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Help a DC couple plan their Seattle vacation


My wife and I are traveling to Seattle in early June. I would like to start planning dinner reservations, and turn to you for help.

DC restaurants we like: Central, Proof, Komi, Montmartre. We'd be especially interested in wine bars/restaurants known for their wine, places with a young and innovative chef, sushi places, or really any restaurant that is fun, has great food, and isn't too stuffy.

We're staying downtown at Hotel Max.


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  1. I drove five hours to Vancouver just to eat at Vij's, an Indian restaurant, and it was well worth it. They don't take reservations but have the most creative Indian food anywhere around here.
    For a good wine bar/restaurant in Vancouver I would reccomend Bin 941 or Bin 942. They are both really popular and have great food.

    For sushi in Seattle, the hotel Max has a good restaurant Red Fin. My favorite sushi restaurants in Seattle in order are Nishino, Saito's and Shiro's.

    1. you can find lots of ideas from recent threads. I have not been to DC in many years. Here are my current faves in Seattle: Tilth, organic, local great food, quaint house, neighborhood location. Sitka and Spruce, small chalkboard menu, good use of local ingredients, very small wine list. super casual, no reservations. Harvest Vine for very Spanish tapas. Lark, small plates, more upscale. Crush, can be innovative, more formal than the others.

      Others that are always good: Matt's in the Market, Palace Kitchen, Cafe Campagne, Le Pichet for brunch, lunch. You will of course receive disagreement with this off the cuff list, and I probably forgot some major ones.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cocktailhour

        excellent list cocktailhour. I would add to that Boat Street Cafe, Kisaku, and Cremant.

      2. Hi-

        Please post a seperate query on the Western Canada board for the Vancouver leg of your trip, that is the local board that Vancouverites will find your query and share the goodness with you.

        Please, Folks, no more Vancouver posts on this thread.


        1. Someone mentioned Canlis and its great wine selection in another post; it's a restaurant I frequently forget to recommend b/c it's been around for a while and it might be seen as somewhat stodgy, but the last time I ate there (admittedly, a couple years ago) the meal and the service were excellent.

          Other faves have been mentioned: Tilth, Lark, Palace Kitchen. The chef at Qube worked for Charlie Trotter and is trying to do some innovative things.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Finspot

            Thanks for the heads up on the "new" chef at Qube. Tried their chef's tasting; it was competent and somewhat interesting, and an improvement over the "old" Qube, but I would probably not put it on my short list (a pity, since I loved the stuff he used to do at Azie).

          2. I'll add Ethan Stowell's restaurants .. Union, Tavolata, How to Cook a Wolf (or is it eat!?) yikes ..anyway ..all worth trying Union the fanciest (I tend to eat in the bar) Tavolata the trendiest (well Seattle trendy anyway) and How to______ is the most laid back & newest. I'll also recommend Lark, Sitka & Spruce ... If you are renting a car it would be a nice drive out to Cafe Juanita in June. I'm a shiro's fan for sushi, though Saito's and Nishino are great too.
            In June the farmers markets should be great .. I think University, Ballard & Columbia City are the best. They might be fun for you to see ..if you go to Ballard, try Carta de Oaxaca or Senor Moose ...

            BUT June's a long ways away .... who know what will be fabulous then! You probably don't need to book out months in advance if it's just the two of you.

            1. If you're planning this far ahead, you might take a look at the tasting menu at Herbfarm http://www.theherbfarm.com/about/chef... I haven't been since they changed their chef but his pedigree looks impressive. Definitely not stuffy, some people on the board even complain that it tries too hard to be entertaining (but it doesn't bother me). Thur-Sun only, one seating (try for Sunday, for the late afternoon herb garden tour)

              7 Replies
              1. re: barleywino

                Alas, we will be in town Monday through Wednesday, so we'll miss out on Herbfarm.

                Hounds - thanks for your suggestions. Looks like I'll have to wait a few months before booking but I think we'll do Union, Crush, and Shiro's.

