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First time to Pacific NorthWest....Seattle first stop!

My husband and I are visiting SEattle this summer . We will be staying in Seattle for three evenings and I really want to choose wisely on our dinner options. I have started to compile a list of places that I would like to try for our limited dinner meals :). ITalian cuisine is very important to me, and I would love to try out the amazing fish that Seattle has to offer. We try to stick to less expensive items for lunch and breakfast and then splurge with dinners. WE also plan to visit Mt. Rainier. We will also be staying at the Willows Lodge and having dinner at Herbfarm (I really hope it is as amazing as I have read. It is one of our "splurge meals" for our anniversary. . OUr budget in SEattle is about 120 dollars for dinner for two people. Here are the places on my list:

Spinasse (I made a reservation for this place. I think this is a "must " for me

Canlis? I am not sure about this. IT seems extremely expensive. I have read that the location is fantastic. Also...since this is my first time in Seattle, it might make for a memorable experience. This would be a "splurge" but I was also thinking of having drinks at the bar before dinner so that I could experience the location.

Toulouse Petit....Looks great and I also love their happy hour menu. We might do that instead of having dinner because there seems to be many options.

Boat street cafe? Looks great and I love the men
Bar del corso for lunch?
Pike Market (I am sure it is very "touristy" But I am a tourist after all! and i have read there are great places to check out

Salumi - another lunch sandwich spot. I am a native NY and I would like to try out papa Batali's famous cured meats!
Serious pie?
That is all I have at the moment....andy suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Canlis is a landmark within the Seattle community, but with only three days in town, I don't think I would include it. You are better off making Spinasse the meal where you go all in, and splurge.

    Toulouse Petite for happy hour is a great experience. Arrive slightly before the 4 pm starting time and get a booth. The room fills up quickly and it can get loud, so don't sit too close to the bar. You can easily make a great two hour dinner from the huge offering of Louisiana style small plates and spend very little in the process. The breakfast happy hour at TP is also very good.

    Boat Street Cafe is wonderful, be sure to get some of the pickled items.

    Pike Place Market is a must for anyone who loves food. In the summer, there will be big crowds, but the earlier you get there, the less the madness. Breakfast in the Market and a stroll to watch the vendors setting up is a nice experience. In the evenings, consider a meal at Le Pichet, and/or a drink in the very cozy bar in Il Bistro.

    Serious Pie is fun, but prepare for the possibility of a wait, and communal seating, lunch table style. If you go there, it is possible to nibble and sip at several Tom Douglas spots close by. SP is a only few doors away from the Dahlia Kitchen, across the street sits Lola, and a block further is the Palace Kitchen.

    Enjoy your planning and your visit!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gizmo56

      thanks gizmo for your detailed response! You are helping me to narrow my choices.
      Boat street , Spinasse and TP are my top dinner choices. As for Canlis ( I cant get those pictures out of my head! ) I will keep that on the "back burner" and perhaps check it out for a pre-dinner cocktail at the bar.
      In your opinion, do you think the three dinner choices are "unique Seattle experiences? I don't want to visit places that I can find "at home"....btw ...I have read McCormicks is amazing for their fish...but I am having a hard time "wasting" a meal on restaurant that I can find in LA etc....although I do know the fish is outstanding there.
      Thanks again!

      1. re: italiana3

        Seattle really does not have an identifiable cuisine of its own, in the formal sense. Few American cities (other than New Orleans) do. But I do think those three restaurants will give you a nice spectrum of what is taking place in the food scene here. But you are absolutely right to seek out some Northwest seafood, including salmon, Dungeness Crab, and local oysters, because you won't find those as fresh and well-prepared anywhere else.

        My own favorite seafood destination is Blueacre Seafood ( http://blueacreseafood.com/ ). The same chef-owner operates Steelhead Diner in the Market, also very good, and easy to combine with a stroll in the Market. Seastar is another excellent downtown choice ( http://seastarrestaurant.com/Seattle/... ). One block away from the Market is Etta's, the Tom Douglas seafood restaurant. Perhaps the hottest restaurant in Seattle right now is The Walrus and The Carpenter, which is owned by the same people as Boat Street ( http://thewalrusbar.com/ ). It is in the North End, so would require a fairly long cab ride across the Ship Canal. Their shellfish and small plates are excellent, and you would get to experience Ballard, one of Seattle's vibrant and distinctive neighborhoods. If you go there, go early, or expect a long wait.

        You will inevitably encounter local seafood integrated into the menus at most restaurants, including Spinasse and Boat Street.

        McCormick's Fish House will do a fairly solid job at Northwest seafood classics, but it has been absorbed into the McCormick and Schmick's chain, and I think most locals would no longer consider it to be in the top tier. It is a bit dated.

