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Seattle, one weekend, on a budget

I'm flying in from Texas, and my friend is driving up from Portland. We are staying Fri-Sun at the end of March. We're staying just outside of downtown (Best Western Executive Inn, I think) and will have a car. What are some can't-misses that won't break the bank?

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  1. vktp, I recently visited your great state and had some great BBQ and Tex-Mex. Seattle's International District should be your first destination. (Remember the West, including San Francisco and Seattle, was built by Chinese labor.) Seven Stars Szechuan Restaurant is an exceptional destination. Since you're a Chowhound, order something you are not familiar with--you won't be disappointed. Even though their combined decor lacks in every way, also recommended are Hing Loon (shrimp won ton soup and pepper pork ribs), Ho Ho Seafood Restaurant (crab) and Tai Tung--Seattle's oldest Chinese restaurant. Nearby is Tamarind Tree (Vietnamese) which is upscale but not spendy. Maximillien's At The Market (the upstairs bar) is a must for mussels. Visit Uwajimaya a huge Asian market. Wander the produce and meat sections and see if you can even ascertain what most things are. (You're not in Texas anymore when you're in Uwajimaya.) Salumi for lunch (Tues-Fri only). Serious Pie for Pizza as you would experience in Italy. Matt's at the Market may be open after their long remodel. If so, don't miss it. Try drinks and snacks at The Pink Door on the deck if weather permits. Finally, happy hour at The Palace Kitchen. You will be surrounded by people who are Chowhounds but don't know it. If you can splurge just one meal, Harvest Vine defines great food in Seattle, Spanish Tapas that never fail to surprise in originality and flavor. Write back and let us know what you enjoyed.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Leper


      Funny coincidence. My cousin from Portland is driving up here to meet a friend who is from Texas today! They are staying at my crib in Tacoma and hitting up a concert in Seattle. Small world.

      On a more foodie like note, Leper's recommendations are excellent. Uwajimaya is a great place to get your gastronome groove on. Some of the best Hanoi Pho is at Saigon Bistro there. My spouse and I always snag a bowl when we are up there. I second Salumi and Serious Pie too. If you can, head over to Capitol Hill for more cheap eats. Coastal Kitchen breakfast isn’t half bad and easy on the wallet. Another pretty rockin' place is Elemental at Gasworks Park. Gotta get there early, it gets filled up fast. They serve small plates which can be pretty reasonable. Also if you can hit Sitka and Spruce, they are a new favorite for out towners for me!

      While I can't contend with Harvest Vine (the best Seattle has to offer in my opinion), if you want to experience a more musical vein, head over to the Triple Door. Tiered diner seating in the theatre, with incredible food. It can get pricey but very well worth it.

      Whatever you do, puleeze do not go to Ivars to eat clam chowder, the space needle for dinner or any other tourist traps. That is commercial Seattle, not authentic.

      1. re: iheartgrittytacoma

        seven stars can be very spicy but maybe you like it that way. famous non-spicy szechuan food would be smoked duck (don't know if they have it). imho, for asian food, vietnamese would be the safer bet. leper's recommendation Taramind Tree is good, as is Green Leaf (more homely).

        Elemental is great too but some think that the owner/waiter/sommelier has an attitude (I personally like it) so research more. Frankly, the food isn't exceptional (some good dishes, some average) but I enjoyed the atmostphere and the sommelier's fussy, uptight sort of attitude.

        1. re: newerjazz

          Green Leaf has a sign on the door that they are on vacation for a month and a half… not sure exactly when they reopen.

    2. If you are driving up to Snoqualamie Pass, stopping at Salish Lodge is an expensive breakfast or lunch, but a world class destination. If Snoqualamie has no weather issues, and as a Texan you'd don't see much winter mountain scenery, it's like driving through a postcard. Mount Ranier will still have a lot of snow cover, but likewise between the waterfalls and the spring hiking trails, it is a great destination. I like Dukes for casual sea food. They have a location N of downtown Seattle about 3 miles. Maybe the Greenlake location (?) My favorite chowder, and a scenic marina location. Have fun.

      1. If you make it down to the Seattle Waterfront (which I recommend), you can stop at Ivar's clam shack. It's a walk-up counter that has tasty fried seafood and fries. They have an enclosed building right next door where you can sit and eat, but it's definitely no frills. Ivar's is a Seattle institution.

        Hing Loon is one of our favorite's in the ID, but the interiors most closely relate to a cafeteria. You might grab dim sum at House of Hong, if you haven't tried dimsum before.

