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May 16, 2014 05:15 AM

First time visit to Seattle- what to do, where to eat, and cask beer?

Hi Seattle Chowhounds,

We're coming from Boston to visit your city for the first time for 7 days and are looking for recommendations on what we should do and see, places to eat and best places for craft beer and cask beers.

We prefer places that locally source and are creative. Canlis looks great, as does Lark, Mamnoon, the Whale wins, and Walrus and the Carpenter. Are these good choices so far? Any other places we should be considering? We're always on the lookout for places that have great sandwiches too (Rain Shadow Meats Squared?).

For beer places which would you suggest? We'd definitely like to find as much locally brewed beer as possible, as well as cask conditioned beers, suggestions on best paces to find cask beer would be greatly appreciated.

Have been reading about the typical touristy things to do but are there any must sees or dos, while in Seattle? We love walking around, ferries, markets (farmers, art, flea), would love to hear your thoughts on how we can get the most out of our visit to your city. As locals in Boston we know the off the beaten path things to do that aren't in the guidebooks to tell visitors about, we would welcome hearing the local Seattle perspective on what to do that we won't find in a guidebook or tripadvisor.

Really looking forward to enjoying what your city has to offer.


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  1. Paseos makes a great pork shoulder (and other) sandwich. Always good but not consistent. The main shop is much busier and can run out.
    Salumi is run by Mario Batali's dad and is in Pioneer square area not far from stadium and ID international district aka Chinatown. Do they have Vietnamese food back east? Pho can be great along with bahn mi. Those are more specialty shops though there are restaurants with full Vietnamese menu. I like to order a spring roll platter, deep fried spring rolls you wrap in rice paper with basil, mint, sprouts, lettuce carrots, dip in nuoc ma'am, order extra spring rolls.
    Pikes place market is the main touristy downtown market and not to be missed. Do you have a car? I have never used the bus system (underground downtown) and there is light rail and pay by the day trolley. Parking is a hassle.
    Near the airport is one of those skydiving simulators where they blow you up with big fans. Looks interesting but not easy. Washington is a very outdoorsy state with lots to see in the islands and mountains.

    4 Replies
    1. re: divadmas

      I just saw the first of the cruise ships at Pier 66 today, signaling that high tourist season has begun. That means many or the popular sites--most notably Pike Place Market--will be jam-packed until mid September when the cruise ships leave again. The Market is still absolutely worth visiting, but if you're here in the summer, I highly recommend going early in the day. You can get breakfast with a view at Lowell's or the Athenian from about 7 am, watch the Market waking up and getting ready for the day, do some shopping when most of the vendors open up at 9 or 10 am, and be out of there by the time the worst of the hordes hit.

      1. re: MsMaryMc

        Pike Place Market is on our to see list, thanks for the tip to go early, we will do that! And Lowell's for breakfast sounds perfect!

        1. re: misspickypants

          have plans if you go early. i think the market starts at 9 and nothing much happening till then. but going early is a good idea. see the pikes place market website.

      2. re: divadmas

        Thank you for letting us know about Paseos and Salumi, we're totally checking them out! We do have Vietnamese food and Pho here. And we do have those spring rolls, Elephant Walk is a restaurant here that does it especially well. Would love to see how the NW version compares.

        We will have a car or part of the trip and are looking into day trips we could do for the 3 days we'll have the car. We'll re relying on the public transportation the rest of the time. Simulated skydiving, that does sound interesting but I'm not brave enough for that.

      3. What time of year will you be visiting? There's plenty to do year round, but there's even more to see come Summertime. If you are interested in outdoor street fairs and festivals, there will be lots of those coming up.

        As for resto recs, the five you mentioned are all excellent, although Canlis is more of a splurgey special-occasion experience. Sitka & Spruce is another I'd add to high caliber "local & creative."

        When it comes to sandwiches, Salumi, Paseo, and Rain Shadow are all top notch.

        7 Replies
        1. re: gumption

          Canlis is not "creative."

          Starting in June, the Queen Anne Farmer's Market on Thursday afternoons is a lot of fun, especially if you have kids. We go every week, not just to buy from the growers but also to make a meal out of the many food trucks and quirky sellers (homemade soda, etc.) and sit on the grass and listen to the live music and watch the kids run around and play.

