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Dress Code Questions

I am visiting Seattle next month with my sister. We are coming from Austin. The dinners we have planned for the three nights we are in town are Millers Guild, Poppy, and Four Swallows. I am curious to know if we need to plan for a different dress code than here in Austin where you can wear jeans and sandals just about anywhere. Also, will we be able to get a ferry back from Bainbridge Island after dinner at Four Swallows? Are these bad choices, or good ones? Any additional advice? We are planning to start the day at the market two mornings and spend the other one exploring the close islands by ferry. Thank you in advance for all your help!

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  1. Others will weigh in certainly, but I'll say you can and should leave the sandals at home. Not that they wouldn't be "appropriate" but rather you can rarely count on Seattle weather to be sandal friendly :) Sometimes it sure is but it IS Seattle, ya know :)

    1. Millers Guild and Poppy are both casual. Jeans and sandals would be fine at either one. I have not been to Four Swallows but I know they are upscale... jeans and sandals would certainly be frowned upon but they would probably seat you. Their restaurant is a decent walk (3/4 mile or 15-20 minutes) to the Bainbridge Island ferry dock. You can take a cab over going out (plenty of cabs at the ferry dock), but coming back from the restaurant would require a nice stroll. Walking through the main drag of Bainbridge Island is quite nice... there are lots of shops to visit.

      1. I recommend Poppy. Haven't been to the Four Swallows but they are definitely on my bucket list. I visited Millers Guild last month and was underwhelmed by the food.

        Do check out some other threads for many good recommendations around the Pike Place Market, especially daytime/lunch recs.

        1. Thanks for the heads up, may have to cross Four Swallows off the list then, I don't want to waste valuable carry on space with dress up clothes. Millers Guild was not my pick, Poppy was because I've seen very favorable reviews on this board and the menu looks amazing. Any suggestions for the third dinner? My sister is shellfish phobic but I will eat just about anything. All my lunch picks have come from previous threads but there are so many places that sound good we're just planning to see what we're close to around lunch time.

          15 Replies
          1. re: ksfoodiewannabe

            A pair of non-jeans black pants will take you anywhere. Whre the jeans, pack the pants. Easy.

            1. re: ksfoodiewannabe

              Where will you be staying and do you mind walking/bussing/cabbing? What kind of food do you like? Are you interested in upscale or casual? Trendy? Small-plates? Ethnic food?

              1. re: gumption

                I believe our hotel is on 9th. I read an earlier thread about the danger of walking at night so we will be planning to bus/cab at night but will probably walk during the day. I am not averse to upscale, but I do prefer to only bring jeans with me. Trendy and small plates are fine, that is the current trend in Austin and we enjoy it. We have a fairly good ethnic food scene here so I'm not necessarily looking for that.

                1. re: ksfoodiewannabe

                  Since this IS about dress code, I hope you understand that, with that proviso, you're going to miss some really great restaurants (all over the world) that one simple change of pants will take care of.

                  How do you define "ethnic"? That's always a toughy on CH ;)

                  I've not heard about Seattle being particularly dangerous at night so hopefully others will comment there.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    That is not my general travel rule, but since we plan to end the day at Four Swallows I didn't want to spend my whole day in dressier clothes. Good ethnic food here is mainly Thai, Indian, Vietnamese and recently some very interesting Ethiopian. I was hoping it wasn't too dangerous since we are from a large city and are not at all scared to be out at night here.

                    1. re: ksfoodiewannabe

                      I am truly not trying to be obstreperous but still wonder how a pair of non-jean pants, that will take you ANYWHERE, would be uncomfortable.

                      Here's a .gov link that will give you info:


                      Our mid30s daughter and SIL live in SEA. Mostly they wear jeans but not always.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        Sorry I wasn't trying to be stubborn about it, I am just more comfortable exploring in jeans and for our first trip I don't want to be uncomfortable. I know that will limit some choices but it seems that there are so many amazing restaurants in Seattle that one restriction wouldn't prevent us from having a very memorable trip.

                        1. re: ksfoodiewannabe

                          True confession here-- there are some very soft black yoga pants that go with any blousey top--they look lovely and dressy-I am often complimented at work in them-- so comfy too. The brand is Champion, and they can be found at any Target for about $40.

                      2. re: ksfoodiewannabe

                        Among big American cities, Seattle has a low crime rate. If you take Pine St. from 9th Avenue to Pike Place Market at night, you may come across some people who make you uncomfortable (depending on your perspective) between 5th Ave and 2nd Ave. I never hesitate to walk there at night when I am with another person, though.

                2. re: ksfoodiewannabe

                  Please don't miss Four Swallows because of clothes. Jeans are fine there - the food is upscale but the dress code is "be who you are". Some people dress up because they want to be festive and plenty more do not because this is the Northwest and its all good. The food is wonderful but not precious. The walk from the ferry dock is perfect for a reasonably fit person. I count a ferry ride to Bainbride, walk to Four Swallows then wine and dinner as a one of the best experiences you can have here.

                  1. re: bourbongal

                    That is wonderful to hear because I was really looking forward to pretty much exactly the experience you just described.

                    1. re: ksfoodiewannabe

                      And, of course, there are jeans and then there are jeans. Nice jeans sound nice :)

                    2. re: bourbongal

                      I wonder whether or not some dark-wash or black jeans would work ok?
                      Wouldn't plan on wearing sandals, here in the PNW, during April though. (isn't the banana slug the official animal of Seattle?)

                      1. re: KarenDW

                        I think your jean suggestions are very good. The banana slug is the "mascot" for UC Santa Cruz. The first and last time they let the student body vote on such an important thing :)

                    3. re: ksfoodiewannabe

                      rock creek, if your sister will eat fin fish. *best* meal i've eaten in seattle in a LONG time.

