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Jun 27, 2011 09:37 PM

Seattle First Timer - Trip Itinerary Help Please!

Hello all!

I'm a NY Area Chowhounder heading to Seattle for the first time with my girlfriend. I've been reading the Seattle board, the Frank Bruni piece, and some random internet sites, and have come up with a possible itinerary. Any comments/suggestions are welcome! Everything is up for reconsideration, though perhaps my last meal is not:

Thursday - Arrive at 11am
Lunch near Pike's Place (Matt's, Etta's ,something else?) - of course I would be willing to travel elsewhere for lunch. Preferably though, I'd want it to be next to something touristy because this will be my introduction to the city.
Dinner - Joule

Friday -
Brunch at Cafe Champagne
Daytrip - Hiking on Mt. Ranier? Snoqualmie Falls? Any advice on the best hiking or sights for a daytrip would also be appreciated
Dinner - Poppy at 8:15 (Looks amazing!)
After Dinner drinks - Tavern's Law (it's nearby right?)

Saturday -
Brunch - Madison Park Conservatory (is there anything to see or do out this way? It seems a bit far out. Any other recommendations for brunch or lunch near a good area to explore/sight to see would work too!)
Dinner - Book Bindery

Sunday -
I plan on stopping at Salumi at 11 when they open, grabbing sandwiches, then heading up to Lummi Island for dinner at Willows Inn for 5pm cocktails. Am I leaving myself enough time? I'm VERY excited for this meal.

Monday - departure from Bainbridge for the airport.

Questions - Are Book Bindery, Joule, and Poppy a good cross-section and cream of the crop of the Seattle dining scene? Where can I go for killer oysters? I seem to be lacking in this department. As you can see, my preference is for more creative cuisine, with a de-emphasis on Italian because it is so abundant back home. Also - my preference is for a restaurant that is in an easily accessible OR happening area, where I could walk around and grab a cocktail after would be preferred, as I don't have a car and will be taking taxis. But of course! If something is in the boondocks and is worth it, I'll make the sacrafice!

Other restaurant's I'd been looking at are: Staple and Fancy (based on the reviews only, the menu didn't grab me. Perhaps the "Fancy" Menu is worth the while?); Monsoon (for lunch); Mistral Kitchen (looks excellent); and Spruce and Sitka. While Rovers and Crush certainly looked great, I think I'll give my wallet a break and make Willows my only blow-out meal.

Thanks in advance for the advice. I'm very much looking forward to this trip!

309 3rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

Mistral Kitchen
2020 Westlake Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121

Book Bindery
198 Nickerson Street, Seattle, WA 98109

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  1. A couple of problems I can see right off...

    Hiking on Mount Rainier after having brunch anywhere in town is probably not going to work so well, unless you're okay with a very short hike. You'd want to leave town early to get in a decent hike on the mountain. Just driving the whole loop around the mountain takes a good long day, without a stop for a hike. If you can't stay a night up there, I'd recommend a more close-in destination for a day hike (but as for where...I'll have to leave that for my less couch potato-inclined Chowhound colleagues to suggest!)

    And sorry to break the news, but Salumi isn't open Sundays--they're Tuesday - Friday only!

    The rest sounds lovely (and enough out of my budget that I can't really give you any useful input). Have fun!

    309 3rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

    1 Reply
    1. re: MsMaryMc

      MsMaryMc is correct. You will need to leave early for a decent one day experience at Mt Rainier. and if you don't think you'll be out here again in the near future, I recommend that you do that instead of having brunch at Cafe Campagne, even though it is a good place for brunch. You can have brunch anytime, but The Mountain is amazing and if you're not going to be out here again any time soon, I'd do it. Unless the weather is bad. In that event, I recommend getting an umbrella, taking a ferry over to Bainbridge Island, and strolling around the little town there (Winslow). Cafe Nola is good for brunch (not so much for dinner, however). There are also two excellent bakeries--Blackbird and Bainbridge Bakers. Good places for dinner include Four Swallows and Hitchcock. I recommend the first more due to better service. They're all within easy walking distance of the ferry terminal. Or if you have a car, it's an easy drive off the Island to the Agate Pass Cafe in Suquamish, where there's a beautiful view of Seattle.

      Cafe Campagne
      1600 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101

      Cafe Nola
      101 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

      Four Swallows
      481 Madison Ave N, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

      Agate Pass Cafe
      7220 NE Park Way, Suquamish, WA 98392

    2. Here is my humble opinion:

      I'd pick Lecosho over Matt's or Etta's for lunch near Pike Place Market. "Matt" actually left Matt's to open Lecosho.

      I will probably get plenty of disagreement on this, but I was pretty disappointed at Book Bindery. My pork chop was seriously overcooked, and my appetizer had little flavor. The five others I went with had a mixed experience, with some dishes being good but not great, and others just okay.

