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Visiting from L.A. What is the "don't miss" restaurant around this area?

  • b

Hello fellow hounds, I will be in the area from the 20th-27th of October...
Which restaurants do you recommend for the following:

-Mexican
-Italian
-Chinese
-Japanese (Sushi)

Thanks, I know I could count on you!!!

BCM

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  1. Since you listed some cuisines, I'll just list my favorites for each. However, I can't say that all of them are "can't miss" prospects, especially since the cuisines listed are very strong in LA.

    Mexican: El Quetzal, La Carta de Oaxaca, El Mestizo (I'm not going with taco truck/taqueria fare here)
    Italian: Spinasse, Il Terrazzo Carmine, La Medusa
    Chinese: Bamboo Garden, Facing East, Spiced, Sea Garden
    Sushi: Kisaku, Sushi Kappo Tamura, Shiro's

    -----
    Bamboo Garden
    202 106th Pl NE, Bellevue, WA 98004

    Shiro's
    2401 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA

    Spinasse
    Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

    Il Terrazzo Carmine
    411 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

    La Medusa
    4857 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98118

    Sea Garden
    509 7th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

    El Mestizo
    526 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122

    1 Reply
    1. re: equinoise

      Hi There, this is my two cents.

      Mexican - not a very good selection unless you want to go to the Mexican stores that also cook the food. Very authentic, not a gringo to be found and delicious. I would say La Carta de Oaxaca does well in creating great imagery. The food is okay.

      Italian: Pasta Freska (http://www.pastafreska.com) and La Rustica (http://www.larusticarestaurant.com) are my two favorites. Pasta Freska is unique in that the Owner/Chef severes you whatever he is cooking. You tell him about allergies and extreme dislikes and the rest is up to him. The food is fantastic and fresh. It is a little adventurous. There are several courses and he has a great wine selection. La Rustica is a little more traditional. The food is always prepared with great care, always has an increadible taste. Wine selection is superb. Reservations are a must especially on weekends. Anchovie and Olives (http://www.ethanstowellrestaurants.co...) is one of my new favorite places. It is the same owner as Tavolata which someone else mentioned but is extremely creative and cooks completely sustainable local food items.

      Chinese: I am not well versed in tradional Chinese since I have never visited. I like authentic feeling food that tastes great. For Dim Sum there is Jade Garden (no website) that always has a line out the door. I have been there for other meals aside from Dim Sum and the food tasted really good as well.

      Sushi: A place everyone overlooks, Red Fin (http://www.redfinsushi.com). The fish is always fresh and the Chef's prepare the items with great skill. You can even sit and watch. Maneki (http://www.manekirestaurant.com) Excellent Japanese food.

      One place that I believe is a MUST stop is Mistral Kitchen. Sustainable foods, creative, great environment.

      -----
      Maneki Restaurant
      304 6th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

      Red Fin Restaurant
      612 Stewart Street, Seattle, WA 98101

      Pasta Freska
      1515 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

      La Rustica
      4100 Beach Dr SW Ste A, Seattle, WA 98116

      Jade Garden Restaurant
      7th S King S, Seattle, WA 98101

      Tavolata
      2323 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

      Mistral Kitchen
      2020 Westlake Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121

    2. It's funny that you would chose four cuisines for which I would expect you could get better in Los Angeles! Maybe you just want to feel better about your hometown?

      Anyway, I'll give it a shot-

      Mexican - all are pretty bleh. For interior, Mestizo (1st Hill), Carta de Oaxaca (Ballard) and maybe Senor Moose (Ballard). There's not much in the way of taqueria food unless you hit the trucks, and these will probably seem weak compared to what you're looking for -- my favorites are El Asadero (Rainier Ave near Columbia City) and El Camion (1st Ave in SoDo).

      Italian- Seattle has a pretty strong upscale Italian scene -- Spinasse (Cap Hill) is probably my favorite, also really like Cantineta (Wallingford), Tavolata (Belltown) and Medusa (Columbia City). It's not really Italian, but I'd also highly recommend Serious Pie for non-traditional pizza (downtown).

      Chinese - I struggle with Chinese here, my go-tos are Sichuan Cuisine and Seven Stars Pepper (across Jackson from each other in the ID), or sometimes Hong Kong homestyle for Hong Kong-style.

      Japanese - I don't really do sushi, but for non-sushi, I like Maekawa and Kushi Bar for Izakaya, Samurai Noodle for Ramen (all in the ID) and Cutting Board for curry (Georgetown).

      -----
      Spinasse
      Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

      Serious Pie
      316 Virginia St, Seattle, WA 98101

      Kushi Bar
      2319 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

      Senor Moose Cafe
      5242 Leary Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107

      Hong Kong Restaurant
      302 N Olympic Ave, Arlington, WA 98223

      Samurai Noodle
      606 5th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

      Tavolata
      2323 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

      1. Nothing in Seattle will compete with those 4 cuisines in Los Angeles, There is better Sushi, Mexican, Chinese and Italian in Los Angeles. I'd suggest you stick to north west cuisine and some fresh seafood otherwise you'll be disappointed. I say this having moved from Los Angeles to Seattle about 3 months ago.

