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A "Crash Course" in Seattle Dining...?

My son (age 24) and a friend will be visiting Seattle in a few weeks, and he's asked me to post this request for dining suggestions. They'll have only a few days in Seattle, but here's what they're looking for (in HIS words...):

“something that’s classic Seattle”

The hidden gem

The place tourists shouldn’t know about

The out of the way spot with beautiful views

The best fish restaurant

The restaurant with great food and fun staff

The cool bar where all the hipsters go

The best music (jazz, etc.) night spot

The place you won’t find anywhere else

I know this is a tall order, but he's counting on CH to help make his first trip to Seattle a great one. Any suggestions for any of these criteria will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. Here are a few suggestions. View and Seafood - Pacific Palisades. Fun Bar Etta's, Also good for seafood, Dahlia's. Couple of places on Eastlake and Westlake for breakfast. If he likes coffee must try Cafe Vivace, you'd think you were in Italy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: local_guy

      Palisade is a decent view restaurant in Magnolia. Pacific Palisades is a town in California.

    2. Matt's in the Market for the uniquely Seattle place AND great seafood.

      Palace Kitchen also for a classic Seattle place, and for great food and fun staff.

      Cool bar: Zig Zag, though if you're looking for a dive-y, very casual hipster type bar, then maybe the Crocodile (live indie rock), Linda's just up from downtown on Capitol HIll or Hattie's Hat in Ballard.

      Out of the way with beautiful views: Sunfish on Alki. You can take the water taxi there. Or, not really out of the way but with a hidden sort of feeling: Maximilien Bistro in the Market, and the deck at the Pink Door, also in the Market.

      1. “something that’s classic Seattle” Obviously Pikes Market and waterfront-buy some smoked salmon, cheese from Beecher's (sp?) bread from the sourdough company, wine from the wine shop, fresh fruit from the vendors, local honey. Take the stairs down to the waterfront and eat your food watching the water. Go to the Curiosity Shop or walk on a ferry.

        El Gacho Steak(lower your price by going happy hour or just for desert.) Capitol Hill to walk around. Top Pot Donuts on 4th

        The hidden gem The Alibi room or the Pink Door, both in Post alley near Pike's Market Square or the "flying Fish" (drinks and Apps), going to the locks in Ballard (not hidden but a gem), AWESOME Fresh mexican at Aqua verde by UW

        The place tourists shouldn’t know about- I dont know, I like tourists and think they should see all of seattle. One thing I do hope though is that they dont realize it doesn't rain as much as people think and that it is beautiful on a sunny day. When they realize that, they move here!! :)

        The out of the way spot with beautiful views, see below for columbia tower, but also cool at Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill, Gasworks Park, Careek Park North Ballard, Alki Beach West Seattle, Walk on a Ferry.

        The best fish restaurant- I have had the best Scallops at Rock Salt on Lake Union, Elliot's on the Waterfront, Etta's by Pike's market,

        The restaurant with great food and fun staff- You will love Can Can near the square of Pikes Market. Crazy, Can Can Dancers, Great Food. Fun!

        The cool bar where all the hipsters go- The Chapel on Capitol hill (on Melrose), very cool, use to be a funeral home. Go happy hour time $4 martinis, list is unique and long, cucumbers, basil, lavender, blood orange, prickly pear. Etc. the Capitol Club (just up the street from Chapel), The Baltic Room. The Twilight Lounge.

        The best music (jazz, etc.) night spot- Jazz alley, Crocodille Cafe, Showbox

        The place you won’t find anywhere else- space needle :), Cheaper = same amazing view from Columbia center, tallest building in Seattle

        Have a great time! Hope this helps!

        1 Reply
        1. re: enneirda

          "The best music (jazz, etc.) night spot- Jazz alley, Crocodille Cafe, Showbox"

          I would add The Tractor and The Triple Door to that, of course, always depends upon your mood and who is playing.

          Showbox is the only one who disappoints me now and then, but I'm a bigger fan of 21+ shows. The acoustics at the Showbox always let me down.

        2. Not so out of the way, but try Gasworks Park for a dynamite view of Downtown and fresh water, houseboats, pleasure boats, float planes, etc., with a picnic lunch from sort-of-nearby Paseo (Cuban--try one of the pork sandwiches!).

          And it's DEFINITELY the Pike Place Market, not Pike's Market. Very good baklava at Turkish Delight at the north end of the market. The original Starbucks is close by.

          The new Seattle Art Museum sculpture park has fantastic views of Elliott Bay (the Seattle end of Puget Sound) and the Olympic Mountains and it's free! Eat at the cafe there or bring a picnic from the Market.

