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East Coast eGulleteer visiting Seattle


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Hey folks.... I'll be in Seattle from the afternoon of Monday July 5th until late evening July 8th. Am in town for technical training at ESI (Espresso Specialists Inc) up near Ballard but I anticipate that my evenings will be free. I'm going to be on a tight food budget and will appreciate any and all suggestions for cheap eats. I love any and all kinds of ethnic cuisines, hole-in-the-wall formica table joints etc.

Will be staying in the Lake Union neighborhood at the Courtyard and they have free parkign - have not yet decided whether to rent a car or a bicycle. Will need to get to leary Way NW near Ballard in the AM and back to Lake Union in late afternoon.

Please post any and all thoughts and ideas about food choices here. If any of you have thoughts about the viability of bike vs. car and expanded dining options that a car may permit, please feel free to PM to discuss the details.

I'm also up for meeting up with any eGulleteers who may want to step out for an evening meal as I always enjoy good company :biggrin:

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I feel compelled to try to help someone with the same last name (spelled correctly no less). :cool:

Bike vs. car: biking in Seattle can be challenging because of the hills. Going from where you're staying to Ballard would be relatively flat, but still a healthy ride. If you're in the shape to do it, great. Another option (other than a care) is the bus system, which will get you anywhere in the city pretty easily if you do a little planning.

The area that you're staying in is kind of a food (particularly good cheap eats) wasteland. Ballard has quite a few options, but others here are more familiar with the area than I am.

Not too far north of where you are staying, there are two places I really like: Porta (Greek) and Pomodoro (Mediterranean). Both are sort of middle price range, but you can eat inexpensively if you choose carefully.

On the other side of town from you is the International District with lots of cheap eats options, the bahn mi nexus at 12th & Jackson being an eG favorite. If you do a search on bahn mi, you'll get plenty of info.

Up the hill to the east of your hotel is Capital Hill where there are also many inexpensive options (mamster?).

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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I'm a Vietnamese food (and iced coffee w/condensed milk) junkie so thje tips are appreciated. Cheap is relative - I don't drink alcohol and can skip desserts and appetizers - anyplace where I can get in and out for about $20-$25 with tax and tip works for me (entree with starch... maybe a soup or maybe a juice or coffee... nothing elaborate).

I'll do some more investigation on the transportation options. I may have aneed to head up to Olympia one evenign and a car would be essential for that I suppose.

Yes.... O'Neill spelled correctly... that means with at least two "L's" :laugh:

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The Courtyard is the place on the Southwest side of Lake Union - actually not so convenient to the places tighe mentioned. And even more of a wasteland for food - you got Jillians, Outback Steakhouse, and Bonefish (an Outback relation.) There are the places along the West side of the lake, buried in commercial office buildings, but I know nothing about them, except they seem like places for happy hours and pick ups.

The ride from there to Ballard is not too bad - Dexter or Westlake over the Fremont Bridge, to the Burke-Gillman trail and West into Ballard.

Recommendations in Fremont? Chiso for sushi. In Ballard- Thaiku for Thai, Oxaca (?) for Mexican (though I haven't been), divey West Coast breakfast at Dish, Cafe Besalu for espresso (you probably don't need that!) and pastry, India Bistro for buffet lunch. Hale's or Maritime for brewskies. Towards town, you will be close to lower Queen Anne - not a great eating spot, and not far from Belltown - check out the happy hour (5-7) bar dining at Cascadia or Brasa (whole threads devoted to these.) Okay, those are not particularly ethnic or hole in the wall, for the most part. Someone else needs to chime in.

The buses can accommodate up to 2 bikes each - though you can't unload them in downtown during peak hours. This can expand your options too. Ask for transfers - they are good for a couple of hours (more after hours), and can continue your route or be used for return.

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I'll do some more investigation on the transportation options. I may have aneed to head up to Olympia one evenign and a car would be essential for that I suppose.

Head "down" to Olympia - it's South and I can't imagine getting there without a car, especially if you are short on time. What's there?

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The Courtyard is the place on the Southwest side of Lake Union - actually not so convenient to the places tighe mentioned. And even more of a wasteland for food - you got Jillians, Outback Steakhouse, and Bonefish (an Outback relation.)

