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Seattle's Most Distinctive?


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Hi everyone,

I'm visiting Seattle (and actually the PNW, not counting NorCal) for the first time from January 11-14 (Fri afternoon - Sun morning) and want to create an itinerary centered around the city's best, most distinctive eats. I will be staying downtown at the Max Hotel (620 Stewart St.)--not my choosing but it seems to centrally located-ish. My means of getting around will be limited to the city's basic public transportation and taxis. Besides that, I'm open for anything. Really. I eat anything, go anywhere, and will meet anyone if it ensures me a good meal (or drink or snack). I'll be traveling alone for this trip, not that that really matters since I have no problem fine-dining, drinking, or exploring alone.

Price is really no object, so propose the itinerary of your dreams. With that said, those who have read of my eating pursuits here on eG know that "value" is important. I will pay literally whatever it costs for a meal but don't want to waste money on experiences that can be had elsewhere. If you had convince me that Seattle was a better eating city than New York or Chicago, where would you tell me to go?

With this carte blanche of sorts, I'd like to be able to impose a few general guidelines:

-Would like at least one blowout tasting menu. Creative cooking that still evokes the PNW, nothing classical French or anything. Mistral seems to be the go-to for this but steer me otherwise.

-Markets. Pikes Place, right? When to go, what to see, who to talk to?

-Casual eats of all types. And by casual, I mean anything but fine-dining tasting menus. Like Batali's father's salumi joint. Want to hit that up and try as much as possible. Who do I have to schmooze with to get into one of those special meals there?

-Underground dining. I hear lots of this type of thing goes on in Seattle. Are there any that are particularly distinctive that will take a solo diner cut from a similar civilly disobedient cloth?

-Cocktails/wine bars. I've also heard Seattle does a nice job with the cocktail thing. Where should I go? Any particularly notable wine bars?

Thanks so much for your help. I look forward to eating my way through the city. The real reason I'll be in Seattle is also related to the culinary arts, so I might as well make this trip as food-centric as possible.

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Definitely hit a Vietnamese place. I prefer Green Leaf, but many like Tamarind Tree best and it has a more extensive menu. Both are in the International District.

Mistral is excellent, but I'm not sure how distinctive it is compared to high-end restaurants in other cities. Although I prefer Mistral, Lampreia is more likely to give you something unique.

My favorite time to go to Pike Place is early. Vendors open at 9 and I like walking through before then to see the displays being arranged, etc.

Getting into one of the dinners at Salumi is almost impossible, but one of the sit-down lunches might be an option.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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Well of course for cocktails you must hit up Zig Zag and meet Murray and also Vessel to meet Jamie. Other notable bars around town but not right downtown would be Sambar, Hazlewood and Copper Gate - all in Ballard neighborhood (lucky for me! ha!) Also Licorous on Capital Hill next to Lark (great PNW food btw).

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Welcome! I hope we get a chance to meet while you are here.

Regarding tasting menus: I'm sure if you make arrangements in advance, any of the top end restaurants can gear a tasting menu to Pacific NW specialties. Mistral, Union and Lampreia would be my recommendations for that.

Pike Place Market: I would hit Matt's in the Market for lunch for sure. Also, The Alibi Room is a great place for a cocktail. They open earlier than most bars so that's a plus for those days when "it's 5 O'Clock Somewhere"! The smoked salmon at Pure Fish is, by far, the best I've ever tasted. Will your hotel room have a refrigerator? It's sold fresh (as opposed to vacuum packed) but you HAVE to try some! The Athenian is also a fun place to grab a beer. The views and the regulars that hang out there are the draw.

Casual Eats: Oysters for sure. January is a good month for them. Most places will have them on happy hour specials.

Cocktail Bars: Two places that you must hit are Zig Zag and Vessel. The Sitting Room, Licorous and Sambar are also good choices. I had a good cocktail at the new pinxto (sp?) place in Belltown, Txori, the other night.

