Sounders fans are blessed with a downtown stadium that provides easy access to a plethora of options for pre-game dinner, drinks, snacks or whatever you like. There is such an abundance of choices that it would be impossible to include every spot, so if you see a favorite missing then please shout it out in the comments. First off, here is a link to a map of the 26 locations we are going through specifically: Sounders Pregame map. We will go through the list in alphabetical order.
13 Coins is one of the oldest restaurants on our list, with their SeaTac location dating back to 1967. They used to be open 24 hours, but the hardships of Covid-19 forced them to scale back to relatively normal hours. Their Seattle location is in one of the newer buildings that went up in a portion of the stadium’s north parking lot. It is a spacious location with ample tables and room for larger parties. However, it does fill up on gamedays and it is recommended to call ahead to try and reserve a table for 6 or more or get there plenty early to snag a spot.
This selection might be a little out of left field, but Annapurna is representative of a wide category of bars and restaurants where you can go for a relaxing and less busy pre-game and then hop on the light rail to make your way to the stadium. Nestled into the heart of Capitol Hill, Annapurna serves a mix of Nepalese, Tibetan and Indian food. The food is great and the staff is extremely friendly. It is just a block away from the Capitol Hill light rail station, so getting to and from the stadium will be quick as long as the light rail is not overwhelmed. With a full stadium and some rush-hour commuters, I would not be surprised at some light rail delays, so give yourself time if you choose somewhere in Capitol Hill or near any of the other light rail stations. But I can confirm from experience that Annapurna is a great spot to start you gameday.
Chung Chun Rice Hotdog
The first in our International District locations, Chung Chun Rice Hotdog serves up hot dogs and other protein on a stick with a crispy rice coating. The crispy coating lets them have a soft and tender coating right around the dog or fill it with cheese. It also enables different toppings and coating varieties including potato, sweet potato and squid ink. You are able to customize with all kinds of “traditional” corn dog toppings or the kind of sauces you would expect at Korean or Japanese spots.
Cone & Steiner
A small corner store close to the stadium, Cone & Steiner has a history that dates back over 100 years. The original Cone & Steiner (brothers-in-law) opened the original store in 1914, with Dani Cone reviving her great grandfather’s store in 2014 at two locations. It is an underrated pregame spot because not too many know you can get beer on tap inside with a variety of fresh and packaged food options, in addition to the rest of their convenience items. Get there early to snag a table outside for one of the best people- and March to the Match-watching spots.
Damn the Weather
Damn the Weather is a small restaurant and bar with delicious cocktails and delectable food. It is not far from the stadium, just a block south of Pioneer Square, though is probably not one of the most popular pregame spots. It is worth a try when you can get a table or a spot at the bar.
Elysian Fields is, in my opinion, the premier pre-game spot for Sounders matches. A large open floor plan means plenty of tables for large and small groups in addition to a bar that can fit a surprising number of people. It is about as close as bar can get to the stadium, right across the street from the Northwest Gate. There are plenty of TVs around the bar and they will almost certainly be showing the OL Reign match for you wherever you are standing or sitting. As one of the closest spots to the stadium, it will fill up early, so give yourself time and have a backup plan.
Fuji Bakery is the perfect spot to pick up some pregame treats if you just want a savory snack or something sweet for the evening. Fuji is an artisan Japanese bakery perhaps best known for their malasadas, a soft and airy cream-filled doughnut with either a vanilla custard cream or an ube custard. They close at 5 PM on weeknights, so you may want to order ahead if you plan to stop by.
Gantry Public House
Another spot that is just across the street from the stadium, Gantry Public House has a full-sized bar, outdoor seating and a decent game-day food menu, plus they allow you to bring in certain foods from nearby street vendors. They first opened in early 2020 just before Covid-19 closed down so many other restaurants, but have survived through the thick of it. Gantry is not as big as some other locations so seating might be limited, but it is quickly becoming a gameday staple for many fans.
Hood Famous Cafe + Bar
Hood Famous is a Filipino bakery/cafe during the day until 4 PM, and then transitions to a cocktail bar from 5 PM to close with some Filipino bar food options. I had never heard of this place before reading some of the excellent International District suggestions in this comment thread started by beejay76, but it seems right up my alley and I will make sure to get there for a future match. Really though, there are a ton of great pre-game options in the International District with reasonably priced parking and tons of Asian food locations of all kinds. If you have never started your game day over there, it is an easy walk to the stadium and something everyone should try at least once.