                My wife thinks I'm crazy for planning so far ahead...but I can't help myself.

                Any low end street fare to check out while we're walking around during the day?

                1. re: GyroBall

                  The best street fare you can get in Seattle is in Pike Place Market. There's a stall called The Market Grill. It's right across from Uli's Sausage - you'll see it as you stroll through the market. They make the best salmon sandwich I've ever had - insanely fresh, perfectly cooked salmon on pillowy soft french bread. I've eaten dozens of salmon sandwiches there and they're consistently delicious. It's a little taste of Seattle right in the market. Don't think it's just a tourist place since it's in the market - my coworkers and I eat there all the time. It's so good! They'll ask you if you want it blackened. I always say yes because their blackening seasonings aren't salty or spicy. Just mild and yummy. It won't overpower the salmon at all.

                  1. re: GyroBall

                    If you do make it to Shiro's try to sit across from Shiro at the Sushi bar. He's very entertaining and will let you know what fish is freshest that night.

                    1. re: porky pine

                      I understand that Shiro recently retired.

                    2. re: GyroBall

                      I would say that be prepared that Shiro's is not as good as Makoto in DC.
                      I would suggest also that you forgo Crush and try Txori in Belltown for very good pintxo/tapas.

                      1. re: tedfood

                        Txori is interesting for nibbles but not a place to go for dinner imo. I would forgo Union before Crush. Makoto iirc is more of a kaiseki experience so comparing with Shiro's is somewhat apples and oranges--if looking for kaiseki, you could try Kappo (above Chiso).

                        1. re: barleywino

                          Mashikos in west seattle if you are going for omakasi (sp?)

                  2. You might try Salumi in Pioneer Square(Seattlites-is it still there?). This is a tiny space with great sausages. Do spend some time at Elliot Bay Books(around the corner) and then head to Salumi for lunch.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: roxie

                      Salumi is still there & yesterday there is still a line before it opens ..

                    2. Go to Canlis. My husband and I were there about a year ago and think it was the best meal we've ever had. Service is impeccable.

                      1. I wasn't impressed with Red Fin -- the Asian spot in Hotel Max. I'd go elsewhere!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: burritobelle

                          Wow. You all are great. This is a lot to think about - thank you. We have two dinners in Seattle...right now we are thinking Crush or Tilth and then the next nigth a sushi place (probably Shiro).

                          Forgive my ignorance. What is kaiseki?

                          1. re: GyroBall

                            I would vote for Nishino over Shiro (and Crush over Tilth), but everybody has their favorites

                            1. re: barleywino

                              I would second crush over tilth; crush executes better. Also Nishino IMHO is the best sushi/Japanese seattle has to offer.

                            2. re: GyroBall

                              Crush is indeed an amazing restaurant with a very creative chef. The interior is very stark--white furniture everywhere, but all the more to focus attention on the wonderful food presentations. I would recommend getting seating on the second floor. For wine, be sure to ask the sommelier for his recommendation. I ordered a wine from the menu, but he politely suggested that it might not be the best choice for what we were ordering and suggested something else. I actually appreciate that kind of service. His recommendation was great!

                              Right down the street from Crush is one of Seattle's great restaurants, Rover's. Very pricey though. We've been there maybe a half dozen times for special occasions, and we are always amazed at the chef's creations. Be pleasantly surprised by the fixed price menus (either 5- or 8-course). If you want wine pairings with your food, that'll cost extra. The waiters are always attentive, never intrusive. The ambience might not be what you're looking for however, as it has the appearance of formality, but it is never "stuffy."

                              1. re: chazuke

                                Also, if you intend to eat at Crush, I would strongly urge you to make a reservation as soon as possible. It's very difficult to get in there on short notice, let alone a couple of months ahead.

