Six weeks in Seattle with two little kids...
First some backstory... "We" is my wife and I (thirtysomethings) and our 3 year old and 9 month old daughters. We always do lots of research before we go anywhere (combination of Chowhound and Yelp usually) and a few years ago we used to steer more towards finer dining but now we've realized that fantastic less expensive places offer just as amazing experiences.
We just spent 6 weeks in Portland (and loved it!) and are now in Seattle for 6 more weeks. We're sort of in vacation mode, because we're in new places, but it's different... I work from home part of the day, and we balance differing nap schedules with going out and at least doing something every day for a few hours. Different than the normal tourist thing. We try to cook at home a bunch to balance out all the eating out!
For some more backstory, in PDX we lived two blocks from the middle of Alberta and had an amazing time. Here's where we hit, in no particular order:
Tasty & Sons
The Big Egg
Salt & Straw
Year of the Fish
Viking Soul Food
That should give you a good idea of what we like. It was the four of us at all these places except Ned Ludd which was our one "date night". Not once did we have any issues having the girls with us but there are a lot of carts on the list so of course that wasn't a problem!
In Seattle we're living in Capitol Hill at the north end of Broadway (around the corner from Roy). We have a car and don't need to stay in Capitol Hill but looking in the general area from West Seattle/Beacon Hill/Columbia City in the south to Ballard/Greenlake/Northeast Seattle in the north. We like to go wander around different neighborhood commercial districts so we're flexible with location.
From our research so far, here's our Seattle list so far:
Where ya at Matt?
Marination Station or Ma Kai
Fusion on the Run
Crumble & Flake and/or Bakery Noveau
Pike Place Chowder
Jack's Fish Spot - salmon candy
We like good happy hours because the timing works well and we like a good value. We're still researching this but are open to suggestions. So far: Meiji; Quinn's
We're not huge fans of line-up places (unless we can line up just before they're opening to get seats) especially with two little kids and the weather turning.
We obviously need to add some more seafood to this list. Sort of the easiest and also the trickiest!
We're still researching (and probably will be until the day we depart Seattle!) but any suggestions on additions or replacements (or just comments) is appreciated.
Thanks Lee - we'll do some digging into these! Anything absolutely must not miss at these places? Going to go through our list again and all suggestions and figure out the one (or more) thing we have to get and then just let the menus speak to us for the remainder of the order.
Is Starbucks really a must for non-touristy tourists? Isn't there always a huge line? I understand it played a part in the coffee revolution but I'm not a huge fan of Starbucks coffee. With so many other superb options around I'm not sure the coffee would be worth the wait. Can someone tell me if I'm mistaken?
Tale the kids to the new Rachel's Ginger Beer place instead! Openend fairly recently at the market, tt is a hyper-local beverage place, with serveral fruit-based 'brewed' ginger n-fruit flavors of the beverage on tap at any one time, and they also have 'adult' versions with booze, and some ice cream concoctions. I think the whole family would have way more fun there than at Starbucks!
Tamarind Tree -- don't miss the La-Lot Beef, or the Chilli Chicken Lemon Leaves. Get one of the salads.
Sichuan Cuisine -- no specific recs
Thai Curry Simple -- on Saturday, whatever the authentic curry option is
Taylor Shellfish -- happy hour oysters
Pecos Pit -- it's all good (and a short menu)
Seattle Deli -- bbq pork, or the special bahn mi
Island Soul -- love the curry, and especially the coconut muffins. great hot sauce available in bottles to go
In Ballard definitely hit Cafe Besalu (just up 24th Avenue from downtown Ballard) which I would put against any other patisserie in town any day. I have had pastries at least weekly since we moved to Seattle in 2001. Their coffee is from local roasters Seven and they do a house chocolate hot chocolate which the kids love.
I know you are not a fan of lining up so maybe The Walrus and the Carpenter is not something you will find ideal. It is unclear whether the recent opening of adjoining Barnacle is taking pressure off of Walrus or creating even bigger crowds. I do think the oysters, small plates and atmosphere at Walrus are great and it has won a lot of national acclaim in the last few years.
