Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Seattle >
May 26, 2014 11:14 PM

Vancouver Hound's first real trip to Seattle -- help an elf out?

I've been to Seattle before, but not for years and not to eat and drink (except for our Lao food drivebys on the way to Portland of late -- Savatdee love!). I've scratched the surface and wanted to get some feedback before I go too far down the road.

We'll be staying near the Seattle Public Library on Spring (kinda wishing I'd known about Ballard when I booked...) so pretty central I guess. And we will have a car, lots of US change for parking metres and a willingness to drive for good eats and beverages.

Arriving on a Friday at the end of June, in town till the following Wednesday.

I'm most keen to nab reservations for dinner, as I am fairly comfortable "winging it" for breakfast, lunch, snacks and happy hours -- I'll have a solid list to choose from for sure but don't feel a strong urge to book ahead for anything but dinner. Here's what I've got/am thinking so far for the evening meal:

Friday: reservations made at La Medusa (hello, caciocavalo)
Saturday/Sunday: hoping for Lark and Book Bindery, once we are at one month out from the dates I want and I can try for reservations
Monday: reservations made at Canlis
Tuesday: reservations made at Westward

Are these too similar/boring/just plain wrong? I scoured the board back a year before making any decisions, and I take your opinions seriously, wise Sea Hounds :-).

Key in keeping the SO/auxiliary tummy happy is fine coffee. I haven't really seen much on the board about it so please, bring me your recommendations.

Let's leave it at that for now (I'll be back like a bad penny to pick your brains about happy hour, lunches, cocktails and beer once I've done more pruning of my 17-page list). Thanks in advance for any thoughts on the current topics and any others you may wish to share with this wayward Canadian in the meantime. Hope you all had a lovely Memorial Day!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Ballard is not far. Ten or fifteen minutes by car? Or less?
    Not easy to get a parking meter. Early is good but then it's catch as catch can. Consider public transit, buses, underground bus tunnel, light rail.

    1. Take the light rail to Columbia City for La Medusa. Still a short walk but should be nice in June. There's other cool stuff to see in Columbia City too. Definitely get some bread and/or pastries at Columbia City Bakery. Nearly any restaurant worth a damn will use Columbia City bread, so I imagine you'll get to try that a few times at least, it's great stuff.
      I like Book Bindery but you may find the dishes similar to Canlis, kinda modern, not a ton of ingredients on the plate, but all extraordinary quality. If you're looking for something different but in the same price range I'd look at Spinasse. Never had a bad dish there, it's rare to even have a dish where you don't say "wow". Get a reservation early though, Spinasse fills up fast.

      11 Replies
      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

        Also worth noting that parking is not an ordeal in Columbia City thanks to the big dollar an hour lot up the street from Geraldines Counter (noteworthy for it's French toast and other breakfasts, a fine burger, and plenty of comfort foods).

        1. re: Booklegger451

          Will reconsider Spinasse, though for some reason I haven't been feeling like Italian much lately. (There's a funny mismatch on their current menu that I spotted even with my bad Italian -- I wonder which dish they're actually offering). I think I got the La Medusa recco from one of your posts, EFGM.

          Totally not set on a particular range of either budget or food. My dinner choices are skewing higher end and Eurocentric but that was not really by design. Contemplating doing Tamarind Tree one night as a friend recommended the banh xeo there, and I loves me a good banh xeo.

          Also wondering if Rainier BBQ and Restaurant is worthy. I saw it on some old Bourdain ep and liked the "home cooking" aspect. Both TT and RBBQ have bo 7 mon which I have been craving. I expect either of these would work for lunch as well?

          1. re: grayelf

            Tamarind tree is a good choice. Generally easy to park in their huge lot. They also serve surprisingly good cocktails. It's a fun place to go with 4+ people and just get a ton of food and drinks. The restaurant is actually a nice space too, and the servers know what they are doing generally.

            I used to get banh mi at Rainier BBQ a lot, never been inside the actual restaurant though. I've switched to buying nearly all my banh mi, Vietnamese bread, pastries and goodies at Q Bakery which is a 90 second stroll from Rainier BBQ (just past the Starbucks on the right, in the big complex with all sorts of cool Asian stores/restaurants). Maybe somebody else can chime in on the actual Rainier BBQ restaurant.

            1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

              Hmm, maybe a lunch stop, for banh mi comparos; thanks for the tip on Q Bakery. Are they making their own rolls, do you know?

              I wonder if either have my favourite, nem nuong (#7 on this great list which also includes nem chua or sour pork, something I love but have never seen in a banh mi


              I went ahead and snagged a reso at Tamarind Tree for Saturday night, woot! I've never had cocktails and Vietnamese food together and am very much looking forward to that.

