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Feb 7, 2013 04:33 PM

First trip to Seattle (from Florida), looking for ideas

I was hoping to attend a professional conference in Seattle this summer, but it turns out I might get to come sooner: for a few days in March while my wife attends some classes there. I am thrilled, because I've lived in Florida my whole life, and Seattle has always seemed like my dream city. I think I would love everything about it -- the culture, the geography, the politics, even the weather. And of course, I'm looking forward to the food.

If this trip actually happens, it looks like we'll be staying downtown at a Best Western Plus Executive Inn, at 200 Taylor Avenue N. My wife has some mobility issues and can't do much walking, but we aren't opposed to taking cabs for really good meals and experiences.

Meanwhile, while she's busy with the class, I intend to explore as much as I can on foot and via Seattle's famous public transportation. I'd love to take the Seattle Underground tour, unless everyone dissuades me from it.

We definitely want to hit Pike's Place Market at least once -- we love markets like that, and have visited the Reading Terminal Market in Philly and the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Aw, who am I kidding, we'll almost certainly go more than once. I also really want to make a pilgrimage to Salumi, since I love cured meats and Italian sandwiches more than just about anything.

Beyond that, please recommend us some great places in the general area that we can get to easily on foot, or not too far out of the way via cab. Local seafood would be great, especially places that aren't too fancy and expensive (although we'll probably have one splurge meal). When it comes to seafood, I especially like casual, divey places with shellfish and smoked seafood, but I'll eat anything, anywhere -- can't ever go wrong with good sandwiches and burgers.

My wife isn't big on French, Korean, Indian, or Ethiopian food, but likes almost everything else. We also have world-class Vietnamese food here in Orlando (believe it or not), so that's not on our list. Neither of us drink at all, but we have no problem eating good food at pubs, especially gastropubs. And a few incredible places for desserts, sweets, and snacks would be very much appreciated as well.

Any advice would be more than welcomed. Thank you so much, Seattle-ites! I am thrilled about finally (hopefully) getting to visit your beautiful city in a month.

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  1. The Underground Tour falls into the category of things locals actually enjoy when they go with their out-of-town guests. Your nearby lunch options are very good: Salumi (meat), Il Corvo (pasta), and a bunch of highly-regarded sandwich places I haven't tried. A few blocks up the hill from that is Seattle's Chinatown (the "International District", but it's mostly Chinese places west of the freeway).

    Near your hotel, I like Tilikum Place Cafe. There is also a pretty good strip of restaurants along Westlake Avenue N between Denny and Republican including Serious Pie, Dahlia Workshop, Re:Public, the Brave Horse Tavern, and various places catering to Amazon employees. That would be a good place to go for lunch or a snack if you want to visit MOHAI but I wouldn't recommend heading over there just to eat a meal.

    For seafood on the beaten path, wait in line at The Walrus & the Carpenter. For seafood a bit off the beaten path, head over to The Whale Wins. The latter is probably the best example of Seattle's current dining trends.

    1. You'll be only a few blocks from the booming South Lake Union district, which is full of restaurants. Tom Douglas has several places in this neighborhood, which many people seem to enjoy. I think the breakfast at Portage Bay is awesome, though I recommend checking it out on a weekday or going early on the weekend, that joint gets crowded!

      You may appreciate the streetcar that connects South Lake Union to downtown - it's kind of slow but it will save you some walking!

      5 Replies
      1. re: antennastoheaven

        This list is great. We're coming into town (from L.A.) for my cousin's UW graduation in June. This board is going to give us a lot of ideas. Which Tom Douglas location do you suggest? I've seen him on Top Chef and love his enthusiasm and approach to food.
        Is Salume still a good place to go to? I love charcuterie.
        We're looking for quintessential Seattle dining.

        1. re: attran99

          Salume is still excellent. I recommend the porchetta, and some little packets of sliced salami to walk around with (if they have them out the day you visit).

          Tom Douglas's restaurants are pretty varied, so it's hard to recommend one without more input, but: Palace Kitchen is the one I take out of town guests to most often.

