Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Pacific Northwest >
Nov 16, 2007 07:39 AM

Help! In need of food recs for Seattle/BC, please!

Hi all,

I'll be visiting my sister in Olympia for Thanksgiving, which is an hour away from Seattle. We'll be in Seattle on the 21st for lunch and most likely dinner, the 23rd and the morning and most likely lunch in BC, and the 24th/25th in Seattle again.

We would rather not do huge heavy meals (we don't eat pork, I personally very rarely eat beef, and at home tend to prepare foods from the farmers market), and am flexible on price, atmosphere... from the vegan/health/organic/local scene to casual to upscale, I do it all. We prefer seafood, but in general, I love most foods. I have a particular affinity for the Cal cuisine, Japanese (esp. sushi), Contemp/New American, globally influenced foods and combining foods in ways you cannot create yourself, I LOVE seafood and raw bars as mentioned, Mediterranean influenced food (which encompasses a lot... my parents are Israeli so I love Med fare, and all things Med influenced...African, Morroccan, French, Vietnamese, you name it.). But other suggestions are welcome, as we love to try different ethnic cuisines.

Other things I should mention:

1. My dad is obsessed with coffee, so obviously Seattle is the place to be for that.
2. My sister may be coming along to some of the food places, and she has a 4 year old and a 6 month old... something to consider
3. Any other recs for food (not just restaurants) in terms of markets, stores... we love walking and going into places. I also adore cheese and other specialty items. Anything from in Seattle/BC that you guys thing I HAVE to see being a foodie. For example, when I went to SF everyone told me that I had to go to Ferry Plaza, go to the Cheeseboard, June Taylor Jams, Cowgirl creamery...etc...

And any other helpful suggestions! Thanks so much and looking forward to the recs :)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For organic, try Tilth - moderately upscale market driven organic restaurant - great food
    Monsoon - upscale vietnamese
    Vegetarian - Carmelitas or Cafe Flora
    with kids - Maggie Bluffs - great view, mod price burger kind of place
    oysters - Elliott's on the water, or for super casual, Emmet Watsons in the market
    Salumi for lunch - choices will be limited based on your diet restrictions, but worht it anyay
    Obviously Pike Place market is a must do.

    Good luck!

    BC - Vij for upscale Indian

    1. Can I make a suggestion? I wonder if no one has replied because, like me, they don't know where to begin (your criteria are pretty broad for so few meals). It would be a lot easier if you said, I want one seafood dinner, one vegan lunch, etc etc. So, I'd suggest looking through past threads, searching by the cuisines you want to eat. Figure out exactly how many meals you'll have here, and ideally, if you'll have the little kids along for which ones. Then you can ask for feedback on places you've picked, or suggestions if you've narrowed it down some (ie Japanese that's appropriate for kids).

      To give you a start, check out threads on Crush to see if that might work for your Contemporary/creative meal (don't bring little kids there). Read about Union and Lark as well, for creative/local/seafood (ditto no kids). Read about Nishino for Japanese, and look at other sushi threads. Green Leaf (my favorite, but small and always a wait) or Tamarind Tree (bigger, takes reservations) are fantastic for Vietnamese and fine for kids. Get your dad to Vivace Roasteria on Capitol Hill for coffee.

      You'll want to visit the Pike Place Market for foodie stores--check out their website to see what interest you most to make sure you don't miss it.

      6 Replies
        1. re: zataar

          Sorry- you're right about narrowing down the criteria, I guess I just wasn't exactly sure when the kids would be there, etc. I have a better picture now, so here's a revision:

          Wednesday: Lunch in Seattle with parents, sister, brother-in-law, and 2 kids (4 and 6 months old). Dinner with them as well.
          Friday: Leaving early at 6:30 AM to drive to BC, so most likely we will have breakfast/brunch, or lunch there. Dinner there as well. This is going to most likely be with my dad (doubt the sister and company will want to come, but it's a possibility... so suggestions with kids might help as well :) )
          Saturday: Brunch in Seattle with my dad. I was thinking Portage Bay Cafe? I hear they have amazing brunch. Dinner with the whole company.
          Sunday: Our flight is at 1:45, and knowing my parents we will be at the airport at around 12/12:15. Not sure what you can recommend given a shorter amount of time.