              1. re: grayelf

                Oh they definitely have pork meatball sandwiches. The meatballs are so moist it blows my mind. No but seriously, how do they do it? At first I thought it was odd they don't put mayo on them but when I bit into it I immediately understood. Also, so you aren't surprised, they kinda "spread," the giant meatball(s) out on to the bread making it more like a paste instead of looking like a meatball sub.
                They also make all their own rolls as it is mainly a bakery. They volume these guys do is straight insane. I've been over 30 times and rarely ever have I not seen them bringing out fresh bread at some point during my visit. Even 40 minutes before they close at 7 pm the baker is wheeling out warm fresh bread, super nice to get fresh bread at that time. Honestly Q Bakery is probably my favorite place to grab quick snacks or sandwich rolls (only $.30 each). I love stopping for snacks then taking them to Seward Park to eat while I walk around the park.
                They have a hot case with things like egg rolls, grilled pork, pork meatballs (gigantic), fried chicken, pork pate pastries. They also have a big pastry case with donuts and other sweet stuff though I don't think all the pastries are house made. They have a bunch of awesome candy, snacks, cold and hot food etc.
                I'm also *embarrassed smile* addicted to bubble tea thanks to Q Bakery, theirs is not only the cheapest, but also the best I've had (that is when they're not out of tapioca, which seems to be about 75% of the time). The stuff is really sweet though, but I figure since I don't drink soda it's probably aight to indulge in the occasional (maybe it is good they rarely have tapioca pearls) bubble tea.

                The only sandwich I haven't been crazy about is the shredded pork skin one. Mostly because I didn't know what "shredded pork skin," meant in this context, and I figured it had to be crispy since its skin.....Boy was I surprised, not bad, but I probably wouldn't get it again, it was kinda boring really.

                +1 on cocktails in ethnic restaurants. I always feel like I'm really livin' the life when I'm sitting there drinking mojitos and feasting on great Vietnamese food.

                Also, since you mentioned you like Lao food, have you ever been to Viengthong? Great Seattle place serving Thain and Lao food. Was just there the other day with a friend. We ordered 5-6 dishes, felt like Bourdain with such a magnificent spread. The food was all top notch. I'm not even too knowledgeable about Lao food (or eastern cuisines in general) but this place is so satisfying. Might be worth checking out if you don't already know about it. Very inexpensive place, but they do serve beer. Looks like they're open for lunch too.

                1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                  We have been to Vienthong once, outstanding jerky! It and Savatdee seem to be the standouts for Lao in the area.

                  I kind of like "pork skin meat" but maybe only because of the name :-). BTW nem nuong isn't a meatball or spreadable so we must be speaking of something different. But I'm sold on Q and will deffo check it out. Interesting that they do bubble tea -- that is not really a Vietnamese thing in Vancouver but I do rather like it. I usually order it half sweet myself, or make it at home.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Now I obviously need to try out Savatdee, actually never been. Funny you mention the jerky. I had never had it until a few days ago, my friend said it was the best thing he had and he wants more. I'm gonna try to make some in my dehydrator to give to him.
                    Ahh, the meatball one is the #7 on your list, but the nem nuong is #9, my bad, should have figured that out.
                    It is kinda odd that all the Vietnamese places around here do bubble tea. I actually got Q Bakery for dinner lastnight since I was feeling lazy and my girlfriend wanted it. Tried a bubble tea with "jelly," pretty awesome if you like the texture of denser jello cubes in the bottom, which I do. I wish I could order it in a half size though. Guess I can try to do half sugar next time. I'm generally a salt > sweet person, but I like bubble tea mostly because of the jelly or tapioca.

                    I'd go earlier if you can. Anytime before 1-2 on the weekends is when they have the cases filled and all the good stuff.

                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                      On our way to Portland a week or so ago we stopped for the third time at Savatdee and had Sai Keungnai (item #10 I think). There are several versions of this on the menu. It was very good and not overly offally. Also tasty is the quail. We have had less luck when we ventured into their Thai offerings, which tend to be too sweet for my taste.

                      I love "coconut" jelly (tastes more like lychee to me) and mango stars in bubble tea. I always choose a jasmine tea base. Sorry about the incorrect number reference on the banh mi fillings, no wonder you were confoozled!

                2. re: grayelf

                  monsoon and green leaf also make excellent vietnamese.

          2. re: EatFoodGetMoney

            I think we may have hit La Medusa when the B team was on: looong wait between apps and mains (server noted and apologized), arancini underdone, caciocavalo overdone. And alas it was deafening in there, which I don't recall reading about anywhere so came as a bit of a surprise.

