Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Seattle >
Jun 4, 2013 11:18 AM

Where to eat? (couple in mid-20's, one week stay)

My boyfriend and I will be visiting for one week and have never been before so we have no idea where to eat. We would love to know great inexpensive places to eat, and fun night life options, preferably with live music. We definitely want an authentic Seattle experience. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Where are you coming from and in which neighborhood will you be staying? Will you have a car or rely on taxi/bus? Have you looked around the Seattle board at all to get some clues?

    7 Replies
    1. re: jlbwendt

      We are from Lexington, KY and will be staying on a houseboat in the Westlake neighborhood. We will be there from June 23-30th. We may get a car for a few days to make day trips to San Juan island or Mt. Raineir, but at the moment do not have plans to get a car, and are hoping to do most of our travel by public transportation, or taxi if absolutely necessary.

      I have read through the board, but haven't seen much that doesn't look pretty expensive. We are fine to hit a couple expensive places, but are both students and would love to spend as little money as possible, while still getting a worth-while and authentic Seattle experience. The one restaurant that stuck out to me from the board was the Walrus and the Carpenter, especially because I believe I saw that if we get there at four it is happy hour.

      1. re: althur2

        Not sure your ideas of San Juan Island or Mt Rainier "day" trips absent a car are practical. Unless you can join some kind of tour group. Taxi would be prohibitive. Even with a car, going to San Juan Island at this time of year problematic because of all the car traffic on the ferry. It's a long way from Seattle to either place. Go down to the waterfront & get fish 'n' chips at Anthony's outside fish 'n' chip bar. Head down to the ID and get Vietnamese food at Green Leaf or Japanese food at Tsukushinbo (probably need reservations at the latter).The handshaven noodles at Shanghai Garden are pretty good. If you can find a way to get to Ballard, check out Senor Moose or La Carta de Oaxaca (Mexican). Everybody here eats Thai food; seems like there's a Thai restaurant everywhere. All these places are reasonably priced if not cheap. Go to Salumi in Pioneer Square for lunch. Have piroshiki or baklava at Pike Place Market. Pink Door down there is nice.

        1. re: PAO

          I'd agree about the San Juans. If you get up early you can totally poke around the trails out of Paradise on a day trip though---especially since they'll be here right after summer solstice. Should be able to get in a few hours of hiking if they want.

          If that seems like too much driving, though, I'd recommend picking up a copy of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles, lots of good stuff in there. And since they're here for a whole week I'd definitely recommend avoiding any of these things on the weekend.

          1. re: PAO

            Handshaven noodles sound great, and are definitely something we have not had before.

            Sounds like we should maybe think twice about getting a car. If we did either of the day trips we were definitely going to get a car for that, but seems like we may want one for the whole trip...

            I haven't seen anything about Paradise yet, I'll have to look into that.

            Thanks for all your tips!

            1. re: althur2

              A perfectly fine day trip by car from Seattle involves driving to Anacortes and taking the ferry round trip through the San Juan Islands -- without getting off. You'll see much of the beauty of the islands, and (if you are really lucky) you might even spot an Orca whale. If the weather is sunny, it is a very pleasant ride.

              I agree that actually visiting Mt Rainier without staying overnight is a bit of a tall order. There are some places where you can great views of the mountain (assuming clear weather) without going all the way there, such as the Black Diamond Bakery, which is only about an hour from downtown Seattle. (


              One very do-able day trip in the car would be to drive east on I-90 into the Cascades, and visit Snoqalamie Falls. Combine that experience with a breakfast at the Salish Lodge. (


              I completely agree that you'd need a rental car, not a taxi, to explore any of the places mentioned.

            2. re: PAO

              The Green Leaf in Belltown is walking distance from your houseboat. Not expensive, definitely something you probably don't have in Kentucky. Bars not far from Green Leaf include Bathtub Gin, Innkeeper (oyster happy hour), Rob Roy.

              I like the Serious Biscuit recommendation, also walking distance. Other cheap(er) eats in South Lake Union, the Wurst Place, Hallava Falafel food truck (in fact lots of food trucks weekday lunch—very Seattle), Thai Curry Simple.

              1. re: PAO

                She said she may get a car to go to the San juans or Mt rainier. She didn't say she would take public transportation to those places.

