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Dec 31, 2009 07:02 AM

Seattle Trip Jan 20th Homework... I need advice and opinions

My husband and I are taking a trip to Seattle Jan 20th then driving down to portland for my Birthday and 1 year wedding anniversary. I have been doing some research and had some questions about the Seatle portion. Well be in Seattle for 3 days before driving down. We are staying at the Inn at Queen Anne but anywhere in the Seattle area is fine.

Here is what I was thinking so far.

* Induldge in Eating a Pacific Northwest Oyster - Elliott's Oyster House

Now I've read on chowhound that Elliotts is best for the Oyster Happy Hour but you only get a choice of 2 oysters. Am I missing out on the other two? We'd like to sit up at the bar, is it very crowded, how likely are we to get a seat up at the bar?

* I'm a native Floridian so I'm really looking for some food that I can't get elsewhere or local seafood, etc. Dungeness Crab sounds tasty, Elliots has it on the menu but from what I've heard is that Oysters are the best thing there. Where would you go for dungeness crab?

* We are hitting up Pikes Place Market. We are just going to explore it on our own because I heard the tours are not great for foodies. Is there anything there we shouldn't miss?

* See Murray or Eric at Zig Zag Cafe. When is the best time to go? Would say Friday Night be too busy? Is earlier in the day better than later in the day?

* Drink really good Seattle Coffee - I don't care about Starbucks number 1 is there better coffee in Seattle, there has got to be.

* Try a Seattle Dog. Is it just a hotdog with cream cheese on it? Is this worth it or should I nix this.

* Since it's my Brithday on the 22nd and My Anniversay on 23rd can someone please suggest a nice restaurant that may be suitable.

* We are meeting up with a friend and probably having lunch or dinner with her, I'm looking for something friendly, fun, a place we could catch up, that isn't expensive.

* Brew Pub? Are there any great ones in Seattle or should we wait until Portland for that.

* Salumi - I don't get it, I want to get it I just don't. What is the menu, how do you order, the website looks as though you just buy the meat products? I thought there were supposed to be sandwiches you can buy.

Is there anything I left out that I shouldn't We are open to all things.

Thanks to those who reply. I appreciate the help

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  1. Welcome to Seattle. It does look like you've done some research so that is great. I will try to answer some of the questions you've asked. Elliot's Happy Hour can be hectic and it is a great deal if you are looking to eat quite a bit of oysters. However, if you are trying to get an overview on the oysters of the Northwest then I would suggest sitting at the oyster bar and getting a wider variety. You could also sample oysters at some of the stalls in Pike Place Market like at Jack's Fish Spot.
    As for the other parts of the market, guests I have taken seem to be most impressed with Pike Place Chowder, Beecher's Cheese, Mee Sum Pastry for the baked pork buns, 3 Girls Bakery or I Love NY for sandwiches, and if the wait is reasonable, Daily Dozen Donuts.
    I've been to Zig Zag a few times but mostly on weeknights around 7. There has never been too large a crowd and I've had the opportunity to chat with Murray before. I would think Friday night might be too busy to get the full effect.
    The coffee in this city is generally very good. You can search for previous threads on that topic. My favorite is Vivace Espresso though - to me it is unmatched in its rich, full, creamy quality.
    I am not a fan of the "Seattle Dog" and I don't think it is is really that iconic. This is certainly not NY or Chicago and so generally no one is going to say, "What? You went to Seattle and didn't eat a hot dog?"
    As for suggesting a nice restaurant for celebration, that is too broad. It would depend on things like preference for price, view, wine focused, local cuisine, etc. Check out places like Poppy, Crush, Elemental, Harvest Vine, Chez Shea, Cafe Juanita, these might interest you.
    Friendly, fun, and inexpensive actually makes me think of grazing at the market. So perhaps you should do your Pike Place Market tour with your friend. Otherwise, maybe grab a Paseo sandwich at the Ballard location and head to Golden Gardens? Paseo, while sometimes described as a Cuban sandwich is nothing like the Cubanos you have in Florida. I find it more like a Vietnamese sandwich with Carribean meat marinades.
    Salumi is worth trying to figure out. The process is that you wait in the inevitable super long line then get to the counter and order (mostly sandwiches, some pasta dishes). They have a wide variety of salamis that are great but many chowhounds prefer the hot meats like the pork cheeks or porcetta. I think the sandwiches can be too bready so some people ask for the bread to be sliced thinner or something (I have not yet tried that tactic).

    1. Ok, a few comments.

      First, don't call it Pikes Place Market to locals. It is Pike Place Market (no S). Some people get really touchy about that. :-)

      There are some good food tours that are around. Savor Seattle does a good one with some good food and some good history.

      For oysters, you can go to the Brooklyn. It is downtown (not too far from Pike Place) and from 4-6 every day their happy hour is quite nice. I believe the oysters are like $10/dozen at happy hour price. It might have gone up to $12, but still, not bad at all. You can also do their assorted oyster sampler which would be a lot more expensive, but would give you the variety.

      I also like Frank's Oyster House for oysters. It is more University District, but quite good and I believe their happy hour is good as well.

      There are good brew pubs in Seattle. If Jolly Roger is open by then (they are undergoing renovations currently) they would be a good choice. They are in Ballard. Easily accessible by bus.

      Nice restaurants: Poppy is always a favorite. I liked Cantinetta, also Tidbit Bistro, any of the Ethan Stowell restaurants, or any of the Tom Douglas restaurants. They will be very much "Seattle". Tilth is all organic and very nice, but can be a bit loud. Though they are good for Sunday brunches.