Wine Bars: I like Smash and Portalis. I think Seattle is lacking in good wine bars. Probably the most well known is Purple - but the staff is so uneducated about wine that I can't stand going there.

Others are more qualified to talk about the underground dining scene in Seattle. I'm sure you'll be well hooked up as far as that goes :biggrin:

Lauren

Practice Random Acts of Toasting

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Bars:

Sambar - cozy but sophisticated

Union - not at all cozy, but good drinks

Vessel - fairly inventive, small, hip

Oliver's Twist - Decent food, fun combinations, nicely out of the way

Cascadia - Douglas fir sorbet. :).

Food:

Union - Just had an amazing beef tongue with papardelle there

Veil - Ambitious, tasty food. Good desserts - don't miss the peanut butter ice cream. Shame about the decor.

Le Pichet - Awesome little french bistro, on most peoples' favorites list

Lark - Had my birthday dinner there, great food!

Tilth - Very good, high-end all-organic creative american. Lovely little place.

Rovers - Supposed to be quite good

Pike's Place:

About the middle of the market, on the west side of the aisles, there is a vegetable seller that often stocks beautiful mushrooms. Other than that, there's little there you won't find at a Whole Foods.

Past the market is a place called World Spice where I go to buy spices. Quality is high, selection is good.

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Pike's Place:

About the middle of the market, on the west side of the aisles, there is a vegetable seller that often stocks beautiful mushrooms. Other than that, there's little there you won't find at a Whole Foods.

Past the market is a place called World Spice where I go to buy spices. Quality is high, selection is good.

I think the Pike Place Market vendor you are thinking of is Sosio's.

I generally prefer the quality and prices at Pike Place Market to Whole Foods.

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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Cocktails:

-Sambar (you'll be in Seattle when Jay is working, I believe, and he'll be happy to make you off-menu cocktails if you ask nicely. Some of my favourites have been a Chartreuse VEP/champagne/black pepper/pear brandy concoction, and a tomato/shiso daquiri I had in the summer.)

-Zig Zag (Murray is a legend)

-Vessel (although I've had nothing but good drinks/service here, one of our mixologist friends felt a server's holier-than-thou attitude was very off-putting.)

Tasting menu:

-my pick is Mistral, and the chef may be willing to put together something extra creative for you if you call ahead

Salumi:

-they are closed on weekends, so you would have to get there Friday afternoon. They no longer do dinners, but sometimes you can luck out and book the back room for one of their special lunches at $40/pp. I think they serve 10 people in the back room. They don't do those special lunches everyday, so you would have to ask Gina if it's available that Friday you're in town.

Some other thoughts:

I like Matt's for lunch, but I think it's over-priced at dinner. The food is good and fresh, but nothing terribly creative here (or what a decent cook can't do at home). At lunch, it's mostly sandwiches, soups, and salads, with a few specials like seared sea scallops.

I had a very good meal at Café Juanita recently, which is a N. Italian restaurant in Kirkland (about 25 minutes from downtown Seattle.) The sweetbread dish with parsnips and chantrelles was the best offal I've had this year. My other favourite of the evening was the porcini-stuffed braised rabbit, a Ligurian chickpea crepe stuffed with greens, and the sickest cream/Arneis sauce. Fantastic. The desserts were a bit disappointing, but I don't recall you being a sweets guy anyway.

Of the mid-range/upper-casual restaurants here, I like Lark. Veil just started doing brunch on the weekends, and the chef there, Shannon Galusha, trained under TK at FL. His new-ish chef de cuisine, Johnny, is formerly of Alinea and Jean Georges.

I also had a good meal at Quinn's recently, though they are apparently modeled after Spotted Pig so you may not want to waste a meal there when you have SP in your city.

Other underground restaurants in the city:

One Pot (run by Michael Hebb, more of an artsy experience, i.e. food + prose, I've heard)

Gypsy (high-end, usually in a mansion somewhere in Seattle, run by Gabriel Claycamp. You've probably seen Gypsy on the Bourdain show. They have guest chefs.)

