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Asking for rec's for a few areas of focus

On a forthcoming trip keen to focus on 5 key areas:

- oysters (and related: shellfish of all kinds)
- crab
- "only-found-in-Seattle unique and long-established and off-the-tourist-beat places"
- cask-ale outlets
- Superior Irish & English Pubs

While knowing that there are copious lists of all these out there, could I ask the benefit of some focused (and current) recommendations in these areas?

Thanks so much. Be there next week.


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  1. (Along with all the above, I had a particular craving for a REALLY GOOD Ploughman's Lunch.) Is a trip to England the only way or can Seattle oblige? :-) Thanks again for any/all rec's.

    1. Oysters: Walrus and Carpenter for the vibe and the food; Elliot's for tradition and a great oyster happy hour; Taylor Shellfish - just to sit at the oyster bar and have them shuck them for you. Plus you will like the Melrose Market.
      Crab: Seatown; Blueacre; Chandler's Crabhouse has a great view
      Only in Seattle: Terra Plata; Salumi; Paseo; Quinn's; Boat Street
      Cask Beer: There is Bottleworks and you could try Brouwer's Café for a good pub. You could also check out Full Throttle Bottles.

      1. Hilltop Alehouse usually has a couple of cask brews. Currently Diamond Knot IPA cask and Boundary Bay ESB cask. These are two of my favorite Washington state breweries... I'll admit that in part because not that many places seem to carry them on tap but they are both really good. Hilltop is also a pretty nice place to hang out and food isn't bad. The other Seattle Ale House place usually have a cask, too but Hilltop is more in my neighborhood... after a walk up from the cheap seats.

        If you make a trip to Diamond Knot Brewery and Ale House they have Cask Night every Thursday and I think it's worth the trip. It's been a while since I've been but when I did go they had some great stuff.

        While not cask... if you are in the area Bambino's pizza has a good bottle menu and they have some great beers on tap. HH is $4 beers and house wine... my HH beer today was Pliny the Elder with the best pizza in town. [just my random plug for my favorite pizza and beer establishment that I want to thrive for selfish reasons]

        2 Replies
        1. re: knowspicker

          Hi, knowspicker:

          Wahine drug me to 74th Street this afternoon as a matter of fact. I'm not understanding your rec for beer there--there must be 50 places within a mile that have better depth and breadth of selections. I say "drug" because IMO this place is a real clip joint--any beers of note are $5.75. Two pints and a minuscule serving of cashews there is a $22 outlay with tip. Actually eating there is priced at least two tiers above the quality (except for their Gumbo).

          I always leave there (and Hiltop, etc.) thinking they took their pricing lesson from Hooters, but omitted the hooters.

          However, I couldn't agree with you more about Bambino's--their list is pretty short, but they go 'way outta their way to bring in fantastic beers, like the Pliny.


          1. re: kaleokahu

            I was really thinking only that it's one of the places that regularly has cask conditioned ale. I don't usually eat there but they generally have a pretty wide selection of drafts including a quite a few that I like. But this was really because they usually seem to have a couple of casks on tap and don't see that many around.

            I don't often see a cask conditioned ale at Bambinos but I completely agree have the most interesting taps in town... When I was there on Friday they are now up to 7 taps and put bar seating and now have backs on the chairs.

        2. "- "only-found-in-Seattle unique and long-established and off-the-tourist-beat places""

          so you want the special tourist treatment, the kind of thing that isn't available to ordinary tourists like Tony and Andrew. Sorry, that's going to cost you! We don't give that kind of information for free. :)

          Do locals even think in those terms? We all have neighborhood establishments that we frequent, and rarely see tourists, but are they Seattle unique, especially in the long-established sense?

          1 Reply
          1. re: paulj

            Undercover cash drop could be arranged.

            I don;t know Seattle so well. In the Twin cities it might be MaMa's Pizza. Totally unassuming, but excellent pie (wares). In Detroit it might be the Dakota Inn Rathskellar. In Milwaukee the pub that plays Wagner (some of the best drinking music available!).

