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Jul 13, 2009 07:58 PM

In Seattle for Three Days, need recs

Hi there, I was hoping you guys could help me out. My boyfriend and I are coming to Seattle for a Sat-Sun-Monday and we are looking for places to try.

We are staying in the downtown area, and will definitely spend some time at Pike Place Market (I love markets!) and will probably eat lunch there one day (I can probably find plenty of recs in other threads).

For dinner one night, we'd like to eat somewhere nice - in the $100 for two range. The type of food does not matter, but I would like to go somewhere with a changing, seasonal menu that is easy to get to from downtown. We haven't decided whether to rent a car yet.

We also were hoping for recs for some casual lunches. We were thinking of going to a brew pub or getting Thai or burritos or pizza or anything else that is good. We aren't necessarily looking for "Seattle foods," but more like great neighborhood places. (BTW What is Capitol Hill like for food?)

Also, I think I read that Seattle has good pie. Pizza pie or fruit pie? I'm hoping fruit pie, the boyfriend is hoping pizza pie. Either way, does anybody have any recommendations near the downtown area?

Thank you to anybody who can help me!

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  1. my favorite restaurant right now for dinner is Poppy
    Poppy has one of the most interesting concepts- Indian style service with northwest ingredients-the main entree style dishes are thalis- a platter of 6-9 seperate little dishes of seasonal yumminess. The owner used to run the herbfarm, one of seattle areas restaurant institutions. Really this is one of the best! restaurants here- interesting, high quality food for very reasonable prices, good service, and awesome desserts. Must try the dessert thali if you arent to full already.
    It is located on Capitol hill on the north end of Broadway. On the other south end of broadway there are a number of restaurants in the pike pine corridor that are good but dont stand out as much as poppy- the best of them though- spinasse, anchovy and olives, and lark.

    try Matts in the Market in the Pike place market for lunch or dinner- one of the best in the market. good views and food, favorite little spot for out of towners and locals alike.

    sitka and spruce is a good tiny higher end neighborhood restaurant

    serious pie is a good newer pizza joint- part of the tom douglas chain- and the only one really worth going to, though the dahlia bakery around the corner is good for treats and lunch to go and really good bread.

    Below the pike place market on the way down to the waterfront on the"market steps" is a mexican restaurant called el peurco llorron that is really awesome, cute, and authentic.
    Also there is two great food shops nearby on western ave at the top of the steps- one is a shop called the Spanish table that is the best spanish import store in the US. another is called world spice merchants- they have every spice you can think of and more, homemade spice blends, and nice layout to smell each spice and read about it.

    chinatown is worth wondering around and some great food there- my faves
    shanghai garden- chinese, szechaun noodle bowl- the best dumplings(get the veggie ones and the meat ones), green leaf-probably the best vietnamese place in the city, worth a detour and if you like thai you will like this place, just ask the waiters what to get).

    hope this helps, let me know if you end up at these joints and if you like them
    fyi check what days some places are open- often small places shut down sundays and/or mondays.

    6 Replies
    1. re: pickleweed

      Do you know how difficult it is to get into Sitka and Spice? I see they don't take reservations for small groups. Both it and Poppy look great. These are both on my short list...

      Green Leaf looks great for lunch too. I love pork vermicelli.

      1. re: megmosa

        Well, we went to Sitka & Spruce last night (Tuesday night), and for a party of 4 we had to wait about 20-30 minutes for a table (which was the time quoted). The kind people at S&S took our cell phone number and suggested a drink at Serafina down the block while we waited. Worked out perfectly for us. We showed up at 8:30 or so and were seated by 9:00. I will be sure to come back with my full report on Seattle, but as a preview, S&S was my favorite meal in the city. Service and food were a highlight of the trip. On to Portland this morning!

        1. re: megmosa

          not hard at all to get into sitka, sometimes a small wait. they are closed sunday monday, and i see you mentioned going to pike street fish fry instead, which is a little odd...pike street is open all day, just go for a snack. i def recommend eating at sitka or poppy for dinner if you can.
          someone else in this thread mentioned the corson building which has a great brunch on sunday mornings. it is owned by the same owner as sitka and is a bit out of downtown but very worth going to, take a cab. brunch is only $18 for bar of eat as much as you want salads, homemade yogurt, fruit, etc, plus one egg entree. the setting alone is worth the money esp on a sunny day(old rustic building, lush gardens in the middle of an industrial neighborhood) and the food is actually fresh and seasonal. no one does a better brunch.
          check their website for info

          1. re: pickleweed

            Oh no, I wasn't thinking of going to Fish Fry instead of Sitka and Spruce or Poppy. I was just wondering what Fish Fry's batter is like.

            Sitka and Spruce sounds very good...I'm a little worried I might not make it there though, because our trip changed a bit. Now we will be in Seattle for Sun, Mon, and Tuesday. Tuesday dinner is difficult because we fly out then. I think we might fly out late though, so maybe we could get an early dinner.