Note: Hood Famous’s website notes that vaccination is required for entry. I am not sure if that is current, but plan ahead and bring a mask.
Joe’s Grilled Gourmet Dogs & The People’s Burger
Joe’s Grilled Gourmet Dogs and The People’s Burger are simply the first two street vendor locations that popped up on my map. This is not meant to indicate a preference for Joe’s over any of the other hot dog vendors like SoDo Grill, as I have had Seattle Dogs from pretty much everywhere along the street and they are tasty at each. If you aren’t familiar with a Seattle Dog, it is a must-try experience (check out number 10 here). They are even better post-game as a way to spend some time savoring the victory with discounted food before heading out to brave the traffic.
The People’s Burger has delicious artisan burgers (duh) made to order. The location is perfect for convenience but in my experience, they don’t have the fastest service. If you have time to wait then you will be rewarded. There are a variety of other options along the street, sometimes including a Mediterranean truck, that you can check out if you have a little less time or are just plain curious and hungry.
King Street Bar and Oven
King Street Bar and Oven has been a staple of the stadium area for 25 years. It is a bit on the dive-y side of things but remains popular thanks to their pizzas, full bar and staff that cares. Give it a try and you will likely enjoy yourself.
Marination Ma Kai
Marination has a few Seattle-area locations after starting out as a humble food truck. Your two options for gameday Hawaiian-Korean fusion fare are the downtown Seattle location nestled in the heart of Amazon country a block over from Jeff’s Spheres and — the reason it’s on this list — a West Seattle waterfront location right where the Water Taxi connects West Seattle to the ferry terminal downtown. It might not be the most convenient location on this list, but dinner on West Seattle’s waterfront with a relaxing ride across the water before a warmup walk to the game from the ferry terminal? Sounds like a great Seattle evening any time of the year.
One of the more upscale options on this list, Matsu is a more refined experience for fans of sushi and Japanese cuisine. They primarily hold tables for reservations, so if you plan to try and walk in without one then you can hope for a spot in the bar or prepare for a long wait. It’s in a convenient location just north of the stadium, so if you can get in, then you are in for some tasty food.
McCoy’s Firehouse Bar & Grill
Another gameday staple for more than 20 years, McCoy’s Firehouse Bar & Grill has operated since 1998 in a 125-year-old brick building. It has everything you could want for pregame dinner, with a full bar and a fairly extensive pub menu. It is also not so close to the stadium that it fills up as early as other spots, but you still probably want to get there reasonably early to get a spot and have enough time for food service.
Merchants Cafe and Saloon
Merchants Cafe and Saloon is the oldest spot on this list, opening in 1890 after the Great Seattle Fire leveled the prior wood building. It is a Seattle classic next to Pioneer Square for good reason. It is worth checking out for any Seattle fan.
Paseo Caribbean Food
Paseo is the sole food spot to the south of the stadium to make this relatively short list for good reason: it is a Seattle institution that was once named the second-best sandwich shop in the country and still has some of the best food in the city. Before anyone gets all antsy about this: yes, I know the current Paseo is not the “original” Paseo, a distinction that might go to Un Bien, which is run by the sons of the original owner. However, you have to credit the current Paseo owner who rescued the business from bankruptcy, bringing back all the original workers to rebuild the sandwiches, after the original was closed abruptly amidst mounting debt and allegations of worker mistreatment. Un Bien might make the better sandwich these days, one that maybe has a little more citrus flavor, but Paseo’s sandwich is still very close to the original and they actually have location close to the stadium. If you are starting your gameday south of the stadium, there might not be a tastier location to get your pregame food.
Pizza Professionals can be easy to overlook if you aren’t in the know. They are right on Occidental Avenue just a block north from Occidental Park, so it’s a perfect spot for some pizza by the slice if you are planning to join in the March to the Match. They have a surprising amount of seating inside their narrow space and can be a great spot to hang out before the game. They have an extremely friendly staff who work quickly to get you through the line. Bonus points: they are well-equipped with TVs that are always playing soccer so watching most (or all) of the Reign game should be an option here.
Purple Dot Cafe
Purple Dot Cafe is one of the many delicious Chinese restaurants in the International District. You can basically throw a dart in this neighborhood at any random corner and there will be a great restaurant. Purple Dot isn’t necessarily better than all the others, but it is spacious and offers a tasty menu. They are open late (1 AM on Wednesdays) so if you are craving something after the game Purple Dot might be the play. I can certainly endorse it for pre-game, as my Dad and I had a great dinner here a few years ago when we parked in the ID.