          Pike's Place Market + downtown Seattle Public Library

          Revel + Fremont flea on Sundays + Gas Works Park + the troll

          Book Larder cookbook store + Paseo + Uneeda Burger

          Taylor Shellfish in Queen Anne + Seattle Center + Gates Foundation Visitor Center

          Food and cocktail walk through Capitol Hill

          Ocho + Pestle Rock + Ballard Ave shopping + D'Ambrosio Gelato + salmon locks

          Little Uncle + Thursday art walk in Pioneer Square + Bar Sajor

          $28 foot massage + Green Leaf + Wing Luke Museum + Uwajimaya grocery store in International District

          Serious Biscuit + South Lake Union Park + Museum of History and Industry + Argosy lakes boat tour (see Bill Gates's house!)

          Honestly, the tourist stuff in Seattle is really fun for locals too.

          1. re: sweetpotater

            We'll just miss the start of the Queen Anne Farmer's Market, which is a bummer as we love farmer's markets.

            Will check out the Seattle Public Library, I love the downtown Boston Public Library and libraries in general.

            Freemont Market sounds awesome, totally checking that out, thank you! Had no idea what the troll was but now must go and see. Just like I had to see the cadillac ranch and the meteor crater.

            Are you psychic? JK, but I also love, love, love cookbooks. My traveling companions, not so much but they will patiently wait as I peruse the Book Larder.

            Will be looking into all your suggestions, hope to fit as much as we can during our time there.

            1. re: misspickypants

              You have to go to Brouwers for beer if you go to Fremont.

            2. re: sweetpotater

              Where specifically in the ID is the foot massage?

              1. re: sweetpotater

                sweetpotater, just starting my research for a late June visit and I'm interested in your comment, "Canlis is not creative." Would you care to expand on that a bit?

                1. re: sweetpotater

                  Have you eaten at Canlis in the last year?

                2. re: gumption

                  We'll be there NEXT WEEK (sorry, really excited!!)!! Thanks for the recommendations, sandwiches at Paseo, Salumi and Rain Shadow are in or future,

                  And Sitka & Spruce is right up our alley, we are totally going there, thank you!

                3. Take the light rail down to Columbia City and have dinner at La Medusa. Great Sicilian food and in the summer they start getting some really great produce.

                  Whale Wins is great, I highly recommend that. Evo Gear is a pretty sick shop too, if you ski or ride you've probably heard of it, it shares a building with Whale Wins, and Joule (which is also good, but I like Whale better).

                  Been to Mamnoon for lunch a handful of times, consistently great flavors, really need to go in for dinner. If you go to Mamnoon, definitely check out the Melrose building, inside is Sitka and Spruce, Rain Shadow Meats (no sandwiches at this location), Homegrown (delicious sandwiches), and Calf and Kid, Bar Ferd'nand. It's basically my single favorite Seattle building (then the Evo/Whale/Joule building). Also across the street from Mamnoon is Taylor Shellfish, and another restaurant called Terra Plata, I haven't been there but their rooftop deck looks amazing.

                  Definitely go to Paseos, I like the Caribbean roast, Paseo press, and the shrimp sandwiches the best.

                  For Pizza, I really like Bar Del Corso, great quality, prices, consistency, and good small plates.

                  For Sushi there is Shiros downtown, if you want a great omakase, go and sit at the bar when he is there. I also have had consistently great quality fish at Sushi Kappo Tamura, plus parking is a breeze nearby too. Sushi Kappo is a nice place, and they always have a great selection of fish. The live spot shrimp I've had here are the best I've ever had, hands down.

                  Old School Custard and Bakery Nouveau both have locations on Capitol Hill and are great for a snack (or a meal at Nouveau)

                  For Brunch I really like Harvest Vine, they have great dinner too, this place is just fun to eat at, it's always so hard to choose what to get, and I always over order.

                  For a unique seafood experience I like Rock Creek (it's near Paseos, Dot's Deli, and Uneeda Burger)

                  For higher end meals I'll give you 4 places I really enjoy

                  Spur Gastropub: modern techniques done right, great cocktails too, downtown, cool menu. Not everyone will appreciate this, but it's a fun place.

                  Altura: 3-5 courses & a tasting menu, very well thought out, refined northern Italian cuisine. I like to sit at the counter but it's not incredibly comfortable.

                  Spinasse: Rustic Italian food with extraordinary ingredient quality and amazing pastas. I've never had a bad dish here, service very good too.