        2. re: pickleweed

          I was actually suprised that Poppy recieved such a high review here on this site: not just your review; there are several that are seriously giving superlatives. Just had dinner there last Thursday.

          I enjoyed parts of my meal but as a 20+ year veteran of the restaurant industry (from the kitchen and the fron of house) I felt like I was being sold a bill of goods with the Thali concept! I give it due orginality, and as a new "idea' for restaurant service- it is fun to get the platter with all the little dishes and such..however, as I and my friend began to eat, it was hard to find the relationship between certain dishes (why are these together?), and as all elements come at the same time, it was challenging to enjoy them at the right temp. since you got it all together and had to make your way around the platter; fine, but AKA, my lovely beef entree got cold while I ate my noodle side, and the greens gratin was colder still by the time I got back to it?

          I felt like they did it as a concept, and to save on waiter training and time; (not delivering multi-courses to diners leaves a waiter much more leaway to serve more customers in a given time frame) so in essence, in trade for service, I get my dinner all on one plate. VERY clever! I am sure it reduces the turn time on tables as well as no one is waiting on anyone - server or guest in the plan.

          The room is lovely, the general quality of food is good (or better), but a cold side is a cold side.

          I like the idea, but hot food should be hot, right?

          The desserts were GREAT! Prices great (but notice on Thalis - items repeat on various 'themes' - the kitchen gets to send out same for various ideas - they don't really jell, and again, it is a conversation created to get it 'all out at the same time'. They must make a batch of something (a side) and wait for an order sometimes for that one...maybe that is why I had the non-temp. issue.

          I love Jonathan Sundstrom. I want to love Poppy. It is around the corner from my BF's. I go out to eat a couple times a week. Really good idea, with issues to tackle :)


          My Friend's Cafe
          310 NE 72nd St, Seattle, WA 98115

          622 Broadway E, Seattle, WA

          Around the Corner Cafe
          301 Harman Way S, Orting, WA 98360

          Restaurant Services
          1035 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97205

          1. re: gingershelley

            Glad you like Jonathan Sundstrom. You should stop by Lark, you may enjoy his food, too.

        3. Brunch - Campagne, a staple, and easy to get to as it's downtown and in the Market. Monsoon, a little Vietnamese/American/French. Lovely and simple, and they have dim sum as well but it's on North Capitol Hill, bus route available though. Now, if you're looking for something that is superlative try The Corson Building. They just started Brunch and it's super fresh super local stuff with a gorgeous setting. You need a car to get there, Georgetown is not easy most other ways. Cafe Besalu if you can get to Ballard, it's a trek but the pastries are excellent and the coffee very good.

          Lunch - Le Pichet (downtown) is tasty french food, not bad on the wallet, and near everything with french fries made right. Whenever I get downtown I go to Pichet, it's good always and at any time. They're open late just in case you need some food to go with your drinks. Paseo's (fremont) a little out of the way and if you're in the U-District try Thai Tom, a bit of a wait as it's small but worth it. Matt's in the Market is a good choice but will be busy and packed, call ahead of time. Pizza at Serious Pie can be a gamble, as they sometimes burn the bottoms. They started a $5 happy hour menu and that might be a good reason to stop in. Salumi a Seattle staple in Pioneer Square, make their own cured meats and the owner is Mario Batali's father. Tasty sandos albeit a small space, good prices. The SAM has a restaurant inside and worth checking out as is the Dahlia Bakery.

          Dinner - Sitka & Spruce is on Eastlake and easy to get to on a bus from downtown. I can't say enough about this place, just go if you can. It's small, they don't take reservations, and have an excellent wine list and menu. I'm also on a weird kick with Kabob House (Greenwood), and Jack's Tapas Cafe Mostly Chinese -yeah, don't rack your brain on that name, no one gets it (U-District). They're out of the way and you would need a car or some buss navigational skills. The food at the brew pubs here is the usual burger and fried stuffs, and not good. Stick to the beer at these places. Capitol Hill is a night life hipster hot bed, unlike Belltown which is more of a night club "bridge & tunnel" type crowd, and Pioneer Square is like girls gone wild coupled with the dudes that love them and the homeless that live there and all are crowded on any Saturday night and difficult to drive through. You are warned.

