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relocating to Seattle, eating-wise

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I am a NYC expat who has been living in the hinterlands of South Carolina for five years and who is therefore very hungry. I am relocating to Seattle next summer and need to, you know, pick a neighborhood. I have small children who will attend public school, and I will be working near downtown making a comfortable but by no means extravagant or enviable salary. What neighborhood is best, chowhound-wise? I used to be the sort who would change subway lines twice to get to the right Thai restaurant, but that was in my childfree days. Now, I want to be able to walk to the food, because god forbid I cook.

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  1. If you are entirely dependent on walking/public transit, I'd probably recommend Capitol Hill. There's enough good places to eat there, as well as a farmer's market and a couple natural food stores, but you are also either a long walk or fairly quick bus ride from the International District, with all the great Asian food there (and giant Asian grocery Uwajimaya), South Lake Union and the giant new Whole Foods, downtown (great eats at the Pike Place Market) and Belltown (lots of good, generally more upscale places).

    I would also classify Fremont and Ballard as good food neighborhoods, and you could make them work without a car, but you wouldn't have as much that you could walk/bus to quickly and easily. If you do have a car either of those neighborhoods are good bases-you'd be able to walk to some good groceries, restaurants and coffeehouses, and not have to drive too far if you wanted more variety.

    1. I second the Fremont recommendation. Being a NYC ex-pat, you will be disappointed in the public transit system. It is pretty comprehensive, but being bus-based, just not as reliably efficient as subways. That said, it works, but owning a car is relatively easy in Seattle. Parking, traffic, and all those things are a far cry from NYC.

      1. You should check out Capitol Hill

        1. "by no means extravagant" suggest something other than Capitol Hill to me. Hou$ing is fierce there, parking is non-existant (it will remind you of Manhatten), and schools troublesome. I have found relatively few reliably chowish destinations on the hill, considering its density, though the exceptions are exceptional (Lark, Monsoon, Baguette Box, maybe Coastal Kitchen, a bunch of stuff at Jackson Square, toward the ID.

          Property in West Seattle is relatively reasonable, though transporation is an issue and I know nothing of their schools. Wedgwood, Greenwood, Wallingford, and Fremont are all worth a look, as is Ballard and Crown Hill. Of these, Ballard has the up-and-comingest food scene, with Wallingford and Fremont close behind. Google Seattle farmer's markets to see a half-dozen very good ones.

          For urban living (no yard, close quarters, etc), check out the Internatinal district.

          Good luck out there.

          Oh, and if transitional neighborhoods are of interest, check out South Park, Georgetown, Rainier Valley/Central District/Rainier Beach, Northgate. South Lake Union is making a rapid and delberate transition from light-industrial to Mondo-Condo and high-tech office park, and may be a good fit for a New Yorker, especially if/when they put in a streetcar to downtown through very chowi$h Belltown.

          5 Replies
          1. re: mrnelso

            I feel compelled to say that if someone wants to be able to walk to good food, as the OP said she wants to do, they aren't going to be happy in Wedgewood, Greenwood, Crown Hill, any of the neighborhoods in that last paragraph, or even Wallingford (a few good places, but not many).

            1. re: christy319

              Thank you Christy, you are right. To a Mannhatten sensibility, though, Seattle is likely to be an apallingly un-walkable town, no matter where you go. It's a "get what you pay for" sort of a deal, for sure, and we hope to prepare the explorer for the journey. If you can afford Belltown, that's a winner to some, and Capitol hill is good to others. Good luck out there.

              1. re: mrnelso

                That's true-OP, definitely be prepared for the fact that while you'll find getting around a lot easier than the "hinterlands of SC", Seattle is a fraction of the size of NY, and it's not nearly as dense, so walking will only get you so far no matter where you live.

            2. re: mrnelso

              I don't think housing on Cap Hill is going to be any more expensive than some of the other neighborhoods you mentioned and will more than likely be less expensive. Housing costs in Wallingford, Fremont and espesially Ballard have gone through the roof in the past few years.

              1. re: Lauren

                Thank you, Lauren.
                It's a while since I was in the housing market, and you are likely right. Last I knew, puchase prices were relatively high there, but I hear these are zooming in the urbs. Rents are another story and there is good history of cheap digs on the hill.

            3. Capitol Hill is pretty central to all the good eats in town. Not saying they are all here but definitely either a short walk or quick bus ride to many of them. It's also easily accessible to the I-5 or 520 bridge if you want to venture in any direction out of town for other good eating. Also just to set the record straight - Capitol Hill proper boasts one of the "best" public elementary schools in Seattle, Lowell. Here's a school guide in case you want to check out your options around town: http://community.seattletimes.nwsourc... Good luck. I'm a former New Yorker and this is a very friendly and livable city to live in regardless of where you choose to reside. Its definitely spendy though!

              P.S. Also forgot to mention Capitol Hill is also a great local if you want to be close to child friendly eating and drinking establishments. Within walking distance you have Vios (greek restaurant), Montlake Ale House, and "My Coffee House" on Madison Ave(flies in H&H bagels from NYC). All 3 have special designated play areas filled with toys for children so the adults can eat and drink in peace. Also not far away in the Madrona area is The Madrona Ale House which also caters to kids. Enjoy!