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Seattle Help - I've done my homework first, just needs refining

I'm going to be in Seattle for 3 days/3 nights for work. A good portion of dining will be done on my own. So I'm trying to figure out where I can go both alone and with someone. I have gotten some good recs from past posts and topics, but please help me refine my choices or add to the list. I've included some links for other Seattle first-timers as they ready their own eat-lists.

Palace Kitchen - dinner at bar

Matt's in the Market - lunch at pike place/catfish sandwich -- other good items on menu?

Stealhead Diner - anything special? or not for this trip?

Piroshky Piroshky - Russian Bakery - i'm polish and make my grandmother's pierogi recipes -- are these worth it? which are the best?

Top Pot Donut - worth it?

Salumi - italian cured meats -- the website says something about call-in orders only. but there's no mune. what's the deal? or should i go with deluarenti's instead?

Brasa - Spanish, good HH/bar menu

Gelatiamo -- do they have nutella gelato, my favorite

Poppy - thali and desserts - eat at the bar? can a solo eater enjoy it here? or is there too much for one diner.

Dahlia Lounge - lunch/HH

Café Besalu in Ballard - breakfast/pastries/cardamom pretzel/ginger biscuit/pain du chocolat -- what are other good recs in ballard?

Pike Place Market -- what are the other 'can't-be-missed' 's

Other Tom Douglas spots OK to dine solo? at the bar?
Cream Cheese hot dogs - where's the best one? is it worth it? and what do i get on it? (besides cream cheese, of course).
Zig Zag - cocktails/lounge
Mee Sum Pastry - humbow/at pike place -- what is the best kind?
Starbuck's number one - i'm a daily starbucks guy and have to make the pilgrimage and pay my respects

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  1. Some excellent choices. Here is some feedback and additional ideas.
    Palace Kitchen - solid choice and you will be fine there eating alone. Other Tom Douglas places are good too. If you like pizza then Serious Pie might be worth considering and you can comfortably eat there alone, but you probably have better dinner choices.

    Matt's for lunch will work. Not outstanding in my opinion, but certainly better than most.

    Steelhead Diner is a good choice. The staff there is very nice and the food is quite good. You will certainly be fine there eating alone.

    Piroshky Piroshky - Not a huge fan. There is a new place on Capitol Hill that is getting good reviews - Zhivago's Café and could be a nice alternative.

    If you are looking for a fun Polish place (really just a store and deli - no seating - all take out) then George's Deli on First Hill (just North of Downtown) is great. http://www.yelp.com/biz/georges-sausa... It is jammed with all sorts of Polish foods.

    Top Pot - how big of a donut fan are you? Nothing really worth the trip for unless you love donuts. Honestly if you go to Dahlia the donuts are better there.

    Salumi - worth it, but might be rough if it is a working lunch. Hours are limited and the lines can be long. Might be better for takeout if you really wanted something. DeLaurenti's is good, but again - just a deli. More choices than Salumi and less of a wait, but just take out and not quite as good.

    Poppy will certainly work for you and if you do not feel like you want the entire thali you can certainly do well ordering off the bar menu. Another good choice in Capitol Hill is Huyiona www.huiyona.com

    Café Presse is a nice place to hang out http://cafepresseseattle.com/pages/ho... and you can certainly eat on your own there. Also open late if you are a night owl.

    Po Dogs would certainly be a good option if you wanted to try a Seattle dog http://www.podogs.com/menu

    Senor Moose is a nice Ballard option http://senormoose.com/

    Mee Sum is ok, but I think their humbow is a little sweet. Lots of people like it though.

    If you like cheese and you are at Pike Place Market then you should stop into Beechers. Well worth it. Also the Crumpet Shop in the market is a nice place for a quick bite. http://seattlebonvivant.typepad.com/s...

    Have a great time.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PaqpIn

      Great reply, Paqpln! I especially like the Po Dogs, Cafe Presse and George's Deli recs. And yeah, nopt a die-hard donut guy, so can probably skip Top Pot and save room for other deliciousness.

