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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...

            1. Casual and dive-y in the Market area? Virginia Inn, The Innkeeper, Le Pichet. Bit of a walk, but the 5 Point is routinely picked as one of the best dives in the country.

              I'll make another suggestion, too, about fish. It's the McCormick and Schmick's on 1st Avenue, south of the Market. It's a chain, yes, but I think their fresh sheet is second to none there, which means you'll have more quality cold-water fish options there than practically anywhere else in the city.

              Hope you have fun while you're here. March can be a bit drab. Consider a walk-on ferry ride to get some perspective of Puget Sound.


              1. Well, we're leaving later this week, so thank you in advance for all the recommendations, and please let me know if you think of any other places.

                I sent my wife an e-mail with all your restaurants' websites listed, and she thought Toulouse Petit had the best-sounding menu. Neither of us are fans of fancy French cuisine, but it looks like a very eclectic menu with some interesting, offbeat choices, rather than the frou-frou French options we expected with a name like that. I think we're going to try to go there Thursday or Friday night.

                Of course, we'll be hitting the Market (at least once), but I'm not sure if time will permit us to make it to Salumi. Other than that, we're keeping our options open, so please let us know what else is worthwhile and relatively convenient for where we're staying. Thank you so much!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                  Toulouse Petit definitely isn't traditional French--it's more Creole with a dash of Cajun and a little Seattle thrown in. They have a great happy hour 4-6 pm--wonderful munchies--but it fills up FAST. Do make a reservation for dinner--they get crowded! They also have an outstanding breakfast, and on weekdays they do a breakfast happy hour 8 am - 11 am, with most of the menu substantially discounted.

                  My strategy for Salumi is to go late-ish--say 3 pm. They do tend to run out of a few things, but I can always find something I want, and at that hour they don't usually have much of a line. Their website says they close at 4 pm but they often close earlier--by 3:30 pm--if they're out of a lot of stuff, or they just feel like it.

                  If you can't make it to Salumi, DeLaurenti's at the Market has a few of their meats. Try the mole salami with a hint of chocolate, cinnamon, ancho and chipotle peppers--it's good and really unique.

                  We're just starting to see some hints of spring hereabouts, and it's possible we'll even see some random warmer days soon. But plan for cool and damp, because that's still the most likely! In any case, enjoy!

                  1. re: MsMaryMc

                    I just don't know if I'll be able to make it to Salumi in that timeframe. We should get in around 1 PM on Thursday, and between Thursday afternoon and Friday, we want to try to fit in the Market, the EMP Museum, Chihuly Gardens, AND hopefully dinner at Toulouse Petit (at least). With a schedule like that (and my wife doesn't share my fascination with cured meats), Salumi may not happen, but I am thrilled to hear I might be able to get some of their meats at the Market.

                    It's too bad they aren't open on Saturdays! That'll be my day to explore alone while she's in her classes, where I plan to take the Underground Tour and eat more on my own before meeting her for dinner.

                2. Okay, Toulouse Petit was INCREDIBLE. One of my favorite restaurant meals ever, up there with The Ravenous Pig in Orlando (my favorite restaurant back home) and even Babbo in New York (where we went on our honeymoon).

                  More later...

                  29 Replies
                  1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                    Glad you and Mrs. Big Bad enjoyed your meal and TP "experience", BBV! Keep us posted on your other adventures!

                    1. re: firecracker

                      Spent almost four hours at Pike Place Market today, and it surpassed all of our expectations. I bought several small packages of different Salumi products and even some jamon iberico at DeLaurenti's Market (to enjoy back at home), tried Piroshki Piroshki, drank the best horchata we've ever had, had a great lunch with a beautiful view at Lowell's (carnitas tacos and incredible fried calamari strips), browsed graphic novels, posed in a photo booth, and even bought my wife a handmade sweater and some artisan jewelry (and a necklace for my mom). What a great place! If we had anything even half that cool in Orlando, people would never go to normal malls for anything. (I hate malls as it is.)

                      I'll probably go back tomorrow while she's in class all day, along with doing the Underground Tour. I'll try a different piroshki, check out Beecher's Cheese, and maybe get a sandwich at DeLaurenti's, time permitting. Anything I MUST try from the fish-throwing guys, or any of the other seafood stands -- specific raw oysters, anything cured or pickled, any kinds of salmon jerky (or beef jerky) I need to bring back with me?

                      Also, is Dick's worth a special trip, for burgers? We saw one very close to Toulouse Petit last night, but there are a handful of places closer to our hotel that would probably be more convenient for dinner tomorrow evening (and won't require a cab), unless we MUST try it. When I was in California last year, I took a cab ride that turned out to be kind of expensive just so I could try In 'n' Out Burger, but in that case, it was worth the extra expense.

                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                        Dick's is good hangover food, but I wouldn't peg it as worth a trip. If you do go it's cash only though.