            The Seattle equivalent of Calvin Trillin's anathema to the Maison de la Casa haus "there's an old black guy out on the highway."

            A place the "Best o Seattle" would not alert me to.

            Again, state terms and whether prefer cash or bearer bonds.

            Thanks a lot. And thanks for the other recommendations. Looking forward to the trip.


          2. A few VERY SEATTLE places - IMO;

            The 5-Point Cafe - for breakfast (especially late at night when the bar side is packed!). Great home-style diner food, made with care. Great cafe Vita coffee, house roasted turkey in the sandwiches, great hash browns. This place runs on whiskey and beer consumed by many, many famous Seattle musicians, and many not so famous as well.

            2-Bells Tavern for a beer and the iconic 2 bells burger.

            Happy Hour at Ivars Salmon House. Because you can get Alder smoked salmon here, and Alder planked I believe. Watching the boat traffic going from Montlake to Lake Union is VERY old-school Seattle...

            +1 on Taylor Shellfish (and Melrose Market) as this is VERY Seattle, in it's hip, foodie and delicious current incarnation. Just checking out the meat case at Rain Shadow meats is exciting, plus those nice shucking guys at Taylor that are so happy to help:)

            Ride the ferry over to Bainbridge (you have to ride a ferry while here - this is very SEATTLE), and eat at Marche, Greg Atkinson's restaurant. He is the former foo columnist for the Pacific Magazine in our Sunday SEA Times, and was the former head Chef at Canlis. I here the pate's are excellent, as are clams with chorizo.

            Spend Sunday in Ballard; do the Farmer's market, visit the locks, go to Cafe Beselu for pastries, linger at a sidewalk table for coffee somewhere and watch the people on Market Street. Go to Walrus and the Carpenter for dinner.

            Walk up and down the Pike/pine corridor. Many nifty shops, pastry places, Molly Moon ice cream, coffee mecca's.... dinner at Quinn's, a show at Neumo's.

            4 Replies
              1. re: bishopsbitter

                Hi, bishopsbitter:

                gingershelly's list is spot on--as usual.

                I might add Dot's Deli in Fremont for charcuterie and other delectables. The cookbook store in the same block is worth snooping, too.

                Have fun when you're here.


                1. re: kaleokahu

                  Mahalo, Kaleokahu:) As are your recs' -

                  Why didn't I think to reccomend the Dot's neighborhood!

                  You can't get much more SEA than that couple of blocks right there - Uneeda Burger is there, bleeding soccer kid families lining up for burgers on a Saturday, people in and out of Dot's, trying on glasses at Eyes on Fremont (very Seattle place to get glasses!), into Book larder for a browse, or across the street for an Espresso.... perhaps down the street a block to Paseo!

                  Go upper Fremont!

                2. re: bishopsbitter

                  I would add to the Bainbridge reco - Hitchcock is also great and open when Marche is not (on Sundays and Mondays). They have a special "Americana Mondays" menu on Monday.

              2. "only-found-in-Seattle unique and long-established and off-the-tourist-beat places"

                On Occidental Avenue in Pioneer Square, alongside the big parking lot where the Kingdome once stood, there's a restaurant called FX McCrory's. It has been in continuous operation under the ownership of Mick McHugh for 35 years, and before the waves of modern fine dining trends hit town, it was considered to be in the cream of the crop.

                They specialize in aged beef and fresh seafood, and they have a full raw oyster operation. They have a big bar, which over the years was often packed full of raucous Seattle Seahawks and Mariners fans. The bar has a huge selection, with a special emphasis on bourbon and beers on tap. The walls are adorned with original Leroy Neiman artwork.

                There is nothing particularly trendy or adventurous on the menu. Instead, McCrory's continues to put out well-prepared steaks and prime rib, fresh-shucked oysters, and grilled salmon. If you want to get a feel for what Seattle dining was like back when Jimmy Carter was in the Oval Office, McCrory's will take you on a ride in the time machine.

                See: http://www.fxmcrorys.com/thebar.php

                2 Replies
                1. re: Gizmo56

                  Thank you!! I want to go back to the Carter Era SOoooooooooooo bad.