          1. re: Booklegger451

            This thread was terrific. We made it to the Walrus and the Caprenter for an amazing seafood-focused meals. The food was nice and clean...and not at all pretentious. We were quoted an 1.5 hour wait and only waited about half an hour. The neighborhood wasn't what we were expecting (so industrial there was no way we thought a great restaurant could be here), but food and service was terrific. I'm a fan of the Kumamotos and the smoked trout. Loved the foie (because we're from L.A. and it's illegal) and the steak tartare, too.
            Didn't make it to Palace Kitchen, but we went to Dahlia for dessert and drinks and Lola for breakfast/brunch. Loved the drinks and dessert at Dahlia...homemade doughnuts with fresh strawberry jam and passion fruit tart were outstanding. Coconut cream pie was good, but I'm just not a fan of coconut. The eggs Benedict at Lola was outstanding.
            We had a really nice dinner at Restaurant Zoe, too. Simple, clean flavors makes the food really shine.
            The rest of our meals were taken at Pike Place Market, We were big fans of Le Panier and the Russian pastry place next door. That smoked salmon pasty was delish.

            1. re: attran99

              Glad you has such a tasty visit! It's a peculiarity of Seattle(among other places) that some of our best restaurants aren't in upscale neighborhoods.

              The Russian pastry place you enjoyed... was it Piroshky Piroshky?

              1. re: Booklegger451

                It was Piroshky Piroshky. Had trouble remembering the name.

      2. lavaca & antennastoheaven pretty much said what I would have. I have lived in Seattle for a couple of decades and still haven't gone on the underground tour, which is odd because I'm a big Seattle history buff. It seems really, really interesting but I've been put off by the kitchy, hammy presentation that I assume is part of it. Maybe someone else can weigh in, because that's just an assumption on my part. The Market is just great. I love it down there and enjoy the heck out of it every time I'm there. You're going to be very close to lower Queen Anne and South Lake Union. SLU, as mentioned by both previous posters, is blossoming and has a fair amount of good places. It still has that 'under construction' vibe though. I work on South Lake Union so maybe I'm more sensitve to it, but it's a pretty messy area in some ways. 'Lark' is just up the street from your hotel and, I think, an excellent choice if you want something really good, and close (like 3 or 4 blocks). You might want to check out Toulouse Petit which is also nearby. I've never been there myself, but have heard great things from my friends. I hope your trip works out - you're in a great location and will have easy access to a lot of great areas!

        1 Reply
        1. re: TheCarrieWatson

          The Underground Tour is indeed kitschy and corny, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. If you have a taste for the trashy and silly (but still actually informative!), you might, too. I think they have two versions these days--an all-ages one and a grownups-only one where they get a bit more into Seattle's racy past (seamstresses who didn't do much sewing, and the like). I recommend that one!

          At Pike Place Market, for a budget seafood lunch, you can't go wrong with the Market Grill. They do grilled sandwiches or platters--salmon, halibut, shrimp, or chicken--with house-made chowder, coleslaw, tartar sauce, and rosemary mayo. Good stuff! Plus, you can sit at their counter and enjoy a ringside seat to the Market madness as it parades by. And after lunch be sure to get down below the Pike Place street level. A lot of people never realize it's there, but there are several more levels of funky little shops down below the main arcade. It's where some of the Market's famous ghosts are said to hang out, so keep your eyes open!

        2. Be sure to try Dungeness crab--a West Coast/Alaska phenom. Along with stone crab and king crab, the best crabs in the world. If you can't find it in some of the restaurants already suggested, head on down to the International District, and try Sea Garden. You can get there easily by car or public transit. The best salmon I've ever had is at a little family run Japanese place, also in the ID, named Tsukushinbo. The problem is that this particular dish, King salmon belly (the best part), is a special and not always on the menu. Be prepared for slow service and perhaps a wait for a table unless you get there early or late.

          3 Replies
          1. re: PAO

            (Sorry to hijack thread for a moment)
            Hi Pao - what dish do you recommend at Sea Garden? I've never been there but would love to try it.

            1. re: TheCarrieWatson

              Black bean clams. The roast chicken. Try a Dungeness crab dish. The crabs are there in a tank, so they'll be very fresh.

              1. re: PAO

                Yeah, that's great. Very much looking forward to checking this place out, and thanks for the input.

          2. Serious Pie is terrific, and they have an excellent happy hour. When I was there last fall, the Westlake location's happy hour lasted until 6pm, but only til 5pm at the downtown location. My fave is the pizza with sweet fennel sausage.

            Toulouse Petit also has a great happy hour. The "Barbecued" Shrimp New Orleans are delicious, complete with creamy grits.

            And anyplace in Pike Place Market should have fresh fish...