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D.C. Visitor to Seattle

I will be visiting Seattle from October 9-14 which gives a few days for an East Coast foodie to explore the Seattle food scene. I am visiting a friend who recently moved there from St. Louis and knows very little about his new home, so this will be a food orientation for both of us. Please help! Other than oysters, I know very little on the foods that Seattle is known for, as this is my first visit to the Pacific Northwest. Any guidance you can provide for what is regionally famous and where to eat it would be appreciated.

Some background information -
My friend lives in downtown Seattle and has a car so far distances is not an issue. I love love love fresh seafood. Coming from D.C., I would love to compare the seafood available on both coasts (especially crabs!). After reading a few posts, it seems that the cocktail scene is popular, so we are also looking for some pre-meal venues. Also, I am hoping to go to Bainbridge Island and vineyards (obviously on separate days). Please let me know of any great places to go to on Bainbridge and any vineyards you especially admire.

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  1. Panchy, Seattle's Asian culture offers some great dining. The Szechuan Crab at Seven Stars Pepper Restaurant is a not-to-be-missed Seattle dish. Also nearby is the Ho Ho Seafood Restaurant, Tamarind Tree and Green Leaf--all offering great seafood and dining experiences. The Mussels at Maximillien's at the Market are often taken for granted here but their freshness (from nearby Whidby Island) makes them exceptional. (Try the upstairs bar for a more rustic dining experience.) Quinn's Gastropub features "hot wing" style Frog's legs. (Totally addictive.) Shiro's offers some unique Sushi offerings including tasty fried shrimp heads. Txori explores the edgier side of Tapas including some garlic clams that are almost magical. Enjoy!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Leper

      Leper's recs are very good but also consider
      Elliot's for oysters
      Pike place chowder for chowder
      Market grill for simply prepared grilled fish sandwiches.
      Tamarind tree has a sister restaurant downtown called Long. Both are really good vietnamese restaurants.
      Chiso Kappo for a Kaiseki meal.

      1. re: dagrassroots

        Elliott's progressive oyster happy hour is a hoot. Oysters are 50 cents apiece at 3:00, and goes up 25 cents every half-hour, so go in at 3:00 and order a few dozen....
        Pike Place Chowder - try seared scallop (get a sampler of several styles).
        Have a quick cup of Cioppino at Jack's Fish Spot, on Pike Place, nearby, on your way up the stairs to Matt's, for a catfish sandwich lunch.
        Drop down the hill climb to Zig Zag for cocktails, and El Puerco Lloron for Mexican lunch.
        Find more good Vietnamese at Green Leaf and Lemongrass.

    2. Bainbridge Island has, to my knowledge, only one winery, but it does offer some fine wines. For more variety consider a trip to Woodinville (about 30 minutes northeast of Seattle in good traffic) which has tasting rooms for over 40 Washington wineries (the grapes for which are mostly grown in the arid eastern part of the state).
      http://www.woodinvillewinecountry.com/

      For seafood, Anthony's offers an all you can eat Dungeness crab feed on Sundays.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Roo

        There is more than one winery on the island:

        from www.brainbridgewineries.com

        Six Wineries Make for a Great Day of Tasting!
        Bainbridge Island now boasts six small, artisanal wineries. Four use grapes grown in the warm climate of eastern Washington, while two grow grapes right here on Bainbridge, in the cool climate of Puget Sound. Since the wineries are small and owner-operated, they are only all open for tasting at the wineries on select weekends (though some are open additional days as well). Upcoming open weekends include: August 8/9, November 7/8, December 4/5/6. Hours are 12 - 5, and tastings are cheap or free.

        Three of the wineries also operate tasting rooms that are located within walking distance of the ferry terminal and open throughout the year: Eagle Harbor Wine Company (Wed-Sun 12-5), Eleven (Fri-Sun 12-5) and Victor Alexander (Open Thu-Sun 1-6).

