We have one or two dinners in Seattle. Would you recommend Ray's? I would love a great view of the water but do not want to give up good food for a view. Coming from L A where (believe it or not) seafood is mediocre so would love someplace with good seafood
A lot of people bash the place but I like it a lot. They've recently completed a big remodel so it's even nicer and I've always thought the food was very good to excellent. It's one place I always take out of town guests to get a sense of what Seattle food really is. I highly recommend it, and make sure you go with the local recommended wines with each dish. The local wild salmon is unlike what you are probably used to down in LA -- at least it was compared to what I grew up on coming from there.
I like both the more casual upstairs cafe/bar (note that they have a patio, but it's very difficult to get a spot outside on sunny days, especially weekends) and the more formal downstairs restaurant. The recent renovation has really updated the space. I took a friend to a birthday dinner there and both the service and the food were very good.
I like Ray's very much, especially when you can time your reservation to see the sun setting on a nice summer evening. I think it would be a great pick for someone coming in from LA with only a couple of days to experience excellent Northwest seafood with a lovely water view.
Consider also Ponti seafood grill, where you might start with cocktails on the intimate veranda overlooking the canal and Fremont bridge, or Chinook's, at Fishermen's Terminal for alder planked salmon (scrutinize the menu for surprising values there and get the seasonal Slump), Ivar's Salmon House does not get or maybe deserve a lot of love here, but is very Northwest and can meet the LA standard.
My response to this is as such: Seattle has great seafood everywhere. You will find seafood on nearly every menu, and it will almost always be quite good. If you look for a "seafood restaurant" I think the quality falls somewhat, because it tends to be view/tourist/mass market focused (Ray's, Blueacre, etc. all being very good but not GREAT). Oyster joints (Walrus and Carpenter, Taylor shellfish) are the exception here.
The real secret--and let's be honest, how locals do it (at least the ones I know)--is to think of the type of food you'd like to eat, then find the restaurant that will serve you that type of seafood. Italian? Anchovies and Olives. Chinese? Sea Garden. French? Marche, Le Pichet, etc.