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Need restaurant tips for solo dining in Seattle

I am planning a trip to Seattle in mid April and there are so many restaurants that I don't even know where to start! I will only have a week, so I really want to avoid the "just ok" places.

I thought I would come here and see what the locals really like. I love all different kinds of food! Of course, I will want seafood - but I am not going to want that all week. And don't even bother telling me about the great "Seafood Feasts" at those restaurants down by the pier because they discriminate against people who like to eat by themselves! (Geesh! Is it so hard to make a feast for just 1 person?!!)

All price ranges are ok ... but I can't spend $$$ every day. Just pretend I am not a tourist and I am new in town. Where should I go eat? (Any type of atmosphere is fine as long as the food is Chow worthy!)

It might also help if I tell you I won't have a car but I love riding the bus ... and I am staying in Capital Hill on 18th. (But like I said, no problem taking the bus and/or a cab)

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  1. On Capitol Hill, Quinn's is a great place and a nice bar that would be fine for single dining. Cafe Presse is also good food, but not expensive. In Belltown, Spur, Tavolata or Txori come to mind. I tend towards bar dining when eating solo and all have bars (I think Txori does) as well as great food. Spur especially has amazing cocktails. The Pike Place Market is walking distance from Capitol Hill (or a quick bus ride) and has tons of inexpensive eating options. Have fun!

    1. Definitely try Steelhead Diner. Comfort food. Half a block from Pike Place Market. Wallet friendly. Distinctly a find!

      9 Replies
      1. re: firecracker

        I'd recommend eating at the bar at Matt's in the Market over Steelhead Diner.

        Other great restaurants with bar dining are How to Cook a Wolf, Poppy and Palace Kitchen.

        1. re: frygirl

          Is it just the bar that is better at Matt's, or is it the food? I actually prefer eating at a table, so I want the one with the best food. Should I try both?

          1. re: boisenewbie

            I've never noticed a difference between the bar counter and the table. A solo diner might actually prefer a table with a view overlooking the market anyway.

            1. re: SauceSupreme

              Sorry about the confusion!

              I was talking about the 2 restaurants. I was wondering if the food at Matt's was actually better over Steelhead ...

              1. re: boisenewbie

                I prefer both the food and the ambience of Matt's in the Market to Steelhead Diner.

                1. re: frygirl

                  Right on frygirl, Steelhead definitely falls into the "just ok" category and Matt's is wonderful. I would also choose Le Pichet over Cafe Campagne. I had lunch at Le Pichet today -- salade verte and the oeufs plats, jambon et fromage - all for $13 plus tax and tip. Txori is a great recommendation also. And Three Girls Bakery- grilled ham and cheese on black rye. For really inexpensive Mexican, also try El Puerco Lloron on the hillclimb behind Pike Place Market.

                2. re: boisenewbie

                  They're both good, Boisen. Matt is no longer at Matt's in the Market having chosen to move on. You won't go wrong with either one.

              2. re: boisenewbie

                The food, in my experience, is better at Matt's - but I'm overdue to give Steelhead Diner another try since I haven't been in at least a year.

                I've eaten well at both, but I've had a couple of disappointing meals at Steelhead where I felt like for the same money I would have done better at Matt's.

                And flying solo you could definitely go Spinasse if you're ok with either a communal table or the bar. (That's all they have, except for one lone 4-top in the window.) I think that's the best new restaurant in Seattle at the moment.

            2. re: firecracker

              I was recently in Seattle dining solo. I was personally rather disappointed by Steelhead Diner (it was fine but pricey for the experience...). Cafe Campagne had a nice happy hour (with lots of little wine tastes available) that I morphed into dinner but it was pretty empty (FYI-if you feel better with more people buzzing about). The wait staff were great though. I looked at Matts but ran away clutching my pocketbook. A nice casual meal can be head at Pike Place Chowder (or something like that). Chowder was *excellent.*

            3. I'd recommend having the oeuffs en meurette for brunch or lunch at Cafe Campagne. It's absolutely to die for and I've eaten there at a table alone and been fine and they have nifty bar seating and there are always lots of lone diners there, as well. Also, I'd try Three Girls bakery at Pike Place, the sandwich counter behind the bakery. Their reuben is fab, it's solo eater friendly and it's such a great Seattle-vibe place.

              And I second Cafe Presse on Capitol Hill (south Capitol Hill). Also, if you're up there some day and just can't work up the energy to go far or be very creative, I have a soft spot for Byzantium. Greek-ish food, and lots of it. Friendly staff whenever I've been. I've gone alone with a book and felt comfortable. I'ts not haute cuisine or probably even very legit but it's comfort food.

              Have fun!!

              1. Quinn's is a must. Also second Matt's at the Market, Palace Kitchen and Steelhead Diner. You are staying near the Kingfish Cafe which is a Seattle gem. I also suggest the upstairs bar at Maximillien's at the Market (same menu as the restaurant below) and Coastal Kitchen.