          What I definitely want: a seafood lunch/dinner (perhaps something with raw bar options, though not a must... also not a fan of crab cakes/chowder type fare), a sushi dinner (preferably not with the kids), a vegan/organic/health vibe lunch/dinner. Wouldn't mind anything inventive, contemporary American, anything with a med influence, etc. But basically, I'm looking for anything that is a must Seattle place that I cannot miss, or anything with that "Seattle vibe".

          I know there is a large Asian population, but I tend to dislike Chinese food. Dim Sum is pretty good if it's done well, but otherwise I'm usually underwhelmed. I've had some wonderful shark fin steamed dumplings at a hole in the wall dim sum spot in SF, but I'm not sure if there's a place that replicates that experience in Seattle :) I like Vietnamese, Thai, and Malaysian food much more, but again if done wrong/greasy I really dislike... not my first choice unless it's a must try. There are great fusion restaurants, though, that I would definitely be open to trying.

          Now just a few questions...

          I will also be at Pike's Place with my sister and company most likely, what are some suggestions around that area?

          I've heard also of Spruce & Sitka (I think?), which seemed very cute. Any thoughts? Otherwise, Nishino looks good for Japanese, I've heard about Crush, Lark, and Tilth before.

          Ok, so it seems I've somehow managed to still be all over the place, but does that help at all? Hopefully this narrowed it down a bit... I'm always looking for the best of that place when I travel! All your help is much appreciated in advance ; )


          1. re: ShikaSfrn

            No foodie trip is complete without a thorough trip to the Pike Place Maket. Food all around. Crab cocktail, cioppino, and fresh-shucked oysters at Jack's Fish Spot (with the tanks; top-of-the-line Seattle Vibe, for sure) at Pike Place. Uli's sausages across the street has amazing variety, made right there. Etta's at the other end of the market for more updcale fish, and Matt's in the market for the ultimate. For French Bistro, there is mussells at Maximilen, brunch at Cafe Campagne.
            Check out Monsoon a dinner without the kids (it's already busy and crowdy enough), though I have seen plenty there.
            While you are at the market, get a delghtfully merchandised arraat of meditteranean import foods at Delaurenti's, but then go to one of their main suppliers, Big John's PFI, the retail outlet of Pacific Food Importers, where you will find all manner of meats, cheeses, pastas, sauces, halvah...
            Crush, Lark, and Tilth are very Seattle, too.

            1. re: mrnelso

              Much appreciated! Since it looks like I'm going to have to go with kids for the Seattle dinners pretty much the whole time, are any of the must have "Seattle" type restaurants, seafood, or sushi ok for kids? Or if not, which are open for lunch?

              Still gonna research some more and scan the boards, so any further suggestions are welcome :)

              I just can't wait to get to Pike Place...

              1. re: ShikaSfrn

                Sitka and Spruce is amazing, but I would describe as cute, just to clarify that I wouldn't bring kids. Same with Monsoon. Neither would be terrible, or turn you away, but are busy, with eclectic menu, and would be less enjoyable. I have two kids 6 and 3, and we dine out often, and we bring them more places than most people would, so just my take.

                nearly anywhere in the market is great for kids, except maybe campagne, but probably fine for brunch.


