Seattle Travel
The 9 Best Spots for Lunch in Downtown Seattle – From Cheap to Top Dining

The 9 Best Spots for Lunch in Downtown Seattle – From Cheap to Top Dining

Post last updated September 4, 2023

Wherever you are in Seattle, there is going to be a golden arches or a Wendy’s nearby. It’s just a fact. But there are just as many other sandwich shops and burger joints. Why settle for what you can get any day for something a whole lot better?

We found seven lunch eateries that are reasonably quick and offer a diversified menu, plus two more that aren’t located in downtown, but worth your while to seek out while at the Seattle Center near Lake Union and Denny Triangle.

Narrowing them down was no small feat, but we’re pretty proud of our list of places that offer something more. Each can pack up your lunch in minutes and you can save extra time by ordering online or calling ahead.

Café Madeline

700 Steward St., Seattle, WA 98101

Located near the courthouse, Café Madeline offers a large selection of fresh sandwiches made with quality Boar’s Head meats and cheeses with some law-affirming selections like the Constitution Caprese, the Courthouse Club and the Reuben Republic.

Two specialties include The Patriot (with Smokemaster Black Forest ham, salami, bacon, provolone, red onion, tomato, pepperoncini, olive oil and red wine vinegar) and the Victory Veggie (garlic hummus, Havarti, avocado, cucumber, tomato, red pepper and arugula.)

Café Madeline is also a great place to grab an espresso and breakfast sandwich or a Korean BBQ bowl!

Honeyhole Sandwiches 

703 E. Pike St., Seattle, WA 98122
1305 E. Jefferson St., Seattle, WA 98122

Holeyhole’s tagline is, “Damn, that’s a good sandwich!” and many people agree. In business since 1999, their sandwiches are made with high-quality meats that are roasted, smoked, and grilled daily. All of their sauces are made in-house too. They also support local food suppliers like Field Roast, Zoe’s Meats, Wild Wheat Bakery, and Painted Hills. 

One of the most popular items on the menu is The Gooch placing thin slices of roasted tri-tip beef with red onions, cheddar cheese, and horseradish mayo on a demi baguette and served with a side of au jus. Unlike your typical Subway shop, Honeyhole also offers a variety of burgers, salads, fries, and a nice section of draft beers too.

Husky Deli 

4721 California Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98116

Family owned and operated since 1932 (and currently run by a third generation owner), Husky Deli specializes in made-to-order sandwiches, European imported goods, cheeses, meats and even homemade ice cream! 

Sure, they have their own sandwiches with awesome names like the Nick & Nora (sundried tomato & rosemary ham, homemade pesto, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, onions, tomato and crushed red pepper flakes on grilled focaccia bread) and the B.A.L.T.I.C. (a double serving of bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, cream cheese and toasted on rustic white), but they feature a huge list of cheeses and cold cuts to create your own masterpiece.

There are 50 flavors of ice packed in pints, half gallons and 2-1/2 gallon containers with flavors like Husky Flake, Red Raspberry Ribbon, Thin Mint, Rum Truffle, Stout, Blackberry Cheesecake, Strawberry Grand Mariner and a lot more. In fact, probably every flavor you could ever want except Bubble Gum.

Lunchbox Laboratory 

1253 Thomas St., Seattle WA 98109

In 2011, John Schmidt and Arnold Shain opened an exciting experiment known at Lunchbox Laboratory where simple burgers, fries, and shakes are turned into masterpieces of pop art. For instance, two of their more popular burgers are actually homages to two other local burger joints – Dick’s Drive-In and McDonalds – but elevated with Kobe beef. Other choices include the Silence of the Lamb Burger (with grass-fed lamb), the Spicy Lil’ Fried Chick N’ Burger, the Big Impossible Burger (with an Impossible meatless patty), the Spicy Bean Burger (with a bean patty), and the Old West Bison (with a mix of bison meat and Kobe beef).

While you can have regular fries, you can have so much more. Lunchbox’s side menu is huge with choices including Tots, Sweet Potato Fries, Onion Rings, Fried Brussels Sprouts, Cheese Curds, Fried Pickles and a lot more. The shake menu includes Straight-Up Vanilla, Strawberry and Nesquick Chocolate along with inventive other flavors like Boston Cream Donut, Banana Cream Pie, Nutella, Orange Creamsicle, Caramel Macchiato, Mango, Pistachio and even dairy-free vegan vanilla and chocolate. 

If that isn’t enough for you, the menu also contains a variety of appetizers, sandwiches, salads and a full bar. Although “lunch” is written in the name, Lunchbox Laboratory is open every day until 10 p.m.

Michou World Class Deli 

1904 Pike Place, Seattle, WA 98101

Located at the Pike Place Market, Michou World Class Deli has been serving up grab-and-go food since 2001. Their aim is a lofty one: trying to please everybody. But they say that whether you are watching what you eat or splurging, there is something here to enjoy.

