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Ivar's Acres of Clams?

We are spending this weekend in Seattle before heading out to Yakima, Walla Walla and then the Columbia Gorge before flying back to Chicago and life in the flatlands. We currently have reservations this Saturday night at Ivar's. We are hoping to eat seafood, with one steak eater, with a view of the lake. I'm now reading mixed reviews (over quite a time span) on Ivar's. We'd like to not pay more than the mid-20s for our entrees, so this seemed to fit the bill. We're staying at the Sheraton downtown (6th st.) so would like to walk, and eat somewhere on the waterfront near Pike's Place Market. Any recommendations would be very much appreciated.

Also, we'll be assembling a picnic to eat by Mt. Ranier on our way to Yakima, so thanks to all who've written in with recommendations of places to procure picnics at Pike's Place - say that five times fast - it is much appreciated.

Ann McCarthy

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  1. I prefer Elliot Bay Oyster House to Ivars if you want to be on the waterfront. Not sure about their steak options though.

    3 Replies
    1. re: eternalX

      I have not been to Ivar's but have been to Elliot's on two separate occasions (business trips to SEA) and enjoyed the food and the view. You can check out the menu here:

      http://www.elliottsoysterhouse.com/pr...

      They do have options for those not akin to seafood. I always go with whatever is fresh and haven't been disappointed. They make a pretty good clam chowder as well.

      1. re: scorpioscuba

        Thanks for the link. It looks just a touch more expensive than Ivar's so have forwarded the link on to our travelling companions for their input. Can you tell me what the market price on the Dungeness crab would probably be?

        1. re: Ann McC

          Is it? Yea, maybe 2-3 dollars more per main. Ivar's shows Dungeness for $34.95. Anyway, I'm not saying don't go to Ivar's. I've only been once and i don't really remember it (it has been a long time).

    2. Ivar's reminds me of an old time wharf fish house from the 1960's, serving fresh seafood simply prepared. My family and I enjoyed our meal there. It was quite crowded when we visited this past spring, I assume they were mostly locals eating there. As you said, prices were reasonable. We saw the mixed reviews as well, but several friends recommended it and we were pleased overall and would return again.

      1. You can do better than Ivar's...
        It's a bit of a "tourist trap" kind of place.
        But I guess for the price and going to a historic Seattle place, it fits the bill

        Elliot's is a better if not more expensive. Anthony's on Pier 66 is in that same vein. (although they have a "cafe" thing, that i've never been to but would assume would have lower prices). The view from Cutter's up by market is fantastic (but that's probably getting beyond the price barrier you've set).

        And of course by "LAKE" you mean "PUGET SOUND"
        (we'd don't take kindly to folks referring to the sound as a lake...)

        2 Replies
        1. re: GreenYoshi

          I would whole heartedly agree that Cutter's is fantastic. I was in SEA in April and ended up eating there twice, it was so good! It is a touch more expensive but well worth it IMO.

          1. re: GreenYoshi

            Sorry about the lake, I did mean Puget Sound. I'm just used to Lake Michigan when I think waterfront, being midwestern and sadly lacking any other type of waterfront...I won't say lake again, I promise!

            Thanks for the tips. I'm checking into availability at Cutter's and Elliott's.

          2. Ivar's is just a very nice version of Skippers. Cutters and Etta's are much better. I also suggest the upstairs bar at Maximillien's at the Market. Their mussels are fantastic and the atmosphere is rustic and fun.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Leper

              I still like Ivar's best. I like fresh seafood to taste like itself---and my favorite is the fried oysters. Not to mention the clam chowder. I also like the waitpersons to stay out of the way and let me converse and enjoy the view. Tell them you want frequent attention to your drinks and you'll have that.

              Skippers---not even on the same planet. Oversalted to the max, hard benches and teenaged service. No, no, no-no-no.

              Lake? There's Elliott Bay and there's Lake Washington, but LW is getting well off the waterfront.