Vagabond (also Gabriel's, but more casual)

Kurtwood Farms (you must know someone who's been to get in. It's on Vashon and you'll need to take a ferry. They have guest chefs.)

ETA: I've only divulged names seeing that the people doing these dinners have shared their names with a major publication, so I'm sure it's OK to mention their names here.

Edited by Ling (log)
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Pike's Place:

About the middle of the market, on the west side of the aisles, there is a vegetable seller that often stocks beautiful mushrooms. Other than that, there's little there you won't find at a Whole Foods.

Past the market is a place called World Spice where I go to buy spices. Quality is high, selection is good.

I think the Pike Place Market vendor you are thinking of is Sosio's.

I generally prefer the quality and prices at Pike Place Market to Whole Foods.

Yes, the prices are better, especially if you shop there 4 times a week and people know you! :wink:

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At Sosio's I sometimes go in and ask "what should I want right now?" They usually steer me the right way. Plus, at the market I've often had people throw in pounds extra of nice tomatoes or quince or whatever.

Yes, the prices are better, especially if you shop there 4 times a week and people know you!  :wink:

Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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Sitka and Spruce is another good spot. Get there right when they open and ask for a seat at the communal table. There is a good chance you'll be surrounded by other foodies who will be more than interested in good food-centric conversation.

On the casual side, be sure to hit up one or more of the taco trucks. If you search you'll find a couple of threads on them.

In the market, I like Pure Foods Fish a lot. They are not the guys who throw the fish; they are to the right down the hall toward Sosio's just past Uli's sausage. I assume you won't have cooking facilities while you are here, but you could buy a cleaned Dungeness crab from them and assuming you had something to crack it with you'd have a nice snack.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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Seattle rocks... was in Seattle for five and a half days before Thanksgiving and hit the following places, Lark being my favorite. I read a lot of threads here on eG and composed the itinerary of my dreams, as well as fitting in some random bonus places. My only gripe is that I didn't make it Mistral:

Monsoon (dinner and dim sum brunch)

Kingfish Cafe (brunch)

Dahlia Lounge (dinner, cocktails)

Lark (dinner)

Nishino (omakase)

Veil (dinner)

Le Pichet (dinner)

Matt’s in the Market (lunch)

Macrina (brunch)

Grand Central Bakery (lunch)

Palace Kitchen (cocktails, snacks)

Union (cocktails, snacks)

Zig Zag (cocktails)

The Crumpet Shop (breakfast)

Top Pot Doughnuts (snack)

Belle’s Buns/Belle Epicurean (snack)

Snacked constantly at Pike Place Market, as well...

Stayed at the Pan Pacific which is attached to Whole Foods, so it was coffee and usually a little something extra there every morning. Finally, ending up bringing back 50 lbs of food, including stuff from Chefshop, Porcella, Salumi, Pike Place, bread from Essential Bakery etc.

When the suitcase hit the conveyor belt at the airport back home, this whoosh of garlic and salami (which was wrapped and packaged inside two other suitcases within the larger one) came wafting out for all to smell... :cool:

Will you be staying downtown?

Edited by Verjuice (log)
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I was thinking about this last night and what is hard to get in your neck of the woods.... mexican? then a trip to La Carta Oxaca in Ballard is a must. And a croissant (or 3) at Besalu before hand aint bad either!

Actually the Dirty D (aka Durham, NC) has some pretty amazing Mexican. I eat tacos and tortas at least twice a week. NYC's Mexican cuisine is lamentable, however.

Thanks for the help so far, everyone. I'm quickly building a list of places to check-out and people to meet. Should be a good time. Once I firm up my itinerary and other responsibilities I will post a rough itinerary.

Yes, I am staying right in downtown, so that's my base of operations. Should be within walking distance of a lot of nice spots. I'm very excited. The only disappointments are that I won't be able to make it to Salumi's retail location because my flight on Friday arrives too late, and, similarly, I won't be able to eat dozens of happy hour oysters. Oh well.

