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Seattle Dining Itinerary - pls comment

We've never been to the Pacific Northwest before and have an eight day trip coming up in early October. We will be staying at the Sheraton downtown and will not have a car except one day when we go to Woodinville to visit wineries. Here is my dining plan so far. i'd appreciate opinions.

Ivars Acres of Clams (I'm having serious second thoughts on this one. I originally thought it would be the touristy, fun thing - buy the T-shirt etc but now I don't know)
Purple Care and Wine Bar
Red Fin - for sushi, sushi is a must
Matts in the market
Rays Boathouse (I'm having second thoughts here as well)
Pikes Pub
**I need one more dinner**

Hing Loon
Nola Cafe (Bainbridge)
Tamarind Tree
*Need a place between Snoqualmie and Woodinville on a Saturday
*Need a place in Ballard

I appreciate any suggestions, comments etc

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  1. reactions:

    ivars - eat the shirt but not the dreadful touristy food
    purple and red fin - a bit trendoid but adequate provender
    etta's - as at other tom douglas places, a 90% chance of getting a superb meal
    matt's - best choice ever
    ray's - have no second thoughts; a great place (downstairs) but needing a car
    pikes pub (misnamed?) - unless beer is the question, this is not the answer

    other nearby treats: union, steelhead diner, le pichet, union square grille, o'asian

    1. You've got the right mind-set on Ivars. It certainly is touristy, campy fun. You might even find okay food. It's not where I would recommend for great food.

      Where are you coming from? I ask because both Purple and Red Fin have a very generic feel to me - like they could be in any major city. I've been to Purple a couple of times and it was okay. I've only been to Red Fin once but was underwhelmed. There are definitely better sushi places in town. Search through the many sushi threads for ideas.

      Etta's, Matt's, Ray's - all good ideas. I would add Union for your remaining dinner.

      Your lunches are spot on. What type of place are you looking for in Ballard. There's a lot going on in that neighborhood now so it would help to know the feel, cuisine etc. that you like.

      1. For your Tom Douglas place, I'd choose Palace Kitchen over Etta's. It has more of a locals vibe than touristy.

        Pike Pub... Do you mean the Pike Brewing Company? If so I'd skip that and try the Elysian Brewing Company on Capitol Hill. Award-winning beers in a fun neighborhood setting. Decent pub grub.

        Ballard... If you're going to be in town on a Sunday, I'd recommend walking around the farmer's market in Ballard during the day. There are high-end restaurants in Ballard that are very good (Volterra for example), but in this neighborhood, I think it's more all about the good, casual places. And cupcakes! Depends on what you're really looking for though so I won't recommend anything specific.

        1. Ray's Boathouse, altho not the same of old, is a real Seattle treat and not to be missed. Especially in October when the crab season starts. Ray's is noted for it's half crab in the shell and greatwines to go with it. The bar is always busy but the view up the Ballard Locksis wonderful. If it is warm enough you can sit outside and watch the salmon leap.

          Ivar's is a touristy thing and you would be better served to visit the clam diner (can't remeber name) in the Pike Place Market. There is a welcoming hostes always, great cheap views and great chow in major combination. Plus you cab 'do' the market as well. DO NOT FORGET Di Laurentis deli while there.

          Haute Cuisine is still Rotors. Thierry, the owner/chef is a hoot and there is always great conviviality in the dining room.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sparkleplenty

            Agree with the above comments re: completely nixing Red Fin and Ivar's, and also concur in the idea that Elysian is the superior brew pub over Pike Place, which has a cavernous space with a generic feel and mediocre food. It is easy to find much better eats in the Market and vicinity; there are many posts on that topic. I also think the upper level Ray's Cafe leaves alot to be desired.

            Tamarind Tree and Salumi are outstanding picks, and IMO, borderline requisites given your time frame. I don't know if there is anything else quite like these two in the country.

            For sushi, I like Saito's on 2nd Ave. It is well within the free downtown bus zone.

            For Ballard lunch, how about Mexican? I think both La Carta de Oaxaca and Senor Moose hold their own and offer great values. You don't seem to have anything else in Latin cuisine.

            I think sparkleplenty means "Rover's". I haven't been here for a few years, but when I went it was excellent french food, though expensive.

            1. re: sparkleplenty

              I think sparkleplenty is confusing Ray's Boathouse with the old Hiram's at the Locks. You can't see the lock's from Ray's - Ray's is farther northwest, on Shilshole Bay. Unfortunately Hiram's no longer exists. I used to love that place!

            2. I believe (although I could be wrong) that Purple is a national chain so why go there when there are plenty of wonderful local places?

              Ballard? On the high end, Bruce Naftaly's Le Gourmand for excellent French/NW food (dinner only, I think). On the low to medium end, La Carta de Oaxaca for good Oaxacan cuisine.

              I would skip Hing Loon--it's fine, but nothing that much out of the ordinary in Chinese seafood-- and try something more unusual--Malay Satay Hut or Green Leaf.