              1. re: dragonfare

                Thanks, Dragonfare, and as I just posted above, I will not refer to Elliot Bay as a lake, will not, will not, will not;)

                1. re: Ann McC

                  Ann: the Ivar's thing is not over-rated, but most of the sit-down restaurants are a bit tourist-oriented. Now, you are going to be a tourist so there's nothing wrong with that, but if you want an insider's tip ... I grew up in Seattle when the Acres of Clams commercials were still on local TV. I have never been much of a clam kind of guy, but once my brother suggested that I get a piping hot cup of clam nectar at the original Ivars near Colman Dock. It is the only location they serve it, and I tell you, it is on the level of rillettes, anchovie-stuffed olives, or fresh-cut assaigo. Amazing. Feel free to add malt vinagar and lemon juice to the left of the line. This strange delicacy is about a dollar a cup, and if it happens to be raining while you are in Seattle, there is just nothing like it.

                  For fresh, sit-down seafood, I would take my people to McCormick & Smicks on 1st Avenue, or Flying Fish up in Belltown.

                  My two cents.

                  1. re: 0061

                    I was enjoying your post until I read "McCormick and Schmicks". How do you compare that with Flying Fish?

                    1. re: eternalX

                      FWIW, I've never had bad fish or bad service at McCormick & Schmick's on 1st (business dinners occasionally take me there.) I find the food (seafood entrees in the restaurant proper, not the food in the bar area) and service surprisingly competent for a chain.

                      Every time I've been to Flying Fish, on the other hand, at least one dish at the table has been lousy and the service has been 100% lousy from start (waiting 45 minutes past my reserved time to be seated) to finish (food not delivered until nearly an hour after ordering, drinks not refilled, waitstaff well practiced at avoiding eye contact.)

                      I won't choose either when it's up to me, but I honestly prefer M&S given the choice between it and Flying Fish.

                      1. re: eternalX

                        Sorry to have shocked you with the McCormicks reference--but their menu is still created daily, the service is still sharp, and remember that this location was their fourth or fifth store before they began to capitalize in chain-style terms outside the Northwest.

                        Two things, Ann: Cutters is probably a perfect choice. And just so you know (not trying to rib you here), it's Pike Place Market rather than Pike's. Just something that the locals notice. Have a great trip.

                        1. re: 0061

                          I shouldn't have said Flying fish as I'm not really a fan of that place either, but I think a lot of people are.

                          I don't really like julienned and steamed carrots and peas as a side dish, which seems to come with every main at M&S and I also think it is a bit pricey for what it is. Just my 2 cents. I think Elliot's is far and away a tastier meal.

                          1. re: 0061

                            Okay, now I'm getting nervous about talking while I'm there...no, really, thank you for the tips. I was a language major in college so I'm always hoping to communicate without offending anyone.

                            Where is the Colman Dock? I'm getting very hungry!

                        2. re: 0061

                          Thanks 0061, we'll be getting in before some of our party, so I'll see if we can work out picking up a cup of the clam nectar. I changed our reservations to Cutters, after that got majority vote, so would like to get to Ivar's somehow. So much food, so little time.

                  2. We just got home to PA from Seattle after doing a trip similar to yours but in reverse. Had a very good meal at Etta's and an excellent one at Brasa. Make sure you get your picnic provisions before leaving Seattle; there are slim pickins near Mt. Rainier. Yakima was a great disappointment -all chains as far as we could see. We ate at 26 Brix both nights in Walla Walla; not many places open on Monday for dinner. We ate once in the dining room and once in the bar. Both meals were enjoyable - have the onion rings if they're available.In Hood River we had a lovely meal at Celilo. Have a great time!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: wandasue

                      Thanks wandasue, we're planning on getting picnic fixings at Pike's market prior to starting out. Thanks also for the tips on Walla Walla, we're there for two nights, one of which will be a Monday. We love onion rings.

                      1. re: Ann McC

                        Sweet Basil is a great place for lunch - pizza, calzone. Are you wine tasting? There are so many places to go (Woodinville just outside of Seattle, Rattlesnake Trail near Yakima, the Gorge area nearer the Dalles and Hood River, and of course Walla Walla where a number of wineries have tasting rooms in the city center.) Enjoy!

                        1. re: wandasue

                          Hi,

                          Yes we're on a wine trip overall. We're starting our wine tasting on the way from Yakima down to Walla Walla, and then continuing through the Columbia Gorge area. We'll stop on our way home. I plan on checking out the wine place in Pike's Place Market when we get there.

                          1. re: Ann McC

                            Colman Dock is at the center of the waterfront where the ferry slips are. The original Ivars is the streetfront stand just north of the ferries. There is a sit-down Ivars right behind it, but it's out on the street that you get the clam nectar.