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Favorite place to take visitors in Seattle


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I'm looking for restaurant recommendations of where to take out of town visitors in Seattle for the northwest eating experience.    It can be plain or fancy, but the food should be good.  In the past, I've taken guests to  some of  the ususal suspects like Ray's Boathouse, Salty's, Ivars Salmon House on Northlake.   While these might not be my first choice for locals, I've tended to gravitate towards these "northwest experience" type of places.  I'd like to find some new places that preferably would still have a northwest influence or view, but the food would be really good as well, and also maybe reasonably priced (for people hit with the slowing economy).  Any ideas for some new favorite places?  Thanks!

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Well, it ain't cheap, but I've always liked Palisade as a cool NW restaurant to take out of towners. Actually, I've always liked John Howie's food more than anything (Confession: I own one of his cedar salmon planks). The menu is really eclectic and Howie changes things often, but I'd be surprised if there weren't a good selection of seafood on the menu at all times. Warning, though, it's as spendy as Ray's, if not more. The view is fantastic.

For low budget dining, have you ever considered someplace "cozy" and kind of out of the way like Matt's in the Market? They've got great oysters, daily fresh fish specials and a very seasonal NW menu. And it's in the primo Seattle tourist locale. The food is very good. It's not a Salty's or Ray's experience, but it's a cool NW experience, I think. One drawback: closed Mondays and they don't take reservations. And the place is really, really small. But it just feels like a cool NW place, I think.

Also, if you want a cool NW experience south of the city, I'm partial to The Lobster Shop at Dash Point, which is west of Federal Way. Entrees will set you back in the low ฤs, but the view is something else. Ask for a table upstairs if they're not catering an event. The view is of Poverty Bay and Vashon Island. After dinner, you can walk on the pier before you amble to your car. I've celebrated a few anniversaries there and hubby and I always leave stuffed and happy.

And one final thought on where to take tourists: have you ever been to the salmon bake at Tillicum Village? The company I used to work for took us one year and I have to say, it rocked. You take a small ferry from the Seattle waterfront to Tillicum Island. After a nice walk to the long house, the real fun starts: an authentic salmon bake. They bake the salmon on long cedar planks and it is absolutley magnificent with a sweet, smoky scent from the cedar. There also was a great seafood chowder and a fabulous presentation of steamed clams.

After the meal, tribal members entertain with traditional drumming and dancing. It dumped rain the whole time we were there, so we didn't explore the island much, but that's part of the experience if you want (bring an umbrella). It was a fantastic time and well priced at ๑ a head. I would do it again if I ever had friends who came and visited and wanted to do somethign other than spend their entire trip swilling beer at the local brewpubs.

Hope these help with your guests :) I have a lot of other suggestions, but I didn't want anyone's eyes to glaze over.

(Edited by girl chow at 8:44 pm on Nov. 15, 2001)

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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Boy you know there are so many places besides those for some good grub. I am still a big fan of Tom D. and Dahlia Lounge and the rest. I also really like the Pink Door in Post Alley and Zoe downtown. Le Gourmand might be the one place I would really like to take out of town guests along with the Inn at Langley (expensive). Both of these places are very excellent and have fantastic chefs as well. Barking Frog near the Herbfarm might be another spot to try. They have wangdangled Chef Black from Fullers and the room is quite cool. Of course you could always come to my dive in the U-District for some mediocre goods. Of course there are a million I have missed, but as you know Seattle is growing like my waistline and I can't eat at em' all....or can I????

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Papa Chef, I will definitely come to your restaurant sometime, and I'm looking forward to it.  Heh, too bad you weren't there back in the mid-80's, as I lived on NE 67th & Roosevelt then, and your place would have been a hop skip and jump.  As it was, I hopped across the street in those days to the Scarlet Tree, actually just for b-fast sometimes.   And thank you for the updated new favorite place recommendations!

girl chow....I love your rec's.    Please tell us more if you know them.  Don't hold back....The more the better!  Thanks!

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Ok, well, since you asked.... here are a few others I would recommend taking my out-of-town pals:

Of course Blue Onion Bistro (aka BOB), how the #### could I have left it off my list? PapaChef rules at making outstanding comfort food. Plus he's assembled one of the kitschiest dining rooms in all of Seattle -- especially the monkey buddha statue :) Bites I really liked while there last: the blue salad with lots of blue cheese, smoked chicken and apples (great flavor combo) and Roosevelt red pasta. Frankly, everything PapaChef makes is good.

On a personal note, my fave guitar store, Trading Musician, is across the street.

Forecasters Pub at the Redhook Brewery in Woodinville. You could couple this trip with a visit to the Barking Frog. Although the Barking Frog is ok, it's a little spendy for what you get and the help is pretty green for a fine dining spot. You could eat apps and wine at the Barking Frog (the wine list is a BOOK -- literally), then head to Forecasters next door for more noshing on good pub food and some microbrews (free blues Fri and Sat nights).

