Dining with sparkling views of the lake is a natural at Blue Heron Lakehouse, with our view dining room and outdoor tables on the Boathouse and Lakeside terraces. But we also enjoy dining out, and Kirkland’s waterfront restaurants, on Lake Washington (which is connected to, and essentially the big brother to little Lake Sammamish), extend the lakeside vibe we love so much. We regularly refer our guests to three restaurants on the water in Kirkland, all only a 15-minute drive away. The views from any of these are impressive, but for an even more magical experience time your visit for sunset, when you can watch the lake reflect a sky swirled with sorbet colors.
COMO: EVOCATIVE ITALIAN
Opening in 2019, Como is a newcomer on the Kirkland dining scene. It’s a place we’ve returned to again and again for unique spins on Italian classics and the European ambiance.
If you can possibly snag a spot on the patio, be sure to do so. On our first visit here, as we settled into chairs on the patio, we immediately felt as though we were back on Italy’s Lake Como, with a vast view of the lake, rounded hills in the distance and a vintage wooden motorboat churning back and forth, carrying passengers from Seattle (who pay rather dearly) to the restaurant.
The thoroughly chic interior reminds us of what you might find when flipping through the pages of a design magazine. The high-ceilinged space is embraced by sinuously curving walls of white Venetian plaster. The many windows open, carrying breezes into the vast space, and a white, Euro-style stand-alone fireplace cozies up to an entryway lounge area with leather furnishings.
“We can imagine George Clooney stepping off the dashing vintage boat and onto the pier to head inside for a cocktail.”
There are lots of local delicacies to try out here, seasonally. On your visit you might find Lopez Island clams served in a brothy concoction with Nduja sausage and vino bianco; earthy morel pizza with fontina and guanciale; lush Dungeness crab risotto or decadent Copper River salmon with summer corn and pea vines. (We heartily recommend that you partake of Copper River salmon anytime it’s on the menu. This is an intensely red, rich wild salmon from Alaska that’s only available for a very limited time. It receives red-carpet treatment when it arrives at Sea-Tac.)
Dining here has a theatrical feel to it. We can imagine George Clooney (who has a villa on Lake Como) stepping off the dashing vintage boat and onto the pier to head inside for a cocktail. And since we can’t snap our fingers and be on the shores of Italy’s Lake Como, this is the closest thing to it.
ANTHONY’S HOMEPORT: SEAFOOD CENTRIC
This is our go-to restaurant for reliably good seafood. It’s one of a small chain of restaurants in impossibly beautiful waterfront settings throughout the state. But the experience Anthony’s HomePort is far from what you would expect from the word “chain.” Friendly, efficient service, a lengthy menu with genuinely delicious dishes and that amazing lake view are what draw us back time and again, often with friends or family in tow, since this place really does offer something for everyone (an annoying cliché, but it fits, in this case). The menu runs the gamut from clam chowder and fish-and-chips to shrimp fettucine and tenderloin filet.
“You can be sure the oysters are fresh and delicious, since Anthony’s brings them in from Puget Sound bays.”
Oysters on the half-shell is a great way to start out a meal here. You can be sure the oysters are fresh and delicious, since Anthony’s brings them in from Puget Sound bays, ranging from Discovery Bay to Skookum Inlet. Our own go-to order here is always whatever fresh fish is on the menu. Their halibut with citrus butter and topped with huckleberry sauce is a meaty, fruity revelation. For the best fish, ask for it to be prepared medium rare so that the moist, translucent flakes literally fall onto your fork.
Anthony’s Sunset Dinners (until 5:30 p.m.) offer three courses for the remarkable price of $26. As an example, you can enjoy calamari with lemon aioli as the appetizer; Anthony’s signature Alaska Lingcod Caddy Ganty—cod marinated in white wine and topped with sour cream, onion, fresh dill and bread crumbs—for the main course; and Baileys Irish Cream chocolate mousse. These 3-course dinners are really an amazing deal and we’ve always found them to be tasty.
Their outdoor deck reminds me of a ship’s bow—it’s a triangular space that offers beautiful views of the town’s boat harbor. Inside, the tall ceilinged space is all windows, drawing in lots of natural light, with cane-backed chairs and blond-wood tables giving a down-home ambiance—a fitting nod to the restaurant’s name.
BEACHHOUSE BAR + GRILL: HAPPY HOUR POWERHOUSE
BeachHouse, situated directly beneath Como, has the same stunning view, walls of windows and a breezy outdoor patio, but it’s a completely different aesthetic. The stand-up paddle boards on the walls offer a hint of the fun, casual atmosphere. Outdoor dining here is fabulous, on a terrace overlooking Lake Washington, but indoors is equally compelling, with cozy banquettes and a fireplace planted right in the middle of all those windows.
This spot is known for its impressive range of happy hour apps (pecan and blue cheese salad, kalbi steak skewers, Alaskan salmon sliders, anyone?) and fun drinks, but it’s the seafood that shines on a menu that ranges from burgers and sandwiches to salads and entrees. Among the options are a creamy seafood fettucine, seafood skewers and cod fish + chips, blanketed with a Panko beer batter.
If you’re a sweets lover, save room for a dessert that evokes a bonfire on the beach—but without the smoke, and sand in your hair. BeachHouse S’Mores are grilled tableside. And since fun beverages are a part of the experience here, you can top off your evening with a 10-year-old tawny port or one of several “adult warmers” (maybe Coco Puffs: Bailey’s, Kahlua, butterscotch and hot cocoa), perfect for a cool fall evening.
NOTE: Be sure to check websites to learn the latest about the dining situations at these and other area restaurants.