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Hounds on a Plane (SEA)

I generally frown on list posts, but here's one anyhow. So there.

Thoughts on this lineup for a weeklong trip for a longtime-removed area native and his wife, a Seattle first-timer, week after next?

Any items to nix/add? We'll be @ Pine and 7th without a car. Cabs are OK but not preferred. Ethnic preferred over French/American, except when fishies are prominent.

- Serious Pie (love pizza)
- Salumi (love pork)
- Pike Place Chowder (love chowder)
- Baguette Box (love banh mi)
- Maximilien
- Those little pastry-filled whatits near the market
- Campagne (maybe)

- Mistral
- Boat Street Cafe
- Steelhead Diner
- Palace Kitchen (over Dahlia?)
- One of the sushi places lauded on here
...sounds like Matt's@Market won't be open...

Drinks/happy hours/bar dinners:
- Zig Zag
- Cascadia
- Vessel
- Someplace to get a real margarita

Thanks in advance. (Seems like each board should have a FAQ, or highly ranked overview post list, etc...)
Tom www.dcdishes.com

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  1. You've done your homework well, Grasshopper. Don't miss a visit to our International District if only for a snack. While it has no atmosphere, Hing Loon would be well worth seeking out. (If you do, order the Salt & Pepper ribs.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Leper

      Since you favor ethnic food, I agree with the Int'l District idea as per leper. In addition to Hing Loon, consider 7 Stars Szechuan, or Vietnamese food, as terrier suggested.

      You should know that Serious Pie is not traditional pizza in the New York or Neopolitan sense; a friend of mine who works at Dahlia tells me almost none of the pies have tomato sauce. It seems more of a west coast/wolfgang puck style.

      Campagne captures the french/poisson combination well. Rover's is a fantastic french experience, but more involved and tasting menu oriented.

      As for sushi, I really like the affordable but impeccably presented fish at Saito's, which would be a long walk, free bus or cheap cab from your digs, its on 2nd b/w Blanchard and Lenora. Nishino is considered superior by many, but it is further away in the Madison Park area.

    2. Here's a website that you might enjoy skimming through for any other ideas:


      1. The only thing missing from your list is real Vietnamese.

        Get down to Pho Bac III on 7th Ave S (just south of Jackson St) for a bowl of pho tai chin for lunch, and get over to Tamarind Tree for dinner.

        Pho Bac, especially the one on 7th, is my favorite chow spot in town.

        1. I'd seriously consider adding Union onto the dinner list. Palace and the Dahlia Lounge are both good, but depending on how many dinners you have available I wouldn't have them too high on my list.

          1. Thanks for the tips. I'm guessing ID will be a lunch after the ballgame, nice idea on the Chinese. I think Saito's was my #1 choice for sushi, so thanks for reaffirming.

            I'm excited about Serious Pie (maybe more than Salumi). I absolutely love the idea of upscale chefs opening casual joints featuring food they love. Cathal Armstrong (Best New Chef, Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, VA, etc) opened a fish and chips place, named it after his son. Sounds like he mostly did it because he misses the fish and chips he got back in Ireland. Can't beat that. For a superstar to do pizza I think is cool.

            I read the Vietnamese scene was tasty, but my home digs outside DC has a huge Vietnamese population (great Korean too) so I get a regular dose of great pho, rice verm, etc. Hard to beat a good Vietnamese meal though, soon to rival Thai imho.

            Still wish there was a good/fun/even decent Mexican place!

            Thanks again for the tips. Looking forward to some great food.

            2 Replies
            1. re: tmentzer

              good Mexican in DC....or Seattle?

              In Seattle, I think La Carta de Oaxaca is more than good. Simple, but delicious dishes, small and modestly priced enough to share...good mole, tamales, entomadas, sopa de mariscos, etc., etc. Of course, that's in Ballard so you need wheels (bus or otherwise to get there). I also really like El Quetzal on Beacon Hill, and Muy Macho in South Park, but those are more far flung locales.

              p.s. I thought Mixtec in D.C. was all right, but not great.

              1. re: equinoise

                The fresh take on Mexican at Senor Moose, in Ballard, on Leary is always fun and tasty.

            2. Ah, ditto on the suggestion for Union - perhaps for a bar dinner, my favorite spot in the restaurant. Fun cocktails, and your choice of bar/dinner menu. Their soups this week were astounding: cauliflower soup with poached duck egg earlier in the week, and aspargus soup with a scallop tonight. Creative seafood options abound on the menu....