Le Pichet. This is not NW, but rather a French bistro, but it's such a cool little place. It definitely fits the low budget theme. Entrees are under ฟ. I had a very good pork dish the last time I was there paired with white beans scented with rosemary -- very good. Yum. Have that with the charcuterie platter and a cheese platter. Don't forget to have a few sips of pernod before calling it a night :)

I agree with all that PapaChef said about Tom Douglas restaurants, which are a little pricier than the others I've mentioned here. I like the Dahlia Lounge, but I would have a late lunch there and avoid the crowds. The last time I lunched there, I had a fantastic duck soup.

Also, another budget trip to take your tourist pals is for a fish and chips run to Alki Beach. Hands down, Sunfish has the best. My rec is to order the fish and chips and if the weather is nice, find a bench or spot along the waterfront to eat. Alki is beautiful, even on stormy days.

Ok, now I'm seriously getting hungry. I might have to head to the BOB for some smoked chicken pot pie :)

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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Another great thing at Sunfish is the Fish-kebab, chunks of halibut with veggies on a skewer.  The fish gets a nice char from the griddle and the vegetable juices run all over it.  My current standard when we get out to Alki.

The lunch menus at Dahlia and Palace Kitchen are scaled way down from their dinner offerings;  I'd pick Etta's for lunch.

How about Osteria La Spiga?  There's nothing particularly Northwest about it--it's Italy all the way--but it's surely quite unlike any Italian restaurant your guests have visited before, unless they've been to Piadina in New York, or to Romagna.

I can't believe I still haven't been to Le Pichet.  They're going to make me turn in my foodie badge.  Someone take me, eh?

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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OK, now I'm starting to think great minds think alike.  Sunfish is also my favorite fish 'n chips place!   I go there often.  Their fries are not 100% consistent, but pretty darn good.  I like to order the prawns 'n chips, too, or the calamari & chips sometimes, or the combo in the winter (when I know oysters are prime).  I've tried just about everything there.

I also like the Redhook Brewery (see Girl Chow post). I go at least a couple of times a year.  My favorite bite is their smoked salmon sampler plate.  I've also had a couple of their gourmet sandwich/burger offerings that were pretty good, too.  A friend of mine always orders their Greek plate.  I didn't know the Barking Frog was near there...thanks.  We sometimes stop at the  Chateau St. Michelle winery first for a wine tasting, and then head over across the street to Redhook for pub grub and beer.

I enjoyed hearing about the Osteria La Spiga, which I had never even heard of before.  I love hearing about new places.  

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Hey Blue Heron, the Barking Frog is right next door to the Redhook property. Just look for the signs that say "Willows Lodge." The Herbfarm restaurant also is located on site there.

I have eaten there under Stephane Desgaches' watch, but not since Tom Black took over the kitchen last month (anyone know where Desgaches went?). I thought the food fine, but overpriced. They pass off the experience as casual and then charge fine dining prices. It's a colliding concept -- if I'm going to shell out in the high ฤs to low ฮs for an entree, I want linen on my table (dammit!), a server who is old enough to drink liquor and a sommelier to answer my wine questions. On my visits, the service was so bad, it was offensive and all my food and wine questions went unanswered -- every one of them. Things are sure to get better under Black's reign, but my experiences left a really bad taste. I may revise this post after a future visit. It ain't in the budget now.

Mamster, I've never been to Osteria La Spiga. What's the pricing like? Any recs come to mind? My bday is in two weeks and hubby wants a list of where to go. Is it birthday worthy?

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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I actually went to La Spiga for my birthday last year.  It's a very small, casual, and inexpensive place, though, so if you'd like to go all-out, this isn't it.  There are several pastas, a good green lasagna with ragu, and unusual sandwiches on a crispy, bland flatbread called piadina.  The desserts are excellent and there are a number of good, rustic wines by the glass.

I enjoyed my birthday there, but I could also see wanting more of a splurge.

Hey, speaking of outings on Capitol Hill, has anyone been to the 1200 Bistro?

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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  • 7 months later...

I thought I would bring this older thread back up towards the front again, incase Tom D. from NJ or any others want to read about some good places we discussed awhile back. (When I get back to my other computer I can link this thread to the other).

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Places where I have taken visitors:

Kingfish Cafe

La Rustica

Siam on Broadway (now that we've enjoyed it, I would also take visitors to

Thaiku in Ballard for delicious Thai food)

Osteria La Spiga

Sunfish or Spud (we used to go more to Spud, but now prefer Sunfish)

Burrito Loco

Red Mill Burgers (Have we had a burgers in Seattle thread? I don't actually eat hamburgers, but my personal Red Mill special is wonderfully tasty: double bacon cheeseburger with no hamburger patty [but lots of bacon], embellished with fries and a Creamsicle shake.)

I don't have many friends or relatives who like to spend much on food, so these lower-priced but impressive places are good picks. I think the next time my parents are visiting we'll take them to Catfish Corner. The hush puppies are as good with their catfish as the Kingfish's grits are with theirs.

Hungry Monkey May 2009
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