The view is pretty bad, but it still has its charms. The Stranger

Quarter Lounge on First Hill

Two of the walls of the outdoor deck at the Quarter Lounge—which is one of my favorite bars in the city—are tall, blank, and imposing. These are institutional walls, the kind that could easily dash any dream or hope of freedom harbored in the heart of a man or woman serving life in a super-maximum-security facility. There is no climbing over those tall walls, no breaking through their concrete thickness, no digging underneath their deep foundations. You are here to stay. At the Quarter Lounge, these walls confront the drinker and dominate the mood of the well-built wooden outdoor deck (it was completed two or so years ago). What has the drinker done wrong? What crime is he/she paying for at happy hour? What is this institution I'm in? And what does it want from me and my drinking buddies? At least there are drinks; in drinks, there is freedom. The institution happens to be the Puget Sound Blood Center. CHARLES MUDEDE

That One in Ballard

In old brick Ballard, behind both Zayda Buddy's and Caffe Fiore, sits a back deck that overlooks... well, one of the crappiest views around. Both establishments are swell, and the deck itself is just fine, but it opens onto a big empty lot, surrounded on two sides by windowless brick walls. The adornments: chain-link fence, dusty gravel in sparse brown grass, a little bit of bird shit, a graffitied old satellite dish. You can see a city street beyond, but mostly you're looking at a big hole in the city. And yet: It's so quiet, and still, and funny, you start to find delight in the little wonders the dirty lot reveals. Patterns in the decaying bricks. Small birds hiding in the ivy. Your mind fills with questions. Crows and pigeons stand watch everywhere, claiming everything. Once a week, on Sundays, a bustling farmers market sets up shop in the lot. But skip the bustle; this space is for contemplation. ANNA MINARD

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Il Fornaio in Pacific Place

Do you like to dine alfresco but hate being outdoors? Too sunny? Too much fresh air? No worries. The patio at Il Fornaio allows you to eat and drink in the open air while staying safely inside the mall. The temperature is always perfect, the breeze won't blow your napkin away, and birds won't try to eat your food. Located right in the bustle of Pacific Place, you can enjoy your ravioli while delighting in the (completely inside) views of the busy escalators, myriad retail stores, and eager shoppers. GILLIAN ANDERSON recommended