          The Hill - You can get anywhere by taking a bus from downtown (or walking, it's not far) and then wandering around. It's hipster central but growing in the restaurant dept. I second the Poppy desserts, but not the dinner. It's a little too much going on with little very little cohesiveness on one plate. Lark is usually a very good rec, romantic, and in your price range and very seldom a letdown, my number one as an alone time kind of spot. Skip Anchovies and Olives, not good and overpriced. Spinasse is a good, if not a little loud (communal tables), overall a bit pricey but have THE best pasta in town, still in your range though. Cafe Presse for late night drinks and food, also good at any time. And super cheap. Via Tribunali for pizza on the hill that's dark and cool looking, and there's also Pagliacci's, not special but a good delivery sorta chain-y but only in Seattle type place. There's Elysian brewery on the hill, but the food is sub-par. Stick to the beer if anything and get food at Quinns if you're looking for some gastro pub grub that will make you want to explode at the waistline. They have beers on tap but don't make their own. Don't forget the icecream treat though! There's a new spot called Bluebird and also Molly Moon's. Molly moons doesn't make their own base but still good. Just go for the kid's size scoop, the flavors are restauranty and a little much when on their own and regular size. The sundae options are yummy. Beware- it can get crowded! Can't rec bluebird though, it just opened a few days ago. Now don't ask for who makes the best coffee, you might get into a fist fight. But a few places to check out - Victrola, Caffe Vita, Vivace (my fave), and Stumptown (although not local, they're from PDX).

          The Markets - You won't find too much "real Seattle" in the Pike Place Market, it's a little bit of a tourist trap, fun, yet CROWDED. Try the U-District Market on Saturday and the Cap. Hill market on Sunday if you miss the U-District, you'll can't get more local than those.

          Intl District (formally known as Chinatown) is an interesting area and a lively spot for late night eateries. My fave for late night is HoHo Seafood, and I'm sure you could get into a lively debate about pho in Seattle but my rec is a place called Pho So 1. I second the Greenleaf spot for Vietnamese (pho is also good there, but not as um divey as the other spot). Maneki is a good spot for sushi but for both sushi and other japanese kitchen treats that deliver the goods on both ends try Tsukushinbo. It's a hidden gem of a place and accessible from downtown with a brisk walk or short bus ride and around the corner from Maneki. Of course, you can't miss out on Uwajimaya. A mecca of sorts for all things Asian.

          I'm sure I missed a few spots, let me know if you want any more info. Enjoy your time!

          2 Replies
          1. re: emmelle

            Emmelle, you bring back a memory from local history that has never really been clear to me. When I was a kid in Seattle (50 years ago), we just had "Chinatown." Eventually, the political awareness of the civil rights years took effect, and we suddenly had "The International District." Before too long this morphed into the "I. D.," probably because that fit so easily alongside the "C.D." (central district). Not to long ago, whoever it is/was (city hall? neighborhood group? chamber of commerce?) got to it again and suddenly we have banners on the lightpoles announcing "Chinatown." What is old is new again.

            1. re: emmelle

              Second the Idea of Monsoon Brunch, a visit to Salumi (an Icon - plan time for the line..), and Quinns. As well, Poppy Dessert only. PLEEASE have a cafe Vita while in town. Amazingly great, and the artistry oft the foam pour is barista legend.:)

              In the Market - go to Matt's. he is the real deal, plus a little fun and quirky spot..

              Really, the thing to do is plan your trip by neighborhood, and pick where to go from among those for any given "food period" and map/ plan accordingly.

              Good suggestions chowhounds!

              309 3rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

              Real Deal Cafe
              811 W Stewart Ave, Medford, OR 97501

            2. As someone mentioned Salumi I have to say that while it is great, it is not going to be open during the OP's visit. They are open Tu - F.

              I have to disagree that you won't find anything "real Seattle" at the market. There is another thread going right now about what defines Seattle cuisine and it certainly isn't an easy answer. I think though, that the market has come to define Seattle. It certainly does have some places that serve poor quality food and prey off of tourists that don't know any better but it also has many places that are great, utilize fresh and local ingredients, and are affordable. I've rarely talked to a local who feels it is "just for tourists".

              I think Le Pichet is a good rec for you guys and I think Green Leaf or Tamarind Tree would be great for you to check out too.

              Capitol Hill may have the best concentration of quality food amongst Seattle's neighborhoods so that would be a good place to hang out. Some fav's there are Pho Cyclo for Vietnamese sandwiches, or Baguette Box for Vietnamese inspired sandwiches. Via Tribunali has some good pizza. I did really like Poppy but its prices would mean that it would be your "somewhere nice" night and I don't think I would recommend it for someone coming from out of town for a few days. People seem to like Quinn's but I have not been.

              One suggestion for a nicer meal but possibly cheaper would be to check out Art of the Table in Wallingford since you will be here on Monday which is when they have reduced prices.

              Good luck and enjoy.

              2 Replies
              1. re:

                The Pike Place Market may be full of tourists, but if you look at who buys the fresh fish, flowers and produce it is the locals.

                It is a great place to visit and shop at.

