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Seattle dinner - good food that won't break the bank?

s
sasha1 Sep 27, 2010 08:37 AM

Hi all,
I'd like to ask for some help on choosing a dinner place to meet up with an out of town friend later this week. I live in W WA, and go to Sea often enough, but I go with my 2 little kids and so am looking for a casual family place usually.

This time, I'd like the food and atmosphere to be a smidge more upscale. I read the boards, and was all set to recommend Tilth, Il Terrazo, Matt's, Chez Shea, Harvest Vine, Dahlia, Poppy, etc. but was frankly blown away by the prices on their websites.

Can anyone recommend an eatery with great food (I'd like to give my friend 3-4 choices), a nice atmosphere that isn't too loud to chat, where there will be a good number of entree choices below $20 (or a small plates place where we can get 2 each for about the same). My friend says American, PNW, or ethnic is fine (but didn't want Asian cuisines). The places above are the ones whose food and style are the type I am hoping to find, but in a lower price tier. I'd also prefer to avoid really difficult parking and sketchy neighborhoods. We are 2 girls, and I noticed for example that Il Terrazo was in Pioneer Sq - not an area I'm comfy walking around in after dark.

Thanks!!!

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Harvest Vine
2701 E Madison St, Seattle, WA 98112

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

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  1. c
    christy319 Sep 27, 2010 09:22 AM

    Olivar, definitely. It's the best value in Seattle IMO (and my personal favorite). Nothing's over $20 and both the small and large plates are generously portioned. I'd make a reservation a week in advance at least for a Fri/Sat visit.
    http://olivarrestaurant.com/Olivar/ol...

    If you are open to veg food, I'd also suggest Carmelita. I don't think anything is over $20 there either, it's super easy to park, quiet, etc. It's not hippie veg food ie tofu and hummus--you'll find nicely done and beautifully plated pastas, risottos, etc.

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    Olivar
    806 E Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102

    3 Replies
    1. re: christy319
      j
      Jane917 Oct 1, 2010 07:14 PM

      Is Olivar stil open? The link is a dead link.

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      Olivar
      806 E Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102

      1. re: Jane917
        Tom Armitage Oct 1, 2010 07:42 PM

        Yes, Olivar is open for business. They are aware of the problem with their website, and are hoping it will be fixed over the weekend.

      2. re: christy319
        f
        forkit Oct 4, 2010 07:50 AM

        I concur with Christy319 about Olivar. The food is very interesting and the old frescos are great. It can, however be quite noisy on a busy night. My fallback for good food at a reasonable price with a competent and seasoned waitstaff is Bick's Broadway Grill in the north end of greenwood. It is a little informal and sometimes noisy but for a dinner with my closest friends that is where I have gone many times.

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        Olivar
        806 E Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102

        Broadway Grill
        314 Broadway E, Seattle, WA 98102

      3. s
        seattleviking Sep 27, 2010 09:58 AM

        List in Belltown has reasonable prices. I've been for HH a couple times but have been happy with the food each time. The wild mushroom and roasted onion chicken was really good and the calamari was some of my favorite in Seattle. The gnocchi with black truffle cream was also one of our favorite dishes. Servings are pretty generous and the highest priced item is $14. It's one of the better bargains I have found for Italian. http://www.listbelltown.com/

        1. klsalas Sep 27, 2010 02:53 PM

          You could try Walrus and the Carpenter, a new oyster bar/ small plates restaurant in the newly restored Kolstrand building in Ballard. It is run by Renee Erickson of Boathouse Cafe. You could certainly spend much more there than you are budgeting for but your guidelines are doable. Check out www.thewalrusbar.com. The other night my wife and I split 12 oysters on the half shell @ $2/ each; an order of the sockeye salmon tartare ($12) and fried oysters ($8) along with porcini crudo with parmesan, pine nuts and lemon ($10) and an order of bread (Columbia City Bakery) and butte ($3). We also had desert and two cocktails apiece. However I am a fairly good sized guy with a big appetite. I think you could enjoy two or three small plates each and come in not too far off budget. It is also a gorgeous space.

          Also on Ballard Ave I would recommend Bastille. The food in my opinion has been consistently great. Shannon Galusha, the Executive Chef, has worked at French Laundry, Campagne and Veil. Chef de Cuisine Jason Stoneburner was at Campagne, Union, and How to Cook a Wolf. Bastille is not inexpensive as such but having a cafe/bistro menu there are some options, especially on the bar menu and especially for happy hour. Check out the menus at www.bastilleseattle.com.

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          Campagne
          86 Pine, Seattle, WA 98101

          1. r
            ronans Oct 2, 2010 05:22 PM

            Cafe Presse in capitol hill is owned by the same people as Le Pichet in Belltown. Its relatively inexpensive with good French bistro food. They dont take reservations so waits can be long sometimes but options like toasted baguette with chocolate spread and good frites will keep kids happy at a reasonable cost

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            Cafe Presse
            1117 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

            Le Pichet
            Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

            1. s
              Snapdragon Oct 2, 2010 09:15 PM

              Saltoro in Broadview would totally fit the bill. Parking is a cinch (free lot!) and the food is one of the best values in town, perhaps because of the less central location.

