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Apr 16, 2012 07:58 PM

San Francisco Hound Coming to Seattle: Please Critique My List for the Emerald City!!!

Greetings Seattle Hounds,
I am so excited to be visiting your beautiful city in 2 weeks for a total of 3 days/ 3 nights. I haven't been to Seattle in 4 years since my brother's graduation from UW when our family dined at Ray's Boathouse, Dahlia Lounge, Cafe Juanita, Salumi, Tilth, Red Mill Burgers, Shiro's, and the late Restaurant Zoe...
Since then I've found a love for espresso and drip coffee thanks to the Blue Bottles and Four Barrels here in San that is a huge mission for sampling this trip to Seattle too. Also this time we're staying in Ballard.
My idea for the 3 days is sort of a lunch, dinner, and special pastry or ice cream snacks here and there, and pretend as if we'll do one cocktail or bar and one brewery tasting each day...we'll keep the trip flexible. We are seeing a daytime Mariners game too, so let me know of any dining at Safeco Field advice! I enjoyed the IchiRoll last time...
Thanks to your all of your wonderful recommendations on other threads with helpful suggestions, these are the ideas I've come up with:

Dinners (3): Walrus and Carpenter, Poppy, Staple & Fancy

Contenders: Anchovies & Olives, How to Cook a Wolf, Delancey, Bisato, Spinasse, Madison Park Conservatory, Joule, Quinn's, Spur, Serious Pie

Lunch (3): Safeco Field, Revel, Sitka & Spruce on a weekday

Snacks/Breakfast if we feel like it: Molly Moon's, Cafe Besalu, Honoré, Le Rêve

Breweries: Hale's Ales, Georgetown Brewing Co.,Three Skulls (unique blend of old and new, small and bigger is the goal)
Contenders: Big Al, Fremont, Maritime's Jolly Roger, Schooner Exact, Naked City

Cocktails: Zig Zag, Rob Roy, Needle & Thread
Contenders: Ba Bar, Grim (or any Laura Olson bar), Canon, Quoin

Coffee: Vitrola, Vita, Vivace, Starbucks original (never I have to go and stand in line once)

Please let me know your thoughts, I'm sure the list will be a little trimmed once we arrive, but it just shows how exciting it is to visit and dine and drink in Seattle! Thank you so much!!!

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  1. As I've said elsewhere, I'd recommend Full Tilt over Molly Moon's for ice cream. There's a location in Ballard. Though I'll also say, I just had a sundae at MM's that's chocolate ice cream with bergamot olive oil, sea salt and whipped cream that's pretty darned good (tho' honestly, the ice cream is the weakest link -- the chocolate-ness could stand to be more intense).

    Plain croissants at Besalu are fantastic. Don't skip them just because they're "plain." It's the best thing they make, I think.

    I think the best meal I've eaten in Seattle so far has been at Walrus & Carpenter. I wish I could afford to repeat the experience more often. Be ready to wait a long time for a table and spend some $, but I think it's worth it. Everything we had there was very fresh, quality ingredients and clean flavors. A lovely experience even with all the bustle.

    Poppy is controversial but I've enjoyed my experiences there. I like having lots of things to taste; it's sort of like opening presents on Christmas -- "oooh, what's THIS one?"

    I haven't been to the Needle & Thread part of Tavern Law, but have been plenty happy with my experience in the downstairs main bar.

    Starbucks "original" -- eh, whatever. It's not like it feels particularly historic or anything, it's pretty much just a "to say we did it" experience. Some of the best Pike Place buskers are usually outside, tho', so it's got that going for it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bax

      That's what I keep telling people about Molly Moon's. There ice creams are ok , but the stuff they use for their sundaes are top notch.

      People are hating on MM's in another thread (and in this one), but I feel like not enough people get sundae's there. Credit where credit is due.

      1. re: GreenYoshi

        MM's maple bacon ice cream was really good -- alas, a seasonal flavor, not a regular one. Other than that, the other flavors I've tried are just ok. But I agree -- good sundaes. And points for creative ice cream/sorbet flavors (last night I noticed they had a strawberry pink peppercorn I wish I'd tasted, but my boyfriend ordered my sundae so quickly I didn't get a chance!). I don't think MM's is BAD or deserves, as you say, "hating on" but I do think there are better options.