Michou has won numerous awards including three “Seattle’s Best Place” awards and CitySearch’s “Best Takeout” award. They have also been featured in Seattle Magazine’s “Best Takeout” issue. According to them, the Sierra Chicken Panini is very popular. It is made with grilled chicken, smoked Gouda cheese, greens and their own signature chipotle sauce.

You’ll also find breakfast items, a LARGE variety of salads, baked potatoes (sold by the pound!) and lots of desserts.

Serious Pie

Pizza at Serious Pie
The sausage and roasted pepper pizza (Image Credit:

2001 4th Ave., Seattle, WA 98121

Lead by Chef Tony Catini, Serious Pie is the Thomas Douglas restaurant for pizza lovers looking for something little upscale. This isn’t some slap it together in a hurry pizza either. It’s a multiple day process where the handcrafted dough isn’t ready to use until it has built up in complexity and flavor. When ready, it is “blistered in 600-degree heat” until browned and then topped with all kinds of good things.

Each pie is topped with quality ingredients from locally-sourced products like foraged mushrooms, imported cheeses, house-made charcuterie and fresh vegetables. Go for the simple Margherita (mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil) or go for something more adventurous that includes the likes of clams, chili flakes, pancetta, lemon thyme, parmigiana and reggiano all on top.

For a change of pace, go for a salad or starter but leave room for a huge slice or a different pie altogether: Triple Coconut Cream Pie from Douglas’ Dahlia Bakery. It will change your life. 

Skillet Counter

305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA 98109

Although considered a quick-serve restaurant, Skillet Counter is anything but a greasy spoon. Located within the Seattle Center Armory building, it is a convenient way to enjoy upscale food in between visits at the local tourist attractions. And unlike that greasy spoon – Skillet has a full bar with cocktails, draft beer and wine.

Skillet is all about comfort food with a twist. Lunch items consists of classics like the Cobb Salad, Mac n’ Cheese and Tomato Bisque Soup. Their Ultimate Grilled Cheese is a melded mixture of brie, cheddar and good ‘ol American cheese and can be served with bacon jam or fried chicken and The Good Burger stacks bacon, cheddar, chicken fried red onions, pepper relish and “slamm’n sauce”. For something unique and different, try the Blackened Salmon Sammy with arugula, lemon aioli and pickled shallots.

In addition to lunch items, Skillet Counter offers a small “Breaky” menu (with items such as an Avocado Breakfast Burrito and Fried Chicken and Waffle) and a “Kiddos” menu with mini versions of the stuff mentioned above.

Slab Sandwich

Slab Sandwich (Image Credit: Slab Sandwich)

1201 10th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122

You have exactly four hours in which to swing by Slab Sandwich to pick up something wonderfully filling. All they do is lunch – they’re only open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. every day except Sundays and Mondays. It is a sister restaurant to Lark (who only serves dinner). 

These big boy sandwiches are reasonably and made to order. Their specialties include the 12 Hour Brisket Sandwich, the Burrata Sandwich (with tomato, radicchio, Mama Lil’s peppers and balsamic), the Cubano Sandwich (with pork confit, jamón, gruyere, mustard, grilled scallion aioli and house-made pickles) and the Fried Chicken Sandwich.

Complete the experience with Lark Crispy French Fries (with scallion aioli) and a big JM’s Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Zylberschtein’s Delicatessen & Bakery 

11752 15th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98125

With a name like Zylberschtein’s, is there any surprise that they specialize in Jewish deli foods like pastrami on rye bread, lox and bagels and matzo ball soup? According to the owner, Josh, they “love bread and pastrami.” And so will you. 

Zylberschtein’s offers unique takes on favorites that are bigger than your head, more or less. Instead of thin slices, you get big chunks of good stuff and each sandwich comes with a choice of Russian potato salad, classic potato salad, coleslaw or fries. Sandwich choices include classics like the Club Sandwich (turkey, bacon, ham, Swiss, avocado on sourdough) and chicken salad (organic chicken, red onion, celery and spices). They also serve sandwiches that you can’t get anywhere else like Aunt Marcy’s Chopped Liver, ACME Whitefish Salad and the Tofu Reuben (with smoked tofu on rye with sauerkraut and mustard).

Come for lunch and bring home a loaf of sourdough, rye, challah, a bunch of bagels, cheesecake squares, Rugelach or cookies.

Ashleigh on ferry Island hopping.

Hi, I'm Ashleigh! Welcome to Seattle Travel, my little piece of beautiful PNW. This is home and I'm here to share all my experiences so visitors and locals alike can find the best experiences this part of the country has to offer. I started Seattle Travel in 2012 as a way to journal my experiences and over the years have been encouraged by family and friends to open up my adventures to everyone. I actively seek out the best food, activities, and day trips and give you a local perspective.  The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful areas in the world and my goal is to let you explore it to the fullest. 

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