How to eat at Folklife? (--- no car)
I'm going to Seattle for Folklife for the first time. I'm staying in a motel within walking distance, so i was not going to rent a car. I imagine Folklife will be too crazy (so I've heard) to be able to plan for serious dining, but I don't want to scarf down hot dogs either.
How can I get some good interesting food while attending Folklife and without driving?
I work near the Seattle Center and have eaten at most of the restaurants west of the Seattle Center. If you don't want to eat generic festival food (okay, some of it is good), a few suggestions:
Toulouse Petit is pretty good, but will probably be mobbed. Pesos will probably be just as packed. Both restaurants serve breakfast for $5-$6 if you go before 11 AM on Friday.
McMenamins has great beer, but the food only really lives up to the beer when happy hour prices are in effect (try the Cajun tater tots)
Obasan's sushi is purportedly tasty, but the salmon and ginger pork were dry and flavorless (and I'm pretty sure the egg rolls and gyoza are straight off the Food Services of America truck). For that sort of thing, you will be much better off at Sam's.
There are many Thai restaurants in the area. I really like Tup Tim Thai, but I find Racha to be underwhelming.
Metropolitan Market's (1st N & Mercer) sandwiches are surprisingly good. Boat Street (Western & Denny) has spectacular sandwiches on weekdays and a good brunch on the weekend, but you probably don't want to walk that far. Citizen (Warren & Roy) is also a good place to get a sandwich or a crepe.
The Signature's beef salad was boring, but the vermicelli bowl is a viable option. A co-worker tells me that the banh mi is pretty good if you can stomach paying $4+ for it.
When in doubt, Pagliacci (which has seating and pizza by the slice), Dick's, and Taco del Mar are all nearby. If your mother isn't around, throw caution into the wind and fill up on sweets at Nielsen's Bakery.
I do not recommend Chutney's, Athina, Yummy Teriyaki, Barracuda, or Blue Water Taco Grill. If you must eat Indian food, Roti is passable.
I'll second Tup Tim Thai as a good Thai option. I also like Bahn Thai over on Roy.
I will also say that Nielsen's is probably the best Danish bakery in the city. They used to be dirt cheap but I guess they found out what everyone else was charging. The pastries are also normal sized rather than supersized and buttery good.
Also, a question... Which side of the Center is your lodging? That would help to make better recommendations. I live and work near the Center so I have my personal favorites [and not all of them would be considered Chow worthy] but my idea of walkable is in the one mile range which I realize is a bit farther than some people might consider walking.
For an Indian option I have to suggest Bombay Wala in Westlake Mall right by the Monorail. It's not a great Indian restaurant. But the thing is that they make a really good Masala dosa served with a really good and nicely spiced lentil soup. I don't really ever ordrer anything else and it's weird that you would find a decent dosa in a food court but it's one of those things. It's just the best thing you can get in that particular location.
Tup Tim Thai
118 W Mercer St, Seattle, WA 98119
Bahn Thai Restaurant
409 Roy St, Seattle, WA 98109
I happen to think Roti is a great Indian place, if not my favorite in the city. Tup Tim Thai, on the other hand, was so bad the last time I was there (service and food) that I will never return.
I will also support the Signature for Happy Hour. They have a late night happy hour and everything is sooo cheap. Off the regular menu, they have decent pho. Not the best in the city, but good.
I will 2nd sandwiches at Met Market - they are really good if you want something to takeout into the sunshine.
If you want to climb the big Queen Anne hill for a meal, that will widen your finer dining options.
I'm not familiar with the options at Folklife (haven't ever been) but even if you don't take the monorail, downtown Seattle is reasonably walkable (just don't ask about the hills,) and there's a free ride area for buses through most of the Downtown core as well. You could easily get to any of the Belltown or Pike Place Market restaurants from there. Even the International District and Pioneer Square are reasonably doable if you catch a ride in the bus tunnel (Westlake is probably the closest stop, and is also the southern end of the monorail line.)
Pike Place Market
1501 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101
The food at Folklife is your typical festival food. Of the options there I can say that Warthog BBQ is pretty good and the young coconuts selling a some of the Thai booths are worth a try.
I often eat at Genki Sushi during Folklife. It's close, it's cheap and I think it's one of the better kaiten sushi places in Seattle. Also, in that area.... Laredo's Grill has a $6 breakfast menu on Sunday. I had the Southwest Bennedict and my wife had the Sopes and both very good. They were both served with refried beans and rice.
Crow is walking distance and so is Panos Kleftiko these are probably two of your stronger bets in the neighborhood if your are looking for dinner.
I've tried the Happy Hour at The Signature for Vietnamese and thought it pretty darn good. It's also just a block from the Center. This would be a great choice that is very close by.
If you are at the South end of the Center then Boat Street Cafe is worth walking down Denny to Western for a visit.
If you take the Monorail downtown that also opens up a lot of options for you.
Boat Street Cafe
909 NE Boat St, Seattle, WA