My two go-to restaurants for dinner in Ballard are Bastille (French) and Stoneburner (Italian). Both are really casual modern and focused on local and seasonal availability including produce from the rooftop garden at Bastille. They make essentially everything in house except for some of the cured meats. However they make all pates, terrines, sausages and other forcemeat, pickled veg and handmade pastas are from a Cafe Juanita alum. Both places have happy hour. Stoneburner is open for lunch and has happy hour 7 days per week from 3-5. Bastille is open at 4p with happy hour till 6p.
If you are interested in Asian food I can recommend Monkey Bridge (Vietnamese), and Pestle Rock (Isan Thai). For Spanish tapas, Ocho. Mexican: La Carta de Oaxaca, Senor Moose. Caribbean, La Isla and Paseo (Ballard waterfront location).
For Southern and BBQ I very much enjoy the food and design of Bitteroot which has been one of the more acclaimed BBQ restaurants in town for the last few years. For burgers I would recommend LIl Woody's or Scooters.
I am not sure if this it will be open before you leave but Brimmer and Heeltap -- a gastropub from Jen Doak of the Washington Wines Tasting Room in Pike Place Market and Mike Wisenhunt from Revel (see below) -- is expected in November.
For coffee and baked goods (in addition to Besalu) Ballard has a pretty rich assortment including Cafe Fiore, B&O (previously of Capitol Hill), Ballard Coffee Co., Fresh Flours and very shortly a branch of Capitol Hill's Bauhaus (which is expected to open probably in the next week).
Incidentally I hope you will visit Ballard. The kids will love the beach at Golden Gardens, the ship canal locks (assuming the Govt reopens shortly), and maybe the Nordic Heritage museum. Historic Ballard Ave is loaded with restaurants, bars and live music venues but there are also coffee and tea shops, boutiques and more including one of (in my opinion) the best toy stores in town, Clover. Adjoining Market Street has some great local record stores, boutigues and more including great kids bookstore Secret Garden with a number of signed books from local authors.
In Fremont I typically go to Revel (modern Korean streetfood from the owners of Joule), Joule (modern Korean/Pacific NW fusion) and Whale Wins (from Renee Erickson, owner of Walrus and the Carpenter). Up Fremont Ave. I can also recommend Paseo, Undeeda Burger and Dot's delicatessen.
Fremont has restaurants opening all the time nowadays. Highly anticipated Roux will open October 26th. By Gasworks Park (North Lake Union between Fremont Wallingford and the U District) we just tried and loved Westward and Little Gull grocery. We have not been to Rock Creek yet on upper Fremont Ave but that is another option to look into.
Thanks for all your suggestions! We were in Ballard last weekend initially to check out the locks & fish ladder unaware that it was federally funded and therefore closed... Sounds like it should be reopening soon and we'll be heading back up that way. We only had coffee but were planning on going back!
I second Stoneburner. Went there on a date night and the food was outstanding. I saw kids there and learned that they even have a kids menu and have been back numerous times since. It can get crowded so a reservation may be worthwhile. Hot Cakes is just down the road and makes for a decadent dessert stop.
No need to go to Via Trib on a date night. The pizza is fine but you might as well go with the kids and head elsewhere for your dates. Book Bindery comes to mind...
Not a restaurant but a food (and other things) store is Uwajimaya in the ID. The most comprehensive Asian food store I've seen. Fabulous selection of meat, fish, produce. Every seasoning/spice you could want. And they have various prepared food vendors at the front of the store. Whenever we're in Seattle, it's a must-go place for us. Quite an experience.
re: c oliver
Big John's PFI is very close to Uwajimaya, and well worth stopping at. U District farmer's market on Saturday is very good. World Spice Market, Spanish Table, Paris Grocery are all on Western Ave just below pike place market, and are all worth a stop (hit all three at once, they are within a block of each other, plus or minus). I like Bob's Quality Meats in Columbia City, also very close to Columbia City Bakery.
Seattle Lee - these are all not-to-be-missed stops. Good for you for pointing them out.
I once took a boyfriend who loved to cook to PFI - he had never heard of it - and he came around a corner after a few minutes, and had tears in his eyes 'This is one of the best days of my life' he said 'This place is like foody heaven!". I will never forget that..... so great.