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New Yorker in Seattle for 3 days - What can't I miss?

I live in NYC - one of the foodiest cities in the world - so my standards are pretty high. Would love to hear recommendations for:

1> Seattle institutions I can't miss - places that live up to the hype and are uniquely Seattle. I'm not interested in just the run of the mill tourist joints. The food's got to be good. If it's a hole in the wall, mom and pop joint, even better.
2> Restaurant I can dress up and eat a nice prix fixe dinner with friends - I love Asian food, but I'm open to just about anything. What's the Seattle equivalent of Eleven Madison Park or Per Se? Who would get that Michelin nod?
3> Must eat desserts - must indulge my sweet tooth! Bakeries, chocolatiers, ice cream....whatever.
4> Seafood - isn't Seattle known for good seafood?

Thanks in advance for your help!!

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  1. I'd head for any of Tom Douglas' restaurants. My preference is Dahlia Lounge, but he has many other great locations. Easily one of the top chefs in town.

    Dahlia Lounge
    2030 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

    4 Replies
    1. re: GroovinGourmet

      1. Go to pike place- look for threads on this. You could have lunch at Matt's in the Market.
      2. Seattle does not have michelin style fancy restaurants. Instead go to a place like Corson Building, Art of Table or Elemental. If you really want michelin style you could go to Canlis, whose chef is the old EMP sous chef.
      3. Poppy is great for their dinner but their dessert thali is amazing. I would do a full meal though if you can.
      4. Get some oysters and crab. Go to the international district for crab: I like Malay Satay Hut and Seven Star.
      Oysters- Shuckers, Elliot's or Brooklyn.

      Canlis Restaurant
      2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

      Malay Satay Hut
      212 12th Ave S, Seattle, WA

      1. re: dagrassroots

        Grass, that was great.
        I'll aver, though, that an Easterner might benefit most from a first experience of the sweet meat of Dungeness, with little else (a little lemon-butter, or, if cold, an aioli). It's a whole new thing, if you come from soft-shell country. A trip to Jack's to get a crab cooked on the spot from the live-tank is mind-expanding. Eat it at the park. Preparations one can find, as you mentioned, are fabulous, to be sure, but it's always good to get a base-line, especially with Dungeness. You may never leave the base.
        Another local seafood best enjoyed as simply as possible = Halibut. Mmmmm....

        1. re: mr.nelso

          The Pike Place Market, as you will find in other threads, gets plenty of tourists, but is not all "run of the mill tourist joints." A little review of this board will net you many good, hole in the wall, mom and pop spots - it's a local treasure.
          Chez Shea (in the Market) has a nice atmosphere and a good prix fixe menu, as does Union.
          Get across the Ship-Canal to Ballard for coffee (I think they serve Caffe Vita, a local favorite), croissants, and many other fine French pastries, at Cafe Besalu.Take the chocolate tour at Theo's, in Fremont, a mile to the East.

          Pike Place Market
          1501 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101

          Chez Shea
          94 Pike St. Suite 34, Seattle, WA 98101

          Caffe Vita
          5028 Wilson Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

        2. re: dagrassroots

          The Corson Building, yes, for your nice prix fixe; no need to break out the formalwear, though.

      2. 1. Salumi in Pioneer Square, look it up, it's all over this board. Closed on Mondays.
        2. This is Seattle and I hate to say it, but it's not a dress up kind of town. But I travel to New York often and I find it less and less to be a dress up kind of town. If you want dress up, Canlis. I prefer Corson Building or his other restaurant, Sitka & Spruce. Some like Dahlia, I prefer Palace Kitchen and Etta's for brunch.
        3. Bakeries, I like Macrina in Belltown, Bakery Noveau in West Seattle or I've heard good things about Honore in Ballard. Besalu in Ballard is also delicious.
        4. Dungeness, eat as much of it as you can. Jack's is a great spot.

        Canlis Restaurant
        2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

        309 3rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

        1. 1. Search threads here for the best eats in the Pike Place Market.
          2. What Seattle does really well is the mid range restaurant. Matt's, Tilth, Lark, Poppy, Corson Building, Crush, Chez Shea, Le Pichet, Boat Street Cafe, Olivar (my fave), Branzino...all have lots of info here. There is little fine dining in Seattle (is there an equivalent of Per Se anywhere in the US???). There's not even much prix fixe (Corson is I guess, but it's family style). But, you'll eat very well for much less than you would in NYC.
          3. Bakery Nouveau, but it's in West Seattle, so you'll need a car or the willingness to ride the bus. It's in a cute neighborhoo so if you wanted to get out of downtown and see Seattle, it would be a good pick.
          4. Seafood--go to oyster happy hour at Elliot's. I would not recommend dinner there, though. Get a grilled salmon or halibut (ask what's better that day) sandwich at the Market Grill, in the Pike Place Market. Counter only seating, hole in the wall. Pike Place Chowder in the market, too. Just about every restaurant will have seafood.

          Pike Place Market
          1501 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101

          Le Pichet
          Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

          Chez Shea
          94 Pike St. Suite 34, Seattle, WA 98101

          806 E Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102

          Boat Street Cafe
          909 NE Boat St, Seattle, WA

          Bakery Nouveau
          4737 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116

          Market Grill
          1509 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101

          Pike Place Chowder
          600 Pine St Ste 404, Seattle, WA 98101

          1. One of the cuisines that Seattle excels at is Vietnamese...Try Green Leaf, Tamarind Tree, or Saigon Palms. You won't be disappointed! (Esp. if you get the vietnamese pancake!)

            Tamarind Tree
            1036 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104

            Saigon Palms
            101 SW 41st St, Renton, WA 98057

            1. Wow - great suggestions. Thanks all. Lots to choose from, and I can't wait. I'll report back after my trip in a week or so.

              1. Christy is right about mid-range restaurants being what Seattle does well. For more high end, I would recommend Rover's. You can definitely dress up for that as well. Also consider Lampreia. We had chocolate dumplings in a vanilla bean sauce there for dessert last year and it was truly memorable.

                Lampreia Restaurant
                2400 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

                1 Reply
                1. re: bourbongal

                  Glad someone said Rover's. Delightful, but not stuffy. Also consider Campagne. For dressing up, perhaps your only real option is Canlis. The Waterfront Seafood Grill is also a good choice, although no prix fixe. They do have a fun baked alaska tableside flambe type dessert (the Emerald City Volcano) which is fun and actually tastes good...

                  For ice cream, if you have time to catch a ferry to Bainbridge island (30 min spectacularly beautiful ride from Seattle) try Mora ice cream - the best around, imo. Skip Molly Moon's ice cream.

                  Canlis Restaurant
                  2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

                  Waterfront Seafood Grill
                  2801 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98121

                  86 Pine, Seattle, WA 98101