        If you can catch happy hour, you'll find some great deals. Brasa on 3rd is one of my favorites--the curry mussels are divine.

        1. Paseo's in Fremont has amazing sandwiches that are pretty cheap, but come early they often run out. I second Seven Star Pepper and the ID in general, Takohachi is another good spot.

          1. I second bergeo's recommendation. I had my brother visiting with two of his friends and they were in heaven at Paseo with the Cuban sandwiches. I would recommend swinging by Paseo, picking up lunch and taking it down to Green Lake or the Sculpture Park. Very Seattle.

            1. If you want a true Seattle experience, head to Pike Place Market and sample from the vendors. Fresh seafood, produce, and street performers. You can watch the guys throw the fish and visit the original Starbucks.

              If you are on a budget, skip Harvest Vine. Heck, even if you weren't I think the place is over rated.

              1. If I am right, you are near Seattle Center, just North of Belltown. Belltown isn't really all that big, and serious walkers could make an evening of just walking up First (say, Denny to Virginia, about 10 blocks), down (South) on Second, Up Third, Down Fourth, and up Fifth (Sixth and beyond is parking-lot city). In that walk you will pass many of the restaurants local hounds love (or hate). As you begin to turn back North on 5th, you will be at Palace Kitchen. That may stretch the bank a mite, but two can get out satisfied for a hunderd bucks. Some will contend, though, that Real Chowhounds will use that walk to read a lot of menus (who knows what might snatch you off the sidewalk?), and have a geat burger, maybe some soup or a salad, and some great local beers at Two Bells.
                I googled myself ("two bells" seattle chowhound mrnelso) and got back to this old comment:
                " Two Bells Burger is a local monument and a necessary stop on your burger tour, for sure. With the advent of the smoking ban it is now even possible to enjoy the food."
                It is just a pub, but they do care how they do their food, the taps are great, and you can roll back to the hotel happy, indeed. Have a great time, and please come back to tell us how it went...
                >>>I completely agree that the Pike Place Public Market is a must. Google "pike place mrnelso" to see how much I love the place.

                1. I agree with the other's regarding 7 Stars Pepper, Green Leaf, Salumi, Palace Kitchen and, of course, Pike Place Market.

                  I would add Le Pichet to that list as well. It's a great little french bistro in Belltown and would be a good place for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

                  94 Stewart, by the Market, has an interesting fried avocado with crab dish that would be worth stopping in for.

                  1. Thanks for all the great recommendations. Pike's Market, Salumi, and Palace Kitchen are on the short list. Still debating where to get my Chinese and Vietnamese fixes. I would love to try Harvest Vine, but don't think it's in the budget. Very excited!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: vktp

                      For Chinese, go to Vancouver, but find plenty of posts here on that topic. Vietnamese is really the Seattle specialty - Pho Cyclo, just North of First and Lander, and Pho Bac, back in Chinatown are good and not expensive.
                      Jones BBQ is right there, too at Lander and Occidental. Have the ribs and bread pudding. The chicken ranges from pretty OK, to fabulous. Nearby is Pecos Pit, for a huge lunch sandwich of tasty pulled pork.

                    2. Vietnamese: Green Leaf. Chinese: Sea Garden.

                      If you find yourself on the eastside for some bizarre reason, Szechuan Chef.

                      1. Steelhead Diner for brunch. Get the crab cake and Eggs Ellensburg with the gravy on the side. Union bar menu available each day from 5-7 pm and 10-12AM, $8 for anything on there and everything is great. Tavolata is a great deal and good and serves until 1AM. Boat St Cafe have good lunch during the week and good brunch on weekends. Happy hours are a great way to go downtown Seattle as well. this will sound incredibly strange but Bernards has some really good lunch choices as well. Second Sitka and Spruce, Purple Dot for weekday dim sum lunch, Fort St George, Green Village, Takohachi, Shanghai Garden Cafe, Green Leaf, Salumi, King's BBQ, Canton Wonton House, Malay Satay Hut, Seattle Deli, Northwest Tofu Factory, and Market Grill are all great lunch choices and some are fun dinner choices.


                        1. I recently had a great (and very inexpensive!) meal at Pho Viet Anh. Its on Roy Street, near the Seattle Center...which is probably only about a mile or two from where you're staying. The hot and spicy Pho is not to be missed....apparently they only serve it during the winter months. If its on the menu, try it. I got the tip right here on chowhound, btw, but can't figure out how to attach a link to that thread. I assume the Permalink has something to do with that, but when I click on it nothing happens.....