                1. re: bluedog67

                  i would agree that a small place like S&S that does not take reservations (or where you might have to eat standing up) is not a good place to take a group of 5 with 2 small kids who might have to wait for a long time for seats

      1. Seafood/Raw Bar/Fine Dining: Seastar Restaurant hands down. Its awesome for poke, ceviche, sushi, sashimi and more. Also has a rotating menu with the freshest ingredients and preperations you won't find elsewhere. All of the fish is what is available that day so while they may have mahi on the menu all week, it might come from a different region daily depending on what is available. All of the entree's are under 30 (except steak), but apps can run a little high.
        There is a new restaurant that is sort of organic in Kirkland (accross the bridge in Seattle) called Trellis. Chef has a 3 1/2 acre garden and they have specials like 2 hour salad which is all produce picked from his garden w/in 2 hours. Super good food and its not organic (has to pass certain standards and be around for certain time), but its good wholesome healthy food. Great for lunch!
        If you are more specific on areas I have lots other recommendations, I'm also sort of a happy hour fiend so if a early evening snack interests you I have lots of recommendations there.
        Oh yeah, Med food, Lola in Seattle is a fave of mine. Tom Douglas is a celeb chef, but this place does med spreads and grilled food right.

        1. Hi, unfortunately not one Israeli place in Seattle. As for Pike Place Market;
          Buena tavola truffle place, Piroshki,pirosshki for sweet and savory russian bread stuff, beecher's cheese- a must, the spanish table.(right behind the Pike Place Market) a specialty spanish store.
          You have to try Chuka chocolate covered cherries in the market.

          3 Replies
          1. re: savvy savorer

            Great recs, thanks again! I have no idea what specific area, since we are staying in Olympia, WA around my sister, rather than in Seattle itself. I guess that means we can go anywhere, but will probably go to downtown and Pike's Place and be in that general area. Over my research, I've gotten these restuarants. Some, you all have mentioned, but I guess I want to know which is the best place I can for dinner with kids while still not being a loud pasta, family style place, etc. and hopefully some Seattle vibe. Remember, I have 2 dinners with kids, 1 lunch with kids, 1 lunch without, and 1 lunch/brunch that will be short (and so don't know if it's with kids) since we have to be at the airport at around 12/12:15. I want to experience all the places like Sitka & Spruce, Crush, Lark, Tilth, Nirisho, etc., but am wondering if that will have to be for lunch, if any are for dinner. etc. Right now, I'm thinking Sunday brunch/lunch with kids at Portage Bay Cafe. I'm thinking lunch with kids at Jack's Fish Spot. Dinner is up in the air. I know everyone talks about Salumi, but for someone who doesn't eat pork or beef, I'm not sure if it's worth it.

            Anyway, I compiled a list based on your recs (thanks) and from searching the board, and would like to know your general opinions and feedback about my itinerary:

            Tilth Dinner
            Sitka and Spruce
            Chez Shea
            Seastar Restaurant
            Palace Kitchen
            Tamarind Tree
            Green Leaf
            Flying Fish
            Salty's on Alki
            Portage Bay
            Coastal Kitchen
            Malay Satay Hut
            Pho Cyclo
            Elliot's- for oysters
            Matt's in the Market
            Jack's Fish Spot

            Sorry if this is long... thanks again, all!

            1. re: ShikaSfrn

              if you have a group of 7 people you should make reservations immediately if you want to go someplace like Crush (give them a call if you are uncertain about kids too) As already mentioned, S&S does not take reservations and is small so you can probably count that out if you don't want the kids to get fussy waiting for 1 1/2 hrs. Since you especially like seafood, i would put Nishino on your short list. Do one lunch at Matts (make reservations now, you can always change your mind if necessary).

              1. re: ShikaSfrn

                Crush - Very good, no kids
                Lark - Great, no kids
                Tilth Dinner - ehhh, i wouldn't bring kids here either
                Sitka and Spruce - great food, could be kid friendly, but the place is tiny and no reservations.
                Chez Shea - not good
                Nishino - great omakase, no kids
                Monsoon - great food, somewhat kid friendly
                Seastar Restaurant - skip, not worth driving to the east side
                Palace Kitchen - TD places area all hit or miss.
                Tamarind Tree - I'd skip this for Green Leaf
                Green Leaf - See above
                Flying Fish - Nothing spectacular
                Salty's on Alki - crap food, good view, kid friendly
                Portage Bay - Bad food, kid friendly
                Coastal Kitchen - Chow foods places are only good if you don't want to spend too much money and don't mind mediocre food.
                Malay Satay Hut - Great, kid friendly
                Pho Cyclo - Better pho at Pho Bac
                Elliot's- for oysters - only for the happy hour.
                Maximillion's - ehh, much better french at Campagne
                Matt's in the Market - Great for lunch, overpriced for dinner.
                Jack's Fish Spot - Best F&C in town
                Salumi - Must hit, and they love kids!