              1. I'd pick Lark over Palace Kitchen etc.

                1. weekend brunch at Cafe Campagne

                  1. I've been to Boat St. twice now and just haven't been impressed. It's cute, and there were good components, but overall I didn't get why some people seem to love it so much. I'd go to le Pichet or Union or Zoe or Flying Fish instead.

                    1. I'd pick Purple Cafe over Steelhead Diner; if you must go to a Tom Douglas restaurant...it's THE LOCAL FISH 'n SEAFOOD that's fabulous in this town so I'd choose Etta's Seafood over Palace Kitchen in a nano-second.
                      Campagne to an east-coast epicure might disappoint..this is not the town for French food. Ibiza (very good tapas) for happy hour.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: staffstuff

                        I find Purple very ordinary for a meal, but fine for a flight and some snacks. I have not been to Steelhead. I think Dahlia is more formal but also has a more Pacific NW feel than Palace. I love Lark and Harvest Vine for small plates and great interpretations of fresh ingredients. Lark has a more NW feel, but not hugely so. Harvest Vine is very Spanish. I just had a great evening at Sitka & Spruce, very comfortable and fresh interpretations, not enough NW wine. I am originally from Texas and thus correctly believe that there is no decent margarita in this town (Tex-Mex is my preference). That said, I like La Carta for Real Mex and margaritas. I also enjoy Cactus in Madison, but you would need a taxi and you can have good stuff closer to you, just not Mex. For a casual lunch, I like to go to Steamers on the waterfront for fish and chips. Touristy but fun.

                      2. Tom,

                        I wish I had seen your website a couple of weeks ago! We just returned from 4 nights in DC. Ah well, next trip.

                        You have some great places on your list. For lunches I would add dim sum at either Purple Dot or Jade Garden in the International District (a short bus ride or a pretty long walk away).

                        For dinner, as others have mentioned, Union is a must. After having a rather disappointing (and outrageously expensive) meal at Citronelle, my husband and I commented that we are spoiled by Union. The food was much better and almost as inventive but at a much better value. It doesn't have the service level of a Citronelle, but ultimitely the food is what matters.

                        I'm in the minority on this board in that I'm not enamored with Steelhead Diner. I might move it to the breakfast/lunch category rather than giving it a full dinner spot.

                        Your drink locations are spot on, especially Zig Zag and Vessel. We were sure missing our well made cocktails while in DC!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Lauren

                          Some of DC's better eateris do have a bit of a complex, Manhattan attitude and prices without quite the quality. Though when Michel Richard is on, he's really on. Same with Roberto Donna, Jose Andres, Fabio Trabocchi, Cathal Armstrong, Johnny Monis, Eric Ziebold, others...

                          But the food scene here is infinitely better than it used to be, even with the service issues. (Did I respond to your cocktail post elsewhere? There are actually a few really good places, but a whole lotta truly awful ones.)

                          Thanks for the tips. I think Union has been bumped up to the definite list after these posts. Probably at the bar though. And I do love good dim sum. I'll drop a note with my thoughts week after next.

                        2. If you want to combine your ethnic with your French/American, consider Coupage http://www.coupageseattle.com/ . This would require a cab ride though. Chef formerly worked with Thomas Keller and Alain Ducasse; one of the best in the area in terms of technique.

                          1. I'd go with Via Tribunali over Serious Pie. It's much better tasting pizza in my opinion, there's more options, and it has a better atmosphere. Plus, you already have Palace Kitchen (which is fantastic) on your list, so you don't really need another TD joint.

                            It's not open for lunch, just dinner, but if I were you I'd want to get out of the downtown core and out to where "the people" actually live. Capitol Hill is a part of Seattle worth adding to your list. You can walk there from 7th and Pine, or it's a short cab ride if you're feeling that.

                            If you want to see more of the great dining on Capitol Hill, I'd nix Steelhead Diner from your list and replace it with Lark.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: dandelion

                              Agree with the pizza suggestion of Via Tribunali over Serious Pie. I believe Via uses exclusively Salumi meats on their pizza's also.

                            2. Great trip. As expected, the food was excellent. I made it to many of the places I wanted to try. Some were just fillers because they were close at hand when we were hungry.