          2. Greetings!

            For cheap food, you'll be walking distance (OK, a long walk, but still) to the Paseo's in Fremont. Something of a local institution, the sammies aren't especially cheap but we find them large enough to share. Be prepared to wait in line, and don't expect to find a seat. Might be cash-only. If you do have a car, Fremont Peak Park is a tiny secret gem nearby and a great place to take a sandwich and a bottle of wine or a couple of beers. Killer mountain views on a clear day (and a killer climb if you're walking---actually, Route 5 might serve both the restaurant and the park, now that I think about it). Bring a ton of napkins.

            In the other direction (south) you're walking distance to South Lake Union, a "revitalized" neighborhood home to Amazon and a bunch of UW research buildings. The REI flagship store is also there if that's your thing. Bravehorse Tavern is a Tom Douglas (google him) establishment with a great local and not-so-local beer selection and an affordable burger. He also has a Serious Pie in the neighborhood: Good though not world-changing pizza. We like the chanterelle. Portage Bay has nice brunch with all locally-sourced happy meats. Not exceptionally cheap, of course.

            You're also very close to Sushi Land, which offers cheap sushi on a conveyer belt. Little plates with two or three pieces of sushi or other goodness range from $1 to $3. We usually get out of there for between $15 and $25 for two (food only). Nabob is a nice bar down the street from there, and Crow is an upscale "New American" type joint if you're looking for a pricier option near your place. Oh, and right in that same block is a Caffe Vita for very good coffee bevs.

            Another cheap-ish thought is farmers' market food trucks. The Queen Anne market (Thursday afternoons) is close and has a ton of trucks. Queen Anne, though next door to your houseboat, is the second tallest hill in Seattle, so be prepared to either hike it or take two buses from your location if you're car-free. If you're up there and the weather is clear be sure to walk over to Kerry and Marshall Parks for stellar views of Mt. Rainier and the Olympics. Both are also nice places to eat your food, as is Parsons Garden. Your houseboat should also be walking distance or a short bus ride to the Saturday morning Fremont market and a bus ride to the Sunday morning Ballard market (Ballard has the most produce and the least prepared food, I think).

            I guess since you're staying on a houseboat for a week it's also worth mentioning that you're walking distance or a super short bus ride to the Fremont PCC, a local co-op chain. Lots of organic fruits and veggies and a surprisingly good slice of pizza and other prepared items.

            Down on the waterfront, Elliot's is touristy but worth doing the "progressive" oyster happy hour if you want something quintessentially Northwest on a budget. 75 cents per oyster from 2 to 3. Get there earlier.

            And if you are on the waterfront doing the tourist thing, the Edgewater has wonderful views and a decent happy hour in a kinda elegant space. Hotel bar. Try and go early so you can sit outside over the water.

            Down in Pioneer Square, Salumi is another local sandwich institution that I'm mentioning specifically because the gf and I find we can share a sandwich. Be prepared for a stupid long line and don't expect a seat. Go early or risk them being out of most everything. The porchetta is especially good. Unfortunately, it's not the most enjoyable area to sit outside and eat (a little dirty and some suspect shenanigans now and again), although the UPS Waterfall Garden is nice (not positive you can eat in there). Since you presumably have a fridge, you could also call ahead and order a plate of salumi to go. With some local bread it would make for some fine snacking throughout the week.

            More generally, I'd recommend walking along Ballard Ave at night and popping in whatever pubs look good to you (The new Metro Route 40 should go basically from your door to the heart of the neighborhood). Same goes for a walking tour of Capitol Hill. Have definite food recs (though not a ton of super cheap options) in both neighborhoods if you decide you're interested.

            Between routes serving Westlake and those serving Dexter (parallel street just up the hill to the west) you guys will have some pretty good transit access. That said, east-west public transit connections are notoriously tough in Seattle and most visitors are surprised to find how hilly it is. If you move quickly you might have time to become a Car2Go member. It's a car-sharing service geared toward short one-way trips---you just grab one when you see it and leave it on pretty much any city street when you're done. We're carless ourselves and find it invaluable for shooting up a hill. At 40 cents a minute, it can be cheaper than the bus and is kind of a game-changer for mobility.

            If you do take taxis, be aware they can be hard to find on the street except in the busiest neighborhoods and if you call they require, for whatever reason, an exact street address. Be prepared for a long wait if you call on a Friday or Saturday night.