            2. I was just thinking more about this, and Palomino is a really great kid friendly restaurant, its mostly italian, but incorporates med flavors in the food and its right in the heart of downtown seattle. I've never had bad service there and if you tell them when you reserve (recommend for weekends or if there is a show at 5th ave) tell them its your first time, they are super guest oriented and will make sure you enjoy yourself.
              For things you cannot create yourself there is a new place called BOKA that I haven't been to but all my friends rave about it.
              Very innovative dishes and I'm told its tasty.
              I like brasa, and from 5-7 there whole bar menu is half off.
              No drink specials to my recollection but half off on paella, steak and more is a steal of a deal and with a deal like that and a menu like they have you can try so many exciting dishes, I recommend the squid, falafel, and the donuts. This would be a place you would go sans kids because at happy hour, everyone must be 21 and over, but you don't have to sit "at" the bar, just in the lounge.
              Hope this helps!

              16 Replies
              1. re: mykal15

                I have been to Palomino many times and while it is OK, Il Fornaio, also downtown, is a much better bet.

                There's no reason to go to Salty's except for the view.

                1. re: PAO

                  I don't think Chinook's be can be beat for its kid-friendly atmosphere and simple, well prepared fish dishes. I would probably eat there more if it WASN't so kid friendly.

                  If you're a "Deadliest Catch" fan, you might see some of the boats from the show at the marina there. It's a real marina with working fishing boats, which is "very" Seattle.

                  1. re: allisonw

                    I've got a lot of decisions to be made! I really wanted to sushi while I was in Seattle and/or BC, but doesn't look like really quality sushi will happen with the kids. Plus, that could be really expensive with 7 people. Would like to try geoduck and abolone, but don't like Chinese food (where they would tend to be) as I tend to find it greasy and/or too heavy (not big on the meat, esp pork and beef). Maybe I just haven't had true Chinese. Any Japanese restaurants offer these items in Seattle or BC (and if in seattle, child appropriate?) Ayway, you can see I tend to ramble, so here's where I'm at...

                    Lunch at Pike's Place- leaning towards Jack's Fish Spot, Matt's in the Market is pretty much neck and neck. Thoughts?
                    Dinner- this is where I need help... I really like the looks of Lark, but is this appropriate for 7 people, with kids? Do we need reservations? If not, will do Chinook's tonight instead of Saturday night. Other considerations I've narrowed down are Tamarind Tree and Palace Kitchen.

                    Thursday: Thanksgiving... no explanations needed there :)

                    Friday: Driving to BC with my dad. Want to go to Guu (Japanese Iyakuzi? Something like that... looking for sushi you can't find anywhere else) for lunch. Either Vij or West for dinner. Thoughts?

                    Brunch/lunch: in Seattle. I really really want to make Sitka & Spruce happen during this trip, so I think this would be the best time to do it.
                    Dinner: Again, need help with this. I've also heard of Maekawa, which seems to be similar to Guu. Is this child appropriate? It would be great to share small plates, and this restaurant seems to offer that.

                    Sunday: Do I have time to do a Portage Bay Cafe brunch? Again, heard amazing things about the brunch, and we have to be at the airport at around 12:15. If not, what are some suggestions?

                    As you can see, I'm almost there, but have some choices to make :) And I should mention that the place can be a hidden gem, dive, or trendy... as long as it's great, that's what matters. You guys have helped a lot already, so any additional insight would be much appreciated, thanks!

                    1. re: ShikaSfrn

                      A few things: A great place to go for Sushi, with kids would be Shun, just outside U Village. They always have geoduck, sometimes have abalone. I would ask them, sometimes they don't menu it (only offer it with Omakase). Also, not too expensive.