              1. Just back from a wonderful trip to Seattle! We had lunch at Purple on our last day, and my advice would be to skip it. It wasn't bad, just not that good. They do have a nice wine selection, so if you have an hour to kill one afternoon you could stop in for a glass. Our favorite was Serious Pie... had dinner there twice! But we do LOVE pizza! Lark was nice, too. Not superb, but very good.

                1 Reply
                1. re: hollyeve

                  Oh, and be sure to get a potato cheese piroshky at Pike Place Market! I can't think of a more delicious carbohydrate delivery device!

                2. There's some great advice in this thread-I agree with skipping Pike Place Brewery, Purple and Hing Loon (never been to Red Fin, and I also agree that Ivar's could be okay but you aren't going to get a great meal). I think the advice to visit Elysian if you want a brew pub is good; Union and Steelhead Diner are terrific choices to substitute for the places we're discouraging.

                  In Ballard, La Carta de Oaxaca.

                  If you don't get recs for a place in between Snoqalmie and Woodinville, you might post a separate thread, since this one might only attract Seattle folks. The most direct way to go between the two would be up the Snoqualmie Valley (towns of Snoqalmie, Fall City, Duvall, Carnation), which is scenic but doesn't have much in the way of decent food.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: christy319

                    One Ballard option not mentioned so far is a lively, good-value Puerto Rican restaurant called "Isla" on Market, just off Ballard Ave. You can hit any fried-food craving on their menu (empanada, plaintains, bacaloa/salt cod) all lightly done, excellent salads, service. Plus, you can sit outside and watch the world go by, always nice when you're dining solo.

                    It would be well worth your while to take a short hike up Capitol Hill to 12th Ave, Pike and Pine area.
                    Pizza = via tribunali (dinner only)
                    Emilia Romana Italian = La Spiga (dinner only)
                    French cafe, scene of the moment = Cafe Presse (great for an odd-hour meal)
                    NW cafe = Crave (best for brunch)
                    Under the radar, though voted in the top 10 the year it opened and still one of the best in town = Dinette (dinner only)
                    It's a coming neighborhood, and you can say you visited it when.

                    Another neighborhood is our International District, near the end of the free bus line. To come from rural Virginia and not visit Uwajimaya and the streets around it would be a shame.
                    Have a great trip.

                  2. Excellent input folks - I really appreciate this. To the question where am I coming from - rural Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains so not a lot of ethnic options.

                    The Purple was recommended by one of the wineries in Woodinville but they were recommending the Purple at the Woodinville location. I was a little concerned about visiting the wineries and then driving back to Seattle. I am NOT a chain kind of gal so the Purple cafe is probably not going to work.

                    Ballard will be a lunch meal. I will most likely be dining alone that day so something casual with atmosphere would be nice. Price isn't much of an issue. But given that we are traveling for eight days I don't want all of the meals to be $$$$

                    I will check out your suggestions - I already noticed that Rovers offers a tasting menu - thanks again

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jmsvss

                      Purple Cafe isn't REALLY a chain... there are only 3 locations and I believe still family run. I can't speak for the new Purple in Seattle, but the original location in Woodinville has been wonderful every time I have gone. Also around that area is Barking Frog which I had a good experience at ... skip the Red Hook brewery for FOOD.

                      Also, if you are coming from Seattle and headed to Woodinville, the most direct route isn't through all of the cities christy319 mentioned. I would hop on 520 East, take it to the very end onto Avondale Road in Redmond, and follow that into Woodinville!

                      1. re: wino22

                        The OP asked for a place between Snoqualmie and Woodinville.

                    2. I'll only comment on what I know as I haven't been to all the places you've listed.

                      Ivar's is touristy and fine if you accept that, but there are much better spots for fish n chips. Anthony's on the Bell Pier may suit both your tourist and dining needs.

                      Purple is mediocre, but I've only been for lunch.

                      Not sure exactly where you will be on the Satruday, but in Woodinville the Barking Frog restaurant is excellent. It's across the street from Chateau St. Michelle at the Willows Lodge. Or for the NW pub experience go to the Forecaster's Pub and get a tour of the Red Hook brewery with free samples.

                      Etta's is solid, but I prefer Tom Douglas' other restaurants like Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge, and Lola.

                      Ray's has great views and good food, but it is a big of a schlep from downtown. Technically I think it is in Ballard.

                      For sushi I recommend Nishino which is in the Madison Park neighborhood, a short cab ride from your hotel. Downtown has Shiro's which is also very popular, but not as creative as Nishino imo.

                      For a unique lunch experience, Baguette Box puts a new twist on Vietnamese sandwiches. It is run by the brother of the owner of Monsoon, which I also really like. If you go try the drunken chicken sandwich with a side of truffle fries.

                      If you want an upscale brunch on Saturday, the Salish Lodge at Snoqualmie Falls is quite good and the view is amazing.

                      I second Volterra in Ballard (not sure if they are open for lunch). Very good Italian food.

                      One more suggestion for either lunch or dinner downtown is Typhoon on Western Ave just beneath the Pike Place Market hillclimb.

                      1. I was a tourist there this week, and we had great sushi at the sushi bar at Shiro's - let them make up the menu and you will be happy!