    2. Elliot's Oyster Bar - Happy hour 3-5 .. .75 Cent oysters till 4..then $1.25 each till 5.. Highly recommended. Alaska Ave on the waterfront.

      Shiro's Sushi - Oldest sushi restaurant in town. Five blks from Pike Market in Belltown. Excellent.

      1. Skip Bar del Corso. The Pike Place market is great for a tour nand you could get lunch in one of the many fine restaurants. Lecocho is good. Il Corvo is between Pioneer Square and the market if you feel like more pasta. Have a cocktail and app at Artusi before wlkaing ten feet and having heavenly pasta at Spinasse. I'd also try Sitka and Spruce and/or Blind Pig Bistro. The latter is about to explode and has reasonable prices/excellent service. If you go to Fremont, do double duty try a few at Joule and go next door to The Whale Wins.

        1. Bar del Corso is good, but dinner only.

          Mt Ranier is quite a trek. It is 2-1/2 to 3 hours each way from Seattle. I don't recall exactly, but went one day last summer, including a good hike and getting stuck in rush hour traffic coming home made it a long day. The roads getting to the park are mostly 2 lane highways and country roads, so it can be a bit slower - but very scenic. You may want to go to the Market the day before or early in the morning the day of to get picnic supplies for lunch that day, not much in or around the park.

          1. Just to complicate things, another possibility for dinner is Ponti Seafood Grill http://www.pontiseafoodgrill.com/ . The food is great and the view (across the Ship Canal to Fremont) is lovely.

            Happy hour at Toulouse Petit is great, but get there early--it fills up fast! Another possibility is breakfast there--I think it's the best in town.

            Go to the Market EARLY, too. It gets insanely crowded during cruise ship season, but mornings are a little better. There are a few good places to get an early breakfast there--Lowell's http://eatatlowells.com/ , the Athenian http://athenianinn.com/ (both with decent to good food, and great views), or Le Panier http://www.lepanier.com/ (no view but great pastries). Go early and you can watch the Market wake up, do some shopping, and be on your way by the time the worst of the horde descends.

            1. You may want to check out my recent thread. My wife and I are Floridians who just got back from a few wonderful days in Seattle. We ate a lot of fantastic food thanks to recommendations from the good people of the Seattle board:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/889589

              We absolutely loved Toulouse Petit (for dinner) and Pike Place Market (including Lowell's for lunch). Definitely go early to the Market if you can, as it got really crowded by lunchtime, and will probably be even worse in the summer.

              I had wanted to make a special trip to Salumi, but luckily, DeLaurenti Specialty Foods, a wonderful old-school Italian grocery store in the Market, carried most of the meats from Salumi, and they were kind and patient enough to sell me several small packages, with a few slices in each so I could sample as much as possible.

              1. You're on the right track on some items. Pike Place, for its tourist overrun, has some really awesome eats. So that's an obvious.

                Be aware with Salumis that they're only open Tues-Friday and only during lunch hours.

                Canlis? It's good, but it's not an epic experience. If you're going to splurge on one meal, make it Rover's. Since it's closing next month, it'll be your last chance to experience the best restaurant in the city.

                Do yourself a solid and just completely skip Serious Pie. Yes, the pizza is good, but it's nothing really remarkable when put up against Chicago, New York, or even some other Seattle-area pizza joints. Plus it's outrageously expensive for what you end up with, and the seating situation is annoying.

                I didn't see a seafood joint on your list. We have the best seafood in the country. John Howie's Seastar has the best seafood in the city. Some simple math will tell you what you need to do on this front.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Quintious

                  I made a reservation at seastar...thanks for the rec!!

                2. I just now noticed you said "this summer". In the summertime, we've got a festival of some sort going on damn near every weekend. Bite of Seattle, Italian Festival, Salmonfest (or whatever it's called in Ballard), etc. Might be worth looking into those for a way to spend a day, as well.

                  1. Well....I have my homework cut out for me! More research on these amazing places you have recommmended. Yes, we are visiting this summer. After our three nights in Seattle we are staying for two days in Mt rainier. We are early risers and plan to leave early in the am. After that we are driving to willows lodge and staying there two nights. I have a res at barking frog .....and as I mentioned the herbfarm for the other night. After this we plan to drive back to Seattle and drop of rental car and take train yo Vancouver. We stay there for 4 nights ....then back home to so Cal. Thanks for these amazing recs. I do have some time before we leave!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: italiana3

                      You will enjoy Barking Frog at Willows, and the wine tasting nearby. Chateau Ste. Michelle is an easy walk from Willows. They have outdoor concerts throughout the summer with major music stars (who usually stay at Willows).

                      Sounds like you'll have a very nice Summer tour of the Northwest.