          Agree with observation about Kerry Park--very out of the way and good view. The new Federal Courthouse has a public observation deck that has a different view of Seattle--very nice. Be sure to bring ID (driver's license is fine), because you have to go through inspection before you get in. The mural that continues on three different floors of the lobby is superb.

          Fish and chips at the outdoor fish 'n' chips bar at Anthony's on the Waterfront or at Little Chinook's at Fisherman's Terminal--delicious, inexpensive, and with good views. Or clam chowder at either of these places. For this native, that's classic Seattle more than any of the gourmet restaurants that have sprung up in the last 30 years, as much as I enjoy and applaud the latter. (Unless your son wants to spring big bucks for Canlis, which is about as classic Seattle as you can get--or ditto with Ivar's for less good food but cheap)

          The place you won't find anywhere else: the Ballard locks on the south side of the canal. Much less touristy and more laid back, easier parking than the north side. Closer to the fish ladders/underwater fish viewing windows. Spend some time up above the windows looking down at the fish ladders to see the fish make the big jump. You can always walk over to the north side, go to the small museum and walk through the lovely gardens. Yes, the tourists go there but it's fun nonetheless,especially on a Sunday afternoon when all the sunburnt, tired, and sometimes inebriated boaters are coming in. They have outdoor concerts there around 2 pm on Sundays, I believe.

          Japanese Garden in the arboretum. Very lovely, very peaceful.

          1. “something that’s classic Seattle”
            The Pike Place Market - search chowhound PNW for detailed posts

            The hidden gem
            elemental, Matt's, Art of the Table, Senor Moose

            The place tourists shouldn’t know about

            The out of the way spot with beautiful views

            The best fish restaurant
            Matt's, Etta's, Chinook's (fisherman's terminal views)

            The restaurant with great food and fun staff
            Art of the Table

            The cool bar where all the hipsters go

            The best music (jazz, etc.) night spot
            Jazz Alley, Tractor, Triple Door

            The place you won’t find anywhere else

            1 Reply
            1. re: mrnelso

              I agree about Art of the Table being a hidden gem. I've gone three times and have always gotten a parking spot in front of the entrance. It's a tiny place with new photos up on the walls each time you go, and Chef Dustin comes out to tell you about his inspiration for each course as it's served--you can actually learn some cool things about international cuisine that way.

              the test for any restaurant is how they do veggies and soups, and the hot and sour seafood soup with homemade chili sauce was amazing--delicate and spicy. Great desserts too.

            2. Now this is a way to ask for suggestions! Here are my suggestions:

              “something that’s classic Seattle”
              I agree with the Pike Place Market recommendations. I also recently went on the Underground Tour and was reminded of how fun Pioneer Square can be - and how many restaurants are there.

              The hidden gem
              Boat Street Cafe

              The place tourists shouldn’t know about
              Well, since I want our guests to have the best experience when they visit - I don't have anything to put here.

              The out of the way spot with beautiful views
              Ray's Boathouse

              The best fish restaurant
              Union or Etta's

              The restaurant with great food and fun staff
              I'm not sure what makes for a fun staff so I'm going to take a pass on this one.

              The cool bar where all the hipsters go
              Copper Gate

              The best music (jazz, etc.) night spot
              Triple Door, Tula's

              The place you won’t find anywhere else
              Matt's in the Market

              1. classic Seattle
                I initially took classic seattle to refer to longevity or traditional cuisine. However it could certainly also mean something that epitomizes Seattle including independence, committment to local ingredients, organic food, or atmosphere. There are several great choices. Tilth: NW organic from a F&W Best New Chef in an old bungalow in Wallingford neighborhood. Matt's in the Market: located in an aerie overlooking the heart of Pike Place Market with seasonal ingredients sourced from the market below.

                Hidden gem.
                I am going to have to go with Boat Street. This is a ground level space below work space lofts north of the Olympic Sculpture Park. Such a beautiful space, amazing light, fantastic food.

                Tourists shouldn’t know about
                Cafe Besalu in Ballard. I considered also listing Besalu under "hidden gem" and "place you won't find anywhere else" A breakfast/lunch spot, this is really a cafe/patisserie with some of the flnest croissants and other sweet and savory pastries I have ever experienced. The chef owner rolls out new items throughout the day and works just behind the counter, which is fun. Unfortunately Besalu, though tucked up into edge of the residential part of the Ballard neighborhood, is very small and is already obscenely popular.

                The out of the way spot with beautiful views
                I guess I would go for Ray's in Ballard. It is not out of the way to me as I live in Ballard and it is right in the heart of the Shilshole commerical area but it does have amazing views of the Sound and the Olympics, especially at sunset. Salty's on Alki also has great views. From downtown West Seattle is a bit out of the way.