                  1. re: Gizmo56

                    But DON"T go on a game day! Overrun by drunk sports fans, and the kitchen is putting out Sysco systems run-of-the-mill freezer to deep fryer appetizers...

                    Go for a normal weeknight happy hour-into early dinner time, and then you can feel Jimmy C from the pressed tin ceiling to your wooden booth....

                  2. There are very few places in Seattle to get "proper" cask conditioned ales. The aforementioned CC Alehouse and 74th St Alehouse both have "Cask Night" once a week, but I wouldn't recommend spending your money on their casks. 74th St is near me, it's a great neighborhood pub, but the prices are high and they take very poor care of their beer. Invariably the casks are hauled over to the bar top, set into stillage, and tapped shortly thereafter. It's rare to find a well clarified cask in Seattle to begin with, but this complete disrespect for the tradition of cellarmanship destroys any chance you'll get a nice pint, and it's not uncommon in this area.

                    Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle and Stumbling Monk on Cap Hill are your best bets. Brouwer's Cafe in Fremont has two beer engines, but they often leave the casks on for far too long.

                    Unfortunately the trend around here is for gimmick casks, with additional spices or other strange ingredients. Many breweries would rather add chilies and jelly beans to their casks than focus on the basic and create clean, drinkable, casks. Many local breweries even take force-conditioned beer straight from the Brite tanks to a cask and pass it off as cask conditioned.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: adam _p

                      Adam, see this elsewhere. Thanks for warning. Yes, few us cellarmasters seem to realize it but in England a(even slightly) "cloudy pint" will be refused and indeed if seen more than once in a blue moon will lose trade. Cask ale sb as clear as Bud.

                      1. re: adam _p

                        ps did you ever make it to Sherlock's Home in MN. It was THE BEST. Have never found cask like that elsewhere in US And (boy) Have I Looked!! google "hate the pun, love the pub"

                      2. I'll second the recommendation for Boat Street, with the added advice: Try the pickle plate. It's not what you're thinking of, and it's fantastic. For me, one of the most iconic dishes in Seattle.

                        I'll also recommend having breakfast (French toast!) at Geraldines Counter, and dinner at La Medusa, on a Wednesday, when you can also enjoy the Columbia City Farmers Market.

                        For crab, I'd recommend 7-Star Szechuan Pepper for an awesome local take, as well as one of the several Crawfish places. Both will give you excellent very local alternatives to the traditional crab preparations.

                        For oysters, I'd recommend "Head down to the Pike Market and eat many oysters". There are several good options there.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Booklegger451

                          I heartily concur with all of these suggestions, with special emphasis on Boat Street generally, and their pickle plate in particular.

                          1. re: Booklegger451

                            Is it a "can't miss" scenario for 'sters @ PPM or particular places best?

                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                              Elliot's has the biggest selection, and also a crazy happy hour. I prefer to eschew the HH choices and just ask them what's in peak season and which oysters they recommend (disclaimer, I haven't been there in the last 8 months).

                              Taylor Shellfish at the Melrose Market and the Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard seem to be the hot oyster spots de jour.

                              1. re: bishopsbitter

                                My experience is it's pretty much "can't miss", though I'm not 100% certain I've tried every venue there.

                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                  BishopsBitter, the only place in the PPM proper that serves oysters that I know of is old Emmet Watson's at the back of the sanitary market. Steelhead diner probably does as well.

                                  What others are saying about Elliott's, Taylor, Walrus are the hot spots with best selection and freshness.

                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                    Argh. Did not see this soon enough. Will refer back upon a return trip. Thanks!

                              2. oysters (and related: shellfish of all kinds) - How to Cook a Wolf. Walrus & the Carpenter. Elliot's. Seastar.

                                - crab - The Dahlia Lounge (run by James Beard award winner Tom Douglas). Seastar.