Uhhh, actually that is the location I assumed he was referring to. Sorry if my directional references weren't sufficiently precise.... :blink:

Edited by tighe (log)

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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The Courtyard is the place on the Southwest side of Lake Union - actually not so convenient to the places tighe mentioned. And even more of a wasteland for food - you got Jillians, Outback Steakhouse, and Bonefish (an Outback relation.)

Uhhh, actually that is the location I assumed he was referring to. Sorry if my directional references weren't sufficiently precise.... :blink:

Oh - with the referrals to places on Eastlake and Capitol Hill, I thought you were thinking of the Residence Inn by Fred Hutch...I'm easily confused.

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owen,

i love your posts so i feel a peculiarly vested interest in helping you out.

i'm going to be a little un-seattle and strongly recommend you rent a car. in my opinion - seattle proper is a relatively easy city to navigate by car and imo, the hassle factor of the bus is not worth it for the amount of time you'll be here.

if you do rent a car - your options are pretty limitless. head to the university district and have thai at thai tom. (45th & university way NE) if it's packed and you don't want to wait - aladdin two doors down makes a damn fine falafel.

definitely check out the ID (international district) as tighe pointed out. all the $2 bahn mi and condensed milk laden coffee you can handle. you could easily spend every night in the ID - malay satay hut just north east of the corner of 12th and jackson has excellent food - you must have roti canai there. it's addictive.

seven stars pepper on the south east side of that same junction (upstairs in a tiny strip mall) has amazing szechuan crab priced very reasonably. the scallion pancake is tasty too.

if you end up with a lunch downtown - you should make a point of going to salumi (just search this forum - there are several threads on it)

to plug west seattle - cheap tacos at taqueria guaymas (there are others, but this is the best one) can only be beat by the highly inauthentic but insanely good tuna tacos across the street at elliott bay brewery. it's got a sports-bar-ish feel to it but the food is quality all the way.

there are frites in capitol hill off pike (thread on this forum) as well as asian fusion at ballet further up the street. (i think laurel reviewed that a while ago)

you might want to check out the 2 local weekly papers for cheap eats/entertainment ideas too - the weekly and the stranger

have a great trip!

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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OK, if we're going to get further afield, then I have to plug South Park for Mexican food. A handfull of great, authentic places all along 14th Ave S. Muy Macho is my favorite. South Park would be a 15-20 minute drive south of where you're staying.

Also wanted to add that one of the best coffee places in town (purportedly) is right next door to Porta (my previous post) although I can't remember the name right now.

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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There are plenty of cheap good eats in Ballard. THe following are all on Ballard Avenue, which runs parallel to Leary a block away:

La Carta de Oaxaca for Mexican/Oaxacan food-The plates are small, so you might need two (or get chips and guac to start), but they are only $5-$9 each.

India Bistro (corner of Ballard Ave and Market)-inexpensive buffet lunch (great dinners in the $8-13 range).

Thaiku is pretty good thai food in a nice space.

Hattie's Hat has American with kind of a southern tinge from $7-12 or so. Soups, salads, blts, meatloaf, chicken fried chicken, all done well. They have a bar in front which is nice is you just want a beer.

Bad Alberts has good bar food-burgers, sandwiches, done nicely. Things are more homemade than you normally find in a bar.

On Market Street, Ballard's main thoroughfare, if you want iced coffee go to Than Bros. Pho. They have big delicious bowls of pho (beef, chx or even tofu/mushroom) starting at $3.85. And they start you with a free cream puff! The best deal around.

Vera's Cafe, right off Market at 22nd Ave NW, has great diner (but not greasy diner) type breakfasts and lunches.

Ray's Cafe, on Shilshole Ave right on the water, has a great happy hour in which all food is half off. You can get salmon, clams, mussels, etc quite inexpensively while enjoying the fabulous view. The Cafe is upstairs from the more expensive Ray's Boathouse.

Here is a Ballard dining guide for maps and addresses:

InBallard

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Head straight up the street about 1mile to 45th st. On 45th and interlake there is a little Japanese eatery called Musashi's. It may not offer top of the line sushi, but the price can not be beat! They are known for their teriyaki, California rolls, and their harusame salad. Call em at 206-633-0212 for directions or take-out.