        The wineries on Bainbridge Island are:
        •Eagle Harbor Wine Company
        •Eleven
        •Perennial Vintners
        •Rolling Bay Winery
        •Victor Alexander
        •Bainbridge Island Winery (Winery open Friday - Sunday weekly)

        1. re: boisenewbie

          Thank you for the update. It has been several years since I visited the Bainbridge Island Winery and it sounds like the viticultural business has certainly picked up there - as it has throughout much of the state.

        2. re: Roo

          Skip Anthony's all you can eat crabfeed. Crappy quality, watery and just flat tasteless. Try Ray's Boathouse in Shilshole instead.

        3. Are Tom Douglas restaurants worth going to? Sometimes I am hesitant to go to celebrity chef restaurants after its initial fame because I find people go simply for the name rather than the food.

          1 Reply
          1. re: panchy

            I have tried them all and I understand your hesitance and thought pattern. I highly enjoy Lola for brunch/lunch (the trout on vegetable hash with an over easy egg was amazing as well as the fresh pita with anchovie/califlower spread), The Palace for lively Seattle vibe- appetizer fare (lavender cheese fondue, etc)- and the burger, and Dahlia for the famous coconut creme pie and dessert. If you are walking though the area, Dahlia Bakery has peanut butter cookies to die for. Etta's has good fish and chips and is a little more upscale than say a sit down Ivar's- I wouldn't go out of my way to eat there but I liked my fish and slaw (they have a fish and chips special a lot of times). Serious Pie can be fun if you are in the mood- I know that they have started selling happy hour pies if you want a fun snack.

          2. I'll piggyback off this post as I'm heading to Seattle around the same time frame, but just for a long weekend from October 8-12. I'm also going to drive up to Vancouver that weekend.

            Ran a quick search and got some great ideas from these threads
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/639630
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/635909

            Looks like I should definitely hit Pike's Market, I'm looking forward to that dungeness crab and all in all sounds like there are plenty of choices there.

            1 Reply
            1. re: air

              My turn at the bat, team.

              "Pike Place Market", not "Pike's".

              Thanks, and enjoy your visit.

            2. Alas, on Bainbridge, Madoka just closed, which would have been your best bet for dinner there. There is a place called Four Swallows on Madison. I have not been in many years, but it was quite good several years ago--kind of northern Italian. Cafe Nola is fine for breakfast, lunch or brunch, but I would not spend my money on dinner there. Check out the Blackbird bakery on Winslow Way on Bainbridge. Also Town & Country Thriftway for groceries and deli. If you don't go to Cafe Nola's for lunch, you might want to make a picnic of stuff from the deli at T&C.

              1. If you want dinner close to Bainbridge, here's an idea: The Agate Pass Cafe, just across the bridge on the north end of the Island, in a little town called Suquamish. http://agatepasscafe.com/location-hou.... Last year I went a couple of times and enjoyed it and am hoping to go sometime this fall. Just follow the main highway on Bainbridge north. You'll go over the Agate Pass bridge, onto the Kitsap mainland. Turn right (there will be a huge casino on the left). Follow the road until you get to Suquamish. It's in the main little business district, down by the water.

                1. You will find lots of recommendations for Seattle restaurants recommendations by scanning the posts on the Pacific Northwest Board, as you have apparently already done, including the recent thread at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/649213. I won’t add to the redundancy by repeating my recommendations here. With regard to your question about what foods Seattle is known for, see the thread at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/648526. The cocktail scene in Seattle is not just “popular,” but Seattle is blessed with some of the best bartenders in the U.S. who are on the front line leading the revival of interest in cocktails. Here’s my list of some of these extremely knowledgeable and talented bartenders, and where they work:

                  Murray Stetner
                  Zig Zag Café

                  Keith Waldbauer, Anu Apte, Zane Harris
                  Vessel

                  Duncan Chase
                  Taste

                  Jamie Boudreau
                  Tini Bigs

                  Jay Kuehner
                  Sambar

                  David Nelson
                  Spur Gastropub

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Tom Armitage

                    A couple of quick corrections/updates:
                    It's Murray Stenson at Zig Zag.
                    Anu and Zane have left Vessel as they are now the proud owners of Rob Roy. Check it out. They are making some great cocktails there.
                    Is Jamie still at Tini Bigs?
                    David Nelson is also at the Spur-owned Tavern Law - another fun place to check out.