        17 Replies
        1. re: Psiweaver

          Having lived for a long time in Los Angeles myself, I agree that you can get better Japanese (not just limited to sushi), Mexican, and Chinese food in Los Angeles. Italian is a closer question for me. Spinasse, for example, prepares some dishes that are as good as any I’ve had in Los Angeles, and I think there are other restaurants, like Café Juanita, that measure up quite well. The suggestion to “stick to Northwest cuisine” raises a very thorny question: Is there such a thing as Northwest cuisine and, if so, what is it? Put in a slightly different way, is there any food that you can only get in Seattle? These questions have previously been vetted on Chowhound: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1140... and http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6359.... My best advice for truly local food that might not be available in Los Angeles – at least with as broad a selection – is to try sampling the many different local Pacific Northwest oysters at Elliott’s Oyster Bar, including the uniquely local Olympia oysters. At this time of year, you can look for local products like chanterelle mushrooms and evergreen huckleberries on the menus of Seattle restaurants, even though these products are not entirely absent from the menus of Los Angeles restaurants. Corson Building will feature local products and will also provide a unique ambience.

          1. re: Tom Armitage

            Yeah that's the disappointment to me. There doesn't seem to really be anything that seattle prepares in a world class way. The troubling thing is that there is money here and its a decent sized city and metro area and yet there doesn't seem to be the food culture of say San Francisco, LA, Chicago, Portland, Vancouver etc. I agree that the best can't miss thing up here would be to go to an oyster bar, LA doesn't have that many good oyster bars and so that would be the main thing, other than that eh.

            1. re: Psiweaver

              What does San Franscisco or Portland prepare in a "world class way?"

              1. re: equinoise

                San Francisco has world class sushi, Chinese food of a few different varieties, some amazing italian food, and then they have stuff like chez panisse etc. They also have world class peruvian food, they also have some top knotch french food in Fleur de Lys, La Folie etc.

                Portland has some world class burger joints and lots of absolutely world class brewpubs and farm to table restaurants.

                1. re: Psiweaver

                  Can you please provide names for the world class Chinese and Italian in SF, and the world class burger joints, brewpubs and farm to table restaurants in PDX?

                  1. re: equinoise

                    A16 italian SPQR italian

                    Chinese i can't because I always went with my chinese friend who lives there and they were always whole in the wall places with the sign all in chinese. I'd be happy to get a list of what they are if you would like.

                    This doesn't even account by the way for all of the Chinese food thats in the east bay thats also world class, Richmond etc.

                    Little big burger i think is fantastic in portland. horse brass, sarveza, Hair of the Dog are all amazing brew pubs in portland.

                    Farm to table i'll have to remember where I went the last couple times I was there, again went with friends and didn't really pay attention, just remember the meals being very very good.

                    1. re: equinoise

                      What are the world class things in Seattle?

                      1. re: Psiweaver

                        Bakery Nouveau (I think that has been proven as reliably as is possible for an eating establishment), Zig Zag, Salumi, and probably the variety of oysters on offer at Elliott's. I think for "farm to table restaurants," (or as you said "PNW") Corson Building/Sitka and Spruce, Crush, Mistral Kitchen and Tilth stand up to PDX places such as Beaker and Flask and Toro Bravo (though perhaps not on a QPR standpoint; those particular pDx places are a tremendous value), and also Lucques in LA. Just looking at the menus from A16 and SPQR, I'm pretty confident that Spinasse (and perhaps even La Medusa) is pretty near the same level, assuming you can qualify a localized spin on regional Italian or "Italian-inspired" as world class Italian.

                        I struggle to list off other places in SEA as "world class" because it is such a lofty standard, and it is difficult to discern what qualifies as such. This is why I wanted to know the specifics on the Chinese in SF--the scene is so frequently boasted to be categorically "world class" without any specific cuisines or restaurants mentioned. If you had said dim sum/cantonese and provided a couple names, I would tend to agree, just based on what I have read and seen and tasted, and I know that SEA's cantonese and dim sum leaves much to be desired. But I suspect that the few SEA-area Sichuan, Taiwanese (and Vietnamese places) I have already mentioned here would be just as good if not better than what one can find there for the same $.

                        -----
                        Bakery Nouveau
                        4737 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116

                        Mistral Kitchen
                        2020 Westlake Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121

                        1. re: equinoise

                          My take, as former resident of LA for 8 years who moved here two years ago:

                          Ethnic-
                          Chinese- Spiced in Bellevue and Bamboo Garden are up to SGV standards, but otherwise the SGV is some of the best Chinese food on the continent and there's little point eating Chinese elsewhere if you're from LA
                          Mexican- don't bother

                          Japanese
                          -Maneki- 100 yo Japanese restaurant- something you can't do elsewhere

                          Seattle ethnic strong points
                          Ethiopean- there's a huge community here and probably more than 20 restaurants. I don't have one favorite, check the ethiopian threads for recs

                          Vietnamese- this is where Seattle shines- from many hole in the wall joints for pho and bahn me, Seattle Deli, to Tamarind Tree- the standards for Vietnamese here are just higher. Tamarind Tree would be the standard rec.