            For buses, just know that the drivers tend to be exceedingly helpful---if you're at all confused don't be afraid to ask them to let you know when you reach your stop. Also, if you have a smartphone I highly recommend downloading onebusaway, a free app with more-or-less reliable real-time info for all Metro buses. Just tap on a stop and OBA will tell you what routes serve it and provide estimated arrival times for each. Vital when deciding whether to order another cocktail.

            As to music, depends a bunch on your tastes. If you hang out in Ballard, the Tractor is a fun venue that focuses on country but has a pretty eclectic lineup. Generally, I'd suggest checking the Stranger and Seattle Weekly online before coming, and maybe give the KEXP stream a listen over the next few weeks, either on the station's site or via itunes.

            That is all.

            2 Replies
            1. re: eight_inch_pestle

              Wow! So many great suggestions. I think we will definitely do a to-go order from Salumi, great idea to have for snacking through the week. Farmer's market food trucks also sound great, I always love the idea of visiting any farmer's market I can (I am in school for dietetics, so love to shop for all the fresh local in season food).

              As far as music tastes go, my boyfriend is the one more interested in seeing live music. KEXP is probably his favorite radio station, we will probably end up going by their studios since he is such a fan.

              But really, thanks for all the suggestions, everything sounds great. I will have to look at menus, and figure out which neighborhoods we will be in when, but I feel armed with enough options to find a good bite no matter where we end up. Thanks a million!

              1. re: althur2

                Call Salumi a day ahead with your to-go order and slide up the wall behind the sandwich-line to pick-up and pay at the cashier. Their meat trays are splendid and you'll wish you had more.

            2. Seattle isn't the best place for cheap, but you can find "relatively inexpensive" here & there.

              Walrus & Carpenter is DEFINITELY worth the splurge. Even when I was broker than broke it was worth it.

              I love the #2 sandwich at Paseo. $8.50 I think, which by some standards might be spendy for a sandwich but to me is TOTALLY worth it.

              On Capitol Hill (an easy bus ride from Westlake): Pike Street Fish Fry is delicious (if sometimes a little too salty) and pretty affordable, if you don't mind your seafood fried (they have other options too). Montana bar has amazing ginger beer-based cocktails and lots of other drink-y options (and I hear the nearby Malaysian place, Kedai Makan, is good but I haven't tried it myself). Little Uncle isn't the cheapest Thai, but it's really tasty and fresh.

              Serious Biscuit, a.k.a. Dahlia Workshop in Westlake has decadent biscuit sandwiches (I prefer the bacon/fried green tomato), and Brave Horse Tavern has decent bar food (I don't know that I'd call it cheap, tho').

              Oh! Long Provincial Vietnamese, downtown. Surprisingly affordable (esp. if you go at happy hour) and always satisfying. I strongly recommend this for cheap-ish but still nice.

              As for live music, that totally depends on what you like -- check "The Stranger" and "Seattle Weekly" for what bands are playing where (or so some advance research via or elsewhere). Chop Suey, the Comet & Neumo's on the Hill, the Tractor Tavern in Ballard and The Crocodile & Triple Door downtown are good places to start.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Bax

                My boyfriend enjoys fried seafood, its not my first option, but I can suck it up for an exceptionally good deep fried goodie :-)

                Biscuit sandwiches sound incredible!

                Thanks for the tips on music, I'll check both of those out (or more likely mention it to my boyfriend, since that is more his wheelhouse).

                1. re: althur2

                  Best fried fish taco ever The Fish Basket (truck - Fridays at chuck's...).

              2. Maybe more prosaic than some suggestions but for a nice day trip get a car in the afternoon/evening at Enterprise on Westlake... maybe stop at Flying Fish for HH on the way and then walk off your drink and get your car. Then on the next day go to Le Fournil which is the best bakery for the price you will find. Great breakfast specials and you can get an excellent box lunch or baguette sandwich to take on your trip for a good price. Then drive up to Tiger Mountain play a while and then continue up to Snoqualmie Falls. You won't be disappointed. Then you drive back to town and have dinner at Tamarind Tree or Green Leaf or hit the Clamdigger Lounge at Ivar's Acres of Clams or the Whalemaker Lounge at Ivar's Salmon House for Happy Hour till close. Salmon House has the better building but Acres of Clams has better food and lower prices. Then after drinking responsibly you can make your way back to your place.

                1. Oh! Almost forgot -- Il Corvo, in Pioneer Square. Not too hard to get to from Westlake. I haven't been there since they moved into the new location, but good, fresh pasta. Just look at these food porn-y pictures!