            1. re: grayelf

              Wow that's a real shame, I was confident in recommending it after eating there 5-6 times and only having great experiences. I haven't ever noticed it super loud and I tend to really dislike places you can't have a conversation at. Must have been an off day.

          3. Hi greyelf! Fellow Vancouverite here; you helped us out on some Portland recommendations a short while back, so I'm happy to pass on our Seattle recommendations (though granted we've only tried a very small sampling of the city).

            Book Bindery was one of our nicest meals; granted nothing stood out as truly 'amazing', but everything was 'extremely good', and we've probably not had nicer service at any other restaurant anywhere (YMMV, of course). Can't compare to Canlis, as we didn't go. I can endorse Spinasse though -- excellent meal there too, and a cool room (we wish we had asked to sit at the bar facing the kitchen when we went).

            Le Pichet is our go-to for a simple breakfast (great baked goods and a really nice simple egg, ham, and cheese dish). Very good coffee too.

            Other noteworthy dinners from our experience were Sitka & Spruce (noteworthy good), and Mistral Kitchen (noteworthy bad). We met some relatives for a dinner at Tom Douglas's Cuoco, which I thought was 'pretty good' overall, though my wife still raves about their goat cheese gnocchi.

            The "Tatstrami" sandwich at Tat's Deli was amazing.

            Definitely reserve a tour at Theo Chocolates.

            Non-food related: the Seattle Underground Tour was a lot of fun.

            Sorry I can't specifically address most of your questions, but hopefully this is still somewhat useful!


            13 Replies
            1. re: ghague

              Thanks, Geoff, great feedback. I've only asked a few of my myriad questions so all appreciated. Did not realize Le Pichet does breaky so that is helpful indeed. We try to keep our first meal simplish to save belly space for lunch, snacks, happy hour, first dinner and second dinner :-). Pretty sure I was a hobbit in a former life.

              1. re: grayelf

                Okay, for a change of pace, can we talk beer? I know it's everywhere but here's what I've shortlisted so far -- I need to figure out which are breweries and which are pubs/beer bars, plus which ones have worthy grub and which are pretzels only:

                In Ballard: Hilliard’s, Hale's (Troll Porter! casks!) and Stoup (more porter!), Reuben's Brews, NW Peaks, Peddler, Noble Fir, Urban Family Public House, Populuxe, Maritime Pacific seem like good bets and are all walking distance from one another I think.

                Chuck's Hop Shop in the Central District (50 taps, big bottle shop), Pike Brewing, Geaux Brewing in Bellevue, Black Raven, Dray, Six Gill, Brouwers, Collins Pub, and the Bravehorse (Tom Douglas) have all been mentioned. Pine Box, The Masonry, Elysian Bar maybe? Rooftop in Queen Anne sounds intriguing.

                A SoDo beer tour was mentioned: Georgetown, Two Beers, Schooner Exact, Epic, Seapine, Emerald City and maybe Pyramid.

                Any standouts/duds? Other ideas? I am not a big beer drinker (I prefer radlers and other fruit "beers" and love a good cider) but the SO is, hence the porter love.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Ok, so I've gone and sorted your list into 4 categories based on brewery vs. pub and food options. I've put an asterisks on ones with what I consider worthy food. (Note that some also have food trucks that pop in on weekends)

                    Breweries with mininal or no food:
                    Hilliards, Stoup, Reuben's, NW Peaks, Peddler, Populuxe, Geaux, Black Raven, Georgetown, Two Beers, Seapine, Emerald City, Rooftop

                    Breweries with food:
                    Hales, Urban Family, Maritime Pacific/Jolly Roger*(Onion Rings), Pike, Schooner, Epic* (short hours for food), Pyramid

                    Brewpubs with food (Beer restaurants):
                    Bravehorse*, Noble Fir (limited), Sixgill, Brouwers*, Collins Pub, Pinebox, Masonry*, Elysian

                    Brewpubs with no food (tap rooms):
                    Chuck's, Dray

                    I could add Naked City (Beer-centric restaurant that brews their own stuff) and Super Deli Mart (the original Chuck's, but fewer taps, more rare beer) as interesting ones as well.

                    1. re: GreenYoshi

                      Schooner was fun, kinda upscale pubby, had a tasting tray of all 8 available beers with the raspberry sour and the hopvine being the standouts. Epic had a great plum sour but the porcini porter was weak and the menu seemed to be trying a bit too hard.