                  Lloyd Martin: Only been here once but had a great meal, most dishes are simple but very satisfying. Portions are small which makes it easy to try out a lot of items on the menu.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                    La Medusa looks great, and the Melrose Market, that is exactly the kind of place we love to discover! We'll be eating a few meals there for sure, and the cheese shop, I love cheese shops! Calf and Kid with their focus on locally produced products from farms all over the Pacific Northwest exemplifies the kind of place we want to experience while we are there.

                    The Evolution Projects sound cool so we will be checking out as many as we can while we are there.

                    Will look into the sushi spots as we do want to try some NW sushi while there.

                    And thank you, thank you for the frozen custard info, that is my favorite. If ever in Boston, Abbots Frozen Custard is the best (and I think only) place with real frozen custard in the city. I'm also coming to terms with the fact I will be returning to Boston fatter than when I left. I think I need to eat both the twice baked chocolate croissant and the cherry almond croissant at Bakery Nouveau.

                    So many great suggestions, especially the fancy joints, I wish we were visiting for a longer time so we could try them all!

                    Will be sure to provide an update on what we do end up doing and where we eat.

                    1. re: misspickypants

                      Can't wait for the trip report. I'm all about Custard but haven't seen a lot of stuff about Old School on these boards, but I love getting it while walking around Capitol Hill in the summer. If I'm ever in Boston I'll be sure to get some.
                      Bakery Nouveau is known for the twice baked almond croissants, was actually in there this morning getting snacks. If you go on a Sunday there's a solid farmers market right there as well.
                      Now that I know you like cheese, if you go to La Medusa, try the caciocavallo. It's a farmers cheese they bake and serve with apple cider vinegar on top. Definitely one of my top 5 dishes in Seattle, so simple but profoundly delicious. Rarely if ever, do I see 1 cheese and 1 accompaniment work so perfectly together, the crispy parts are just on a whole 'nother level.

                  2. You will find cask beer at a couple places, but it is usually only one beer. Places that come to mind immediately are Sully's snowgoose, the Jolly Roger, and the Noble fir (maybe). Places to hit for good beer depend upon where you are located. See the Seattle beer news website for a top 10 list. I like the Dray, Noble Fir, Six Gill, Brouwers, Collins Pub, and the Bravehorse, but there are many others around town.

                    2 Replies
                    1. Hello Seattle Chowhounds!

                      We've been enjoying your lovely city the past few days and wanted to thank you for all your tips.

                      After arriving on Saturday we walked through the Folklife Festival over to the Taylor Shellfish in Queen Anne. There we indulged in all 6 varieties of delicious oysters. The Olympia oysters were small but packed a flavorful punch and were our favorites.

                      From there we headed over to Capitol Hill to walk around and explore the neighborhood. The Melrose Market is a beautiful space and the Butter Home Store upstairs was charming. At Calf and The Kid the cheesemongers shared their favorite local cheese and we picked some up for the BBQ we're attending this evening.

                      The bartender at Bar Ferd'nand mixed up a delicious Manhattan for me and my friend had a very nice pinot noir from Willamette Valley that happened to be the happy hour red. While catching up with my pal the bartender told us about Sun Liquor Bar and Distillery, Il Corvo and Local 360.

                      After lingering over our drinks and catching up we walked around checking out the shops and about a half hour before our dinner reservations we stopped by Sun Liquors for one of their tasty cocktails. We tried the Southside, a refreshing drink made with Sun hedge trimmer gin, fresh mint, lemon juice and ginger beer. The bartender there shared that all the cocktails on the menu are the staff's favorites.

                      Then we walked over to Mamnoon to meet more friends for a very satisfying meal. I loved everything, my only critique would be for the dolmeh dish. It was extremely flavorful, but the dish consisted of 4 very tiny, very thin stuffed grape leaves, each the size of a small woman's pinky finger. It was so good and I wished it was a bit more substantial.

                      The muhumarra was awesome as was the fatteh hummus (green chick peas rule!). The octopus with the squid ink hummus and the fried cauliflower were the table's favorites. We shared several more plates and ate every bite. The warm orange blossom water after the meal and before the desserts were a unique and pleasant touch. I'd have to say our first dinner in Seattle was a homerun.