                1. These all sound great! Keep em coming ... I don't mind sitting at the bar, but I actually prefer a table. Actually, it doesn't matter. Just afraid people are trying to think of restaurants where I could sit at the bar. (Know what I mean?) All options are open.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: boisenewbie

                    Really excellent reccomendations here. Spot-on. I'll quibble only with Kingfish, which I think has slightly declined over the years, since it has no communal dining area. If you are up for that situation, I also reccomend Sitka & Spruce.

                  2. Boisenewbie, Quinn's, Quinn's, Quinn's.

                    Also, here is a plan for a great Pacific Northwest Chowhound experience:

                    1. Pack an old blouse you are no longer fond of and some Kleenex.
                    2. Take a cab to Seven Stars Szechuan Restaurant in the International District.
                    3. Find a table and face toward the wall to avoid impending embarrassment.
                    4. Order the Seven Stars' Szechuan crab
                    5. Go face down in one of the region's most amazing seafood dishes. (Show no restraint. You are, after all, a carnivore.)
                    6. Cab back in a euphoric Chowhound state while oddly rambling to your Nigerian cabbie while he ponders the glazed, crazed look in your eyes and the black bean sauce surrounding your engorged lips. Make the energy of his fear your dessert; feel the power.
                    7. Rinse and repeat until someone calls for help.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Leper

                      Yeah! I am woman hear me roar ... or at least hear my stomach roar! You made me hungry. haha

                      That sounds awesome - I will be going there!

                    2. I had my very first solo dining experience at Matt's in the Market. I went for lunch and tried the famous catfish sandwich- which came with a delicious house side salad. The trip was foodie worthy and also budget friendly.

                      As a solo diner I would be comfortable at- Lola's, Le Pichet (big sister to Cafe Presse), UMI(don't miss the happy hour!), Matt's in the Market, Ristorante Machiavelli, Pike Street Fish Fry, Kingfish Cafe, Macrina Bakery, Txori, Glo's, Honeyhole, Pho Cyclo, etc- To be honest I think I would be comfortable sitting in most Seattle restuarants*

                      These lists might help :)

                      1. monsoon on 19th is close to where you are staying and the counter is a great place to sit solo and the food is lovely. I go there solo when coming home from the airport. I do see a fair amount of solo dining in the dining room too.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: oliveoyl

                          Another one of my favorite places to eat alone Palace Kitchen. I often go there before or after Jazz Alley. They have a great $12 "breakfast" option after 10 pm that's always a winner. The bar area has a lot of ambiance for solo diners.

                        2. If you find yourself in Bellevue by Bellevue square (you can take the bus, and I think crossing the 520 bridge is worth doing for sightseeing alone), then head over to 0/8 Seafood Grill for happy hour. If you eat raw seafood, you must try their sashimi scallops (to die for) and oysters. Other apps are good, too, and they have happy hour prices even on the weekends. I love their wine flights - fun to try a few different things.

                          Some other comments - skip Steelhead. People love it, but I cannot figure out why - I have yet to have a good meal there. Matts is good, but I haven't been as impressed as others on this board. I do like cafe compagne quite a bit and would choose that over le pichet, if for no other reason than the attitude at le pichet is way over the top by Seattle standards, imo. Skip Kingfish - mediocre southern food (and why would you want to eat southern food in Seattle, anyway?). I am astounded that Greenleaf and Tamarind tree haven't come up yet (vietnamese). For what it's worth, I like the food and decor at Tamarind Tree much better than GL, but the service was off the last time I went. For sushi (not the best/most expensive) try Maneki and eat at their bar (otherwise make rezzies) or Nishino (nice, expensive) or Aoki (on Broadway in Cap Hill - nice and sort of mid-priced). Coastal kitchen has some great food - they do a special regional menu that changes monthly or so - check out what it is before you go...

                          1. I think eating at the bar at Harvest Vine is a reliably great experience, especially, if you put yourself in the chefs' hands. Plus, there is often other solo diners there and it can be a pleasant social event as well. Yummy tapas, don't miss the roasted cauliflower if they have it

                            Harvest Vine
                            2701 E Madison St, Seattle, WA 98112

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: blue2000

                              I am not a local, but a frequent traveller have have had some amazing experiences at Flying Fish in Belltown. The bar is a great place to eat and chat. The food is very very good and the drinks are delicious. Feels "local" to me, but since locals aren't recommending it, I'd be interested in what they have to say.

                            2. One of my faves is the 5:00-7:00 pm happy hour at Brasa, on 3rd. Half price (with a drink) on a VERY wide-ranging bar menu: paella, steak frites, salads, veggies, you name it. Check it on their website: www.brasa.com. The food is first rate, wines by the glass (or other drinks) are unique and well valued. Since you won't be on an expense account, this'll be a GREAT way to eat VERY well, for not that much money. I live here and am a regular at their HHr.