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What's the most unique food experience in Seattle?

Money is no object. No reservations required but I don't mind waiting 1hr+ for a seat (ideally at the bar). 20 minutes or less from downtown. I eat anything from 3 star tasting to back alley street food with the same passion. I'm here for 2 days, what should I eat? Extra credit, what beer should I track down and drink?

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  1. Sitka and Spruce. Not the 'best' food in the city, but without a doubt the one I think of as the most "Seattle."

    1 Reply
    1. re: uhockey

      Thanks, I'll check it out! Not looking for the best at all, just something you won't taste or experience elsewhere.

    2. Why "no reservations"? Just curious, if you're willing to wait for a table but don't want to call ahead so you don't have to wait. Anyway...I think Poppy is fairly unique with non-traditional thalis. I also like eating "fancy" at Staple and Fancy. Oh, and Revel.


      3 Replies
      1. re: Jeri L

        By no reservations I mean I can't make them more than one day ahead do to my poor planning but I never mind waiting or eating at the bar.

        1. re: precogpunk

          I love Staple and Fancy but would not go as a party of one. Even going with two isn't as fun as going with more people, given that it's family-style and the more people, the more things you get to try.

        2. re: Jeri L

          Poppy's eggplant fries are out of control

          1. re: Brunhilde

            I've given up on Walrus & Carpenter.. I've tried to get in at least 4 times and it's always an ordeal. You have to get there in the most off time and be waiting at the door.

          2. Most unique experience? Money no object?
            I may get hated on for this, but I'd go with Sky City, the Space Needle restaurant.

            I'll admit it's kinda over-priced but the dishes themselves are solid if unspectacular (last time I enjoyed a nice braised short rib dish) and it's a fun experience.

            Oh, and the Orbiter dessert is legitimately memorable.

            2 Replies
            1. re: GreenYoshi

              Also on the Chamber of Commerce literature rack, but also unique and interesting and with serious elements of cuisine and/or culture, the Tillicum Village Tour and Cruise gets you a boat ride out Blake Island, a traditionally cooked salmon dinner, some good clams, and a great show of clacking native masks.

              1. re: mrnelso

                I heartily concur with this recommendation. The Tillicum Village experience is truly unique to Seattle, and it is something you will always remember. Easy to do from downtown, takes 4 hours total, and at $79 it is a bargain.


              1. Nobody's given beer recommendations, so I will. First, practically every bar in Seattle that has draft beer will have Manny's Pale Ale (from Georgetown brewery) and/or Mac & Jacks Amber on tap. They are ubiquitous, local, and only available on draft in the Seattle area. They're not necessarily my favorite beers, but now that I've moved away from Seattle they're the beers I associate most strongly with the place. Most beer drinkers, whatever style they prefer and even if they're snobs, will find either or both acceptable.

                Beyond that, it really depends what you're into. If you like Belgian-style beers, you should visit the Stumbling Monk. Not only will they have an unmatched selection of beers from Belgium, they also have some solid local beers of similar style (Dick's Triple is worth a try.)

                Other local brews, well, there are a bunch of brewpubs and tasting rooms in sodo and points south. In the city proper, there's Elysian with a few locations, and a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting. Thing is, you have to work hard to find a bar here that *doesn't* have some worthwhile local (or regional - you see plenty of Bridgeport, Rogue, and Deschutes up from Oregon) beers on tap. Just try the beers you see on the menu that you've never heard of (except Olympia or Rainier, the Schlitz and PBR of the PNW, unless that's what you like.)

                Another kind of "beer" worth trying is Rachel's Ginger Beer. It's not really ginger beer (i.e. it's not fermented with S. florentinus and L. hilgardii cultures) but it's got its uses. Walk down Olive Way a bit from the Stumbling Monk and you'll see Montana on the other side of the street. They've got RGB on tap along with Fernet and a few other carbonated cocktails (plus beer of course) - worth a stop. I personally favor a dark and stormy with Cruzan blackstrap rum and RGB in an old-fashioned glass (not the long pint glass and goslings black seal they normally used.) Mmm-mmm. For the ultimate hipster experience, have a pickleback (shot of whiskey chased with a shot of spicy pickle brine - house-made of course. Sounds repellent, actually unexpectedly delicious.)

                1. Poppy and Revel would be my 2 choices.

                  1. Precogpunk, If I am interpreting your request correctly, you should proceed to the Malay Satay Hut and order their Curry Fish Head Pot. This place offers food options few people every encounter--in a lifetime. Places like the Hut are why Chowhound not only exists, but thrives.

                    1. I made a post about geoduck last night but the mods deleted it? Why? Geoduck is farmed around Seattle and the OP is looking for a unique experience.


                      10 Replies
                      1. re: Worldwide Diner

                        Since you are so well acquainted with geoduck, please share for the benefit of the OP (and us all) the best cooking techniques and preparations, and the best restaurant venues in Seattle at which to enjoy this uniquely Seattle dish. Many thanks for your wisdom on this topic, Worldwide Diner!