                              Union was the best meal of the week. Braised pork belly appetizer on young garlic was amazing. Ran out of two of their half-dozen entrees by 8 (strange) but cut up some black bass and cooked it perfectly. Pouisson was also great, as were desserts.

                              Serious Pie was perfect. What a fun place. Excellent food, reasonably priced wine, great service. That space would make a killing in any city. Wish I could go back.

                              Purple Cafe had some honestly high-quality wines in their flights, which is rare. Generous pours too, though one Portugese wine was off. RANK city. The upstairs bar area was great, and their small plates were pretty tasty as well. And plenty of seats on Friday at 6 or 7. I was surprised at that.

                              Took us a while to find Zig Zag (had the wrong address in my head, so I was looking on the wrong side of Western...derrrr....) but neat place. Great stock of booze, interesting drinks.

                              Salumi. God I'd love to have this place close to home. Zeitgeist was also an excellent coffee shop. Two great local institutions.

                              Saitos I would recommend to anyone. The younger guy behind the counter was a wet fish, pardon the pun, but we were there after any lunch rush.

                              Steelhead Diner was tasty, but not in a wow sorta way. Except the Beechers fried cheese curds. Best take on mozzarella sticks ever!

                              Etta's Seafood was also just so-so. I expected more. The salmon preparation was too busy. Salmon, bread pudding, orange segments, shitake garnish, some kinda sauce, and asparagus (a half-dozen slim spears and one hefty spear, unpeeled...very curious). It just didn't let the fish shine. But it WAS cooked perfectly. And the skate was excellent, again a huge portion.

                              Virginia Inn. A dozen excellent local taps, nice drinks, well-made, good service. A great low-key bar near the market.

                              Cascadia was a beautiful space, but I expected a bit more energy. If it was more lively, the bar area would be great. I was actually a bit susprised at the lack of downtown energy in general, even Thursday and Friday nights. I guess too far from most of the residential centers to pull in big crowds?

                              Piroshky Piroshky was CLOSED Monday through Friday! The horror!

                              Accceptable: Bambuza and Typhoon. Again, they were close. Not first choices, but they worked. Typhoon's tea menu was fun, and Bambuza had a surprisingly nice bar with well-made drinks.

                              Observation 1: Portions are huge, even in top-tier restaurants. Not used to that.

                              Observation 2: Very casual, even more so than I expected. I was overdressed just about everywhere we went. Granted the area we stayed was touristy, but jeans on guys in restaurants where you're dropping almost $100/person is tacky.

                              Observation 3: People in Seattle always wait for the walking light to change! No cars within miles, and they're still waiting at the corners. Creepy.

                              Overall a great experience. Thanks for the recommendations. Can't wait to get back and explore further afield, into the ID, Capitol Hill, Ballard, elsewhere. Next trip will likely include a car! (By the by, the Seattle Art Museum is great, excellent mix, nice size. Good job Seattle!)

                              Any questions about DC, feel free to fire them my way. Thanks again.


                              5 Replies
                              1. re: tmentzer

                                Thanks for the report. I'm glad you enjoyed Union and Zig Zag. And your observations are interesting. As I mentioned before, we spent 4 nights in DC in April. I had heard that it was much more dressy than we are used to and was concerned that we would be underdressed. Save for Citronelle, we saw jeans everywhere we went - Old Ebbitt Grill, Cashion's Place and Circle Bistro.

                                1. re: Lauren

                                  I'm guessing I saw so many jeans for the same reason you did: Old Ebbitt is touristy and Circle Bistro in a hotel. I was so close to the market, I'm guessing visitors were very much in the majority. Not that I was complaining, was still a nice vibe.

                                2. re: tmentzer

                                  "but jeans on guys in restaurants where you're dropping almost $100/person is tacky."

                                  LOL! Personally, I love the casualness of the PNW. Glad you had a good time here!

                                  1. re: tmentzer

                                    Formality of dress is, in my experience, inversely proportional from distance to Washington DC (until one crosses the tourist event horizon around the DC mall). I can count the number of restaurants on the entire West Coast where I'd feel uncomfortable in jeans on two hands.

                                    Glad you enjoyed your visit. Next time, do check out the excellent Vietnamese food here.

                                    1. re: terrier

                                      Will do. Might even stay closer to ID for better access!

                                      And I'll make sure to bring my BESTEST jeans! (Or at least wear them to a primping steakhouse here and bask in the snotty service.)

                                      Thanks again.