                        1. re: venice4504

                          Hangover, or still drunk...it's no coincidence that most of their stores are located not too far from popular bar zones!

                        2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                          You're a lucky visitor--you're getting some nice weather for your visit, and you're getting to see the Market when it's relatively uncrowded. You cannot imagine how jam-packed it gets during the summer when the cruise ships are here! Most locals swear it off from late May through mid-September

                          Most of the seafood places at the Market give free samples of their smoked salmons. Pike Place Fish http://www.pikeplacefish.com/ (the fish-throwing guys) does, I'm sure, and they have several varieties--different species, some made sweeter, some made more highly-seasoned--that are all pretty tasty. You should be able to find something you like.

                          If you want to try some pretty good local jerky, Stewart's Meats http://www.stewartsmeatmarket.com/ usually has a day stall (day stalls are the low tables that the vendors totally vacate every night) at the Market, Thursdays-Mondays. They're usually somewhere along the North Arcade, on the west side.

                          Britt's Pickles http://www.brittsliveculturefoods.com/ at the Market makes a lot of great pickled and fermented goodies. They're tucked away in the back of the Corner Market Building, diagonally opposite Rachel the Pig and the fish-throwing guys.

                          One of my frequent stops around the Market is World Spice http://www.worldspice.com/ , down on Western Avenue, the street that runs behind (west) of the Market. They could charge me for just coming in and inhaling, and I'd happily pay--the place smells that good! They have high-quality, really fresh herbs and spices, and some very nice spice blends. They make great small souvenirs or gifts to take home.

                          If you bake, or you have bakers on your gift list, another nice thing to take home is a bag of hazelnuts from Holmquist Orchards http://www.holmquisthazelnuts.com/ . I took them for granted until I sent some to friends out of state, and they went crazy for them. I guess good, fresh hazelnuts are expensive and hard to find outside this region. Holmquist Orchards has a day stall at the Market, every day except Tuesdays, on the North Arcade, on the west side of the aisle.

                          Dick's devoted following probably has a lot to do with nostalgia among locals who've been going there for decades. They make a good, basic, cheap burger, plus hand-cut fries and real milkshakes. A lot of people do compare them to In 'n' Out. If you like your burgers simple, cheap and old school, they might be worth a try--but if you prefer them big and fancier and more exotic...not so much. If I just had one more dinner in Seattle, and wasn't flat broke, I would probably go somewhere else!

                          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                            One thing that is nice to try at the Market is to stop by Bavarian Meats and get a landjaeger as a snack. It's kind of like a sausage jerky. Bavarian Meats has been around making good German style sausage for over 45 years... I've been eating there sausages and wieners for more a little more than 45 years and they are still really good. The German salami is also treat. It's near the Starbucks.

                            1. re: knowspicker

                              They're nice folks at Bavarian Meats. Last time I was there they gave me a wiener to go!

                              1. re: knowspicker

                                I'll have to check them out, thank you. I did get a dry South African boerwors (sp?) sausage at Uli's Famous Sausage, but I haven't eaten it yet. Saving that and all my Salumi selections to take home.

                                I was sad that DeLaurenti's had all these nice-looking jars of peppers and pickled vegetables and sauces, and I won't be able to bring any home on the plane. Oh well, First World Problems.

                              2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                Instead of (or in addition to?) another piroshki, you might try a humbao (another form of meat in bread) from Mee Sum Bakery...it's my personal favorite--the curry pork bun--for a market snack.

                                1. re: dagoose

                                  I usually like bao, so I'll have to look for them too. Thank you!

                                  1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                    I found Mee Sum yesterday and brought a curry beef bun and a barbecue pork bun back to my hotel. Loved the curry beef bun (especially the sweet, crunchy topping), and the pork was okay. My wife didn't care for them, so more for me!

                                2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                  Skip Dick's.

                                  When you return to the Market, make a stop for a small plate or two and a cocktail at Le Pichet (right next to the Market on First Ave.). Sit at the bar. You will be happy.


                                  Repeat: Skip Dick's!

                                  1. re: Gizmo56

                                    Man, I wish I could have a cocktail, but the charcuterie looks promising. Thank you!

                                    1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                      Agree with Gizmo and others who have suggested Le Pichet. One of my favorite places near the market!

                                      I also love dropping by The Crumpet Shop (for the novelty of being in a shop devoted to crumpets).

                                      Pike Place Chowder has incredible seared scallop chowder -- heavy on the dill, which I usually hate, but I enjoyed it in this.

                                      I enjoy the burgers at Dick's, but it's definitely not worth the hike. Whoever else suggested Portage Bay Cafe -- they have great breakfast/brunch food, but waits are long.

                                      1. re: calmossimo

                                        I waited in line at the Crumpet place yesterday to get a crumpet for my wife's breakfast this morning. Even half a day later, she loved it. (Luckily we have a fridge and a microwave in our room).