                        1. re: Gizmo56

                          I'd go to Taylor Shellfish (at Melrose Market) and order whatever non-chowder geoduck prep they have (I had some really nice sauteed geoduck there something like a year ago). Along with a crap-ton of oysters (also local) and a beer. I can't believe I didn't think of this earlier.

                          Walrus & Carpenter is also a good place to do this sort of thing, but might be more hassle. (I personally swore them off after waiting an hour for a seat and getting passed over repeatedly by the host in favor of later arrivals. If you're going to go all Studio 54 on me I've got better things to do - and I never forgive this kind of nonsense, but others might be better looking or more patient.)

                          1. re: terrier

                            I prefer geoduck sashimi over anything cooked. I feel like cooking it makes it seem too "clam-y" and loses a lot of what makes geoduck special. Most half decent sushi places will have it.

                              1. re: GreenYoshi

                                Geoduck is my favorite sushi item. I've never tasted anything like it.

                              2. re: terrier

                                Geoduck, it is the mascot of Evergreen State College with the motto in Latin, Omnia Extares, or in English "Let it all hang out."
                                With that bit of trivia, here's another one.
                                When fresh, the cleaned piece of geoduck will move after being struck on the counter. It's amazing to see.
                                I learned this after a meal in Federal Way and having a most delicious geoduck sushi. I commented to the chef and he showed me how the geoduck moves. Fascinating.

                              3. re: Gizmo56

                                Hi, Gizmo:

                                I'd try Honey Court Seafood in the ID if they have them. Within range of Seattle, go to Xinh's in Shelton.

                                Pound-for-pound, geoducks are *the* largest biomass west of the Cascades. And yet almost no one knows...


                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  Thanks kaleo, GreenYoshi, & terrier. All your suggestions look good. I've been looking at the strange critters for decades; it's long past time I finally gave them a try.

                              4. Sorry if you are already gone. I was unsure if your post meant that you were already here when you posted on Feb 6th. If not, when will you be here?

                                There are crazy food fests throughout the year in Western WA. Some are more than 20 minutes from downtown but are really unique like Helsing Junction Farms and K Records Annual Sleepover, the Walrus and the Carpenter and Taylor Shellfish Late Night Picnic on Taylor’s Totten Inlet oyster beds in support of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, or Burning Beast.

                                There are also some pretty great beer dinners associated with Seattle Beer Week. It looks like Scott Carsberg (formerly of Lampreia) may be doing something with Pine Box (Scott designed their menu and Ian Roberts is an owner of Pine Box and Founder of Seattle Beer Week). Then of course there are some great wine dinners with small productions WA wineries and local chefs. Sometimes Garagiste and Jon Rimmerman will have a really incredible and exclusive wine dinners.

                                Celeb cook events like a recent tented event in Pioneer Square with Rene Redzepi (NOMA), Matt Dillon (Sitka and Spruce) and Blaine Wetzel (Willows Inn) are very special and unique and fundraiser dinners are also common and unique like the aforementioned Walrus and Carpenter Picnic, Pike Place Market Foundation Summer Supper, or Set the Table for SAM (Seattle Art Museum) at Olympic Sculpture Park.

                                In terms of just having products or dinners unique to Seattle or the Pacific NW, I like the idea of oyster tasting. There is a wide variety of Pacific NW "meroir" appreciable in oysters even of the same species driven by differences in water temperature, salinity, tide fluctuations, shore composition and oyster farming practices. Elliott's and Walrus and the Carpenter are good places to try a variety of Pacific NW oysters.

                                I also ike the idea of geoduck crudo. This is something hard to find outside of the Pacific NW and most places that have it will source it from the Pacific NW. Anchovies and Olives and Taylor Shellfish are good places to find it.

                                Maybe Salumi, the salumeria founded by Mario Batali's dad and run by his family, would meet your criteria. It is hard to find outside of this area and the meats are excellent.

                                One unique restaurant/brewery experience would be hitting Gastropod and Epic Ales.

                                This is what Eater Seattle says about listing them as one of Seattle's 38 Essential Restaurants.

                                "Epic Ales' tiny brewpub in SoDo is constantly rotating their tap handles and menu. Chef Travis Kukull, formerly of Solo Bar, Elemental and Tilikum Place Cafe, cooks "out there" food, like profiteroles stuffed with nettle and ricotta; duck breast prosciutto, fennel french toast, and maple syrup; and Italian parsley tagliatelle with rabbit and cardoon ragu."


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: klsalas

                                  Eater Seattle might rave about Epic/Gastropod but I've had the worst meal and beer there, commented to the boys and got a blank stare in return. Just awful.

                                2. I'd eat my way through Pike Place Market. I'd start by sitting at the bar and getting a steamed dungeness crab at the seafood market with melted butter.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: espressoiloveyou

                                    "The seafood market" could be one of several. I imagine this is Jack's...

                                  2. Sorry if I'm late to the party here. But these are all great suggestions.

                                    I'll add Rainier BBQ. It's neither on Rainier Ave nor is it American BBQ but a very authentic Vietnamese restaurant where you can get delicious Vietnamese DIY rolls and exotic meats. They have a whole catfish that is daunting.

                                    Also you may try grabbing a friend and tackling one of Radiator Whiskey's smoked Pig Head.