                                - "only-found-in-Seattle unique and long-established and off-the-tourist-beat places" - Paseo (get the Cuban). Salumi (get the salumi) . Altaye (the most amazing Ethiopian food ever. EVER, I say). Dahlia Bakery (triple coconut creme pie). Tango (El Diablo, arguably the best dessert in all of Seattle). Rover's (run by James Beard winner Thierry Reautareau). Four Swallows (someone said ride to Bainbridge and go to Marche....if you go to Bainbridge and don't go to FS, you've gone to the wrong place, IMO). Cafe Nola also has some legendary French toast out there, so you could make a day of it. Royal Grinders (get the Italian Grinder)

                                - cask-ale outlets Can't help ya

                                - Superior Irish & English Pubs - A Terrible Beauty. Oddfellow's. The Pickled Onion.

                                Randomness: Stay out of Cap Hill. It's so wildly overrated in terms of food that it makes me question local sanity.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Quintious

                                  Which Capitol Hill places do you consider overrated?

                                  1. re: Quintious

                                    is a brewer with some on site eating. They are kind of out of the way for someone downtown, about 11 miles north, in the corner of an industrial area.

                                    1. re: Quintious

                                      these rec's are "long established?" Rover's perhaps, all else; hmmm

                                      1. re: Quintious

                                        <Stay out of Cap Hill. It's so wildly overrated in terms of food that it makes me question local sanity>

                                        Wow. You can say that again. On a recent 'trip down memory lane' (born and raised) plane ride to Seattle...I walked from my hotel room in the market to Broadway. My old, old hangout during the counterculture days. I was shocked, mortified actually, to experience all the really tall, generic buildings housing the chain food junk. During the early '80's it was my morning ritual to pull over to David Schomer's cart on Broadway to taste the best espresso ever known to mankind. Those chilly mornings with David standing there laughing and pulling those shots like a magician. Then on to Surrogate Hostess (where the Tully's (ugh) coffee now sits). The food was homemade nirvana. We'd all sit together, friends and stranger, eating some of the best food I've ever tasted, to this day. I can still taste/smell the terrine of pate and fresh baguette like it was yesterday. I'm appalled. What happened to that close- knit -family - never- let -corporate- junk- food- come- to- this- neighborhood go? How did they let that happen?

                                        1. re: latindancer

                                          latindancer - the best places have just moved a few blocks from Broadway to the Pike/Pine corridor: La Spiga, Plum Bistro, Sitka and Spruce, and my new favorite, Terra Plata.

                                          1. re: latindancer

                                            Latindance, Vivace is still there - they have just grown up and gotten a spot in one of those' generic' buildings you speak of.

                                            Broadway languished for 15 years due to a hieght restriction on buildings, so no one wanted to invest, and for a while it was all teen street panhandlers and bad asian food....

                                            Now that there is street retail with condo's above, actually a lot of independent wonderful restaurants are all over both Broadway, and pike/pine.

                                            Broadway boasts Poppy, Marination station, Altura, just to start the list covering only 2 blocks from the North...

                                            1. re: gingershelley


                                              I know Vivace well and always pay a visit when I'm there....he's had it up and running for many years and it still remains my all time favorite.
                                              Broadway's changed. It's become gentrified and has lost its style, no doubt about it. Glad to know there's good food somewhere in that concrete mess.