                      Weds: Lark is nice, but I will tell you that it is a very open room, and there was a kid next to us once, who was very well behaved, but it was still annoying because the parents would keep interrupting their dinner to deal with him. Maybe with 7 people you would be seperated though? You will def. want reservations.

                      Saturday: Maekawa is basically a bar, so I'm not sure it is kid appropriate. I don't know if kids are even aloud, since it is a bar? (i am sure someone else will let you know). It really is the only place like that around though.

                      1. re: ShikaSfrn

                        i would guess that if you hesitate any more it will be too late to get seats at some of your top choices. i would not worry so much about child-friendly places unless the kids are real screamers. Lark is going to be more expensive than Nishino, those small plates add up (and not sure how child friendly the menu is). I would not put Maekawa on your short list for dinner. Not sure why Chinooks is on your short list if you don't like crab cakes/chowder places, or why Tamarind Tree is on your short list if you are particular about your Asian food.

                        1. re: ShikaSfrn

                          With 7 people you should forget Jack's Fish Spot. There's just a small counter there and it's semi-outdoors/rustic/chilly. Matt's is indoors although getting seating for 7 may be problematic.

                          1. re: bbqer

                            matt's would be ok if you make reservations. I will second that it is a Seattle spot that should not be missed.
                            About child friendliness, most of Seattle isn't, and with two small ones and some of those restaurants on the list, be prepared for looks from other patrons wondering why you brought them there. Just my opinion.

                            1. re: nseattlefoodie

                              Thanks for all of the input. Just a few clarifications... It's not that I don't enjoy Asian food, and in fact have some Vietnamese and Thai restaurants in Chicago that I love. It's just that Chinese food, in particular, I haven't found the enjoy when going to a restaurant, aside from the occasional dim sum. But maybe I just haven't had the Seattle experience. The reason I think it might be a good option is because I've found that unless it's pan Asian or fusion or very upscale, Asian restaurants tend to be more family friendly than most, and that's why I thought Tamarind Tree or Malaysian Satay Hut would be good options for dinner.

                              That said, if Shun's is child friendly for dinner, it seems like a good option. I've heard of I Love Sushi, which seems to be a casual spot, but I wonder if you can get harder to find menu items or if it's Americanized? Nishino doesn't seem child appropriate, but if it is, I've heard the most mentions and I think it offers some harder to find items, from my impression.

                              As for Chinooks, as long as there are other quality seafood options other than fried fish, heavy chowder, etc., I will be happy. In the same vein, I've also heard of Flying Fish, which is at the Market so probably more child friendly? Is this an option for dinner? Same question for Palace Market and Maximilliens (heard about the great mussels!)...

                              I realize that Seattle isn't child friendly, which is why I must rely on my fellow CH's for advice! I don't want to eat at Lark if it will disrupt either my experience (being stared at, etc.) or patrons' experience. So my biggest questions are still about child appropriateness of the dinners... I don't want a Bucca Di Beppo's chain, but I don't want to be stared at, either. It most certainly doesn't have to be any of my listed restaurants, any suggestions are welcome. And any opinions on my thoughts... Thanks again!

                              1. re: ShikaSfrn

                                If you do an earlier dinner (before 7ish) Nishino's takes reservations (make them soon though) and has always been filled with a few tables of families every time we have went. Plus it's in Madison Valley, an area that has alot more families in my opinion. Just a thought. (Much better than I Love Sushi too)

                                1. re: nseattlefoodie

                                  i agree, i see kids at Nishino all the time. To be honest I think you (shikasfrn) are obsessing too much about the kid thing, I don't see a problem with well behaved kids at Crush (call the restaurant to get their input), who cares if some people who take themselves very seriously stare at you? (but that's your call) Crush does tend to be a dressier place but i've also seen guys walk in wearing sneakers with their shirts hanging out (not that i recommend that). I think that for locals to discourage you from going to a place like Crush, just because you have a couple kids in tow (if you're visiting and passionate about experiencing that level of creative food, as you seem to be from your San Fran post) is a bit selfish. If you don't do pork and not much beef, salumi is problematic. If you want to go to Matts for lunch, you better call them now for reservations or you won't get in, especially with 7 people. wherever you end up, please report back!

