2 days in Seattle
2 35 year old NYC Chouwhounders heading to Seattle for 2 days ... looking for great recommendations for dinner/lunches/snacks. Funky/offbeat ok!
Nycmir, Since you're from New York, I won't recommend any Italian options. First would be Harvest Vine. (They may be rennovating; check to see they are open.) Matt's at the Market may be open when you arrive (they have also been closed for a re-do.) In our International District Seven Stars, Tamarand Tree and Green Leaf are all Chow-worthy. For lunch (Tuesday--Friday) Salumi. (Mario's father's place.) Get there right at 11:30.
Palace Kitchen, Union and 94 Stewart Street are also good options for dinner. The mussels we have in Seattle are the best you'll find anywhere. The upstairs bar at Maximillien's at the Market offers 4 options. If you like mussels, these are a must. Finally, Shiro's for Sushi. Don't order from the menu; merely ask Shiro to make you dinner. (Be sure and get there at 5:30 to ensure a seat the bar.) You'll be enchanted with your meal. Enjoy and let us know what you liked.
if you're looking for funky/offbeat, you can't get much funkier than Elemental at Gasworks. Because it's a very small place with basically 2 staff (the owners), need to get there early to get a seat. Service can change from very friendly to very rude at the drop of a hat, so be sure to go in the proper frame of mind, i.e., not a good place to go if you require a lot of attention or are in a rush to be served.
The sandwiches at Paseo's are a must try. Maekawa Bar also has great offbeat Japanese food you're unlikely to find elsewhere.
I wanted to comment on Salumi, mentioned by another poster. The restaurant was run by Armandino Batali but he is retired and Gina runs the place now. They are open for lunch starting at 11am. They have a small menu heavy on sandwiches. They are famous for house-made salumi but also among the favorite specials are pork cheek, oxtail, polpettone, fennel sausage and gnocchi. The restaurant is at the intersection of 2nd and 3rd in the Pioneer Square area. The area remains a bit rough around the edges (think East Village) but is safe. No reservations are taken. You can call in your order which enables you to skip the line (not well known but a huge advantage). You can order sliced salumi by the pound as well but they may enforce their policy of advance call in only depending on how slammed they are. I would recommend getting there when they open at 11:00am (in fact 15 minutes early is not too early) if you want a quick line and a seat. http://www.salumicuredmeats.com/
For breakfast/brunch I would highly recommend that you get out to Ballard (a few miles north of downtown) for pastries at Cafe Besalu. The owner makes some of the most exquisite croissant dough I have ever had. I don't believe I will ever find a pain au chocolate better (and I have not found a better one so far). He also makes seasonal fruit danish, cookies, tarts, galettes, quiche, and more. Be careful though and check hours first. He is not open Monday or Tuesday and often is closed for several days around a holiday.
The following is from Seattle Bon Vivant Blog
>The days was just so overwhelmingly beautiful we dropped out loot in our car and
> walked to Café Besalu for brunch. If you have never tried their pain au chocolat you
> have got to get yourself to this den of all things French and delicious tout de suite!
> I must tell you that in all my years of eating this, one of my favorite French
> breakfast pastries ever--quite comparable in chocolate quality and flake factor to
> those of Pierre Hermé, Lenôtre, Au Levain du Marais and Be. In fact, I am yet to
> find a nicer pain au chocolat in our fair city-- Il Fornil and Le Panier included.
Seattle has many fine French restaurants but for a slice of Paris downtown I would give the nod to Le Pichet. http://www.lepichetseattle.com/ Jim Drohman actually just opened a second restaurant Cafe Presse, which is open until 2am in Capitol Hill. http://www.cafepresseseattle.com/page...
Lark and Sitka and Spruce are both among the new-ish wave of great comtemporary NW kitchens that have opened in the past few years. Both Johnathan Sundstrom and Matt Dillon were Food and Wine Best New Chefs (2001 and 2007 respectively) and both were recently mentioned by Food and Wine in an article about Seattle outsider chefs.
Cafe Juanita on the East Side of Lake Washington is considered among the top restaurants in the Seattle area. Holly Smith has received national acclaim for her Italian cuisine inspired/informed by NW ingredients and she was a James Beard nominee this year. She also has a great wine list, heavy on Italian with a very nice Washington wine selection. The service there is also some of the best I have had ... anywhere. I would put Cafe Juanita in the same class as L'Impero. By the way the aforementioned F&W article also mentions Justin Neidemyer at Pian Pianino. This is very close to Sitka and Spruce. Justin worked as a pasta maker for Cafe Juanita. Believe me he is the real deal. I have not had pasta better. I understand that notwithstanding the article Justin is not truly open and he was not prepared for the crush of calls. If you can swing a reservation you will have accomplished something most here have not been able to do!
Gotta go for now but I will give you some more ideas later.
That is such a strange reply. Le Pichet isn't comparable to Cafe Boulud or Daniel because those places are not casual, drop-in places. Le Pichet is fantastic at what it is, which is basically a Parisian-style cafe. Daniel is not a Parisian-style cafe. Having lived in NYC I'd say what you should seek out here are the Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, like Green Leaf, of which there are few to none in Manhattan...you have to seek them out in outer boroughs. I'd actually second Harvest Vine except there are such great Spanish restaurants like Tia Pol opening in NYC that HV can't compete. I'd suggest eating as much salmon as you can while you're here, since, chances are, you're eating farmed Atlantic salmon in restaurants out there and that's just not the same thing. I'd also go to any of our great brewpubs. I was horrified at NYC bars and their 3-5 crap beers on tap. Stop into Brouwers in Fremont---they have, what, 500 beers? And great food too.