                    2. re: grayelf

                      And since I took a couple minutes to categorize your list, I hope you'll indulge me with my favorite breweries of the moment (completely subjective and one man's opinion):

                      (Strictly based on beer, no particular order) Peddlers, NW Peaks, Geaux, Black Raven, Reubens

                      3 others based on taproom atmosphere, uniqueness and food:
                      1. 2 Beers/Seattle Cider
                      2. Lowercase/Burdick (The beers themselves are ok, but fun to have two of the smallest Nano breweries in the city sharing a wall)
                      3. Outlander (in a small house in Fremont, always cooking up small batches of fun stuff)

                      1. re: GreenYoshi

                        Two Beers was disappointing beer wise but had a great cider from Seattle Cider, a wild ferment. Minimus Maximus was there but not ready on Friday at 4 pm, no other food trucks save a sausage cart.

                  2. re: ghague

                    le pichet is even better for dinner than lunch, and the quiche is outstanding if you can snag a slice (they usually sell out by noon).

                    1. re: ghague

                      Book Bindery is closing for good on June 28th. If you feel strongly about going there, you might try and get reservations as you can always to to the other places on another trip.

                      1. re: Lauren

                        Thanks for the info, Lauren -- I made a reso by phone yesterday (wait for it) to dine there on June 28! And I've signed up for the Seattle Met Noshpit newsletter too, so double thanks.

                        1. re: grayelf

                          Oh good! I'm thinking I need to get in there myself. I've always like Book Bindery.

                          1. re: Lauren

                            Ya I may have to get in there once more before they close as well.

                            1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                              Book Bindery was decent but not outstanding, with too many sweet/gastriquey sauces for me and $9 per scallop seems a bit excessive to cheapo me. Lovely setting (we were in the atrium) and very nice service though. Will be interesting to see what the new incarnation brings.

                    2. drip city coffee in belltown and caffe d'arte by the market make excellent coffee.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: chartreauxx

                        GY, thanks so much for doing that! And I'm tickled you added your faves.

                        Brunhilde, mille grazie for the cider reccs and chart, for the additional Viet options, le pichet intel, and coffee ideas. I've since found a fairly recent thread that I'm going to pore over (ooooh, bad pun) to see what else is out there coffee-wise.

                      2. Here are my recommendations for fine coffee. Keep in mind that I like to taste the fruit in my coffee, so I look for exceptional light roasts, of which Seattle has many options. (All the shops listed here are on a similar level to the style and quality found at, for example, Revolver, Elysian Coffee, 49th Parallel, and JJ Bean in Vancouver.)

                        My top picks:

                        * Slate ( Fantastic tiny shop offering a variety of beans that they roast. If you are interested in learning about coffee, this is a great place to visit. The setup is focused on exploring coffee, and they will gladly explain aspects of growing, varietals, roasting, and brewing. They are usually pulling several single origin shots as well as offering pour-overs of many different beans. Open until at least 4pm. (Ballard).

                        * Milstead & Co. ( Notable as one of the few shops in town that features coffee from many different roasters, including Heart and Coava from Portland, Bows & Arrows from Victoria, Wrecking Ball, Intelligensia, and Stumptown. In addition to espresso based drinks, they brew individual cups using an Aeropress. Open until 6pm. As ghague suggests, pair a visit with a tour of Theo's Chocolate factory (or at least their store where you can taste different samples). (Fremont).

                        * Neptune ( Great coffee, featuring Velton and Kuma (local roasters) and George Howell Coffee. Serves both espresso and pour over brewed to order. Open until 9pm. (Greenwood).

                        Other exceptional shops:

                        * Espresso Vivace ( Serves only espresso based drinks with doppio ristretto shots -- double "restricted" shots containing a high proportion of oils and sugars. The style of shot here is somewhat unique and make for an intense flavour experience. They feature two blends, one designed for straight shots and the other designed for use with milk. We often visit for a night cap after dinner at Poppy. Open until 11pm. (Capitol Hill).

                        * Stumptown ( Major pacific NW roaster based in Portland but with a roastery at their 15th ave. location. I highly recommend attending one of their free daily 3pm cuppings (the coffee equivalent of wine tasting) where you will get a chance to try several single origin roasts. Unfortunately, they do not offer very many options as pour-over, so I would recommend attending the cupping over just randomly attending the cafe. (Capitol Hill).

                        * Trabant ( One of the few shops in town to still use a Clover, serving Kuma and QED coffees (local). The Clover (since purchased by Starbucks) brews exceptionally clear tasting coffee, sometimes almost like tea, providing a very unique coffee experience. Unfortunately, most of Starbucks roasts are too dark to let through the interesting flavours enhanced by the Clover. (University District and Pioneer Square).