                          2. re: ShikaSfrn

                            It may be a little late for me to weigh in, but I wanted to at least voice an opinion about Tamarind Tree. Tamarind Tree feels vaguely like Americanized Vietnamese food, but then again, I grew up with Vietnamese food, so I can be pretty picky about it. Great atmosphere, though, for sure. Green Leaf is a smaller restaurant, but the food is tasty and authentic. I don't know if they take reservations, but it's worth calling ahead if you can. It doesn't have the same atmospheric pizazz as Tamarind Tree but is pretty cozy and cute.

                            If you want Thai, I always go to Jamjuree on Capitol Hill. Very kid friendly, accommodating to larger groups, and consistently good.

                            As for Lark, I'm sorry to say you'll probably have to save it for a kid-free trip. And with a group of 7, it's going to get very, very pricey very quickly. The plates are small. Most plates you'd be hard-pressed to stretch among four even when each person only has a nibble.

                            I haven't been to Portage Bay Cafe, but you can have a good Seattle-y brunch at Cafe Flora. It's another family-friendly place. Kids really like the fountain in the atrium part of the restaurant. Everything is vegetarian or vegan. They start serving brunch at 9am on weekends, so it'd be best if you got there early since they get crazy busy on Sunday.

                            All the places I've recommended are an easy drive from downtown. Green Leaf is in the International District. Jamjuree is on 15th Ave E. in Capitol Hill. Cafe Flora is on Madison, about two miles East of downtown.

                            1. re: chloevu

                              Thank you all! Very helpful :)

                              barleywino- I know it seems like I'm obsessing about the kid thing (and admittedly, I do tend to overplan...), but it's just that these kids are not that well behaved. Not that they are screaming constantly and all that, but it's always more of a production with the kids. The 4 year old is quite a ham and likes to go up to people and make friends. Adorable kid (will be a heartbreaker), but very very in need of attention. So that's what worries me. The 6 month old, on the other hand, is usually really quiet and a great baby. Anyway, good info to know about Nishino before 7...

                              And I've made reservations at Matt's, so I'm excited!

                              hhlodesign- thank you for the breakdown! That narrows down my options. chloevu, thanks for additional recs and advice on Vietnamese.

                              Now it's looking more clear... Matt's for lunch on Wed, Friday lunch/brunch at Sitka & Spruce, Sunday early brunch at Cafe Flora. I'll see what people are in the mood for in terms of dinner, but I've got several options: Shun, Nishino (I'll ask about somewhat lounder children), Green Leaf, Jamjuree, Malay Satay Hut, or Chinook's for traditional seafood. Sound good?

                              1. re: ShikaSfrn

                                A few more thoughts:

                                you should confirm that Sitka & Spruce is doing lunch on Friday. They stopped serving lunch awhile ago, and only do dinner, sunday brunch. I could be wrong since it is a holiday weekend.

                                Chinooks is a very family oriented place. Another thing I just thought of was Ray's Cafe (upstairs). I think the food is better than Chinooks, has a great view, and I bring my kids there all the time. (don't confuse with Rays downstairs which is pricey and more formal to have kids with). You can also visit the locks if you go to either Chinooks or Rays. A worthy desitination, and kids love it . Tire them out before dinner!

                                To validate others, I have brought my kids to Malay, Green Leaf - staff was great at both places.

                                1. re: bluedog67

                                  Ray's Cafe seems great, thank you!

                                  Sitka & Spruce- I meant a Saturday brunch, and according to their website they're open then. Hopefully that works!

                                  1. re: ShikaSfrn

                                    Have a great weekend, and report back how everything went! I am especially interested to hear if the kids do ok at some upscale places.

                                    Enjoy all your meals!

                                    1. re: bluedog67

                                      Thank you! I'll be sure to report back, of course :)