                          As far as what Seattle 'does best'- I'd say it's the mid-range- you can get a much better meal in the 30-50pp range than you can in LA. I haven't been stunned by the food at the 'fine dining' establishments- it's good but hasn't dropped me (see recs below)- but the places people go to eat regularly have higher standards at more reasonable prices than LA, IMO. Gastropubs and comfort food are done very well here.

                          Some recs:
                          Pubs:
                          Brouwer's- 50+ taps, 100s of bottles, belgian ale house, moule frites a specialty

                          Quinn's- excellent selection of taps and bourbons. Buffalo frog legs with blue cheese foam? Check! Foie gras corn dog ! Foie gras poutine/ Check! They miss sometimes, but that bar is everything I love in an establishment.

                          Jolly Roger Taproom- oyster sliders. Maritime Pacific Beers.

                          Dining:
                          Corson Building- great space, great food- an auberge beneath an underpass. Maybe not 'world class' but noteworthy and charming

                          Poppy- thali style northwestern food with a strong bar and one of the best pastry chefs on this coast

                          Spinasse- see reviews above

                          Tilth- farm to table with strong and clever flavors

                          Lastly, the greatest culinary strength of the Northwest is it's produce. As a former patron of both Santa Monica and Hollywood farmer's markets, Ballard and U-District are simply more interesting with fantastic local farmers raising great produce and a variety of meats that simple aren't being done in SoCal. The variety and quality of cheeses is also far superior- catch Estrella )(for everything, but especially the Brewleggio) at either of those markets- also Samish Bay for aged Ladysmith. And Golden Glen Creamery for butter. And a few other places I'm spacing.

                          Oh yeah, and local foraged mushrooms- lobsters are in season now. .

                          Andrew

                          -----
                          Tamarind Tree
                          1036 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104

                          Bamboo Garden
                          202 106th Pl NE, Bellevue, WA 98004

                          Spinasse
                          Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

                          Seattle Deli
                          225 12th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102

                          1. re: AndrewS

                            Andrew this is exactly the feedback I was looking for. I agree that in terms of price, everything seems to be less for a meal out here, just haven't found that meal that just shakes you and you think about for days after. I'll have to check out the ballard and u district farmers markets as I was a regular at the Hollywood and Santa Monica ones.

                            1. re: Psiweaver

                              Psiweaver- the food that haunts your dreams? Yeah, I know that one- in LA Grace, Jar, and Craft were my faves, along with Opus when Joseph Centano was cooking there, and Laurent Quineaux's Bistro K- Thierry Rautureau is actually LQ's old sous chef, fwiw. I'm not a huge fan of Rover's but, Luc is very nice for bistro food.

                              Two absolute standouts from that list for me coming from LA- Poppy and Tamarind Tree. Poppy has its boosters and detractors, but the full thali is basically a 10 course tasting menu served all at once for less than $35- pretty stunning, when you consider the food. Tamarind Tree is a take on 'high end' vietnamese food- check the cinnamon pork balls with fried green rice app.

                              Enjoy!

                              Andrew

                              -----
                              Tamarind Tree
                              1036 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104

                              1. re: AndrewS

                                yeah. I also found that Angelini Osteria, Osteria Mozza, Providence, Urasawa, Church and State, Golden State, CUT, Spago (tasting menu), BLT Steak etc.

                                I'm missing that feeling and also missing an absolute top quality steak place with prime dry aged beef.

                                1. re: Psiweaver

                                  Psiweaver,

                                  The Italian options are nicely discussed above. There's nothing like Providence (though the cooking didn't speak to me), Spago, Cut- the very high end- that's just not Seattle's 'style' as it were (also, even though this town has money, it doesn't compare to LA).

                                  If you're craving a serious steak I haven't found a steakhouse to compare with LA standard. What I have found is a steak supplier- the beef @ Bill the Butcher (local butcher chain) is excellent with dry aged grain fed, pastured, wagyu, and pastured wagyu (does better finishing on grain, IMO).

                                  Andrew

                                  1. re: AndrewS

                                    okay perfect, yeah even a supplier, I got used to having Harvey Guss that i could order from and pick up from, who would get me whatever meat I wanted aged however I would like it. Whether that was bone in Rib Eye, Bone in New York, Venison, Duck, Goose, Lamb, Quail etc and all at wholesale prices.

                            2. re: AndrewS

                              FYI - Dana Cree has left Poppy - left town actually - according to Seattle Mag. Tragic loss in my opinion.

                              1. re: bluedog67

                                Sad now. Where's she heading too?

                                1. re: AndrewS

                                  I think she is planning to do a series of stages and hasn't decided if she is going to return here afterward or not. Seach her name on Seattle Mag and you will find her twitter link.

            2. As someone from OC who'll be up in SEA in a couple weeks, I can't wait to get some great coffee, oysters from Elliott's (sit @ the counter & go during happy hour), a sandwich from Salumi and a Tom Douglas restaurant or two.

              -----
              Salumi
              309 3rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

              1. Don't know if you're checking your mail, but you might try a totally new place called The Book Bindery. Rave review here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html...