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I was thinking about this last night and what is hard to get in your neck of the woods.... mexican? then a trip to La Carta Oxaca in Ballard is a must. And a croissant (or 3) at Besalu before hand aint bad either!

Actually the Dirty D (aka Durham, NC) has some pretty amazing Mexican. I eat tacos and tortas at least twice a week. NYC's Mexican cuisine is lamentable, however.

Thanks for the help so far, everyone. I'm quickly building a list of places to check-out and people to meet. Should be a good time. Once I firm up my itinerary and other responsibilities I will post a rough itinerary.

Yes, I am staying right in downtown, so that's my base of operations. Should be within walking distance of a lot of nice spots. I'm very excited. The only disappointments are that I won't be able to make it to Salumi's retail location because my flight on Friday arrives too late, and, similarly, I won't be able to eat dozens of happy hour oysters. Oh well.

You can buy Salumi salami at DeLaurenti, which is at the Pike Place Market. Bring some home with you. :smile:

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Definitely hit a Vietnamese place. I prefer Green Leaf, but many like Tamarind Tree best and it has a more extensive menu. Both are in the International District.

I agree completely.

Licorous is my favorite cocktail place these days, and it's a bit of a walk from downtown but walking up Pike or Pine is kind of interesting. They have $2 food pairings-just a couple bites to go with your drink. A lot of people are recommending Sambar and it's great (usually--I've had my share of surly service), but tiny and always packed, so if you take a cab all the way there you might not even get a seat.

Other than that, there's little there you won't find at a Whole Foods.

Ugh. Even in the height of summer Whole Foods stocks mostly California produce. Also there's much more to the Market than produce stands.

What about a bowl of happy hour mussels at Maximilien Bistro (in the Market)? I haven't had them in a while so maybe someone else can comment but we have great mussels here (I like them much better than any I've had in New England), they're a great value and there's a nice view over the bay.

Edited by kiliki (log)
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What about a bowl of happy hour mussels at Maximilien Bistro (in the Market)? I haven't had them in a while so maybe someone else can comment but we have great mussels here (I like them much better than any I've had in New England), they're a great value and there's a nice view over the bay.

I second the recommendation to plan a lunch (or brunch on Sunday) at Maximilien.

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The Steelhead Diner at 95 Pine Street (basically 30 feet from the main drag of Pike Place Market) always has fresh ingredients, a chef who cares, awesome cocktails, a nice bar for watching the sun set on Elliott Bay, and a Louisiana-influenced menu with some very good gumbo and crab cakes. It's a good place for a semi-casual lunch or dinner.

You can check out their menu here if you like.

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  • 1 month later...
Hi everyone,

I'm visiting Seattle (and actually the PNW, not counting NorCal) for the first time from January 11-14 (Fri afternoon - Sun morning) and want to create an itinerary centered around the city's best, most distinctive eats.  I will be staying downtown at the Max Hotel (620 Stewart St.)--not my choosing but it seems to centrally located-ish.  My means of getting around will be limited to the city's basic public transportation and taxis.  Besides that, I'm open for anything. Really.  I eat anything, go anywhere, and will meet anyone if it ensures me a good meal (or drink or snack).  I'll be traveling alone for this trip, not that that really matters since I have no problem fine-dining, drinking, or exploring alone.

Price is really no object, so propose the itinerary of your dreams.  With that said, those who have read of my eating pursuits here on eG know that "value" is important.  I will pay literally whatever it costs for a meal but don't want to waste money on experiences that can be had elsewhere.  If you had convince me that Seattle was a better eating city than New York or Chicago, where would you tell me to go?

With this carte blanche of sorts, I'd like to be able to impose a few general guidelines:

-Would like at least one blowout tasting menu.  Creative cooking that still evokes the PNW, nothing classical French or anything.  Mistral seems to be the go-to for this but steer me otherwise.

-Markets.  Pikes Place, right?  When to go, what to see, who to talk to?

-Casual eats of all types.  And by casual, I mean anything but fine-dining tasting menus.  Like Batali's father's salumi joint.  Want to hit that up and try as much as possible.  Who do I have to schmooze with to get into one of those special meals there?