                The best fish restaurant. Seattle has many great seafood restaurants. Oceanaire (though a chain) has a wide variety of seafood. Flying Fish is another great option. Cristine Keff is a local award winning chef. This is downtown. Ray's in Ballard is a third good option.

                The cool bar where all the hipsters go. Not at all sure I am the best qualified person to say where all the hipsters go. However, I can recommend a few bars in the Ballard area that I like and that are popular. King's Hardware has gotten tons of press. It is popular for its burgers, retro NW outdoors decor, and back deck. It also has a great jukebox that is rock-heavy, and skeeball. Attached to the back of Le Gourmand is Sambar. It has french food from Le Gourmand, incredible cocktails, a NYC feel, and an outside patio. Hazlewood, on Ballard Ave. is a tiny space with top shelf liquors and creative cocktails. Drew Church, one of the owners, is a member of the Cops, a Seattle rock band and Droo Church. Ben Shepard of Soundgarden is an investor. Ballmar. A two story bar/restaurant with pool tables, decent food, buzzing bar scene.

                The best music (jazz, etc.) night spot. I have not been out to jazz since moving to Seattle. A friend of mine who is a jazz fan enjoys Jazz Alley.http://www.jazzalley.com/history.asp. For alt-rock shows I like Sunset Tavern in Ballard and the High Dive in Fremont. For bigger shows Neumo's and the Showbox are good options. You should know that if they will be here over the Labor Day weekend there is a huge music fest called Bumbershoot going on at Seattle Center.

                1. Hattie's Hat in Ballard has been there since 1904 and has things like chicken fried chicken and salmon chowder. It is one of my dad's favorite dives. He always tops of his meal with something like a peach strawberry piece of pie. I would recommend the salmon club. The dive bar The Sloop is close by and a mix of people and fun- make sure to try the Sloop a huge beer available in Rainer(a local cheap beer usually not available). Another place hidden close by is the Jolly Roger taproom, which serves Maritime Pacific Beer. The decor is pirate and the wonderful slider come with a choice of habanero bbq(a huge kick), garlic dill, apple cider bbq, or stone ground mustard sauce. The onion rings are fantastically seasoned and have the baked taste with thick onion cuts. Jolly Roger has been voted best beer selection by a local poll. I would also agree with Elemental(read the citysearch reviews of it! to get prepared), Tilth( for local regional organic food), Etta's, Aqua Verde for a fun lunch in the sun- it is in a bright building on the water by the U and you can rent kayaks from the bottom of it, Crave on Capital Hill- for a great seattle early morning breakfast, and the Pike Place Market(Matt's and local vendors for a wandering multi piece lunch- gyros, piroshky piroshky, organic bakery, donut holes, dried fruit, teas&spices, crumpets, cheese and cheesecake, meat at Bavarian Meats, Uli's for an awesome meat sandwich, etc etc) Reading editorial and customer reviews on citysearch seattle and looking at menus from places recommended on here will do you wonders in selecting. And don't forget SALUMI's!! for lunch in Pioneer area if here during the week. It is owned by Mario Batali's father and a true gem- there is nothing bad to say about it besides it is only open weekdays and has a long wait.

                  1. You folks are GREAT!!! I think their biggest challenge is going to be choosing between all of your wonderful suggestions. So, given their limited time in Seattle, which of these restaurants should definitely NOT be passed over?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: CindyJ

                      If he is an open personality - elemental
                      If he likes his food good and service serviceable - Palace Kitchen
                      No matter what he likes - cafe Besalu - if he hates it, disown him
                      Along those same lines - Pike place market - if nothing lights you up there, you can't be lit

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        I think we'd all argue our own choices shouldn't be missed. But Matt's for sure, and Salumi.

                        1. re: CindyJ

                          Zig Zag (down towards the water from Pike Place) is one of the best places to imbibe in Seattle. The bartender Murray is legendary.
                          For relaxed atmosphere along with good food and drink, you can't go wrong with the Palace Kitchen. P.S. Jazz Alley is only a block away.
                          The best low-brow: Linda's, Hattie's, and don't forget late-night hot dogs from Shorty's.
                          And Besalu in Ballard offers the best pastires outside of Paris.

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            Pikes Place Market, for fruit in season, and the experience.
                            Ray's, for the sablefish in sake kasu, and the beautiful view.
                            Piroshky Piroshky, for savory pastries.
                            Top Pot Doughnuts, for the best Boston cream ever. Old-fashioned glazed runner-up.


                            Ray's Boathouse Restaurant
                            6049 Seaview Ave., Seattle, WA 98107

                            Top Pot Doughnuts
                            2124 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

                            Piroshky Piroshky
                            1908 Pike Pl, Seattle, Seattle, WA 98121

                            Pike Place Market
                            1501 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101