      Still curious about Poppy's. Can someone explain the Thali, Smali, etc., concept?

      1. re: FoodieLTD

        When my husband and I went to Poppy, he got a thali and I got a smali. The only difference was mine was missing maybe two dishes. It's not too different from a standard restaurant entree in terms of total quantity, you just get lots of little dishes instead of a single large one.

    2. You've done you homework well, grasshopper. At the bar at both Palace Kitchen and Steelhead Diner you can banter with the staff. I've also met some very interesting people dining alone at Palace Kitchen. (i.e., off duty Secret Service agent with great stories to tell.) Enjoy your Seattle Chowhound trip!

      1. How about the Red Mill burger? Worth it?

        3 Replies
        1. re: FoodieLTD

          Definitely not. You can do better!

            1. re: FoodieLTD

              No! Get the burger at Palace instead.

            2. Palace Kitchen - dinner at bar - will be fine, you will say, "I ate at a very nice restaurant that featured regionally produced foods in a comfortable atmosphere. It was good." You will probably not say a "I ate an amazing meal in a really interesting restaurant," though even this is possible.

              Check expectations in the lobby and just go have a nifty little lunch in a nifty little spot with a roomful of locals. I love Matt's catfish sandwich for lunch and the salads and soups. Sometimes, specials can push the catfish lower on the list, so be sure to ask what's tops that day.

              Stealhead Diner - another very nice restaurant with a strong Seattle feel.

              Piroshky Piroshky - I Have no grandma connection, and have not eaten there, though I often stop to apreciate the pastry cases.

              Top Pot Donut - worth it?
              I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when Top Pot opened. I thought the old-fashioned was a killer. ymmv

              Salumi - (206) 621 8772 is the number where you can pre-order sliced meats to go (see "our products" for the meat list) When you call, you can ask about the kitchen specials for the week.

              Brasa - One of our favorite HHs and great food, altogother

              Gelatiamo is definite. Procoppio was one of Seattle's first gelaterias, though Procoppio and Bottega Italiana also do a good business for good reason, too.

              After Poppy Poppy, you will say "I ate an amazing meal in a really interesting restaurant." Thali is groupings of small plates and fine solo for most eaters.

              Dahlia is refined dining. If there is caution it will be that it may be a little on the sedate side.

              Café Besalu is a must. We'd trade two Top-Pots (a favorite of ours) for one Besalu. Maybe 3. Get a plain croissant, as well as pain chocolat.

              Going for memorability here: Cafe Moose is in Ballard, Lunchbox Laboratory, Delancey, Happy Hour at HighLife.

              Mee Sum Pastry - It's just a quick snack, but the BBQ pork humbow is my usual.

              On your Hajj to Sbux #1, note that they were allowed to maintain a presence in the Market when they became a chain (not generally allowed in the Market - you will find no Quizno there), with the stipulation that they would present as they were when they started there, and not introduce any fancy new marketing directions, so if it feels a little spare, that's why.

              3 Replies
              1. re: mrnelso

                Thanks, mrnelso! You are definitely helping refine my list, as I'm sure I won;t be able to tackle all on first visit. So I will definitely go to Poppy, with or without another diner. I'll follow my nose and stomach at Pike Place and check out the ones listed above when I'm there. And Brasa looks really prmising -- I guess I'm a small plate/pinchos/tapas kinda guy. And I'm hoping one of the gelaterias is serving nutella gelato that week. mmmmmm.

                1. re: FoodieLTD

                  I like the piroskis (esp. potato/muchroom) at PP but have not had the pierogies. You want the bbq pork at Mee Sum. I'm not much of a meat eater but I like those a lot. Other Ballard recs--I believe there are threads on Ballard but there are lots of good places--Ocho for tapas, La Isla for Puerto Rican, Moshi Moshi and Shiku for Japanese, Sambar for snacks and cocktails, La Oaxaca for Mexican...

                  1. re: FoodieLTD

                    Ulis and Pike place chowder in the market.,

                2. You'll be able to get a Top Pot donut at Starbucks. Enjoy!

                  1. I'd make a stop at Pho Bac for breakfast or lunch. Great Pho.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: terrier

                      I'll second Pho Bac. Perfect weather for it too.

