Just moved in 7th & James- Seattle
Well here I am, a Florida foodie in the Pacific Northwest. My husband and I just moved here for work. We will be here through August. I am looking for the do's and dont's of Seattle. Restaruants and grocery stores are very helpful, as well as tips on the farmers market and coffee shops (I know there will be lots of opinions there- a local had us throw away starbucks and bought us his favorite kind!). So far we haven't eaten out (except a cup of chowder by the waterfront). We are walking distance of Pikes (about 10 minutes)- I was able to get some great food there and have made 2 impressive dinners so far. I also enjoyed the Cheese shop- finally locally made good cheese! So lay it on me Seattleites! Oh and I need a suggestion for my birthday dinner (may 29- its a tuesday)
Hey, isn't that the County Jail? What I hear about the food there is hardly fit to priint...
My first advice for a Floridian is hold on to your hat. Instead of Appalachicola oysters 10 for a buck at dime-time, you'll be very lucky to find oysters at one for a buck.
Do hit the market, and scan old posts for "pike place market" (not "Pike's anything").
For groceries, get thee to Big John's PFI. It's just South of Uwajimya, behind the old INS building, down the driveway. Big John Croce imported a container of olive oil some years back and it grew to a local empire, supplying high-end stores and restaurants with meditteranean specialty foods. He opened this hidden retail space for fun, i think, and it is a place you must know. It's a nice walk from jail to PFI, if they'll let you out, and you'll find quality goods, meats, cheeses, and special oddities.
You are at the lip of what is variously called "the International District," "Chinatown," and whatever the chamber of commerce calls it lately. It is packed with great, cheap, asian groceries and restaurants. There are so many favorites. it's hard to know where to start, but older posts will speak of Tamarind Tree, Green Leaf. Malay Satay Hut, Seven Stars Pepper. Pho Bac, Takahatchi, House of Hong and I am going to give up now, because darn near every doorway there has earned a post here at one time or another and it's probably best to just start at one end and work yer way through it all.
The Citizen's Service office (?) at City hall probably has all the farmers market schedules. There are maybe 5 or 10 scattered throughout the city.
Starbucks #1 is still on Pike Place, but the outfit has outsmarted itself a little. They started this "craft-coffee" thing and created a cadre of roasters who went into diaspora and have opened a dozen or more great little roasteries, each with a voluble following. We took a Berkeley rip recently and were stunned at how jaded our coffee palate has got. A favorite of mine is Cafe Vita, served at many local shops, inckluding a great Saturday morning spot, Irwin's, at 40th and Bagley, in Wallingford. Yes, the coffee is good, but the real pont there is the blueberry muffins, marionberry scones, and other goodies baked right there in the kitchen of this old Craftsman house. If the North end works for you, another great weekend morning place is Cafe Besalu, on 23rd NW above Market, in Ballard. James makes genuine french pastry and the place is a treat on a sunny spring morning.
At the Pike Place Market, find Jack's Fish Spot and have some Cioppino, oysters, and crab cocktail (probably not all at once). Also in the atrium, behind and below delaurenti's (for good pizza and salads) is World Class Chili, where Joe's Cincinnati chili knocks the stuffing out of any Cincinnati chile I ever found in Cincinnati.
Go down all those stairs on the Pike Place Hillclimb and find El Puerco Lloron, the crying pig, for a really genuine mexican menu that hasn't changed in the twenty years I've been eating there. Actually, they took the "dozen fresh tortillas" off the menu, though will still deliver these little beauties on request. Do this, it is necessary. Go further down to the waterfront and North to Elliott's Oyster House for oyster happpy hour. At 3:00, the price is fifty cents (get a dozen each or more) and the price goes up 20 cents every half hour til the prices become what is surely going to be deeply disturbing to a Floridian. Other Pike Place winners include the Pan African Market, Cafe Saigon, Turkish Delight, Etta's, Le Pichet. Cafe Campagne (esp brunch), Maximilien (esp Mussells), and then you break out into Belltown, which is a whole nother chapter.
