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Jun 18, 2012 09:17 PM

Lunch between Seattle and Mt. Rainier. Casual dinner later with reservations on return.

We are staying at the Pan Pacific. One day (a saturday in Sept) we plan on a long daytrip to Mt. Rainier. Will probably enter the park at Nisqually entrance.

Any places along the way to stop for breakfast/lunch? We want to get up and get going in the morning, and stop along the way. (I hope to have breakfast at Portage Bay on the day we leave)

We will return tired and hungry, probably on a Saturday. Looking for a casual place to dine that also accepts reservations. We will have a car. Other nights we are looking at Brave Horse Tavern, Serious Pie or Quinn's, when we won't mind having to wait for a table. Already have plans for Tavern Law one night. Thought about Steelhead diner, but seems to get mixed reviews...Any suggestions along those lines?

As always, love CH.


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  1. Bring a picnic lunch for your day trip. Someone may pipe up with some hidden gem, but it's generally suburban/former logging town wasteland between Seattle and Rainier. You might try searching online for anything decent in Enumclaw; if any town has something, it would be Enumclaw. The Black Diamond Bakery is a local favorite, but you'd have to take a longer route to Rainier to go there.

    I think Steelhead is a good pick if you want casual and fairly inexpensive.

    1. Ristrettos is a wine bar in Maple Valley that opened last October that makes good sandwiches, salads, and boards of cured meats, high end cheeses, flatbread, olives, marcona almonds etc. Good selection of Northwest and imported wine by the glass. They also feature espresso beverages and desserts. Great outdoor deck that offers a stunning view of Rainier on clear days.

      Another new stop in Maple Valley is Gino's Bistro. Good Italian, and some surprises like paella, good wine list, and a full bar. This is second location of a chef-owned restaurant in Federal Way.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Gizmo56


        Highway 169 is exit #4 on I-405 and it will take you from Renton to Enumclaw (passing through Maple Valley and Black Diamond along the way). It is an enjoyable ride that runs alongside the banks of Cedar River and it won't add to your driving time.

        I find the Black Diamond Bakery to offer dated, uninteresting fare, and frequented mainly by seniors these days.

        Also, I regard Blueacre as a preferable downtown alternative to Steelhead. Well-prepared northwest seafood, nice room, relaxed vibe, and convenient to the downtown hotels.

        1. re: Gizmo56

          What great advise! I was just now redoing our itinerary to take this route. I found a great driving tour that follows your advise above:

          Looks like there are a number of places to eat in Enumclaw. Will research.

          Gizmo, I looked at Blueacre but wasn't sure if it fit my "casual" need for the night. We will be eating after a looong day at Mt. Rainer. What do you think?

          1. re: SaraPA

            During lunches and weeknight dinners, Blueacre gets a mix of business and casual. But for your late night meal you should see lots of people dressed in jeans, and the restaurant always feels relaxed and tourist-friendly (without being a tourist trap). I think they do consistently great seafood and it is an easy place to put together some appetizers and cocktails if you aren't starved. The chef is from New Orleans, so the menu has a nice mix of local preps and some Creole accents.

            You can make a reservation and since you were already thinking of Steelhead, I think Blueacre is going to be a shorter walk, more comfortable, and that it has generally better food.

          2. re: Gizmo56

            Actually, that route is quite a bit longer than going 167 to 161 (my office frequently does work at Rainier and so we travel to and from quite often). I wouldn't talk you out of it in general, but it is definitely longer (if you are going on a weekday I'd also find out about rush hour traffic on that route--167 to 161 will be fine).

            1. re: christy319

              We'll agree to disagree. I happen to live in South King County (or as you call it "suburban/former logging town wasteland") and I drive the local highways every day.

              If one is coming from downtown, crosses to South 405 via the I-90 bridge, and exits to 169, the exit is closer, there is none of the typical "bottleneck" that one gets at the 167 interchange, and you get to Enumclaw at least as quickly, and sometimes save few minutes.

              Hwy 169 never has a "crawl" even during the weekday rush hours. Plus the route is much more scenic and pleasant.


        2. If you can hold out till you get to Enumclaw for late breakfast, try 'The Kitchen'.

          I have heard very good things about it from people who work at Mutual of Enumclaw insurance Co. which is an old client of mine and who's HQ is a couple blocks away.