                                        2. Trip Report.
                                          It has (owing flight logistics) been only one full day, but I was able to take advantage of some of the recommendations. (Thank you for ALL of them.)
                                          I started off with the 5-Point for breakfast. (No thanks to the rental car's GPS: I guess the topology of Seattle bollixes up the coverage.) I thought it might be a bad start as was not waited on (even with coffee) for some while at the counter. But eventually was able to get a slurp of the much-needed brown stuff. Ordered the Deckhand substituting sourdough for cakes (not a pancake man) and when it came I was very pleased. The bacon was top quality stuff as were the sausage links. Both excellent. After a slow start, the service improved and the price (for a major d/t area) was quite reasonable. $15 or so in toto. I also know where to a buy a "F*** Off!" T-shirt if/when I require one.
                                          Then I walked down to Pike Place Market. In spite of the fairly heavy tourist load (even early) I enjoyed it, although I think the fish throwers need to develop another rifflike oyster juggling or something. For some reason I don't find large (albeit pristine) salmon sailing thru the air all that interesting. I got a Dungeness crab cocktail at the City Market (or some such name) at the N end. This was nice and convenient road bollards to perch it on right by. I don't usually like cocktail sauce but it does seem integral to the whole's success..
                                          Across the street to the east I had some quite delightful oysters (a very well-priced $7.99 per 1/2 doz.) and another crab cocktail (hold the sauce). This was not quite so good. Less crab (3/4 of the tub was greenage) and the crab not salted. Has the salt police stopped boiling crab in near brine water? I miss the seasoning if so.
                                          As I walked back to the car I passed the 2-Bells (by chance) so nipped in. It was empty and just starting but they poured an excellent pint of Guinness. Really excellent! I hoped to (satiated by crab I coul dnot rise to one) at least spot one of the legendary burgers but no-one came in to order one.
                                          I then set sail for the Pickled Onion in Renton. Here there was a spot of deja vu. About 6 years ago I did a short stint in SEA and I must have already made the effort to find the place and with the same result. I am anti strip-mall pubs and this did not make me want to venture in. I am all in favor of ventures with a streak of insanity but this looked in the category of British Pubs where the owner actually might be insane. For all I know perfectly nice, but as I say I can't imagine congenial pubbe interior with a strip mall exterior. If I was wrong and missed the best Ploughman's in Seattle, my loss.
                                          Tuning in the trusty GPS for "nearest" alternate restaurants I was directed to a place called Ivar's. When I saw the sign "Since 1938" I pressed on. It turns out to be a waterfront "concession stand" in broad terms but I have to say that their food was very nice. I had clam strips, fries, jumbo prawns and yet another crab cocktail. All very nice and with a peaceful and bucolic setting. I particularly (as a private pilot) enjoyed the touch and goes being shot by trainee pilots at Renton Municipal Airport. Back to hotel and I was fairly "shot" for the day I thought . . . but the best was yet to come. Using a CHOW search for "Any good eats near sea-tac" pointed me to the 13 Coins. I almost didn't go when I drove past it several times and could not spot it (it keeps a low profile) but I eventually found it and went in. Inside it is a most congenial spot which I will describe in a follow up. I can't thank you all enough for the recommendations. owing to a missed flight my trip was cut short so I could not try as many as I wanted to. bb

                                          1. The 13 Coins was by far (and then some) the best meal in terms of food and service I have had in a long while. This seems implausible given the dreaded "close to the airport" dining general demographic. The decor is suave and comfortable and (thank God, thank you so much) the staff are veterans by and large who have learnt the art of providing good service (by which I mean GOOD versus intrusive and inept).
                                            I sat at the counter. as some woman observed "The best bar seats EV-AH!"
                                            For starters . . . .Dungeness Crab Cocktail (#4 for the day) and then then jumbo prawns scampi style. The drinks (cocktails) ordering is a bit awkward but the waiter/counterman/drinks steward made it seem as smooth as possible.
                                            A few slices of salami and crudites along with bread and butter arrived.
                                            The Dungeness crab salad had about twice as much crab as the previous day threesome combined. And only a few dollars more. Here I began to aprpeciate that the cocktail sauce is really part of the entire canvas of taste and even though I am usually monastic and pristine on sauces with oysters and crab here I relented. I REALLY REALLY enjoyed the crab cocktail taken as a whole. The main course came with a side of (good) pasta and again was extremely generous with the prawns. A dozen at least in there. The prawns seemed to regenerate in the sauce (again usually not a sauce-with-fish man but this worked really well). The waiter could not have been more "spot on" I thought he was the best I've had in a long long time and he alone was worth the price of admission and for once I didnot feel like I was tipping "for no good reason" as I normally almost always do these days.
                                            I was able to observe the sous chef/assistant preparing the appetizers and desserts which is and of itself was very interesting (and a great way to promote people to order dessert!@). I was originally seated opposite the stove. It would have been great fun to watch the operation but the heat exuding from it was extreme (perhaps in winter these are the preferred seats but not quite yet!)
                                            So I would actually route my flight to change in Seattle and put up with rechecking through security to have another meal at 13 Coins. That it is also open 24 hours makes me want to see them at breakfast also.
                                            Although short I really enjoyed the trip and wish it had been longer. I think for a visitor the traffic, GPS woes make covering a lot of ground in a short time quite difficult. Sadly. I am going to come back and pick up the list on this thread which I think will be well worthwhile.
                                            Thanks for reading and thanks for helping me on this trip. bb

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: bishopsbitter

                                              Glad you enjoyed the trip. It's kind of funny that you found 13 coins during normal business hours. Usually people seek it out at 3 in the morning when almost everything else is closed :P.