Quality Athletics is in a prime location, right on the corner of King Street and Occidental Avenue just north of the stadium, with a large outdoor seating area with some nice fireplaces. They have a great drink selection and some tasty eats. This is probably one of the more festive spots to pregame if you can find a spot, especially outdoors on a nicer day.
Nestled into the base of the Smith Tower, Shawn O’Donnell’s is a classic American grill/Irish pub combination that provides a fantastic game-day atmosphere. Serving Happy Hour from 3 to 6 PM (there may be game-day exceptions, so double-check before ordering) you will find burgers, sandwiches and fish & chips alongside Irish classics like bangers & mash, chicken pot pie and corned beef & cabbage. With easy access to Occidental Park, it’s another great option to start your pre-game if you plan to attend the March to the Match.
Slugger’s Bar & Grill
Slugger’s Bar & Grill provides the unique experience of a side of claustrophobia along with your game-day drinks and food. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the space does get packed on game days with very little room to move around. There are two floors, but the space is extremely narrow, so navigating around can be difficult (photos on Yelp show the scale we are talking about pretty accurately). It is right next to Elysian Fields just outside of the stadium, so it is popular year-round for good reason. Slugger’s is a classic sports bar with many large televisions and a wide variety of drinks and bar food, so it is a perfect pre-game spot for many.
I am going to let my good friend Jacob Cristobal handle this one:
A staple of many Sounders fans before a match, Tat’s Deli hits the spot for those that are fans of the east coast icon, the Philly Cheesesteak. You can get said cheesesteak in a lot of combinations without any judgement. Their other signature sandwich is called, “The Tatstrami”, which is your classic pastrami with coleslaw and Russian dressing sandwich. Beyond their two meaty mainstays, there are several vegetarian sandwich options available in addition to a robust menu of cold-cut sandwiches, hot sandwiches, and sides.
Dining inside is available, but it can feel cramped when the order line snakes out the door. But don’t let the sight of such a line dissuade you. Frequent patrons know what they get and how to order it, and even with a wait and calling out order numbers not in order, they keep it moving pretty well.
As a huge fan of pastrami sandwiches, I can confirm that their Tatstrami is excellent.
Unfortunately, they had a positive Covid-19 test before the weekend, and it remains to be seen whether they will be open for pregame on Wednesday. If you are thinking of Tat’s then make sure to check their social media to see if they will be open. And give the spot a try the next time they are available.
Temple Billiards/The Pharmacy is an open-floor bar area with billiard tables with plenty of room to hang out and watch other games for your pre-game hours. This is one of the favorite pre-game spots for ECS members so you will find plenty of rowdy, friendly and knowledgeable fellow Sounders fans here. It is likely to be packed to the gills on Wednesday, but you might not find a more festive atmosphere (at least until the party moves to the March to the Match).
Von’s 1000 Spirits
Von’s 1000 Spirits is known for their craft cocktails, appropriately enough, and an extensive dinner menu serving American cuisine. In fact, they boast over 1,500 spirits available for order at this time. If craft cocktails are what you’re looking for, Von’s is a perfect spot. They are located a couple blocks south of Pike Place Market on the corner of 1st Ave and University St. It is about a mile walk to the stadium, or you can hop on public transit via one of the many buses traveling south on 2nd or 3rd Ave, or take light rail from the University St light rail station at 3rd Ave and University St. There are a lot of other great bars and restaurants in this area which offer similar relatively easy access to the stadium via a long walk or short bus ride. Maybe give it a try and avoid some of the stadium traffic.
I want to add two things in closing. First, you definitely want to give yourself more time than you think you’ll need on game day, or at least plan for delays with the little time you do have after work and other life commitments. We are likely looking at a sellout crowd with up to 10,000 Pumas fans who may or may not be familiar with Seattle also trying to enjoy our city and their pregame. Delays are inevitable. Do your best to avoid the unfortunate scenario of waiting for a table at your pregame spot and watching the clock tick away until you have to abandon your plans with kickoff quickly approaching and no hope of finishing your food or drinks before you can get to the stadium. I’ve certainly been there myself.
Second, if it is helpful, we wanted to point you to Eater Seattle’s list of restaurants and bars requiring proof of vaccination. It has been almost two months since the list appears to have been updated, so it is likely outdated with the city and county dropping mask mandates in that time frame, but it may be useful if you are looking for somewhere that you can be confident other patrons are vaccinated. You will probably want to call ahead to be sure. If anyone has other suggestions (like Hood Famous above), I am sure some people will appreciate it.