And, of course, Salumi, at 2nd and Jackson, where the nearly secret lunch specials are even more fun than the salamis. A block or three West on Jackson is yet another great espresso place, Zeitgeist. On a leisurely day, try a ciro at Vivace on the hill.
Maybe Irwin's will bake you a cake with a file in it...
Welcome…since you posed this question here, it shows that you are "one of us" and therefore don't take the following as a rip, but as some local advice as how to fit in and not get the locals dander up….
1) It is the Pike Place Market, or to us locals just "The Market", call it "Pikes" and you might as well have a red stamp on your forehead saying "Cruise ship tourist - take advantage of me" The market never belonged to a Mr & Mrs Pike..it is not possessive , nor is it plural… Oh…now I feel much better. ( this is the 100 year anniversary of the market - take advantage and learn the history, it’s a fantastic story… and then you can drop - "boy, are we lucky the market didn't get devolved in the 70's…." over cocktails on the patio at the Pink Door.) (Pink Door…not an adult video, but a restaurant with no sign, just a pink door in post alley…wait for the patio, don't sit inside)
2) If salmon were meant to fly they'd have wings….. While the guys who throw fish are fantastic marketers, you want to support the "real" guys..the fish throwers are supported enough by those with the red stamps on their foreheads… If you are buying fish at the market, after gawking at those airborne, head to Jacks, talk to the guy with the Mullet…he's Jack - honestly a strait shooter… ask him about the difference between gill net and troll caught fish, Is Copper river REALLY worth that much ???(I think we will see the $ 30 pound barrier broken this year for the first week)… you get the drift. (you'll hopefully come home with some Oregon troll king at about $13 a pound)
3) Produce…three choices…Franks & Sossios…Both fantastic places, with really helpful, friendly staff. Go regularly and they get to know you…its not on the sunny July afternoon when it come in handy, but its those October afternoons at 4:30.,tourists are gone, hub bub is done, on your way home from work when they turn you on to some fantastic apple, or pear or something ……Don't be shy, grab a bag and get your stuff, you live here, these are your spots…develop your relationships !
The third choice for produce is the "low stalls"…..look at how the market is set up , there are "High Stalls" - the ones that are all beautiful displays, with the "Do Not Touch" signs, and the variety of almost any supermarket produce stand, and if you buy anything there you feel kind of like you want to take a shower (Franks and Sossios don't fall in this category)…then at the north end, there are a bunch of low tables, with lots of flowers and crafts, and in the summer real local Berries, Cherries, Peaches, Bok Choi, Basil, Corn…and then on Wed & Fri Sat starting in June, additional farmers come in and set up stalls in the street. These are the real deal…sure it might not look as "pretty" as others, but go to a farm, and things aren't to pretty either, but when you take it home, and take a bite your mouth says pretty…..
Hope this helps…..
Now, for your birthday dinner…… Marjorie's in belltown….you can feel the love and comfort in the room, Donna the Owner/Host is one of the nicest, warmest people in the world. The food is terrific, cocktails outstanding, and wine list spot on…and the prices are really pretty resonable.Try to sit on the terrace.
Welcome to our world !
I'm really impressed with the breadth of those two responses from mrnelso and tilt. I agree with everything they noted and would like to know how the whole "Pike's" thing got started in the first place. Anyway, I just wanted to add that in the same way that so many coffee roasters deserve mention, the local beers should be noted to. Seattle has a wonderful selection of high quality micro-breweries. Look for delicious beers from Elysian, Maritime, Big Time, Port Townsend, Boundary bay ... Just like Starbucks, Redhook and Pyramid paved the way but are no longer what they used to be.
Wow- thanks guys, I was begin to lose hope in my fellow hounds! We went to Barolo on Sat nite- besides the incredibly slow service in the bar- it was amazing! For apps we got this fresh mozz stuffed with mascarpone,resting on cherry tomatos & arugula- so good! I had ossobucco- naturally it fell right off the bone, and it rested on a delicious saffron risotto- al dente- the way I like it. My hubbie got the rack of lamb- refreshing that it wasn't 3 chops (i think he got 7 or 8!)- it was in a fabulous wine sauce. We finished off a 2001 bottle of Barolo wine, and a chocolate cake (one of the flourless warm and goey kind).