                    4. No dress code in Seattle.
                      Especially if you go old school.

                      Birkenstocks with Norweigen ragg socks!

                      Or new skool with an outfit from utilikilts.

                      If you like wearing sandals in 45 degree rain, more power to you. With a brew pub on every other block and a coffee shop on the others, you'll find enough to ease your pain.

                      If you want to dress local, go to Filson and get a feel for the real deal on gear for the forest.

                      1 Reply
                      1. In our three years in Seattle the only restaurant my husband has not worn jeans to is Canlis. I wish he dressed nicer but he doesn't ... and he's never been made to feel out of place (excepting my snarky comments).

                        1 Reply
                        1. It's a very casual city for the most part

                          1. Thank you so much everyone! I have decided to stick with Four Swallows because we are really looking forward to it. I am also glad to get the heads up about the shoes since I wouldn't even have given it much thought, we live in flip flops and sandals year round here. We are very excited about visiting your city in a couple of weeks, I'll report back with our experiences.

                            1. Thank you everyone for all your wonderful advice! Just got home after a lovely long weekend in your city. We definitely felt very at home in jeans, although I did decide to pack a travel friendly wrinkle proof skirt for Four Swallows. Our first night dinner was at Millers Guild. The salads were great. We shared the grilled romaine with crab and meyer lemon vinaigrette, and the grilled asparagus. We also shared the waygu strip for our main. It was definitely overdone, but after watching the table next to us have no real success getting theirs fixed, we decided to just go with it. The crust on the steak was lovely, and it was still juicy. For dessert we decided on the doughnut bread pudding. It was very dense and dry, for me the only thing appetizing about this dessert was the amazing coffee ice cream on top. Second night was Poppy, I was looking forward to this one the most, and while there were some high points, there were some things that disappointed me. My black cod was delicious, perfectly cooked with an amazing carrot vinaigrette and cucumber shiso salad, that added the perfect crunch to the fish. The sides were kind of mediocre for me, the beet green pickle was limp and bland, the harissa in my cauliflower soup seemed to overpower any other flavor, and my asparagus was definitely overcooked. The black rice with yams was delicious, not too gummy. My sister enjoyed her pork very much, and her rhubarb pickle was my favorite. For our last dinner we went to Four Swallows. This was by far the star of our vacation. It was simple food made perfectly, fancy but not delicate. We started with the grilled purple broccoli which came out perfectly cooked with strips of lemon zest, pine nuts and cubes of pecorino. Everything was perfectly balanced and light. We also shared the golden beet salad, the arugula on top of the beets was some of the best I've ever tasted and the beets were glazed with a lemony glaze that matched perfectly with fat shavings of parmesan cheese. My sister said her beef tenderloin was perfect and it must have been because it wasn't around long enough for me to try a bite. I had the crab cakes, which were full of crab and not breading, light delicate with a nice crust, the pea tendrils on top went perfectly with them and have me searching for a local source of pea tendrils here in Texas. The sauce with them was kind of bland but honestly I really didn't need sauce. We didn't really have breakfasts or lunches while we were in town, but we did plenty of on the go grazing (doughnuts from the market, piroshkys, hum bao, dried fruit, pastries, coffee, and my personal favorite la panier.) Thank you for all the advice and sorry for the lengthy reply!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: ksfoodiewannabe

                                Every Chowhound LOVES when an OP reports back!!! Thank YOU :)

                                1. re: ksfoodiewannabe

                                  Appreciate the report, especially for the Four Swallows. Now I'm more inclined and eager to pay them a visit. Did you by chance notice if they do a Tasting Menu?

                                  1. re: gumption

                                    No tasting menu, definitely worth the visit though.

                                  2. Hi! I know your trip is over, but I just wanted to comment to passer-byers on the dress code question. I always wear jeans when I go out. Yes, even Canlis. Albeit they are nice jeans with heels/wedges/boots. So no worries to others who may have concerns.

                                    1. I am happy that you had a good trip.

                                      This message is really for liziverson and blankat and for any one else that has similar opinions about dress codes. Yoga pants, even with a blousy top are not work attire (with exceptions for health clubs and yoga studios and possibly day care centers), if people commented the you might consider that they know this too. Jeans are not appropriate at Canlis, even with heels - with the sometimes exception of the bar or the private room.

                                      We are one of the worst dressed cities I have ever experienced. Even Santa Cruz, CA a super casual place dresses better than many Seattleites when going out for a nice dinner. Really, it is not that your jeans and yoga pants don't look good on you or that it isn't a cute outfit - it just is not appropriate for going out to a 'dressy' occassion.

                                      Here's Canlis' dress code. Rest assured they would prefer that you did not wear jeans regardless of how great you look in them or what kind of shoes you have on. Safe bet you are not getting a window seat....

                                      Serving you is a special occasion and we hope you will consider this when planning your attire for the evening. We are a dressy, fine dining restaurant and we ask that gentlemen wear a suit or sport coat if possible. Many of our window tables require one.

                                      Sorry for the rant :) But really, yoga pants at work...jeans at Canlis. Sheesh.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: cburnsi

                                        chill out. so seattle is a laid back town - been here 18 years or so and i consider it a pro. who cares - clothes are clothes. don't stink, yell, or throw things, and i couldn't care less what you wear. doesn't hurt me one bit.

                                        1. re: cburnsi

                                          I agree with you completely. What one can get away with is very different than what is 'appropriate.' We travel quite a bit and have no problem tucking in a decent pair of black slacks/skirt.