-Underground dining.  I hear lots of this type of thing goes on in Seattle.  Are there any that are particularly distinctive that will take a solo diner cut from a similar civilly disobedient cloth?

-Cocktails/wine bars.  I've also heard Seattle does a nice job with the cocktail thing.  Where should I go?  Any particularly notable wine bars?

Thanks so much for your help.  I look forward to eating my way through the city.  The real reason I'll be in Seattle is also related to the culinary arts, so I might as well make this trip as food-centric as possible.

So, how was your trip? Where'd you go?

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Folks,

I'm heading to Seattle this weekend and looking forward to dining in your great city again.

My dining companion doesn't eat meat, or shellfish, but fish is Ok.

Last trip we enjoyed Lark, Zoe, and of course Le Pichet, plus drinks at Vessel and a bottle of wine at Black Bottle.

I'm making a list of choices for this trip, having read this thread.

Any suggestions for this weekend would be helpful, thanks in advance!!

Is there some sort of "Dine-out / Dine-around" event going on?

I'm sure it's for a good cause, but it sometimes blocks up resos at the good places.

Edited by eatbc (log)
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Hi Folks,

I'm heading to Seattle this weekend and looking forward to dining in your great city again.

My dining companion doesn't eat meat, or shellfish, but fish is Ok.

Last trip we enjoyed Lark, Zoe, and of course Le Pichet, plus drinks at Vessel and a bottle of wine at Black Bottle.

I'm making a list of choices for this trip, having read this thread.

Any suggestions for this weekend would be helpful, thanks in advance!!

Is there some sort of "Dine-out / Dine-around" event going on?

I'm sure it's for a good cause, but it sometimes blocks up resos at the good places.

March Dine Around is on - not valid on Friday or Saturday, so not a big problem.

Seems like a lot of places are busy enough to require reservations lately (Tilth and Joule were 2 hour waits last night.) Some no rez places have long waits as well (Sitka and Spruce, How to Cook a Wolf, Txori, for instance.)

So, drinks at ZigZag (Pike Place Market) or Sambar (Ballard) or Licorous (across from Lark.) You could also try Quinn's (Capitol Hill) the little brother of Zoe.

Brunch options, with style, include Tilth (Wallingford) and Veil (Lower Queen Anne).

New is Lunchbox Laboratory (Ballard.) It's a fun tiny spot with great lunch options like turduckan burgers, white corn kielbasa corndogs, and mac and cheese. They have a falafel sandwich for the partner.

Volunteer Park Cafe, Monsoon, and Vios are in the Kingfish Cafe neighborhood on NW Capitol Hill (all very good options) and the area is full of lovely homes to walk by - the cherry trees are starting to bloom, along with the daffodils, if you are so inclined to stroll.

Columbia City's Geraldine's Counter is a good breakfast spot, La Medusa has some good dinner (reservations are a good idea), and the Columbia City Bakery will start the day right.

You could try the Georgetown scene (isthere one?) with a number of places to drink on Airport Way, but my favorite bites are at Pig Iron BBQ on 1st (their sides rock.) They just opened Last Chance Chili next door - more a bar, but could be fun.

Have a good visit.

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We're going to be down in Seattle in a few weeks and want to try going to Tavolta on a Sat. night, but it looks like a pretty busy place! Since they don't take reservations, I'm hoping to get a few suggestions for a back-up in case we are sol. Something lively, with good food and in the same area would be ideal. Can't wait to get down there!

Cheers,

Scout

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We're going to be down in Seattle in a few weeks and want to try going to Tavolta on a Sat. night, but it looks like a pretty busy place!  Since they don't take reservations, I'm hoping to get a few suggestions for a back-up in case we are sol.  Something lively, with good food and in the same area would be ideal.  Can't wait to get down there!

Cheers,

Scout

Just plan on waiting- it never takes that long. Get your name on the list and then either sit at the bar with a cocktail or if there is no room head across the street to Viceroy for one, they will call you.

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