                        * Toast ( Formerly Aster Coffee Lounge. They also have a Clover. If you are there during the day, stop by Cafe Besalu ( for some fabulous croissants, but stick to Toast for coffee. (Ballard).

                        * Tuogo ( Brews a variety of coffees, including PT's Coffee. (Capitol Hill).

                        * Analog Coffee ( Small cafe that brews fabulous pour-overs of Herkimer coffee. They offer more brewed-to-order options than at Herkimer's shops, so I would recommend visiting here if convenient. (Capitol Hill).

                        * Morsel/Sound Coffee: ( Serves Velton and Vashon Coffee Company roasters (local) alongside fabulous freshly made biscuits (and gravy, cheese, jam, etc.). Only open until 3pm. (University District).

                        Other good shops:

                        For one reason or another, I have not been as excited with these shops as I have with those mentioned above, but they are all solid, and capable of brewing very good coffee:

                        * Cafe Ladro ( (Freemont, Queen Anne, Downtown, Capital Hill).

                        * Anchored Ship Coffee Bar: One of the only places I know of in town that serves Counter Culture coffee. (Ballard).

                        * Herkimer ( Local roaster. (Phinny Ridge and University District).

                        * Porchlight Cafe ( Small cafe serving Herkimer Coffee. (Capitol Hill).

                        * Seattle Coffee Works ( One of the few shops in town to brew coffee with the siphon/vacuum pot method. (Downtown near the Pike Place Market).

                        * Victrola ( Local roaster and coffee shop that holds cuppings on Wednsdays at 11am at their Pike St. location. (Capitol Hill).

                        * Canlis ( If you go here, don't overlook the coffee. They have made a serious investment in brewing high quality coffee - something usually missing at even top quality restaurants. (Queen Ann).

                        For further opinions, see the following site which provides "scores" for local baristas from competition level judges:

                        Apologies to any great shops I have forgotten or missed: I am sure that others will chime in.

                        As far as food goes, I highly recommend at least one of Matt Dillon's restaurants -- The Corson Building if it fits your schedule, Bar Sajor, or Sitka and Spruce. These provide an exceptional Seattle dining experience featuring local ingredients.

                        33 Replies
                        1. re: mforbes

                          Thanks +++, mforbes for the time and detail! The SO roasts City Plus to Full City, just before/beginning of 2nd crack at home so I'm thinking your reccos will be very germane. I did read online that Canlis has a good coffee program but appreciate the reminder. We've pretty much given up on coffee in restos otherwise :-(. So far I have reviewed this thread
                          that has some good stuff later on, and looked at an old article from Sprudge here which has a fair bit of overlap with your list. It looks like we have a lot of exploring to do on the coffee front. I prefer a pourover, he loves his cappuccinos and macchiatos so we'll prolly target places that offer both.

                          1. re: grayelf

                            More quests: we have TERRIBLE Mexican in Vancouver, at least for my taste. Anywhere you'd suggest for antojitos tradicionales? Senor Moose was mentioned in one of our local rags and looks like it has potential.

                            Doughnuts: Top Pot? Dahlia?

                            Laws in BC prohibit cooking to order for the most part, so burgers, especially happy hour available ones, are sought: Uneeda, Quinn's (Painted Hills beef), Two Bell's tavern burger, King's Hardware

                            Biscuits: Serious Biscuit aka Dahlia Workshop, Biscuit Bitch (southern friend gave them the thumbs up)

                            Sandwiches: Salumi (big lines, go early, porchetta), Paseo's (lines, eat in Fremont Peak Park, also one in Ballard, cash only, get the Caribbean roast, Paseo press, shrimp), Rain Shadow Meats (some locations don't have sandos), Delicatus, La Bodega (Dominican sandos!), Market Grill, Matt's in the Market (I love catfish in sandwiches), Q Bakery Saigon Deli in the ID for a banh mi-off, Marination Station (spicy pork torta, at shop only, on Macrina baguette so not really a torta ;-)), Baguette Box's drunken chicken baguette (though I'm not sure about the "sweet tangy sauce" as I'm not a sweet-and-sour fan), Tatstrami at Tat's (SO is a pastrami aficionado having grown up in Winnipeg, I know nothing)

                            Bakeries: Le Fournil, Crumble and Flake, Le Panier (feuilletés as I'm always looking for savoury pastries in the morning)

                            Fish tacos, ideally Baja Calif Sur style: Fish Basket

                            Please let me know if you have any thoughts on any of these, yea or nay, or what I've missed, many I'm sure. And of course always happy to hear feedback on older posts upthread for any latecomers to my little party :-).

                            Happy hours will be for another post as that list is already looooong :-)

                            1. re: grayelf

                              Seattle doesn't really have great Mexican but there are 3 places I go to that I really enjoy.