"Live every moment as if your hair were on fire" Zen Proverb

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Cafe Besalu for espresso (you probably don't need that!) and pastry

...Besalu also has the BEST croissants in town. And don't forget to try the ginger biscuits too.

YUM

These are good suggestions. Fremont and Ballard are both loaded with good cheap eats. But you should head to the ID for your asian fix & the ultimate in cheap eats, the bahn mi sammies.

Born Free, Now Expensive

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I'm also up for meeting up with any eGulleteers who may want to step out for an evening meal as I always enjoy good company  :biggrin:

Owen, it would be fun to meet you and I've been thinking about that hot pot from Lo Sichuan/Sichuanese Cuisine (street-level on the northwest corner of 12th and Jackson). What about a hot pot party while you're here? (See this thread.) Sichuanese Cuisine is most definitely a "hole-in-the-wall formica table joint." If that sounds good to you, let's plan a dinner. Or if you'd rather Malaysian or banh mi or... , options are open.

I'm sure you'll want to visit the much-acclaimed Espresso Vivace on Capitol Hill, and there's lots of egulleters in the neighborhood (including Matthew and me) if you'd like to meet up there.

Hungry Monkey May 2009
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Do all y'all think Owen really needs a car? Thesouth end of Lake Union to Leary Way in Ballard is less than a 20-mnute bike ride, even for a slow-poke like me. Westlake to Fremont is an ugly ride with no dedicated bike path, but I think taking a car through Fremont and Ballard is so unpleasant compared to biking!

But this is eGullet, not eGearhead! Hre are some restaurant recommendations in Fremont, which is at the east end of Leary Way...

Chiso or Blue C for sushi (the latter with the conveyor belt and improving sushi, I hear)

Jai Thai or Kwanjai for thai

El Camino for mexican

fish and chips at Norm's or Pacific Inn (and they aren't bad at Nickerson Street Saloon)

bar food at the Triangle

there's a new panini and gelato place at the Lenin statue, although I've had only the gelato

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One restaurant nearby the hotel is Pasta Freska, in the triangle at the other corner of 8th and westlake. The hotel is between 8th and Westlake. Head north a block and they merge, head north another few blocks & they split at a trafficlight. In the point is Pasta Freska. At lunch you can order off the menu or use the buffet. At dinner it's supposedly no menu--they make you what they want. I've been curious but never tried dinner there. Here's a review: http://www.nwsource.com/ae/scr/nws_rev.cfm?id=6141. Mediterannean.

If you want to move a lot, a car's not such a bad idea. Do note that there are many car rental places within walking distance of your hotel, plus a bus 28 (or 17) which goes where you probably want to be in Ballard.

As to Eastlake, it's about a mile to I Love Sushi, another mile to the heart of Eastlake with Hines Public Market et al. Capitol Hill is a 25 minute walk at full speed, my co-workers used to do that every day when we worked down there. $6 by cab.

Oh, and if in Fremont, there's Paseo. Last time I was there they'd opened a limited place in downtown fremont proper on the first block of Leary.

Edited by mb7o (log)
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Owen, my husband Shel is a major coffee geek, and he has this to tell you:

"If you want an out-of-Seattle experience, come see us over here on

Bainbridge Island. Abra loves to cook, and does it well, and I've got an

old La Marzocco you can play with when you get tired of watching her chop

vegetables.

It's easy to get to the ferry from downtown (I can supply exquisitely

detailed instructions) and you get a very scenic ride over to the Island.

Please make a spot in your schedule and come see us."

Actually, I think he wants you to improve his barista technique. But he did rebuild that La M from parts, and is pretty proud of it.

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I don't think he needs a car, either, UNLESS he wants to expand out of the nearby neighborhoods and really roam the city (for example, in search of great Mexican in south Seattle). Bus/taxi service from his south Lake Union hotel to Capitol Hill, Belltown or Downtown is very quick and easy. If he's already busing to Ballard for work (the 17 goes from his hotel up Leary to Ballard, and stops right on the other side of the Fremont bridge for easy Fremont access) he can walk to whatever restaurants he wants to in those neighborhoods. I would be wayyy more of a pain to try to take a car to any of those 'hoods.

