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Downtown Seattle Recommendations, with CONDITIONS!

Will be in Seattle this weekend with some friends and the boyfriend. Had the pleasure of visiting last year and ate at Buenos Aires Grill and Qubed. I'm looking forward to chowing at other places this time around, and would absolutely love some recommendations for:

3 instances of Brunch (and/or Lunch)
2 instances of Dinner
And your favorite bars/lounges (optional)

- At lease ONCE a relatively inexpensive (by relatively I mean 50-60/person, without wine) fine dining experience. I've read up on Campagne and have been debating with self whether to go to Cafe for lunch and go somewhere else for dinner or forego the cafe and eat at the main restaurant for dinner.

- Something uniquely Seattle. I've been recommended Pike Chowder as the best chowder place and Top Pot for doughnuts.

- Something downright cheap and delicious--maybe even in the guilty sense. This is ambiguous and I have no leads thus far :D This is also not really a requirement, maybe a fun request

- The best fish and chips in downtown. I am not looking to travel outside of downtown, so even though I've heard of this great place (the name escapes me) in Alki, I cannot access it and am not willing to ride a bus/taxi for it.

- Close to best display of Pacific Northwest cooking. Just close, not necessarily the best, since I know I'm limiting my local to downtown. Can be fine, can be neighborhoodly, can be hole in the wall--just as long as I can have some fresh, wonderfully cooked fish.

Background: I'm from the SF Bay Area but am not actually from SF itself (Silicon Valley, Mountain View, Fremont, San Jose, Milpitas, Berkeley, Oakland--I'm all over the place here). Will be here for four days. Looking to book reservations for restaurants ASAP. :D

Thank you in advance, Chowhounders!

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  1. For fish and chips I like Steamers, which is on the Waterfront. It is touristy, but you can sit outside and watch boats and people. Jack's Fish Spot in Pike Place has great fish and chips, but not as much view. You can get your ordere and walk to the park, though.

    Flying Fish is good Northwest and fish. Or, I think Tom Douglas is quintessential NW--he was local before local was cool. Dahlia Lounge would qualify for fine dining, Palace Kitchen is more casual. Lola and Etta's have brunch, I think.

    For drinks, Cafe ZigZag on the HIllclimb in Pike Place. And Vessel on Fifth.

    Go to Belle Epicurean, in the Olympic Hotel, for great pastry.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cocktailhour

      Random question that I hope doesn't side track this thread. Does Jack's do battered fish and chips or the breaded kind (like Ivar's, Pacific Inn, etc)?

    2. for fish and chips, I like Anthony's outside take out fish bar down on the waterfront. For cheap and delicious, try the green mango (or papaya if you prefer) salad with your choice of shrimp or tofu at Green Leaf in the ID if you're willing to go that far (much closer than Alki--in fact within walking distance if you like walking). Belle's Epicurean at the Fairmont Olympic has wonderful breakfast pastries, which would be another option for cheap and delicious (they're not cheap for breakfast pastries, but cheap compared to a full breakfast).

      1. Chcz Shea by the market is small and quite wonderful. http://www.chezshea.com/

        1. cheap/delicious/guilty: one of the many large messy burgers at Lunchbox Laboratory*
          fried smelts and lemon curd cake at Steelhead Diner
          moules frites and smoked salmon at Maximiliens happy hour
          fried chicken wings at Fulin in the International District*
          Philly cheesesteak at Tat's in Pioneer sq
          pastrami or "kick-ass reuben" at NY Deli
          gelato at Bottega Italiano
          dungeness crab spring rolls and grilled kalbi steaks at Made in Kitchen*
          catfish sandwich at Matt's
          pan fried shrimp chive dumpling at Monsoon* (weekend brunch)
          braised baby octopus at Barolo
          mini cheesecake truffles at the Confectional in Pike Place market

          bar/lounge: Spur

          fine dining: Crush*

          *outside downtown

          2 Replies
          1. re: barleywino


            I finally made it in to Barolo last night, and mindful of your frequent recs, I ordered the baby octopus and the burrata-the cheese very good and the octopus was fantastic. I also really enjoyed the filet with barolo sauce and the crab spaghetti. The swank vibe of the place (electro lounge music, dripping candles and curtains draped from high ceilings) may be too much for some, but I enjoyed it and think Seattle could use more places that will go that route. Good wine list...I found a fair bargain on an IGT Tuscan wine (Barolos are wildly marked up I noticed).

            1. re: equinoise

              equinoise, glad you enjoyed-- not everything i've had there works for me but some things are good and i enjoy the vibe when i do go. does tend to be pricey though. thanks for the report!