                              Huarachitos (Their mole negro is insanely good)
                              Carta De Oaxaca (Unique Oaxacan dishes, and some typical fare)
                              Fonda La Catrina (more typical mexican food but done right, using good ingredients and more care than most places, plus they have a small outside patio)

                              I've been to both Huarachitos and Fonda La Catrina in the past week, had great meals at both places. Carta de Oaxaca is unique, Oaxacan food is not your typical Mexican food so if you want something that's otherwise hard to find, I suggest Carta De Oaxaca.

                              I'll also throw Columbia City Bakery into your mix. I buy 90% of my bread there and it has spoiled me badly. I also like it in the morning because they always have delicious savory stuff on the menu. My favorite pastry in Seattle is their pistachio snail. Crumble and Flake is awesome but get there early. Same with Columbia City Bakery, the savory stuff tends to go first. The only bakery that doesn't seem to fun out of things is Bakery Nouveau, great place in West Seattle.

                              For a little West Seattle adventure I like to go to Bakery Nouveau, then The Swinery, then PCC near the Swinery. I stock up on pastries, cured meats, cheeses, drinks etc. Then head down to this secret park called Jack Block Park which is on Alki. You will notice absolutely no Parking on Alki, yet head to the park and there will be literally dozens of spaces. It has a truly epic view of the Seattle skyline across the water, nice grassy areas, and an observation deck. I don't understand why this park is never crowded when Alki is a complete zoo. I just call it "the secret park". I highly recommend checking it out, it is a great spot for pictures and hanging out for an hour or so on a sunny day. It's by Marination Mai Kai, so you could easily get Marination (their fish and chips are pretty good, among other things) and bring it to the park.

                              Baguette box is kinda over rated (I prefer the owners restaurant: Monsoon, which actually has the drunken chicken plate, which bore the sandwich of the same name). It's good, but there are better places. I used to work near a baguette box downtown so I ate there somewhat often. In any case it is right by Melrose Market so there's tons of options around there. Also, if you want a fried chicken sandwich try the one at Woodys, next to Melrose Market, wicked good under the radar chicken sandwich.

                              I love Uneeda but it can be somewhat inconsistent. For what it's worth I think the best thing on the menu (and possibly the best burger in Seattle, excluding restaurant burgers) is the classic burger, with cheese, and upgrade the beef to their premium option (from standard Painted Hills). Hell, that burger will hold its own against most restaurant burgers too. They have some cool special burgers/sandwiches too that I order occasionally but they can be pretty wild. I think their onion rings are kinda greasy though, I generally opt for sweet potato fries. Palace Kitchen, and Spur also have phenomenal burgers. I can't comment on other burgers, I don't tend to order burgers in restaurants too often. 2 Bells and Quinns are two that I really want to try though.

                              I'm planning a trip up to Vancouver later this summer. Already have a ton of research but I'll have to run it by you before I head up there Grayelf. You're definitely really going to enjoy your trip down here, you have tons of good intel.

                              1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                Thanks, EatFood, for your three Mexi-spots. I do enjoy Oaxacan food and it's hard to get a good version of it. Columbia City deffo on the list, along with Bakery Nouveau. C&F's lines are legendary, I think, so we may not have the stamina, plus their best (only?) stuff seems to be sweet.

                                I am putting your West Seattle shuffle holus bolus into my itin! Woody's sounds like a much better sub for Baguette Box as well.

                                Uneeda, Spur and Palace Kitchen burgers noted.

                                I am at your service re Van reccos!

                              2. re: grayelf

                                A couple of comments and additions to your list.

                                Mexican: We have been very happy with Señor Moose, and Carta De Oaxaca. We also like La Conasupo Market in Greenwood: It is not a restaurant, but a bunch of tables inside the back of the store, and they have a somewhat limited selection (mostly quesadillas), but the food is very tasty. (Check the hours first though).

                                Biscuits: I have not tried the places you mention, but can strongly recommend Morsel in the University District - seating is limited though.

                                Bakeries: Cafe Besalu for croissants. Also, if you go early to The Whale Wins for brunch, you can sometimes get very nice croissants there.

                                1. re: mforbes

                                  Not to get too far off on a tangent, my wife and I did an informal croissant taste-off this weekend after suffering through a really disappointing one at Milstead & Co, our favorite coffee place.

                                  We went to both Besalu and to Honore Bakery (both in Ballard) and got one each of their plain croissant, and their pain au chocolat. We brought them home and ate them within 30 minutes, so they were approximately equally fresh.

