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Jan 2, 2012 08:32 AM

Downtown/walkable Solo Eating in Seattle?

I'll be in Seattle (with a zillion other people) for a conference 1/4-1/9 at the Convention Center. I'll be staying at the Red Lion Hotel at 1415 5th Ave. There are no really fine restaurants where I live, and very little even passable food, so I have been perusing the boards (and some links/menus) with more and more excitement and jealousy. Super excited at the incredible options for seafood (blueacre, Matt's at the Market, Pink Door, Seatown, Etta's...!), Vietnamese (Long's Provincial), and other foodie joys (Spur Gastropub? Restaurant Zoe? Marjorie, Palace Kitchen?) and if I can get down there, some rockin' Sichuan, Malysian, etc in the International District. In fact, it's unclear to me why I would do anything in Seattle BUT eat at 3- or 4-hour intervals. I'm throwing my budget out the window. I can NEVER, EVER eat like this at home. It's chains and bulk almost everywhere here.

Two questions: are any of the yummiest, walkable places better or worse for solo dining (since conference-goers have a really annoying way of being unable to make up their minds and ending up at Starbucks as a default), and do I have a hope of getting in without a reservation (eat at the bar? I don't care, just show me the food!!) or do I actually have to make plans and CHOOSE AMONG THESE AMAZING PLACES?

Thank you all even if you don't answer because your posts on the board have been really helpful!

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  1. welcome to seattle! all the places you mentioned are noteworthy and walkable - i often dine alone and haven't found any problems being seated especially midweek. do try to spend an hour or two at the market walking, observing, sampling and just enjoying the sights and sounds. as for the lack of good restaurants on our home turf, even in america most places have something - however minimal - to offer its residents. try this mind game - if you moved away. what litle joint(s) would you miss?

    4 Replies
    1. re: howard 1st

      Thanks for the reply...the market sounds great! There are a few OK places where I live, but we're just close enough to Chicago for folks to go there to satisfy sophisticated urges, and leave the chains to flourish. That said, we have some very nice Italian (if you know what to order)....

      1. re: fiorbhlasta

        You have a lot of great suggestions here--more than you'll probably have time for!--but let me add one more. The Market Grill is a little lunch counter along the main arcade of Pike Place Market. It's great for eating solo--just hover and grab a stool when one opens up (the service is fast so it will take less time than you'd think). They just do sandwiches, cooked to order--halibut, salmon, prawns or chicken, grilled plain or blackened, with house-made tartar sauce or rosemary mayo, on good French bread. But everything is really fresh, and really good--and you have a front row seat to watch the wonderful madness that is Pike Place Market. For simple, good, cheap food and loads of Seattle atmosphere, you can't beat it.

        1. re: MsMaryMc

          Homemade tartar sauce! Mmmm. I'm thinking that a lot of seafood is in season right now, too. Yippeee. I actually cry whenever I go to my favorite fish place in Madison, WI (Sardine <sigh>), so this is a great lead. Thanks!!

          1. re: MsMaryMc

            Also: how exciting to see plenty of places open on Sunday. Yippeee! I'm staying an extra night just to get to eat more and I'm so glad there will be some good options.

      2. Zoe is closed, and its place is The Coterie Room. I have not been and it gets good reviews. In my personal experience, I have been able to dine solo anywhere with no problem and without a reservation, usually sitting at the bar. You can easiy get to the I district on any downtown bus, it's only a few stops, or a longish walk, depending on your definition of a long walk. Of the places you listed, I would lean to Etta's for brunch or lunch and Palace for late night. for seafood, I still love Flying Fish, more than the others, but they are all good. I would recommend some small plates places as very representative of Seattle eating--Sitka & Spruce, Wolf or Anchovies & Olives (same owner), and all will have many seafood options. walkable for breakfast from your hotel--Dahlia Bakery, Belle Epicurean, Top Pot Doughnuts. for pastry, etc. Caffe Migliore for good, local coffee shop. Say hi to Jeremy.

        1. Welcome. In addition to walking down Pike to PPM you can and should walk up Pike to the Melrose Market

          It is a really easy walk and has a great sandwich shop (Homegrown)
          a wonderful cheese shop where you could get some things to snack on in your hotel room (Calf and Kid)
          Taylor Shellfish were you can eat a few oysters on the spot and/or get chowder
          and it also has a number of very good full service dining establishments that are wonderful including Sitka and Spruce and Terra Plata

          Long Provencial is a good bet and an easy walk.
          You could also walk (longish) and/or take the South Lake Union Trolly ( from near Westlake Plaza to the Dahlia Workshop for breakfast/lunch/biscuts or to Brave Horse Tavern for a fun place to hang out (and you would be fine there by yourself)
          If you do not want to walk all the way to the ID district you can also walk to Westlake and take the light rail a few stops to the ID district stop for more dining options.

          5 Replies
          1. re: PaqpIn

            Wow, thanks so much!! I'm really looking forward to just exploring and I love long walks. Hoping the raingear holds out. I have a tour scheduled of the Theo chocolate factory just for fun, too. And public transportation...wheeeeeee! Heaven.

            1. re: fiorbhlasta

              The Theo tour is one of the best experiences in Seattle. The surrounding neighborhood, Fremont, is really fun to stroll.
              I suggest a meal at Revel. The counter seating is comfortable for solos. The food is soooo good.

              1. re: fiorbhlasta

                If you like craft beer, Brouwer's is right next to the Theo factory, with 64 taps and a a 5 page bottle list, it's worth a visit for any beer enthusiast.

              2. re: PaqpIn

                I think Dahlia Workshop has been renamed "Serious Biscuit" just to keep things straight. The link is DW, but when you click, the page is SB.

                1. re: tsquare

                  Thanks everyone! Mmmm...Revel looks so good.... And WOW Paqpln for all the great tips!

              3. Hi, fiorbhlasta:

                If you want a place for a good seafood orientation/immersion, I am going to depart from the small, trendy, indie, celeb chef advice I might normally give. I would take my first lunch or dinner at McCormick & Schmick's (1st and Spring Streets). It has a steakhouse feel, sure, but they always have an amazingly-long fresh sheet of fish, shellfish and crustaceans, and IMO seafood is their forte. Several times there I have asked for a menu dish to be prepared with a different fish, and they were happy to accommodate (If they have fresh Hawai'ian 'Ono, and you like fish and chips, you will multiple mouthgasm).

                What is on M&S's capacious fresh sheet is always a good (but not perfect) indication of what is worth serving in the city on any given day.

                FWIW, I really enjoy their Meatloaf with Hot Fanny Gravy, too.

                Enjoy your stay,

                2 Replies
                1. re: kaleokahu

                  Mahalo, Kaleo! I was thinking I'll need to ask everywhere "what's the thing I shouldn't miss / what's in season / what do you recommend?" Yes and yes!