AA, It was one of Calvin Trillion's main tennants not to recommend a local French restaurant to out of town visitors. (As in Chez Peoria.) Rather, focus on what is done best locally. (i.e. Steaks in Chicago, BBQ in Memphis.) Frankly, Le Pichet is nothing special to anyone that has traveled extensively.
I suppose my reading of Trillin would differ from yours. When he refers to "focusing on what is done best locally" he's talking about leaving the Space Needle Restaurant and it's Continental-in-the-Sky restaurant friends out of it. I think Trillin's point is, "don't take me to the 'fine dining restaurant' take me to the place you craved when you were away for a long time." By this standard I can honestly tell you that Le Pichet COMPLETELY fits that bill for me. I couldn't wait to come back for visits to Seattle so that I could eat the chef's pate de campagne with walnuts and honey.
Thanks aaustin and equinoise for coming to the defense of the Seattle French bistro. I lived in DC (a town of great French restaurants) before moving to Seattle and have traveled extensively with MANY trips to NYC and several trips to Paris. I stand by my recommendation of LePichet. I would put Le Pichet (and Cremant) against any French bistro in NYC.
If I am not mistaken (and I know that I am not) the post was for great recommendations including places that are funky or offbeat. Our guests didn't say they were looking for only fine dining in Michelin-starred places.
Flying Fish has probably the best selection of PNW Seafood in town and Chef Keff and the staff are truly deft at everything and you'll pay about 1/3 less than you would at Oceanaire. Shiro's is great for Sushi but tends to rest on its laurels, try Saito's just down the street on 2nd where Saito-san may be serving multiple types of Wild Salmon or the Ankaimo(monkfish liver) are sublime. There is no better food experience for 2 in town than an intimate table at Lark (926 12th Ave?) with a healthy appetite. Sitka & Spruce is great according to all the people in the biz, but this isn't 1st hand
I moved here this past year from the NYC area. I agree with nearly all of the reccomendations above.
I would say that many meals in Seattle represent a better value than what is offered in NYC, even if the quality alone available in one particular style of cuisine might be superior at certain restaurants in NYC, and the diversity of options there is unparalleled in the US, and probably the world (though LA's scene seems pretty amazing too). This is why I wouldn't simply write off French bistro-style dining here. Cremant, for example, is better than similar places I have tried in NYC that cost more. Comparing a bistro like Le Pichet to an NYC place with a >$100 (or >$150) prix fixe like Daniel is silly. Comparing Daniel with Rover's is fair, and in that race, I bet on the high-end New Yorker (even though it still probably costs more).
On the opposite end of the price scale, to say that Seattle is no match for New York's pizza, subs, bagels or Shanghai cuisine is a gross understatement.
Sushi here is approximately 50-75% of the price for fish of comparable quality in NYC. I never tried any of the really high-end/omakase places in NYC, but for reasonably priced, mid-range sushi, I'll go out on a limb and say that Seattle is better. Try Saito's or Kisaku.
In addition to Vietnamese, another yet-to-be-mentioned cuisine with across the board diversity and quality that easily bests NYC is Eritrean and Ethiopian. There is like one local chain in Manhattan that serves it, plus a new place that just got dissed by the Village Voice. Consider Meskel or Dahlak.
Wild Ginger, Wild Ginger, Wild Ginger! I liked it so much I went twice in one week!
Lots of yummy choices in a very small radius in Seattle. You'll be pleasantly surprised. In Pikes Market, try Place Pigalle for lunch, tiny kinda hidden place with a lovely view of the water and really fresh, tasty food.
I will almost congratulate you for picking a perfect time to come to Seattle, but, sadly, the cloud-cover will probably still be here then, as it is not scheduled to leave til July 5. Welcome.
I have not read the many posts already here, but/so will focus on the memorable.
(You can surely use the search function of this site to find other posts about these):
Maximilien in the Market - Mussels
El Puerco Lloron - Asada tacos (and ask for a dozen tortillas on the side)
Salumi - go for the specials
Elliott's Oyster House - Oyster Happy Hour (50 cents from 3:00, goes up 20 cents per half hour until they get back to unrealistic)
Cafe Moose - tacos de papa and whatever ever the house says (do ask)
Elemental - whatever the house says (but be ready for challenge)
Muy Macho - get the biggest available plate of tacos (but, you know what?, I bet about anything they'll do for you is great, in a lowbrow sort of way, and surely tasty and memorable (ask them why the roasted jalapenos are missing from the salsa bar, to do this Hound a favor)..
Take a water-taxi from the downtown ferry terminal to Alki, thence a (free) bus-shuttle to Sunfish - Halibut FIsh and chips
For a tasty evening in the dark, maybe even with great music - Asteroid, in Fremont
at the bar
If you get near, the Baguette Box, at the skirts of Capital Hill has great stuff. - many are crazy for the Drunken Chicken , but I am nearly ashamed to say, I like the silly chorizo baguette.
(oh,yes) Jack's Fish Spot - Definitely get the Cioppino; the fresh-fish market is part of the deal
Zabars is ALL that, but even on the wet coast, we strive... See Big Jphn's PFI.
(That was a lot of fun.)
Have a great trip.