                    1. re: Lauren

                      Thanks for the corrections. I'm not sure about Jamie. I'll have to check.

                  2. Wow, thank you all! This information is great. Just a quick correction, I was actually looking for wineries not on Bainbridge, although now I may just have to stop by those as well. I am probably going to take a day trip solely to taste wine - I hear there are vineyards an hour and a half away from Seattle? Thoughts?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: panchy

                      Western Washington's cool, maritime climate is separated from Eastern Washington's continental one by the Cascade mountains. Over here, it's rare to reach temperatures over 100F or below 20F, but these are common on the East side. Most of the fruit, including grapes, and much of the produce, is grown East of the mountains, so that's where most of Washingtopn's wineries are found. Yes, it's about an hour and a half to cross the passes, but count on a good deal more time to get any real winery-touring done, as most wineries there are more like 3 to 6 hours away. It's a sweet trip, but plan to stay overnight.

                      1. re: mrnelso

                        I think you can get to Mt Baker winery in an hour and a half and they do have vineyards. If you are really looking for a tasting experience though come to Woodinville - there are at least 60 wineries and tasting rooms here and at most of the smaller ones you will be talking directly with the wine maker. Also check the website listed above for release parties - always fun.

                        1. re: FoodDee

                          and, of course, the helpful Washington Wine Commission is here:
                          www.washingtonwine.org

                      2. re: panchy

                        There are a number of great tasting rooms in Woodinville. Probably at least 30 that will be open to the public. Most of the grapes come from the Eastern part of the state, but the wine available in Woodinville is excellent. Plus there are a couple of great dining options over there, like the Barking Frog and Purple.

                        As for wineries, I'd recommend going to Ch. Ste. Michelle. It's not my favorite wine, but it helped put Washington Wine on the map and has a really pretty setting. You can do the full tour and see the bottling lines and everything or just go taste some wine. Then I'd check out Januik. Mike Januik was the wine maker for Ch. Ste. Michelle when they made their mark and now does his own thing. His wines are great and he has a bocce court out back if you're interested in some activities while you sip your wine. Matthews Cellars is another great option. They have some really great wines, if you get a chance to try their Cab Franc, it's fantastic. Mark Ryan also has a tasting room and makes some nice wines, last I checked his tastings were still free. Page cellars is another great winery in Woodinville. Facelli is a great little family-run place. Try the Lemberger. I'd skip Columbia. It's not very good, but it's very visible so it draws crowds. Don't be fooled. There are a number of others as well, but those are my recs. Woodinville is about 30 mins outside of Seattle.

                        1. re: BuffaloBandit

                          You left out Mark Ryan, Buffalo. Terrific reds - especially the Long Haul and Dead Horse. $42/bottle and well worth it.

                      3. Hi Panchy - a few quick rec's for you - Steelhead Diner in the Market has good crabcakes that will give you a good idea of dungeness versus blue crab. I lived in DC for 12 years, so I definitely get the desire to compare the two! Also worth checking out in the Market is the Pink Door - especially if it's nice and you can sit on the deck.

                        The bars at Ray's Boathouse and Edgewater Hotel are worth a visit - the views are really stunning and the bars are pretty fun. Both of these spots can be touristy, but you're off-season.

                        For a non-seafood option - you should check out Salumi near Pioneer Sq. It's known for cured meats, sandwiches etc. It's pretty amazing and a fund place for lunch and wine.

                        If you go to Woodinville for wineries, check out the new Isenhower winery. They've been in Walla Walla for several years and are opening a tasting room next to Janiuk Winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Silverlake, and Woodhouse Family Cellars. I think it opens in mid-October so your timing is good.

                        Have fun!