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Best Cheap Eats and Happy Hours? In town for 2 days.

Hey Westcoasters,
I'm coming in from NY with the fiance on Wednesday 8/5, staying in the city until Friday morning and then heading to the Gorge for a couple concerts. We have never bee to the city before (would be nice if we had more time, oh well, hopefully another time) and we are both big "foodies" (getting sick of that word).
Being from NY, we do get our fare share of quality pretty much everything. We're not looking to do any fancy dinners but still want yummy yum food. Although I want to go to the market and maybe even try Matt's since I keep hearing about it, my goal usually when I travel is to eat where the locals eat. I'll bullet-point for your convenience.
Where can I find....
-Very good coffee
-Good breakfast (gimme your fav spots, and places that serve breakfast during the week)
-Really good happy-hour (not sports bar style). I'm thinking oysters, yummy fresh apps, creative drinks, not cheesy atmosphere yet somewhere chill enough we can wear whatever we want
-Maybe some good Vietnamese (I'm thinking Pho since I've never had it...though if its very hot out there this week which I hear it has been lately, we may not be trying to eat hot soup)
-Good cheap eats or a Seattle "must have" spot you love and think is quality
-Affordable (not thai, not italian, not pizza) dinner spot
Keep in mind we're willing to walk a bit to get off the main drag if it means getting to a better spot. We walk everywhere so we're used to it. Also by "affordable" I mean less than $20 for entrees. But if you think there's a certain place we cant miss and its more than that, please inform. Also I request no thai, italian, or pizza suggestions because we eat so much of it out here.
Also, if any of you know fun things going on this Wednesday or Thursday or have any suggestions in general of things you would show friends if they were in Seattle for only 1.5 days I would love suggestions. This includes great stores of any kind, thrift shops and so on.
Thanks guys, looking forward to hearing what your brains have to offer.

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  1. Many answers depend on where you are staying, so please let us know where that is, so we can avoid wild-goose chases.
    See posts and here about the market and start with lunch (not dinner) at Matt's, with a quick app of Cioppino below at Jack's.
    "Good" coffee depends on your taste. For me, Caffe Vita is very good coffee. Others prefer others. There is coffee around every corner herabouts, so just start your own survey, beginning at the nearest cup, avoiding duplication, and report for us what shops you liked. "Really good" coffee is so much everywhere here I wouldn't even rule out dopey diners.
    Pho Bac, on 7th, and Pho Cyclo, on First, have my business. For Vietnamese, see Lemongrass at 12th & Jackson.
    Cheap eats: Happy hour at Ivar's Salmon House. F&C at Pacific Inn, in Fremont/Wallingford. Paseo, for sure.

    8 Replies
    1. re: mrnelso

      Sweet. thanks mrnelso. I'm staying at 68th street and 30th ave i believe? NE?
      I've been informed that we need to take a bus to get into downtown and its no big whoop for us.
      "I'm down with cioppino!" the fiance just yelled from the other room. And, "Nice. I'll take that advice." Would you say that it would be for sharing as an app? Sounds like a filling app for one person, no?

      1. re: rebloonin

        Jack's cioppino is small and inexpensive. I think that its price may be the best thing about it though and I would not suggest that you start with it there. I think the market has much better to offer.

        1. re: eat.rest.repeat

          Do you think I need suggestions or can I can peruse the market and find a spot not too touristy? I just dont want to walk around there and fall into a tourist food trap you know? We might also want to seek out a good spot to sit and eat crabs- suggestions? We're thinking bib and hammer style.

          1. re: rebloonin

            If you have a couple of hours to kill this might be a valuable resource: http://mouthfulsfood.com/forums//inde...

            I don't really know of many bib and hammer style places that don't lean more toward tourist trap. The Crab Pot isn't too bad. How about trying the Szechuan crab at 7 Star Pepper Szechuan?

              1. re: ethereal

                Probably best not to eat there. I remember it being okay but that was 15 years ago on a visit to Seattle as a teenager. It came to mind though when the bib and hammer where mentioned. But it looked so good on Man vs. Food :)

            1. re: rebloonin

              One non-touristy crab spot South of the Market in the ID district (and creole in style) is Crawfish King. http://www.seattlecrawfishking.com/ it is hammer time there and they do have different kinds of crab on the menu depending on the season.

              1. re: rebloonin

                I've always enjoyed bringing out-of-towners to Chinook's, on Fisherman's terminal. They consistently have good seafood if it is plainly cooked. You really must try our Dungeness crabs, there or elsewhere - you may never look at a lobster the same again.