                                  2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                    Dick's is NOT worth the trip. Beecher's cheese IS. I was so relieved when I moved away from Seattle to discover that I can get Beecher's Flagship (and a couple of other kinds) in AZ!

                                    Pike Place Chowder at the Market (in Post Alley) is good. As for things to take back with you, I think Chukar Cherries are pretty tasty.

                                    1. re: Bax

                                      I bought a bag of Chukar's mixed dried cherries to share with people back at work on Monday. I would have gotten a bag for everyone, but not at $9 each. Good advice, thank you!

                                    2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                      Don't miss Beecher's - you might want to consider a grillled cheese sandwich from there. I could eat one every day.

                                      1. re: bourbongal

                                        Beecher's was great. Had their Flagship grilled cheese for lunch yesterday, the one with the basil, tomatoes, and that mustardy, creamy sauce. Delicious, although the rustic bread was a little too rustic for me. (Seriously, does anyone ever suspect "rustic" is a euphemism for rock-hard, jagged crust that will shred the inside of your mouth?)

                                        Also bought some delicious, squeaky cheese curds and a little piece of the incredible Barely Buzzed cheese, rubbed with espresso and lavender.

                                  3. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                    Hi, BBVL:

                                    Glad you enjoyed your trip. Y'all come back now, hear?

                                    Brekkie tomorrow should (if I may be so presumptuous) be at The 5 Point. One of the great dive bars in America, with great food to boot.


                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      We had lunch at the 5 Point yesterday, so thank you for the tip! It was such a hip, cool, divey place, full of Brian Posehn lookalikes and tattooed alterna-girls in glasses, and the food was fantastic. I got a Primanti Bros.-style pastrami sandwich with fries and slaw in the sandwich, my wife got incredible chicken and waffles, and her advisor (who we treated) got a delicious-looking Denver scramble. Great choice -- they all loved it.

                                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                        Hi BBVL
                                        I am bookmarking this post ! I am going to SEattle with my husband this summer....and I will check out your spots in Pike's Market.

                                        1. re: italiana3

                                          I didn't have a bad meal anywhere, and I strongly recommend pretty much everywhere I went and everything I sampled. I'd have to rank Seattle as one of the best food cities I've ever been to, up there with New York and New Orleans, and probably even ahead of Miami.

                                          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                            That is great! I have been very busy reading all of these posts....I have reservations at Seastar , Spinasse and your rec Toulouse Petit although we might try for the happy hour there instead. One question...did you find any of the products from Salumi at Pike Market? I thought I read that some where...Glad you had a great trip!

                                            1. re: italiana3

                                              DeLaurenti's (at the south end of the Main Arcade) has some, including their molé salami, which I highly recommend!

                                              1. re: italiana3

                                                Actually, thanks to MsMaryMc's advice in this very thread, I got to sample SEVERAL Salumi products at DeLaurenti Specialty Foods at Pike Place Market, saving me a trip out of our way and a long line to wait in at Salumi. The ladies at DeLaurenti were super-patient with me, and put together lots of little packets with seven or eight thin slices of the following:

                                                Salumi house signature salami (0.03 lb) -- flavored with ginger
                                                Salumi mole salami (0.84 lb) -- chocolate, cinnamon, ancho, chipotle
                                                Salumi winter salami (0.03 lb) -- red and green peppercorns, garlic, milk solids
                                                Salumi dario salami (0.56 lb) -- nutmeg and mace
                                                Salumi finocchiona salami (0.03 lb) -- cracked fennel, black pepper, curry
                                                Salumi hot soppresata salami (0.02 lb) -- garlic
                                                Salumi hot coppa pork shoulder (0.06 lb) -- cayenne or chili peppers
                                                Jamon Iberico (0.08 lb) -- not a Salumi product, but it's the finest ham in the world, at a whopping $79.99 per pound (so I only got a few paper-thin slices!)

                                                  1. re: firecracker

                                                    Of the salamis? We resisted tearing into them immediately, and instead we brought them all home to sample little by little. Luckily we had a fridge in our hotel room.

                                                    Salumi's house signature salami was great (very salty, but with a slight sweetness to it), the winter was very similar to it but had the big peppercorn chunks, and I thought the mole salami was interesting, but I did not love it. It was just a little too different from the genoa-style Italian salami I love so much. These are all paper-thin slices about the size of a fifty-cent piece, and we tried them all straight, cold, no accompaniments. I'm still not sure what would really go with the mole salami.

                                                    Of course the jamon iberico was life-changingly delicious, but we haven't tried the other ones yet.

                                                    1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou


                                                      For me, the Salumi mole salami has got to go with nice, rich scrambled eggs. I've also used it as an (unconventional but effective) garnish for both bloody Mary's and martinis.