                      Sunday we were up early and hit Senor Moose in Ballard for breakfast before heading over to the Ballard Market. Was happy to see asparagus and morels! I'm going to post a question on where else we can find morels after this post. Our purchases from the market included asparagus and Jonboy salt caramels.

                      After walking through the neighborhood and reading lots of plaques relating the history of the cool buildings, and browsing neat shops (Monster Art & Clothing was our favorite), we went to Freemont.

                      Along the way we visited the troll (cool but in a creepy sort of way) and stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up some local beers. Then it was time to walk the Freemont Market. Perused all the stalls then walked around Freemont, stoping in shops and at the Lenin statute.

                      As we left Freemont we stopped by Jolly Roger and Hales for one cask conditioned ale at each. Both had IPAs on tap, while both were tasty we preferred the Maritime IPA at Jolly Roger.

                      Later on we dined at How to Cook a Wolf. The design of the room was warm and inviting, and the shared plates were all done quite well. My favorite was the Campanelle with asparagus cream and mint. The Bucatini with peas and black pepper and the spaghetti with anchovy and chili sounded simple but were both bold (in a good way) dishes. The soft cooked egg with crab was 4 halves of 2 eggs so as a party of 3 we each got a half and the victor of the rousing rock-paper-scissor challenge enjoyed the 4th half. I highly recommend the Salumi Board and my least favorite of the night was the chickpea fritters (not that it was bad, it just didn't seem as inspired and tasty as the other dishes). Too full after this meal to even contemplate dessert.

                      Today, being a beautiful sunny day, was spent in West Seattle. We grabbed breakfast on the patio at Luna Park Cafe then walked along the beach. A quick stop at Bakery Noveau for assorted croissants for dessert tonight. I'm looking forward to sampling them all.

                      Thanks again for your suggestions and will update again in a few days!!

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: misspickypants

                        I just cut and pasted your entire post into my notes, misspicky, thank you. I'm particularly hoping you will get to Il Corvo as it intrigues me.

                        1. re: grayelf

                          FYI, we're visiting from San Francisco and went to Il Corvo yesterday for lunch - it was fantastic, and I would highly recommend visiting there - it's worth the (slight) hassle to get there (many buses run down 3rd St, so it's easy).

                          We had a Corona bean salad and two pastas - a tagliatelle with a walnut-based pesto, and a pappardelle that had cauliflower, calabrian chili and Parmesan (along with some other ingredients I'm forgetting).

                          At $9 for each pasta, it was by far the best value meal I've had in all of Seattle (we have an apartment here, and are up here frequently). The key is to get there at 11 AM when they open - it fills up quickly, though they have fast and friendly service (order at the counter, then select your table - they will bring your food).

                          The whole Pioneer Square (and Occidental Square) area nearby is clearly a rapidly developing "foodie" area with London Plane, Bar Sajor and several others already up and running, and several under construction now.

                          1. re: RichInMV

                            Wow, thanks Rich, great intel. Sounds a bit like Burrasca in Pdx, though that is a food truck.

                            1. re: RichInMV

                              Thanks for the tip! We made it over there for lunch on Tuesday, so good and we too would highly recommend! More details to follow in my next update....

                              1. re: RichInMV

                                We went back to Il Corvo for lunch today (it's just a few blocks from my Seattle office, so why not?). Had another stellar lunch (veggie lasagna, maccheroni bolognese, corona bean salad, foccacia), more than we could finish, for $30. I think this might have the highest quality/value of any meal I've had in Seattle, and over most in SF.

                                Their website ( is updated daily about 10:30 AM or so, and it previews the day's three pastas. Once again we arrived about 11 AM and were served quickly (literally in 5 minutes - as fast as "fast food" places), but by the time we left a bit after 11:30 it was getting pretty crowded.

                                I think I could eat there every day - like visiting your very creative and very efficient Italian grandmother to see what she's cooked up for the day!

                                1. re: RichInMV

                                  I could eat the prosciutto with pickled celery every day. I walked by there about 12:30 on my way to Little Uncle and there was a line out the door.

                            2. re: misspickypants

                              On the way home just north of mount vernon you will pass one of the Taylor oyster farms. Not really much to see but you can get a cooler full of free ice and a big bag of fresh out of the water oysters. Not sure about crossing the border though. Bow edison is near there, too with several foodie type destinations. Then take the drive up chuckanut to Bellingham. Drive is right on the water and takes only a little longer than I5.