s a short walk to the Amazon spheres, which are interesting to see and are also surrounded by many places to grab lunch. Join the masses of Amazon employees on their lunch break and choose from multiple options like Marination, a Hawaiian-Korean fusion fast casual place with delicious tacos, salads, fried rice and salads. For vegetarians, the tofu tacos at are excellent (they know their “marinations”!) — it’s the best marinated tofu I’ve ever had. For non-vegetarians, be sure to try the spam musabi.


Other good options include Skillet, a fun modern diner-type place, and Mamnoon Street for delicious Mediterranean wraps, falafel and salads. There’s also a varied selection of food trucks in that area.


More dinner options

If you are willing to walk a little bit farther (10 minutes) and cross over to the other side of I-5 to the First Hill neighborhood, there are some great restaurant options. Terra Plata has lots of seating, including on their roof top deck, and a tapas-style menu that never disappoints. Mamnoon, across the street, is an upscale Mediterranean restaurant that is excellent. Stateside is a popular restaurant in the same area with a “global cuisine” type of menu — they have happy hour every day but are only open for dinner on Wednesday through Saturday. Rumba is another recommended option with Latin American fare and lots of fun rum-based cocktails (they can host large groups and events).


Other fun food-related places nearby

silver food truck with bananas hanging on it parked in front of large glass spheresWhile you’re in the First Hill area, you might as well visit the fancy flagship Starbucks Roastery store — it’s touristy but still fun to experience. There are multiple food options inside, including focaccia-style pizza, sandwiches, pastries, and desserts, and you can order “flights” of coffee, sip coffee-based cocktails and shop for Starbucks merch.


Also, if you are near the Amazon Spheres between 8am - 3:30pm, be sure to visit the Amazon Community Banana Stand and help yourself to as many free bananas as you like!


Forgive me if I left off many great places to eat within walking distance of the Convention Center. Please feel free to chime in to the comments section and add your suggestions.

Marian Blazes, MD

Marian Blazes, MD, is a research scientist in the Lee Lab at the University of Washington. She received her MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and spent two years as a postdoctoral research fellow in gynecologic oncology at Hopkins. She then took some time off from medicine to raise her three children, before obtaining a medical writing certificate from University of California San Diego and returning to work as a medical writer, specializing in academic writing. Along the way, her husband’s job took the family to Peru for several years, and Blazes wrote about South American food for About.com and later wrote a cookbook. Since moving to Seattle about 8 years ago, she and her husband have enjoyed exploring the amazing food and restaurants here in the Pacific Northwest.