      I love Joule and have been there many times. There's also Revel (same chef-owners) in Fremont, a different neighborhood that also has plenty going on.

      I may be in the minority on this one also, but I'm not a big Monsoon fan. Nothing I had there was bad; I've just had better food at other restaurants.

      I'd try to fit in Sitka & Spruce, which is open for lunch and dinner. They do interesting things with local ingredients, and I've had some incredible dishes there. Also, there are more interesting things to see in this area (Capitol Hill) than in Madison Park, IMHO. You can also have a drink at Bar Ferd'nand, in the same building (the Melrose Market) as Sitka & Spruce.


      4 Replies
      1. re: Thiebaud

        Thiebaud, Revel looks excellent, and venturing into Fremont, which would be yet another area to see, would be a bonus. This is causing me to second-guess my choice of Joule for a dinner.

        Sitka and Spruce's menu, however, doesn't quite do it for me. Are they known to have many specials on most days? Maybe when July comes, they will change some options, as I see they'r online menu is dated June 2. While I have no doubt the food and service is great, after perusing the menu choices, I don't know what I'd even get.

        1. re: Rich D.

          Don't second-guess yourself here. Although Revel maybe provides a more unique (read: trendy?) dining experience, Joule is the better restaurant.

          1. re: Mike CP

            I agree that if I had to pick one, I'd pick Joule over Revel. But Revel is also open for lunch, so you might be able to do both! I personally don't think of it as trendy.

            Sitka & Spruce does not have many specials. The food is great, the service can be uneven. It's probably worth checking for an updated menu. Another option in Capitol Hill is Skillet Diner, open for only about a month. More low-end than the other places you've mentioned, but I just went there and it was delicious (had the fried-chicken sandwich, with a fennel-jalapeno crust on a potato roll from Macrina Bakery). They're open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No reservations and very popular, so you'd probably have to wait unless you went at an off time. Skillet is a popular food truck (you can check their website or twitter updates to see where they are for lunch that day), and they just opened the diner, as well. (Not to overwhelm you with options, but I do think that to really experience Seattle, you want get out of downtown and see the neighborhoods.)

            Also, if you do get to Salumi, a little-known fact is that you can call in your order ahead of time, then bypass the long line and go straight to the counter to pick up your lunch. (I'm assuming that you'll take it to go.) If anyone gives you a look, just say "phone order."

            1. re: Thiebaud

              A noonish trip in Fremont calls for a stop at the Baguette Box. We, meat-eaters, love the fried Tofu sandwich most of all there.

              Baguette Box
              1203 Pine St, Seattle, WA 98101

      2. Rich, You have done your homework well. As Ms. Mary said, you can't really do a Mt. Rainier day trip and fit in your other schedule. You can do a day trip to Snoqualmie Falls and the restaurant there is quite good. (You will need to rent a car.) For oysters, I recommend the Walrus & The Carpenter. For Saturday lunch, I recommend the upstairs bar at Maximillen's at the Market. The mussels are terrific. My experience at the Book Bindery was excellent but you need reservations well in advance. I suggest breakfast at LOLA and late drinks at the Palace Kitchen.

        Palace Kitchen
        2030 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

        Book Bindery
        198 Nickerson Street, Seattle, WA 98109

        1. Thanks for the comments thus far all! This is the exact kind of advice that only Chowhound can provide. I will re-think the Mt. Ranier trip, as you have all wisely cautioned me about the timing of it. Perhaps Snoqaulmie Falls is more appropriate given the time constraints.

          As for Book Bindery, I actually do have reservations already, thankfully. For all of the places I mentioned I was fortunate enough to secure reservations. I will certainly need to re-think lunch/breakfast on Sunday before my drive north to Lummi, being that Salumi is closed on that day. Perhaps Lola!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Rich D.

            Seattle Met magazine just listed 20 trails within 1 hour of downtown:
            A couple are on Bainbridge. Be sure to report back - you've got a delicious trip planned!

          2. You've clearly done your homework and have gotten some great advice here. I'd consider Staple & Fancy - I was pretty wowed there. I am also not a huge fan of Monsoon. Do your best to get to Salumi on Thursday - you can buy some finocchionia or salami to take with you for a picnic on Friday. As you're already heard, you can't really do Mt. Rainier in an afternoon. The only option would be to skip brunch and leave town early and drive down to Paridise in Mt Rainier NP - this is about 2.5 hrs from Seattle, well worth the trouble (and some things are more important than food). It is spectacular down there. There is still ons of snow, though, so no easy hiking yet, although you can stop along the road on the way in for any number of lower elevation hikes. Another alternative would be to do brunch, skip the day trip, and spend the afternoon in one of Seattle's spectacular city parks. My favorites are Seward Park (a lovely drive down Lake Washington Blvd from Madison Park) and Discovery Park on the west side of town. Or the UW Washington Park Arboreteum. You can easily get in several miles of walking in these big parks.