    2. Restaurant Zoe is not "late", it just moved to Capitol Hill, reopened in February.

      I had a great dinner at Walrus & Carpenter a few weeks ago, maybe got lucky but didn't have to wait at all (but this was a Sunday, FWIW).

      Poppy....the problem with having 10 dishes on a plate is they are not all going to be the most amazing thing you've ever eaten. Mostly I just wish more of the dishes were warm/hot. It is a little bit different and fun, but not super exotic or even very Indian.

      Besalu and Honore are both great bakeries, and not too far apart, so you can visit both and gorge. If Honore has cannele, get some.

      Nothing wrong with food or drinks at Ba Bar, but you could get a much longer menu with a full bar and lower prices a few blocks south at Tamarind Tree, if you are looking for Vietnamese food.

      Looks like you're into pizza, so consider via Tribunali for neapolitan style. There are a handful around town.

      1. For coffee, starting in Ballard, you'll want to hit Ballard Coffee Works, the new outlet of Seattle Coffee Works. If you can get up to Greenwood, you'll also want to hit Neptune. Those are the closest to the Blue Bottle/Four Barrels models that we've found.

        1. I love the restaurants on Capitol Hill, but if you're staying in Ballard, I'd recommend not making the trek all the way over. There are plenty of good places in Ballard, Queen Anne, Fremont, and Downtown to make it worth your while for 3 days.

          Also, if you do decide to come to Capitol Hill, I'd pass on Poppy. Restaurant Zoe, Cascina Spinasse, or Sitka and Spruce, or Quinns are all better options, IMO.

          I'd also consider swapping out Staple & Fancy for Golden Beetle, Tilth, Book Bindery, Revel, or somewhere else. It's literally in the same building as Walrus and Carpenter and it will just remind you of how much better Walrus and Carpenter was.

          If you're going to be by Safeco on a weekday, I'd stop into Salumi for lunch. Much better than anything you'll get at the game and fairly close by.

          For cocktails, I'd skip Ba Bar, but +1 Canon and Needle & Thread if you're going to be in Capitol Hill.

          And for coffee, I'd make sure to put Stumptown on the list for coffee, Vivace on for Espresso, and Victrola for either.

          Hope that helps.


          1 Reply
          1. re: BuffaloBandit

            I'd agre with the substitution of any of the Capitol Hill restaurants mentioned by BuffaloBandit for Poppy; I consider Sitka and Spruce the closest to the quintessential "seattle" restaurant these days. I'd look at the respective menus and decide if lunch would be representative of what it offers.

            You have also listed 3 or more Ethan Stowell restaurants as contenders and I would avoid duplicating among those. While I have not tried Staple & Fancy, I consider Tilth, Joule and Book Bindery--and each of the capitol hill places mentioned above--all more interesting than Anchovies and Olives. Also agree with Canon for cocktails for sure.

            Coffee--there is definitely a distinction to be drawn between the "third wave"/origin joints like Stumptown, Seattle Coffee Works, etc. and the older school espresso places like Vivace that have only 1 or 2 choices of beans. My personal favorite is Empire in Columbia City but that may be out of your way; Victrola embraces both styles.

            Breweries--Georgetown is great but it is just a place to taste and pick up, no food or tables there. Schooner Exact makes possibly better beer and is more hospitable.

            BaBar is a great price point and a unique combination of Vietnamese and well-made cocktails (drinks at Tamarind Tree are not on the same level), but I concur with the point that if you want that flavor perhaps a visit to a place more focused on serving ethnic Viet customers would be in order (e.g. Huong Binh, The Lemongrass, Hoang Lan) but no alcohol may be available.

          2. I do not like Molly Moon. All of these are way better:

            Peaks Frozen Custard

            Old School Frozen Custard

            Mora (Winslow on Bainbridge Island)

            Full Tilt

            D'Ambrosia gelato


            Bottega Italiana

            31 Flavors

            Bluebird (which isn't as good as 31 Flavors)