                                  While it wasn't a proper blind test, we gave a slight edge to Honore, who lean toward the more "brunette" school of baking (e.g. darker) with a better balance to their dough. Both were excellent and the margin was not large.

                                  On the pain au chocolat, we definitely preferred the chocolat in the Honore croissant to that used by Besalu. Besalu used a much larger amount but it didn't seem to "balance" the pastry as well.

                                  Both of these bakeries are producing what must be some of the best baked goods in Seattle, if not the other major metropolitan areas in the US where I've eaten, so there is no bad choice with either of them...

                                  1. re: mforbes

                                    And thanks again to you, mforbes! We have been to La Conasupo, though alas not on Sunday when they do the lamb barbacoa.

                                    We'll prolly just grab a biscuit to share so seating shouldn't be a problem at Morsel (great name and thanks for repeating this intel from your great coffee post upthread).

                                    Croissants in Vancouver are generally sad so cheers for those reccos. Thanks to RichinMV for the warning about the croissants at Milstead, a coffee spot we will likely be hitting. The SO enjoys a good pain au chocolat as well :-).

                                  2. re: grayelf

                                    Mexican: In addition to those already mentioned, I like the D.F. fare at El Quetzal, the al pastor tacos at Los Chilangos (truck), the tlayudas and barbacoa at El Cabrito (truck), and the tortas from Barriga Llena (truck and shop).

                                    Re: burgers*, understand (as you likely do) that the Quinn's burger and Uneeda are fairly different despite common origins/owners. Quinn's is rare-as-you-like while Uneeda tends to be pretty well-done burger stand style. Both are good. I'm not a fan of the tough sourdough roll they use at 2 bells (which could lead me down a tangential rant re: the Seattle/W. Coast tendency to use excessively hard and crusty breads in sandwich construction).

                                    You've really nailed the sandwich slate. I tend to throw the pambazo from El Quetzal into that sort of discussion, but that may be a pet project on my part.

                                    Bakeries: if in S. end check out Columbia City bakery.

                                    I don't know of a really good Baja-style fish taco here.

                                    *Your comment about BC burgers intrigues me since I just recently enjoyed a very good, definitely not overdone burger at a winery in the Okanagan Valley, BC. What stole the show, however, was its use of a country-style ham in the mix.

                                    1. re: equinoise

                                      It is possible to get a less cooked burger but the hoops the restos have to jump through are ridiculous so it's rare (pardon the pun). There's only one place in Vancouver that I know of that is doing one at the moment.

                                      Appreciate the roll warning for Two Bells -- off the list. Also I'm afraid Uneeda hits the chopping block. I can get well done well done at home :-).

                                      1. re: grayelf

                                        Uneedas problem is consistency. I've had everything from medium rare to well (mostly near medium) there. The good burgers I've had there we're truly incredible, the rest were somewhat disappointing. Probably not a bad idea to take it off the list, you'll already be at Paseos and Tats which are on the same block anyway and can satisfy similar cravings.

                                        Bax is right about Mexican food here in general. It's not as good as stuff in CA, or CO (or lots of states down that way) but it is probably still worth checking out as it will likely be better than what you can get in Vancouver, and it's easy to just grab some quickly as a pre-dinner snack. A lot of the portions at Fonda La Catrina, and Carta de Oaxaca aren't too big.

                                        I've had great, and bad meals at Poppy, the most recent was thoroughly subpar.

                                        1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                          I asked Uneeda for medium-rare last month and it was definitely well-done. Sigh. The berry lemonade was really good though.

                                        2. re: grayelf

                                          Despite the bread, Two Bells is a very enjoyable burger.

                                          Skillet's burger with bacon jam is also really good, IF you can get them to cook it to your desired temperature. I seem to remember that Local 360 does a good burger too, but I haven't been there in ages so don't know if it's still good....

                                          1. re: Bax

                                            i didn't care for local 360's burger. some weird sauce, very messy, not much beef flavor. i have sometimes had good luck with lunchbox laboratory. quinn's is good too.

                                            1. re: chartreauxx

                                              I couldn't get Lunchbox Laboratory to do anything other than well - they use thin patties - hard to do those mid rare.

                                              1. re: FoodDee

                                                i agree that LL is more about toppings than the burger, but hey.

                                      2. re: grayelf

                                        We're not a great donut town. Top Pot is fine, but there are so many great bakery-bakeries here that I wouldn't bother with a donut.

                                        1. re: grayelf

                                          Wow! So how many meals will you be scheduling beforehand? This is sounding like an epic foodie trip... I hope you will be doing plenty of walking in between meals. I just did foodie trips in both NYC and SF and can totally relate.