                      Nix of the Piroshky Piroshky. They are overrated.

                      How about milling around town and hitting a truck for lunch? You could do a nibble at each. A little Tacos Asaderos, a little Kaosamai Thai then drift towards Skillet. The wagons are everywhere and mostly delicious. Look for a line. It is a good way to inject some spontaneity into your food schedule.

                    2. I would agree with Paqpln on Piroshky Piroshky: never been overly impressed. However, if you decided to do a sort of food tour of the Market and hit up other spots like Beechers, then I'd include it. I just wouldn't make a special trip.

                      And maybe I'm the only one in Seattle who feels this way, but...not a huge fan of Salumi. We had it for an office lunch one day, and it was a big ordeal to get someone down there to stand in line, and it just didn't feel worth it in the end.

                      If you do go to Starbucks at PP, be forewarned that it is very much set up to be a tourist experience, including the baristas. I hang out at the market a lot (I have friends who work there) and I ran in one day to grab an americano with some sf vanilla. The barista said something like, "Now an americano doesn't have milk..." assuming I had no idea what I was ordering. So I guess I'm saying if you're used to a quick in-and-out Starbucks experience, be prepared for the opposite.

                      My hubby insists that the best cream cheese hot dogs are from a vendor on Capitol Hill. The cars is usually around 10th and Pike, across from the Comet Tavern on 10th. And just go for the standard: grilled onions and cream cheese. It's the perfect Seattle-rainy-night-post-show snack. Cash only, obviously.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: JonahBgFsh

                        I have found most of the Piroshkies at Piroshky Piroshky to be hit or miss, except for the Smoked Salmon Pate variety. It always hits the spot, especially if you get there early in the morning or happen to luck out when they are fresh from the oven during the rest of the day. If not, aks them to nuke it for 15 seconds and it is almost as good!

                        One of my quintessential Seattle experiences is taking in the views from Victor Steinbrueck Park (once you get through all the sketchies) while eating a hot Smoked Salmon Piroshky and drinking an espresso from the original Starbucks. Enjoy!

                        1. re: JonahBgFsh

                          A person can only eat so many (fabulous) salami sandwiches, it turns out, especially after enduring long lines in the rain. Note, though, that Salumi has a sandwich (sic) board out front, with the daily specials - usually a pasta, a vegetable, a soup, and something from the family grab-bag. Just slip along the wall, past the line of folks waiting for their salami sandwiches and go right back to the big table. You'll see the weekly specials in a glass window as you slip past the line, and when you get back to the big table, you can order them up from the kitchen staff there. No lines, great Italian family food, good company. This is the common table, so uncommonly accomplished in Seattle. The sandwiches are definitely worth meeting, and I ate my way through the sandwich menu, to be sure. Do try to persevere to meet the Prosciutto and goat cheese with fig confit (summer only), the meatball (I like with gorg), and the porchetta. If the waiting experience is not for you on a day, just slip back to the Kitchen and ask the staff what's for lunch and pay on you way out.

                        2. If you are polish, a stop into Georges Deli on Madison and 9th may be in order. Lots of traditional smoked meats, and they will make you cheap sandwiches out of anything in the store.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: wallyz

                            George's grilled Reuben.
                            Say no more.
                            This, and the Pacific Inn Pub, totally pwn the grilled-Reuben scene hereabouts. We look forward to years of research to refine the comparison between these two, but see few actual head-to-head competitors. 74th St has an interesting entry, as does ILNY, but there simply must be more out there. I know I'm looking for a gilded Lily, at this point, as these two are tremendous, but what ya' got out there???

                            1. re: mr.nelso

                              I've come to really enjoy the one at the Take 5. They call it a Reuben (corned beef) but I think that it is proper name may be a Rachael (slaw instead of Kraut). I'm an not a slaw person at all and am a major Kraut nutt, but this Reuben has been one of my go to sandwiches of the last several months.