          2. I lament the closing of Qube...it was, IMO, one of the most interesting, unique and reliably yummy restaurants here.
            For brunch: Veil
            For fine dining: Barolo

            1. Uniquely Seattle: Salumi. Shiro's if you like sushi (sit at bar). Matt's in the Market (sit at bar). FareStart (Thursday Guest Chef Night, the best deal in town, and you support the homeless students who cook your meal; also good lunches Mon-Fri).

              Cheap, delicious: Tamarind Tree.

              Cheap, delicious, guilty: Doughnut place in Pike Place Market.

              Cheap, delicious, guilty, uniquely Seattle: Theo Chocolate factory tour (only organic chocolate roaster in US, in Fremont, fun neighborhood near downtown).

              Fish & chips: Pike Street Fish Fry opened e few months ago and sounds good, though I haven't tried it and it's in Capitol Hill, not quite downtown.

              Best PNW: Lark if you're willing to go a little out of downtown. Zoe. Dahlia Lounge.

              1. Fish & Chips: Nordstrom Grill has a tempura-like battered halibut that is incredible. Very generous serving with really good shoestring fries for about $15.

                1. -For brunch, lunch or dinner Steelhead Diner in Pike Place Market. Impeccable NW ingredients, lovely fish and NW wines.
                  -Txori in Belltown. Wonderful Spanish Tapas and Wines. No reservations, often a line. Same owners as Harvest Vine, one of the best restaurants in Seattle.
                  -Salumi in Pioneer Square for lunch. Amazing house-made salami's, prosciutto's etc. and cheeses. Also delicious, hearty sandwiches. Again, there will be a line.
                  -Zoe for dinner.
                  -Either Cafe Campagne (brunch/lunch or dinnner) or Campagne for dinner. Excellent wine list.
                  -Matt's in the Market. Lunch or dinner.
                  -2nd and Vine. Wine bar in Belltown.
                  -Happy Hour at Cascadia.
                  -Happy Hour at Barolo for drinks and half price, upscale food.

                  If you are willing to go to Capitol Hill:
                  -Licorios* Capitol Hill. Excellent bar and upscale bar food. Next to Lark, fine dining and same owner. 12th Ave.
                  -Cafe Presse- Coffee/pastry, Lunch, Dinner, late dining. French cafe with full bar. 12th Ave.
                  -La Spiga. Also 12th. Delicious Italian, excellent wine list, full bar. Can be SLOW.
                  -Baguette Box. Excellent, creative Sandwiches.
                  Enjoy your stay!

                    1. Hi everyone! Thanks for your suggestions. I actually ended up not having enough time to try much of ANYTHING! let alone the wonderful suggestions you folks gave ... but here's a rundown on where I ate:

                      - Fly Fish - Didn't like it, but I think it's because I ordered the wrong thing (swordfish! I should've ordered the albacore, it was so much tastier!). My fish was tough and dry, and the marinades and sauces that seemed to serve to only decorate the plate wasn't enough to balance the dryness. Disappointing, but again, it may be to my own fault.

                      - The Crumpet Shop - Finally got to try this after seeing it last year, and I have to say I LOVE it. It's so soft, fluffy, and the toppings go so well. It's like a much better bagel. I've never had crumpets before then, and now, once my 6pack runs out, I may just pick up the alternatives from Trader Joe's. I tried the smoked salmon cream cheese with cucumber, the ham and cheese, the pesto/Parmesan/tomato, and the almond/ricotta/honey ... and I loved all of them! Add bottomless tea to this (their house blend is delicious!), and you have just sold me a new favorite breakfast joint. Will definitely return next year!

                      - Piroshky Piroshky - At the beckoning of friends, I stopped by here and was not disappointed. I ordered the beef and cheese. It was tasty, fresh, the dough reminding me of filo-dough (which may be silly of me to say, if it actually is made from filo-dough! I apologize for my ignorance, in advance).

                      - Mae Phim - Thai on Pike St. Again, at my friends' beckoning, we ate here for dinner (mostly out of convenience). I ordered my favorite Thai dish, tom yum noodle soup, and they did it pretty damn well. Could've made do with a higher spice level, though (but there's no way of knowing when trying different places, as each place has a different idea of what "spicy" means).

                      ... and that was it, aside from miscellaneous junk food from the airport, liquor store, and food courts. Haha. I'm really sad my culinary experience wasn't quite as cemented as last year's, and I'm also even sadder that Qube shut down (our hotel was RIGHT across the street!), but alas. There's always next year :)

                      Thanks again, Seattlites! I will refer back to this when I visit Seattle again next year ... and damnit, I *will* get my good eats on!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: meloncollie

                        Thanks for the write up. Don't be sad that Qube is closed. You're lucky you missed it. Next time you'll have to try some local seafood.

                      2. Need to add places, oops!

                        Crumpet Shop
                        1503 1st Ave, Seattle, WA

                        Flying Fish
                        2234 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121

                        Mae Phim @ Pike Thai Cuisine
                        213 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101