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Sep 20, 2011 12:43 PM

Advice re Seattle Meals

Will be in seattle the end of Oct and need some up to date advice. On previous visits I have loved and plan to return to Sitka & Spruce, Corson Bldg and Spinasse. That leaves 4 dinners & 5 lunches. Am considering: Cafe Juanita, Art of Table, Staple & Fancy, Walrus &, Book Bindery, Caffe Presse, Skillet, Corvo Pasta, Seabar and Local 360. Would love to hear worthy alternatives & suggestions to narrow/ eliminate any of these.
Also, if there is only time for 1 farmers mkt should I do Univ or Ballard. More interested in eating there as opposed to taking food home. Thank you in advance for all your help

Cafe Juanita
Kirkland, WA, Kirkland, WA

Sitka & Spruce
2238 Eastlake Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102

Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

Book Bindery
198 Nickerson Street, Seattle, WA 98109

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  1. You’ve got a great lineup. Obviously, you’ve done your homework. Café Juanita, Walrus & Carpenter, and Book Bindery are all dinner places, and all great choices. For your fourth dinner, I’d suggest either Nell’s (which, now that the local wild mushroom season is starting, is generously incorporating many different varieties into the menu); Bisato, which is Scott Carsberg’s new restaurant (his former restaurant was Lampreia); or Sushi Kappo Tamura. I would choose these spots for dinner over Art of the Table and Staple & Fancy. I haven’t been yet to Bar del Corso, but if you want to sub out one of the fancier places for some pizza, this would be a good choice. I know Jerry Corso from his previous gigs at Harvest Vine and Betty, and he’s a very talented chef. There are lots of places for pizza in Seattle (Delancey, Via Tribulani, Veraci, Bambino’s, Pulcinella, Serious Pie), and of course disagreements about which is the best. Bar del Corso is the new kid on the block.

    For your five lunches, my first choice would be Revel, for inspired and creative Asian-inflected small plates (don’t miss the spicy corned lamb salad; it’s like starting your meal with a slap in the face – a real palate-opener). Café Presse (which is owned and operated by the same people who own and operate Le Pichet in Belltown) is on your list and is another good choice. My wife is totally addicted to the chicken liver terrine there. The hamburger at Local 360 shows up frequently on lists for the best burger in Seattle, and Local 360 also serves some mean breakfast fare if you’re interested in that. The other contenders from your list are Skillet and Seatown. Skillet has all-day breakfast items and sandwiches, but is popular for its burgers. Between the burgers and breakfast items at Skillet and those at Local 360, I’d go with the latter. I haven’t been to Seatown yet, but it’s operated by the same team that operates Etta’s next door (which is also open for lunch at 11:30 am). I’ve had some nice lunches at Etta’s, but since I haven’t been to Seatown, I’ll defer on that one. Other possibilities for lunch would be Matt’s in the Market, Salumi, sushi at Kisaku, or one of our many good Vietnamese restaurants, like Huong Binh. Lots of people will steer you away from Salumi because of the long lines, but if you go early (it opens at 11 am), you can at least minimize the wait time. I like to get the hot meat sampler plate, which always includes the deservedly legendary meatballs, plus other things like oxtail, roast pork, grilled lamb, porchetta, fennel sausage, grilled cotechino, and peppers. If you have a companion, you can also get the cured meat sampler plate, which will give you a nice selection of their cured meats. The porchetta sandwich is another favorite. You will have a selection of Pacific Northwest oysters at Walrus & Carpenter, but if you’re way into oysters (as I am), you can sit at the oyster bar for lunch at Elliott’s Oyster House and scarf down a dozen or two from the largest selection of oysters in town. Or you can hit the oyster happy hour at 3 pm and get one or two types of house-selected oysters at 75 cents each.

    By the way, when you go to Spinasse, get there early and have a drink at the new bar next door, Artusi (under common ownership and operation). It has great bartenders and innovative craft cocktails, and also great small plates which, although prepared by the same kitchen, are different from the offerings at Spinasse.

    It always helps me focus my suggestions if I know where the person asking for advice is from. If you are from San Francisco my recommendations would be somewhat different than they would be if you are from San Antonio. Where are you coming from?

    Hope this helps.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Tom Armitage

      Tom, Thanks for the great advice. Nells looks terrific.
      I'm from FL but spend significant time in NY so not looking for pizza. Actually I was thinking of Il Corvo Pasta on Western Ave for lunch but glad to know about Bar del Corso.
      Does drinks & oysters at Walrus & followed by dinner at Staples next door sound worth doing.?
      I love Salumi but unfortunately will not be able to get there this trip. I'm really disappointed.
      Is Art of Table not as well thought of as it once was?
      Finally, if it is only possible to do 1 farmers mkt do you recommend University or Ballard?
      Thanks again

      309 3rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

      1. re: mwise


        Staple and Fancy - I love the fancy option and the best part is the 7 small dishes for the first course, so don't fill up at W&C...the fancy menu consists of quite a lot of food. W&C has great oysters and drinks, but doesn't take reservations (a rez at S&F is a must), so timing might be tough.

        1. re: mwise

          For pasta, go to Spinasse. All the pasta there is fabulous, but don’t miss the tajarin burro e salvia (butter and sage). It’s absolutely ethereal.

          “Do drinks & oysters at Walrus & Carpenter followed by dinner at Staple next door sound worth doing?” It depends on your self-restraint. You’ll be tempted by more than the oysters at Walrus & Carpenter. But if you can manage it, it would be fun to try both places. My wife often asks me how I can manage to put away so much food. I tell her that I’ve conditioned myself to eat through pain. Akq’s comment about the difference in reservations policy at the two places is very apt. One option is to show up early at W&C, right at opening, and make a reservation at S&F an hour or so later. The risk is that you still might not get a spot at W&C and then have to cool your heels for an hour or so. The other way around – S&F first, then see if you can bag a spot at W&C – means oysters after a full meal and dessert which, somehow, doesn’t seem very appealing.

          “Is Art of Table not as well thought of as it once was?” You know how it is – a restaurant gets a lot of attention when it is new on the scene, then sort of drops off the radar. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t still as good as ever. It’s just a testament to short attention spans. Art of the Table got lots of favorable attention in 2008 and 2009, after Dustin Ronspies started serving food in 2007 to attract potential clients for his catering business. As so often happens, the buzz eventually died down. But so far as I know, it’s still good. Hopefully, others will weigh in with their opinions.

          “Finally, if it is only possible to do 1 farmers mkt do you recommend University or Ballard?” The main difference between the two markets is that the University Market is a farmers-only market with food, plants, and flowers (plus some prepared food), and the Ballard Market has food plus crafts and other non-food items and hard goods. Many of the same farmers go to both markets. The University Market is on Saturday, and the Ballard Market is on Sunday, which makes this possible. Both markets have prepared food to eat (vegetarian fare at Patty Pan Grill, Indian dishes at Tandoozy, Argentinian papusas at El Rodeo, etc.). Because of the inclusion of crafts and non-food vendors, the Ballard Market is larger and a bit more of a scene. Since I’m just interested in farmers and food, not the non-food stuff, I usually go to the University Market, which is also closer to where I live. But in your case, because of the overlap in farmers, I’d say to let your schedule and convenience dictate the choice.

          Seattle, WA, Seattle, WA

          Art of the Table
          1054 N 39th St, Seattle, WA 98103

          Patty Pan Grill
          801 26th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112