Best in Seattle - in town for 3 days
We'll be visiting from Providence (which is a very foodie city) We have 3 days... where do we go for:
1) High end, fancy, great dinner...
2) Cool hipster/local dinner
3) Best ethnic lunch or dinner (i.e. sushi/thai/indian)
And (sorry) no Salmon... not really my thing...
Anything else we should try?
We're staying at the Hotel Max (not sure where that is in relationship to anything)
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For high end, try Altura. Ask to sit at the bar, and let the chef choose for you. Just delightful, and not at all the hipster-esque experience that you'd find at Quinn's (also delightful) and Spinasse (another one of my favorites). Madison Park Conservatory is also very nice and would give you a chance to check out Madison Park.
I would recommend Tamarind Tree and Maneki in the International District for Vietnamese and Japanese food (respectively).
Zig Zag Cafe is great for downtown drinks.
Another thing to check out depending on when you're in town are the summer neighborhood farmers' markets. Saturday is the U-District one - very lovely. If you're in the U-District have coffee at Solstice. Wednesday is the Columbia City market (ride the light rail there from down town and consider dining at La Medusa after checking out the market) and Sunday is Capitol Hill and West Seattle (a destination in of itself - go to Alki Beach!). http://www.seattlefarmersmarkets.org/...
I lived in Seattle recently and can recommend the following:
High end/fancy/great: Bookbindery. Best combination of food, service, and ambiance I found in Seattle. If "fancy" is less important, go to Cascina Spinasse.
Cool/hipster/local: This means a pretty casual place in Seattle. Quinn's would be a good option. You want to check out Capitol Hill in general. Skillet is a fun spot in this category, though more for breakfast/lunch (they serve at dinnertime, too). If you want someplace with local ingredients and a little different (though not completely "hipster" or "cool"), try Poppy, which uses Northwest ingredients as part of a thali-style meal (contrary to what some people in Seattle say, it's not Indian food). If you're willing to wait for hours, try Walrus & Carpenter in the Ballard neighborhood for Northwest seafood. It's not dramatically different from a fresh, slightly creative New England seafood restaurant (I lived in Boston for a long time, so I know), but it's consistently good. The downside is that they don't take reservations and you'll wait a long time.
Ethnic: Contrary to popular belief, this is not a strong point in Seattle. Definitely avoid any so-called Indian food. I wouldn't recommend Thai food either. I really enjoyed Sushi Kappo Tamura in the Eastlake neighborhood for its fresh fish and small plates. If you want something that crosses the ethnic/cool categories, go to Revel in Fremont. The food is fun and flavorful.
Wow... even more restaurant names I've never heard before... Seattle sounds huge! For a nicer dinner we were thinking about Matts in the Market because we're doing really high end in Portland, but were also suggested to go to Canlis. I'll look up Bookbindery and Cascina. We were told to hit Wild Ginger by a friend, but it doesn't look that different than what we get here in Providence.
We already ruled out Walrus and Capenter, but will look into Poppys... I keep hearing Salumi... but sounds crowded... we're leaving a lot undecided so we have the freedom to duck into anywhere we want, but will be making at least one reservation...
I can't say enough good things about Quinn's. Probably the best meal we had in Seattle. We went late night after spending the evening watching the sun set at the space needle. Very unique and hip. Darn good food. We did a few small and large plates. Nice selection of beer but doesn't have that seedy pub feeling.
Jennifer, don't let it get you down -- by far the best chowhound advice I ever got was from the Boston board!
You have tons of responses coming...I'll just add my comments-
For "fancy" Book Bindery seems to be killing it these days, though I haven't been personally. Staple and Fancy and Cascina Spinasse have both been all the rage and I can say are great --- but you no doubt get lots of great Italian food already in PVD, so may be less of interest. Canlis is great, too.
For hip - I am a big fan of Quinn's, both for the great food, the atmosphere in the restaurant, and for the many drinking options immediately around. Be aware no reservations and it gets crowded sometimes. Many other options in this category -- the recent go-to seems to be Revel in Fremont, which is also good.
Ethnic - Seattle has a little of everything, but probably stands out most for Japanese food. I don't have a personal recommendation, but if you search this board for Japanese you'll get plenty of replies back. I think the best lunch in town is the sandwiches at El Paseo, which are vaguely Cuban / Carribbean -- if that's ethnic enough for you, you should go for it!