                                P.S. to follow-up on frygirl's suggestion, you shouldn't miss Pike Place Market (I'm sure you have it on your list already) for a great experience and fast eats. If you're contemplating a sit-down lunch there, I would recommend Cafe Campagne for its French bistro-style menu. Note that the more expensive Campagne Restaurant is co-located. Another great restaurant is Etta's Seafood just past the market (oddly, their fried chicken is a frequently ordered entree).

                                And if you are interested at all in Northwest wines, the Pike and Western Wine Shop at the northern end of the market is a great place to shop.

                              2. re: GyroBall

                                I have been disappointed by the food at Crush, finding their preparations amateurish with not alot of variety to choose from. And their dining room noisy and decor ordinary and uncomfortable.
                                Mistral is a much better choice...and a more interesting contrast to the more casual Tilth, which is also a good choice.

                                1. re: staffstuff

                                  I agree about Crush. I liked it a lot better when they first opened but my last meals there seemed, like you said, amateurish. I commented that each dish needed at least two ingredients removed from it.

                            3. I don't live in Seattle, but travel there frequently for business and like casual to medium level places. Here's a list of places I frequent:
                              - Portalis Wine Bar
                              - Le Pichet
                              - Salima
                              - Black Bottle
                              - Pho Cyclo

                              And if you like coffee, you have to try Stumptown on E. Pine or 12th Ave.

                              1. I just made a trip to Seattle for almost 2 weeks, and really found some great places to eat! I searched online beforehand to only eat at interesting places, and yet happened on a few too. In previous trips I had eaten downtown, Pike Market, Belltown, etc places. This time I did Cafe Flora, Chaco Canyon Cafe, La Cote Creperie, Blue C Sushi for quick lunch, Fran's Chocolates, Seattle Crab Co (good for chain), Bastyr University's vegetarian cafeteria, Jak's Grill for steak and salmon.

                                One of the best places I ate was Voila French Bistrot. It's on E. Madison at 29th (in "Saint Germain" Capitol Hill neighborhood I believe)
                                Excellent food, not stuffy but convivial atmosphere, very attentive service (as a woman alone on a trip it's easy to be ignored, but the Gallic waiter was extra attentive to me). You will need to make reservations, but I got the last little table at the bar area that night.
                                I was able to try a few sips of different wines off the list before I chose one to drink. Excellent wine list, the waiters knew the details of all the wines too - I was told the special pinot gris was a little on sweet side and I did find it too sweet so didn't order it. Everyone around me seemed to be enjoying their classic French Bistro fare (cassoulet, coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon plus more modern dishes, but I had amazing lamp chops as the special, perfectly cooked (I'm picky about not over or under cooking meat) plated on top of a wonderful wine/butter/parsley sauce, with perfect gratin potato. The special salad was frisee with butter lettuce and herbs in simple vinaigrette dressing with a toasted baguette crouton slice and goat cheese on top- it was one of the best salads I have ever eaten, simple but perfect, I have never had frisee that tender! To me, that is the test of amazing quality and execution of food --when you notice how fabulous a simple dish tastes compared to any place else. The creme brulee for dessert was one of the best I've ever had, and that's another dish I'm picky about, such rich creamy custard (I would have preferred even more crunch on top layer, although it was to standard). They didn't make me feel rushed to leave and let me sit there as long as I wanted afterward to digest with an espresso and make sure I could drive after 2 glasses of a beautiful cote du rhone red!
                                I would go there again in a heartbeat, if that's the kind of food and service and wine you would enjoy.

                                1. Surprised nobody has mentioned Matts in the Market:


                                  Consistently very good and you can't beat the location (if you're a tourist, that is).

                                  1. You may need to extend your trip to try all these fabulous restaurants! Since the dinner scene had been well covered... I think Lola is one of the best place to go for breakfast and if you're looking for a quick lunch in the market, Beecher's Mac and Cheese really is the world's best and it's fun to sit at the counter and watch the Cheesemongers stir their curds.

                                    1. Kaiseki is more formal Japanese cuisine consisting of many small dishes usually relating to the season. Kaiseki restaurants can be very expensive.