Seattle vs San Francisco, and visiting Seattle with no car?
Hi everyone on the Seattle board,
I am from the SF bay area. thinking about making an eating trip for the first time to your fine city later this december. since seattle and SF are both on the west coast, there are certain similarities in terms of culture, food scene, vibe. but i am sure there are also some differences. for those of you who has spent time in both areas, what are some of the larger differences in the food scene in Seattle vs the Bay Area? specifically, what are some of the things that Seattle is stronger at that is not so much in the SF Bay Area? Off the top of my head, pacific NW seafood is one that comes to mind. Would love to learn of other specific things that I should try that is not done as well back home.
In addition, is staying within the downtown area without a car for 4 5 days recommended for sampling your good eateries? prefer not to have a car, but if that means i will be severely restricted in terms of eating choices, would like to know that too. i like public transport, but sometimes it is a bit of a pain if it doesn't quite get to where the action is, or if it takes forever. may be as a compromise, a rental for part of the trip?
thanks in advance!
Re: Public Transport
I haven't had a car in 2.5 years. Getting most places on the bus to or from downtown is easy, and relatively quick if you know what you're doing. Most of the best restaurants in Seattle are downtown, or a single bus away. In addition, there's a ride-free zone downtown during the day for Seattle busses. If you're going between neighborhoods in Seattle, the bus can be a huge pain. I find busses on the east side of Lake Washington to be atrocious.
You can get around downtown and eat very well without a car. Some ideas downtown would be any of Tom Douglas' places such as Serious Pie for excellent pizza or Lola's. http://tomdouglas.com/
Many of the dining choices in Pike Place Market such as Matt's will serve you well and you could also pick up some nice to go items.
If you want to go slightly futher afield (but still easy to reach by bus or a reasonable walk) there are plenty of places on Capitol Hill such as Quinn's, Baguette Box or the Melrose Market which might appeal.
There are also lots of good choices easily accessible via the light rail (which you can also take to and from the airport).
Pike Place Market
1501 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101
95 Pine Street, Suite 17, Seattle, WA 98101
316 Virginia St, Seattle, WA 98101
1203 Pine St, Seattle, WA 98101
i think between buses and lightrail, you will be just fine for a first time trip to seattle. plus if you like to drink wine, you won't have to worry about the driving!
To the places already mentioned, i would add Nettletown in Eastlake and Salumi downtown near Pioneer Square and Columbia City Bakery in Columbia City near the light rail. Also if you like Thai food. the newish Thai Curry Simple on 5th in the ID is very tasty.
309 3rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104
it's hard for me to answer what categories we have that SF might not (the Seattle metro area is half the size of the Bay Area), but there are some places that I think are unique and you shouldn't miss. Poppy is one--it's Indian inspried NW. Joule is another. Boat Street Cafe, Matt's in the Market, Anchovies and Olives, and Mistral Kitchen for NW style cuisine.
If you're interested in checking out particular neighborhoods, Ballard Avenue has a great concentration of good places. La Carta de Oaxaca, Bastille, Walrus and the Carpenter, and Staple and Fancy are all within a few blocks of each other and are worth checking out. Around the corner on Market Street are Ocho (tapas) and La Isla, the latter of which my Puerto Rican friend swears is the best PR food she's had in the states. You can bus to Ballard though it might be easiest to cab back if it's later and the buses aren't running as frequently.
Capitol Hill is a great food neighborhood, too, maybe the best, and if you would like to stay somewhere more "neighborhood-y",. there are b and bs on the hill. It's a short bus or cab ride (or medium to long walk) from downtown. Cap Hill favorites are Olivar, Lark,Cafe Presse, Cascina Spinasse, La Spiga, Quinn's, the aforementioned Poppy, Pike Street Fish Fry, Via Tribunali...I know I'm forgetting some.
Pike Street Fish Fry
925 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122
2325 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107
806 E Roy St, Seattle, WA 98102
Boat Street Cafe
909 NE Boat St, Seattle, WA
2320 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107
1429 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122
Market Street Cafe
609 Market St, Kirkland, WA 98033
1531 14th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122
2020 Westlake Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121
Getting around without a car here, if you are mostly downtown, is easy but I will say that it can be hard to find a cab outside of a certain radius and I've had lots of trouble with that in some parts of Capitol Hill, where you'll definitely want several meals. But I'm sure restaurants can call you cabs and it's only a short ride.