seattle on a budget
am visiting seattle (initially downtown) for a couple of weeks as part of a round the world trip (here to do some work to fund the travels!). I love great food, but as money is short am hoping for some suggestions for great places to eat locally sourced, freshly cooked, food that won't break the bank? name your favorites people!!
Street food: the current wave of mobile vendors maybe perhaps offering the best price-quality ratios. In particular try out Skillet (local/organic) and Marination Mobile (korean-hawaiian tacos, etc), both of which have websites/twitter feeds that locate them each day. More traditional mexiican taco trucks can be good as well, although they tend to be further from downtown. I like Asadero #2, Rancho Bravo, and Pasadita #2.
Vietnamese: This cuisine is exceptional locally, and represents a great value, even at the highest end. For rock bottom, try bahn mi at Pho Cyclo or Vietnam Saigon Deli, pho at Pho Bac, or central regional specialites at the Lemongrass. You can go more upscale and diverse at Green Leaf, Tamarind Tree.
Ethiopian/Eritrean: Heavily spiced, vegetarian-friendly fare is also outstanding. Meskel, Dahlak, Ras Dashen, Saba, Habesha.
If you can eat something raw or already prepared, or access a kitchen or a bbq, get something from a farmer's market. Right now you can get excellent sockeye salmon (raw or cured), and a host of local bread, cheese, fruits and vegetables. I favor the U-district on Saturdays, Ballard or West Seattle on Sundays, and Columbia City on Wednesdays. Score some goods and eat al fresco.
Happy hour deals: Many places have great bargains in the early evening, including raw oysters (the water is cold here so many of us disregard the "R" months rule) such as the Brooklyn or Elliot's. Brasa for v. good Iberian items,
Pike Place: alot of cool stuff, which is the subject of thousands of prior posts. Just search for it.
Equinoise and Mr. Nelson have good ideas. But when Equinoise says upscale in regard to Green Leaf, he/she doesn't mean expensive. It's still a little family run place and you could get out of there for less than $10 not including tax and tip (tax here is a killer--you pay it on everything except food and drugs, but nontaxable food doesn't include restaurant meals). Baklava at Turkish Delight in the market is excellent as are the piroshky in the same row of shops. The real bargains in this town--especially seafood-- tend to be the little ethnic places, so head on down to the International District, which now has MidEastern and Mexican on its northern edge as well as the usual Asian. But avoid the deli in Uwajimaya--not good. Mr. Nelson is right about Paseo--a ton of food, mostly excellent, for a reasonable price. Good tempura and noodles are to be had at Tsukushinbo in the ID as well.
Search this board for "Pike Place Market," as good food abounds there.
Have Uli's grill you up your choice from the cabinet and get fries with that.
Cioppino at Jack's
BBQ Pork Bun (and other) at Mee Sum
Visit the "International District" (Chinatown and Vietnamtown)
Great price:quality ratio at Salumi (especially the kitchen specials), though NOT cheap, and likewise Skillet Street Food's Takeout window, now open at 4th and Main - I have not tried breakfast, but it's promising.
Cafe Zum Zum lunch would feed a village.
The economy is causing Happy hour menus to spring up all over town and many have been discussed here. We enjoy Ivar's Salmon House and Ponti. Treat yourself to the cafe at Ray's. Do a few hours research and you'll find many more.
Paseo is a real feed for not much money, but do yourself a presentational favor and replate it somewhere else. There is SO much food crammed into those styro boxes it can't give your eyes what they deserve until you can really unpack it.
Have the tofu bahn mi at Baguette Box, though everything there is so good you might not be able to stop. I was unable to order anything but the Spanish Chorizo til they opened in Fremont. Somehow the new venue allowed me to order something new.
I'll throw this out there. The food is average but Eastlake Grill (and their sisters Greenlake and Southlake Grill) have a Wednesday $5 Steak night. It's a 8 oz sirloin that's cooked to order. With great summer weather, they have a great patio and rooftop patio with a view of Lake Union. The offer is served 6-10pm (last i've heard) We would go around 5:45pm to double dip the Happy Hour Menu and the Steak night.
I'll also suggest Cafe Presse on Capitol Hill. Alot of their menu is under $10 and is a great place to get affordable French.
As for asian, as of late Chinese restaurant prices are slowly creeping up. I suggest checking out some really great Taiwanese places. Harry's Bento is a literal hole in the wall but great bang for your buck (I suggest ordering their off menu meat bun. The pan fried meat dumpling oozes out all it's juices when you cut into it.) Rocking Wok in Walingford/Fremont is also another cheap Taiwanese place. Try their 1000 layer pancake...its only $3 but its just carb goodness.