                                              Oddly, you did miss out with the Pickled Onion. You have to ignore the facade (and the fact that it is, humourously, located right next door to the Department of Motor Vehicles for obtaining driver's licenses). The owner is from Cambridgeshire and runs a very proper British pub, including some pulls right from the cask, unless it's changed since I was last there. The clientele on a given evening does not necessarily strive to keep up that image, but nonetheless.

                                              Next time you're out here, you'll have to make the extra 10 minutes worth of journey and go to someplace like the 35th Street Bistro for brekkie. It seems as though, perhaps inadvertently, you found all of the places that cater to the 24 year old drunk crowd (5 point, 13 Coins, etc.), which is kind of cool.

                                              1. re: Quintious

                                                That is frustrating. I very nearly took the plunge and I think it was the DMV that pushed me over the nix edge. Damn! It was so haphazard-looking it either had to be either really good or really awful. Like nfl officials I made the wrong call. Damn! I'll remember for next time. :-(

                                              2. re: bishopsbitter

                                                Local crabs were heard to breathe a gigh of relief when you left town. :)

                                                The SeaTac 13 Coins is one of my life-long "guilty pleasures." I agree that they have some very capable and good-humored people on their staff. The counter stools are like something one would find on the deck of the Starship Enterprise. The food tends to be at least competent and often very good, with generous portions. Their cocktails are generous too. The place has always felt like a comfortable respite, most especially during the dark and damp of winter.

                                                I hope you'll get an opportunity for more extensive explorations in Seattle before long. Thanks for giving us your trip report.

                                                1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                  If you go to 13 Coins for breakfast, sit at the counter and see some incredible artistry with eggs. It's amazing to watch them get every order cooked just right. I also recommend the Joe's Special.

                                                  1. re: Jeri L

                                                    Doesn't surprise me. I have written, with passion, in these columns about how finding a well-cooked egg these days is a long and generally disastrous quest. There are so many ways to screw up a fried egg: so few ways to make it "perfect." Perhaps all the good short-order cooks went off to become characters in Dean Koontz novels, but I resent being asked "how do you want it done" when what comes rarely reflects what I asked. Why don't they just say "I won't bother asking how you want them done, because frankly, we don't keep track of which order (of eggs) is which anyhow."? That would at least be honest. Oh well. The 13 Coins was an unexpected and unheralded find. I am having crab withdrawal already however. I wish I could have found a place to consume a fresh-cooked cracked one. It's not quite the season though is it till Dec (never sure about when Dungeness prime season is for that sort of thing).

                                                2. In a chow-serendipitous end-note of the trip, Chef Robert Irvine ("Restaurant Impossible") was sitting opposite me on the 0730 flight from Seattle to Atlanta this morning :-)

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: bishopsbitter

                                                    I mentioned to some friends that the reason most people don't eat more fish in this country is lack of access to product shown at the Market there. If I had that I'd be cooking fish & shellfish all the time. Also superb produce. That exists in Houston, but at punitive prices.

                                                  2. Posting some photos for anyone interested. The crab cocktails from PPM (*2) and Ivar's. I forgot to mention I had quite an experience with d/t Seattle's parking machines. The displays are crazed and vandalized and the way it "appears" to "eat" your credit card while you struggle (in futility) to read what the display says had me trying to find a pair of pliers to get my card back. I worked it out eventually, but have a particular visceral dislike for any form of machine so poorly designed for its purpose. I am sure you all know what I mean(!!!) :-) I wish I had more time to explore in Seattle. I enjoyed what little time I had. BB