                You will have to drive there if having dinner, though - the bus service there is not frequent, especially at night. (have you been warned about our (lack of) public transportation?) They also have a window off the side of the restaurant where you can get inexpensive lunch versions of the same thing inside. (salmon tacos.... mmmmm)

                Also, I often recommend Tilth, in Wallingford - local, usually organic, produce in all the food, well-composed dishes. Not cheap, but very Seattle.

                Good luck!

          1. re: equinoise

            Go to Elliot's for cheap oyster happy hour. Best price at 3:00 and then goes up on the hour. Amazing view - good oysters, cheap drinks.

            For an eclectic happy hour, Spur is my current go to. Really creative cocktails and excellent small plates, discounted prices 4-7. Not "cheap" but certainly reduced. seems to be all I post around here lately, but 4 times in about 6 weeks, and never disappointed.

          2. LIke another replyer, dont know where you will be staying but here are some starter suggestions around town. if some of these are repeated then please take it as a second on it.

            -coffee: the independents like Cafe Vivace, Cafe Vita, and Stumptown are great.

            -breakfast: Portage Bay their fresh fruit toppings bar.

            -HH: you said oysters...I will say Elliots for their progressive oyster bar happy hour. Starts at 3pm and goes up every half hour i believe. great variety of oysters.

            -Pho: tamarind tree or greenleaf for a nice clean upscale viet, but the hole in the wall authentic stuff, go for Pho Bac aka the pho shack that was the first in Seattle. I like Pho Cyclo for their Pho Ga (chicken pho)

            - Cheap Eats: Paseos as mentioned before. Salumi for lunch is a definite. It's ran by the Batali family and has sandwiches and salumi worth waiting in line for (as there will be).

            -dinner: Cafe Presse. French cafe & wine bar. They have entrees that dont break your $20 threshold but alot of their menu is below $10 for their small plates. Tony Bourdain and Mario Batali chose to eat here after a recent show here in Seattle. A Stumptown is right next door as well.

            wednesdays there is the Columbia City Farmer's market, one of our better farmers markets. hope this helps your search!

            1. For happy hour, I woud recommend Poppy, which is on Capitol Hill. They do "mini-thalis" for $5 at happy hour, which is a great deal. The thali is an Indian concept where you get several tastes of different dishes on one (very adorable) plate. The food is Indian influenced, but definitely not traditional Indian. www.poppyseattle.com

              Also, according to the Times this morning, Pair has a decent happy hour. It's a neighborhood bistro, pretty close to where it sounds like you're staying. I haven't been, but it's on my list. www.pairseattle.com

              Also, as has already been mentioned, Cafe Presse is a must do for anyone in the city on a budget (or not) who likes delicious, simple French food. It's pretty much my favorite place ever.

              PS: you can pretty much wear whatever you want anytime, anywhere in Seattle. Coming from NYC, you'll be shocked at what is deemed appropriate.

              1 Reply
              1. re: abstract206

                After my experience at Brasa last night, I have to add them to my list of recommended happy hours. For $40 (before tip), 2 of us ate VERY well - paella, steak sandwich, fries, serrano ham crostini, doughnuts and a glass of wine each. It's not the cheapest happy hour around, but the value to quality ratio is quite good. It's downtown/belltown on 3rd and Lenora - www.brasa.com.

              2. As someone who spent my first 30 in Seattle and my last 6 in NYC I bring some perspective to this conversation.

                First thing I would say is don't swear off pizza just yet. While it may be true that the average slice in NY far outshines Seattle's equivalent, Seattle has one advantage over NY. In NY pizza making is almost a religion, in Seattle all forms of blasphemy are tolerated, with some very nice results. Some of my favorite examples of unorthodox pies are the Logger's Special at Northlake Tavern & Pizzeria, an upside-down goat cheese pizza at Wallingford Pizza or the Garlic Gulch at Atlantic Street Pizza. You may not get a chance to try these if you're leaving Friday, but if you do you might get something very unexpected.

                Another recommendation would be Agua Verde Cafe & Paddle Club which is a Mexican restaurant / boat rental. It is very different than most NY Mexican places which are usually Pueblo style Mexican, plus you can rent a Kayak and paddle around Lake Union afterward.

                One last thing, I'm coming back home in a month (on vacation) and have been putting together a Google Map of all my old favorites (for culinary or sentimental reasons) and some new places I would like to try - particularly some newer brewpubs and beer bars that didn't exist yet my last time here. I've even added some recs from this thread (thanks all). You're welcome to check it out:

                http://tinyurl.com/seattle-eats