Edited by kiliki (log)
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One restaurant nearby the hotel is Pasta Freska, in the triangle at the other corner of 8th and westlake. The hotel is between 8th and Westlake. Head north a block and they merge, head north another few blocks & they split at a trafficlight. In the point is Pasta Freska. At lunch you can order off the menu or use the buffet. At dinner it's supposedly no menu--they make you what they want. I've been curious but never tried dinner there. Here's a review: http://www.nwsource.com/ae/scr/nws_rev.cfm?id=6141. Mediterannean.

If you want to move a lot, a car's not such a bad idea. Do note that there are many car rental places within walking distance of your hotel, plus a bus 28 (or 17) which goes where you probably want to be in Ballard.

As to Eastlake, it's about a mile to I Love Sushi, another mile to the heart of Eastlake with Hines Public Market et al. Capitol Hill is a 25 minute walk at full speed, my co-workers used to do that every day when we worked down there. $6 by cab.

Oh, and if in Fremont, there's Paseo. Last time I was there they'd opened a limited place in downtown fremont proper on the first block of Leary.

I ate dinner at Pasta Freska a couple of years ago with friends. The chef came and talked with us, asked us what we liked and didn't like, and then proceeded to fill us up with all sorts of good food. Unfortunately, I don't remember everything we ate. There was a salad, a soup, and something with prawns. He brought out 4 or 5 (or maybe 6) courses, and at the end of the night, the tab was around $25 per person, including wine and dessert. I don't know if that's still par for the course there or not. We've always meant to go back with other friends (the ones who took us have since moved out of town), but we just haven't made it. Pasta Freska is an easy five-minute walk north of the Courtyard on Westlake. Seems like it would be best enjoyed with a group, but that's just my impression.

Another idea is Bandoleone - a fairly quick bike ride (or a longer walk) around the south end of the lake, up Fairview and over onto Eastlake.

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Thanks to all for such great ideas - MsRamsey has PM'd me with a couple suggestions, one of which is a group hot pot dinner. I'm definitely up for that and Wed the 7th looks like a good evening for it. I'm still on the fence about renting a car. The Courtyard has free parking and by the time I pay for the shuttle to and from the airport, bus fare and a cab or two if needed.... a car would make sense economically. I want to visit Olympia to see an on-line friend who's in the commercial coffee/espresso business but that visit may have to wait for some future trip. He's one of the people who's been nudging me to take the plunge into that business and this trip is the first phase of that adventure (I'm at ESI for training on repair of commercial espresso machines).

A bicycle is still looking like a strong possibility but I don't need to decide yet.

How abotu anyone who wants to do a hot-pot dinner on Wed send me a PM, I'll collect the names and give them to MsRamsey or some eSeattlite who can arrange the details and logistics? I'm also up for company for dinner on Monday the 5th and Tuesday the 6th. Authentic Mexican sounds good as it's somethign I can't get in my area.

tsquare - where is Cafe Besalu? That one has fallen under my radar. I've been to Uptown, Cherry Street, Cafe d'Arte, Vivace, Vita, Top Pot, Coffee Messiah, Bauhaus, Lighthouse, Ancient Grounds, Victrola and a few Lladro locations. I am awlays - repeat always up for trying out a new espresso joint. Rumor has it that both Top Pot and Victrola may have started doping their own roasting since the last time I tried them.

I have been to Seattle on four previous occasions, twice for Bumbershoot, once on a personal weekend trip and once for business. Apart from a great dinner at Etta's and an okay one at McCormick and Schmick's (but with lousy service) I've had little dining experience in Seattle. Really looking forward to the eating on this trip despite the limited time and low budget.

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Cafe Besalu is in Ballard just north of Market Street on 24th. The coffee is good, but not the star of the show there. The star is the great pastries that can be had. In fact, I have been known to stop at Besalu and then make the drive to Vivace for my coffee. :smile:

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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Cafe Besalu is in Ballard just north of Market Street on 24th. The coffee is good, but not the star of the show there. The star is the great pastries that can be had. In fact, I have been known to stop at Besalu and then make the drive to Vivace for my coffee. :smile:

And next door is Tall Grass Bakery. Watch both for weird hours/closed days.

Pastry one place, coffee another...not that uncommon.

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