                1. re: DriverPhil

                  Although the Pike Place Market may seem to casual visitor to be just another Rouse Food Court, its fiber really is woven deeply in the fabric of the city.
                  I grew up in Seattle, and my mother took us kids along as she did the grocery shopping. We grew up on weekly visits to Delaurenti's, back when Pete Delaurenti, the founder, and his wife were running the place down in the dark levels, with barrels of bulk beans. Pete always made us feel like he loved to see us, and would treat us to exotic new tastes from his huge cheese and meat case or his bins of jordan almonds and fruits. I had my first taste of Coppocola there, and Prosciutto. I am here at Chowhound today because Pete made a taster of me.
                  He was a Seattle original. He would grubstake fishers going north to Alaska on the cuff, and get paid when they brought their catch back to the wharf.
                  He was a fixture of the Italian-American community in Seattle, and his shop was a social hub as well as a source of bulk staples.
                  see his obit at http://community.seattletimes.nwsourc.... Because of the Public Development Authority rules under which the market operates, every shop is locally owned and you will often find the owner on-site. When's the last time you saw the owner of Bed Bath & Beyond or Mrs. Fields Cookies? At the Pike Place Market, you really do "Meet the Producer."

              2. Thank you all for all the thoughtful replies. I'm going to look through all this stuff and try to get together my eating itinerary. I'm really excited about some of the Thai recommendations (lived in SF till recently and we are really missing the good Thai food). Poppy looks excellent too.

                3 Replies
                1. re: megmosa

                  I had just skimmed when I wrote that. I see now that there weren't really so many Thai recommendations. The Vietnamese places look great though! I'll do some more research if we really want to find Thai food.

                  1. re: megmosa

                    Enjoy your stay in our beautiful Seattle. The cruise ships will be in and The Market will be jam packed on Saturday and Sunday morning. Monday should be a lot calmer because the ships will have sailed on Sunday late afternoon!

                    Sunday from 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. is a great time to graze on half price apps and beers or toddies at Ray's Boathouse (Cafe upstairs). It's a bit away from the downtown area, but a local favorite. Try getting there at 3:30 p.m. to get a seat and sip a pounder while waiting for 4:00 p.m.

                    1. re: megmosa

                      Lemongrass, at 12th & Jackson, is good Vietnamese. Tamarind Tree, too, and with just a dash of swank, and Green Leaf (a favorite of ours - we like the Bahn Xiao [sp?]. Though it is oily, it is fragrant with coconut milk.
                      Do check out Malay Satay Hut, also near 12th & Jackson (Roti chanai for sure, and so much more).

                  2. Good suggestions so far--I'd second (or third) the recommendations for Poppy (for fusion Indian), Green Leaf, Cafe Campagne (for breakfast or lunch), Sitka and Spruce (very Northwest and you could probably stick to your budget for dinner for 2 at $100). Are you from Philly or New York? If so, I don't know if the pizza would compare to places (like Taconelli in Manayunk or many places in NYC) you may be used to. Though we have great fruit, I don't know that there is a wonderful pie place, though the coconut cream pie at any Tom Douglas restaurant (Ettas, Dahlia Lounge, Palace Kitchen) is my favorite pie in Seattle.

                    In Capitol Hill, fun places would be Spur or Quinns (for Gastropubs), as well as Pike Place Fish Fry or Bagette Box (fusion bahn mi's). Another incredible sandwich is the Cuban Sandwich at Paseo (in Fremont and I hear they just opened a takeout place on the beach at Golden Gardens which would be really fun). Fremont is also a fun place to explore with fun casual lunch places and breweries.

                    If you had a car and wanted to explore, you should head to West Seattle beaches if it is a beautiful day and hit Bakery Noveau for pastries/coffee. Similarly, you should head out to the outdoor Sculpture Park downtown and then hit Macrina for coffee/pastries. Another fun thing to do is check out the Locks in Ballard (either on Ballard Side or Seattle side) and hit Chinooks for lunch (more for the setting and variety of seafood, though food isn't incredible but good enough) or hit Ray's Cafe for a dinner and sunset.

                    Great sushi--Nishino in Madison Park (but pricey) or Shiro's in Belltown. I love Maneki in International District (very old school--oldest Japanese restaurant in the city). Another good place to try in the ID (other than Green Leaf which is our favorite) is Shanghai Garden for Chinese and Samarai Ramen for ramen noodles.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Jeanhea

                      What's the coating on the fish at Fish Fry? Cornmeal or beer-battered?

                      After all the Sitka and Spruce recs, I think we are going to wind up there.

                      And as for our location, we are currently in Philadelphia, moved here from San Francisco a year ago.

                      1. re: megmosa

                        Just tried Fish Fry yesterday. Seemed like it was beer-battered. Very nice, light crust; not quite strong enough to stand up to the juicy and very fresh cod we ordered. The fries, while not good by "fry" standards, were just right to soak up the malt vinegar. We also ordered catfish, too. Delicious and very juicy.