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              Saltoro
              14053 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, WA 98133

              1. s
                sasha1 Oct 3, 2010 11:36 AM

                Thanks for the recs everyone. Lots of good ideas for the next dinner. We ended up at Quinn's. I knew I wanted to try the burger after reading about it on the boards - good burger! {They advertised it as Painted Hills beef, which surprised me. My local market sells this brand as their "fancier" meat, but I never took them particularly seriously. Maybe now I'll take a closer look.} So I knew I wouldn't break the bank on that. Parking was a bit difficult but we got through it. Nice little place.

                1. m
                  mikeeatsalot Dec 24, 2010 07:55 PM

                  hi again, ok i love great and affordable places so here's a few from me.
                  Italian place i love a lot is Machavilli on Capitol Hill, always seattle great, never a bad meal and awesome prices 10 to 14 a dish. i go there for birthdays and date nights. i like Cafe Presse on Cap Hill and The J & M Cafe in Pioneer Square both places have a nice bar and a good size sitting area with prices about 7 to 12 a dish, with just a few up to 15. China Town in Seattle has a bunch of ok places with decent prices.

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                  Cafe Presse
                  1117 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

                  1. m
                    mrnelso Jan 24, 2011 07:58 PM

                    Your original list is quite good, but definitely runs a little rich.
                    Terrazo (quiet as a tomb) is like a Mafia-movie set, full of mobsters and expense account types, so very dark and formal, it barely fits into the local scene, at all, and is certainly not a family scene. If you dig this old-style red-checkered-table cloth scene, go to Salvatore, in the Roosevelt neighborhood. They run a nice casual house with good food. The best Halibut dish of my life was there, so DO watch the specials board.
                    Tilth is good, and takes good care to go local and/or sustainable, and we're glad Maria Hines is there, trying to understand the space between sustainability and marketing. Might be a little crowded and noisy, though, definitely a little pricey, and oddly precious. Tilth is good.

                    Nearby are other options in Wallingford. Paseo is very affordable and great for take out (so you can plate-up this monster styro box of great food at home, for much better presentation. Also near, at about 49th and Stone Way, is Perche no, which has one of the more deluxe happy hours - we like the polenta fritta, but many dishes are quite good. Also Bizarro, by 46th and Stone Way is informal and quite good (if cramped and busy). 39th and Stone Way is very near to Art of The Table, where Dustin Ronspies produces a seasonal menu which is relatively affordable, and quite fine. First, go to Happy Monday. I've not seen children there, but imagine they'd be well-appreciated by the lovely staff.

                    Chez Shea has had (my information may not be current) a good prix fixe menu. Lovely. This one is a sleeper.

                    Matt's, next door, on the same floor is a favorite lunch. I enjoy the Catfish sandwich and the soups are good. Very near (like down the stairs, The Crumpet shop does really good soups and sandwiches.

                    Harvest Vine is very foodie, very cramped, maybe not the best for kids, and in the heart of the richest neighborhood in town. You can feast for much less, and in more convivial surroundings, fairly easily. You are on a good path with your homework here.
                    Dahlia is way suave, old-school, and spendy (Downtown=expense account crowd)
                    Poppy is thinkable. There, you can get a Thali for about $30, with many small plates to taste (you will not need to go to Dick's after, either, though this is not out of the question).

                    Vio's on Capitol Hill or in Ravenna is very family friendly (they have a corral full of toys and toddlers, surrounded by parents, relaxing).

                    There have been several chowhound posts on local happy-hours (probably including some of mine) on this website and HH is a great way to get many tastes for little money. In fact, I remember contributing to a post on "Cheap Eats," here.

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                    Harvest Vine
                    2701 E Madison St, Seattle, WA 98112

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

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mrnelso
                      e
                      equinoise Jan 26, 2011 09:15 AM

                      Presse, Quinn's and Olivar are excellent choices for sub-$20 entrees and small plate combinations. Olivar was a tad greasy on my visit, but really the most "haute" constructions available for the price. Luc comes in about the same pricing, with more elaborate choices than Presse (haven't tried it yet myself, but greatly enjoy Rover's, at the other end of price spectrum). Sitka and Spruce offers amazing quality, but may push the parameters on price, especially the smaller plates. I have brought my baby girl to Presse, and Quinn's allows kids outside the bar area. Don't know about Luc, but I think kids at Sitka may be a little strange.

                      You can do well at Greeks like Vios as mrnelso mentioned, and also Plaka Estiatorio or Panos Kleftiko, but the atmospheres will only border on "upscale."

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                      Olivar
                      806 E Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102

                      Plaka Estiatorio
                      Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

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