      If you're a brunch person, Portage Bay Cafe is excellent. There is almost always a long wait, but if you call when you're on your way, they will put your name down. They don't take reservations though.

      Unfortunately, Paseo (the best sandwich place) is likely closed when you're here. They shut down for a winter break during the month of January, though I've seen reports that they will reopen either January 20th or January 30th. If it is the former, then you can make it. Go for lunch, so they aren't out of things, and get the cuban roast (if you like pork) or the prawn sandwich.

      Salumi is excellent, but get in line around 10:30. Or just call in a to-go order and most times you can bypass the line, go pay, and take the food with you. Their mozzarella is excellent.

      Coffee is a very personal thing. I'd suggest trying several places. Vivace always gets good marks, but I also like Fuel, Aster, Trabant. The latter two places have the Clover machine that Starbucks purchased. Clovers make a very good cup of straight coffee, not espresso. But you can really taste the flavors of the coffee when you have it out of a Clover.

      1. If you want a combination of good food and great views, you might consider driving to Alki Beach in West Seattle. On weekends there's a huge brunch at Salty's -- reminiscent of some of those ridiculously huge brunches in Vegas casinos. Reviews can be mixed but they're mostly positive. Be prepared to get overly stuffed, though. Oh, and happy birthdayversary

        1. Elliott's is good for oysters and it is also good for the crab. You could also try Seven Star Szechuan Pepper in the ID district for Dungeness crab.

          There is no real reason for you to try a Seattle dog, but if you really want to I would recommend Po Dogs. it is fun and good.

          Brouwers is not a traditional brew pub, but they have over 60 beers on draft and have good food as well Quinn's does not have as large of a selection of draft beers, but their food is much better.

          A good brewpub in Portland is Widmer's.

          The Pike Place food market tours are a good way to get a feel for the market. But if you do go on your own you should check out Beecher's Cheese. The Crumpet Shop is also fun.

          Depending on what kind of food you are looking for for your big celebration there are a lot of different places you can go. Canlis is old school Seattle and has a great view and good service.

          Rover's is good French food and an experience.

          Poppy is excellent and very different

          Ray's Boathouse is good for traditional seafood and a great view.

          If you want to go to the Eastside there is always Cafe Juanita, Trellis or the Herbfarm as options too.

          1. * A Floridian will be shocked at oyster prices. You will not find “dime-time” here, but the variety will knock your socks off. Try to engage the shucker (not likely at Happy Hour) for commentary about varieties and oyster lore. Although the ambiance is surely not the Ritz, and maybe you’ll not see so many exotic varieties or presentations, Jack’s Fish Spot will serve you freshly shucked oysters at (relatively) good prices.

            As to “Am I missing out on the other two?,“ there are lots more (like a dozen or more) varieties. If your budget can handle it for this one visit, consider getting a full tour sampler, so you can see what different flavors there are. Just go easy on sauces that might overpower the oysters. Elliott's mignonette is pretty good, but even there, natives will counsel to just slurp it naked, with the liquor still in the shell. That’s pure taste of the Northwest. Do try to make this happen.

            Dungeness and King Crab are quite different from Blue Crab and also best appreciated unadorned, but for a little butter and maybe lemon. Another perfectly fine and authentic Northwest experience can be had by buying a freshly cooked and cracked crab and getting yourself a little melted butter and lemon. This will be memorably messy and delicious. If you’ve got the chops to cook yourself up mess of mudbugs, Seattle has a resident population of native crayfish (as well as troublesome introductions of invasives from LA). You can often find these at Mutual Fish, some farmer’s markets, and occasionally elsewhere

            NW manila clams and, especially, mussels are not to be missed.
            Consider a visit to the upstairs bar at Maximilien for mussels.

            Pike Place is crowded with memorable foods, and trying to recommend the “best” of anything is tricky, start by googling “Pike Place Market Restaurant and bar picks” to find a nice list by local criticic, Nancy Leason.

            For sure, hit Jack’s Fish Spot for a cup of Cioppino and maybe a few oysters or Dungeness Crab cocktail.
            Pike Place Chowder, maybe 50 yards South, on Post Alley, for Seared Scallop and other chowders.

            Coffee is also hard to recommend, as tastes vary, but my own choice for drip coffee is Caffe Vita (see their logo in the window of many coffee shops. A personal favorite for espresso is Vivace (get a caffe Niko).

            About that hot-dog, this Seattle native has no idea where this cream cheese idea came from , or if it’s even a good idea, but a fellah could probably share one among a crowd, just to get at taste.

            About the birthday, Nancy Leason’s list (above) has several good ones. Romantic=Chez Shea, very French=Café Campagne, (have French French toast for brunch) or, posher, Campagne, great Seattle harbor view=Maximilien, solid local food=Steelhead Diner, fried avocado with crab and other delicacies=94 Stewart.

            Lots of good happy hours. Google is your friend. Taste is one. Spur another.

            Many brew pubs, too. Maritime Pacific is a favorite, Hale’s, Pike Place,

            At Salumi, you can just take the time you will spend in line (not so bad – don’t worry) to choose from the sandwich or meat-plate menu, or just go around the line to the kitchen to order the specials (seen also on the sandwich board our front and in the big glass case by the door) and sit at the common table. They ordinarily feature a pasta, a vegetable, a soup, and other good things from family recipes. The website serves the mail-order salami trade.