Looking foward to trying out the other suggestions on here. Keep 'em coming!
On another note we went back to the market (quick leartner-thanks) and the gentelman from Sosio's remembered me from the week prior (and invited himself to dinner again, haha). I absolutly agree that the other stands are a little scary- one had fake iguanas on the produce saying dont touch! I wonder if the veggies they give are as pretty as the displays? We got some jumbo shrimp and made a fabulous triple lemon butter shrimp with the special linguine from the market- lemon garlic with cracked black pepper. Thanks!
OH- and haha but no I'm not a jailbird. Obviously my company picked my apartments, not me. But thanks so much for the sense of humor- really it was so funny.
I also had the burrata ("fresh mozz") at Barolo on Sunday and it was quite good. Maybe they've ironed out their supply problems with that. If you like your cheese all soft like that, you might try the St Andre tart at Crush (get their prawn w/ gnocchi while you're there, and the drink with the tarragon foam). Another place to put on your list (i see from your top 5 that you like sushi/fusion) is Nishino (Madison and 31st or so). PS although Barolo's menu describes the burrata as "stuffed with marscapone", the version they serve is actually stuffed with mozzarella curds and cream if i'm not mistaken (as it should be)
by city regulation: Pike Place Market HIGH STALLS may sell produce which they do not grow (how else would a Seattlite ever get a banana?) and LOW STALLS must only sell what they grow themselves. Both serve a vital function but, in season, the low stalls are heaven - allowing you to "MEET THE PRODUCER' (market slogan) and get products that were still growing yesterday. Wednesdays in summer are special to organic produce and the streets are closed for a real 'farmer's market' on summer weekends. The market also has two real butcher shops (which are disappearing elsewhere in America) and two sausage makers (though the butcher shops also make sausage). Add 3 cheese shops, multiple bakeries, at least 3 confectioners, several sellers of teas and spices and grocery stores specializing in italian, mideastern, asian and latin american goodies. A half-dozen excellent restaurants, a plethora of decent places and even a few awful joints to service those with the red-stamped foreheads.. calling the market 'pike's' is the same sloppy tourist slang as calling san francisco 'frisco' but they DO bring in lots of money to keep the market going for those of us who know it best. just as you cannot sit on a terrace outside in st. mark's square without paying triple what you'd pay inside the same bar for the same drink, tourists must be carefully utilized to make life bearable for the residents.
So just an update- my husband & I are quite impressed with Seattle dining so far. We have enjoyed Ettas, app of crab cakes- perfectly meaty and moist. Dinner of seared-rare tuna and the salmon- very melt in your mouth delicious. We got over to the international district to House of Hong. I was very happy to find non-"fast food" style chinese. The lemon chicken was so good! We took a ferry to Bainbridge and enjoyed a lovely lunch at Cafe Nola and fabulous creamy dreamy cheesecake at Blackbird Bakery- oh my it was so good. I mean I may leave work right now to go get another slice- which by the way 1 "slice" could feed about 4 people. We went to Two Bells Tavern for burgers- which were truly med-rare and so juicy and tasty, the crusty hoagie roll was a pleasant twist as well. I was bummed that they didnt have fries, but oh well, the burgers are worth it. We had breakfast at the crepe place in the market, and lunch at pike place chowder- which beats the chowder i've had in the Northeast! We've had drinks at the Pink door, Zig zag, Bookstore Bar, the Hideout and Purple- all very different but very good. I think so far my favorite coffee is a tie-the Vanilla Latte at Cafe Umbria and surprisingly the late night cappucino at the Pink door. Also if you hadn't had the spicy fried chicken at Ezeles you must go- I am not a huge fried chicken fan but it makes me crave fried chicken! Luckily we are walking everywhere and can handle a few extra calories!
We are planning on trying one of Tom Douglas' places on Friday, and are hoping to get to a great brunch next weekend. Also looking foward to Union.