                                          The Sandwiches list is solid although Baguette Box was just meh. Have never been to Marination Station and so I can't really chime in on that one, but everything else is yummy. One more notable sandwich to add is the Wild Boar Sloppy Joe at Quinn's.

                                          As for burgers, also consider La Bête on Capitol Hill. I've done all four of the burgers you listed; Two Bells was a bit bland; King's Hardware does an "Afterschool Special" (with bacon and peanut butter) which I recall had a flavorful patty but the pb just set the whole thing over the top.

                                          1. re: grayelf

                                            I never found Mexican food in Seattle to be satisfying, but having grown up in TX and living in AZ for 18 years my standards were pretty high, and I'll admit that I didn't do an exhaustive search in the 2 years I was in Seattle. But...don't get your hopes up for outstanding Mexican food.

                                            Doughnuts: The ones at Dahlia are made to order, which helps a lot. Warm, fresh, and not overwhelmingly sweet. Top Pot is fine, but they're really just doughnuts. Nothing particularly notable or outstanding if you ask me.

                                            Biscuits: The one time I tried Biscuit Bitch the biscuits were fine but not particularly fresh. I'm a fan of Serious Biscuit, tho' -- I'll admit I've never eaten just a plain biscuit, but I'm very partial to the bacon/fried green tomato biscuit sandwich. SO GOOD.

                                            Sandwiches: PASEO PASEO PASEO! The #2 (Caribbean roast). I dream of them. Baguette Box is just ok; I didn't find the Drunken chicken to be notable, but maybe it's better eaten on premises instead of take-out?

                                            Bakeries: Besalu has the best plain croissant, in my opinion. Some days are better than others; they're always good, but on good days they're OUTSTANDING. The smoked paprika and cheddar croissants at Crumble and Flake are also really, really good.

                                            Things I always recommend: Walrus & Carpenter (extremely fresh, quality ingredients; simple preparations allow those ingredients to shine), Rachel's Ginger Beer (SO SO SO GOOD. Best consumed at the RBG shop at Pike Market or in cocktails at Montana or Nacho Borracho on Capitol Hill, but available at other shops/restaurants around town).

                                            1. re: Bax

                                              You all are just top drawer with all this intel, thanks muchly.

                                              I was thinking I'd find more doughnut reccs than I did so maybe we'll just stick to Dahlia, possibly share one at Top Pot just 'cuz.

                                              Adding Bete. Deep sixing Baguette Box. Serious Biscuit in the mix (gawd, enuf with the puns) -- want FGT and bacon on one! Managing Mexpectations. Sadly hate smoked anything except bacon so no C&F savoury croissant for me. Also neither of us are big ginger fans though I may bring some back for a gingerfiend friend if it comes bottled.

                                              1. re: grayelf

                                                Serious Biscuit is good, I like the fried green tomato sammy, but FWIW I like the actual biscuits from Morsel way better. Serious can be pretty tough.

                                                Never had a bad sandwich from Paseo but the seared scallop sandwich is tops for me (they ask you how spicy you want it and I always say 5/5, but this is not at all spicy for me. They just add pickled jalapenos, which are tasty, but not spicy).

                                                1. re: grayelf

                                                  I don't remember the smoked paprika croissant being all that overtly smoky, but it's been a while since I've had one so I could be wrong. And yeah, if you're not a ginger fan then RGB is not for you. It does come bottled, though, so your friend might appreciate it. Their website has info on where to buy.

                                                  1. re: grayelf

                                                    If nobody's mentioned this, the coconut cream pie is what you go to Dahlia for.

                                                    1. re: sweetpotater

                                                      More great tips, which I'm noting carefully even if I don't respond directly, so thanks +++.

                                                      I just saw this list of happy hours on Eater (Ba Bar, Mistral Kitchen and The Saint appeal) and it reminded me that I haven't pestered y'all for cocktail suggestions. I usually go for one at happy hour while the SO prefers a beer so if you have places that offer both good mixed drinks and beer selection (plus good snacks, natch), that'd be just swell :-).

                                                      1. re: grayelf

                                                        I love The Saint (but then I'm partial to tequila) but haven't been since they got a new chef.

                                                        I've enjoyed happy hour at Poppy -- the $5 mini-thali is small but usually interesting/tasty, eggplant fries are really good, and they have interesting cocktails (don't know about beer). I also love happy hour at Le Zinc -- cheap, delicious, plentiful mussels, frites with bone marrow aioli, good cocktails (again, don't know about beer other than that they have it).

                                                        1. re: Bax

                                                          My husband and I went to The Saint last night and the food from the new chef is fantastic. The suadero (braised beef belly) tacos were outstanding.

                                                          Hubby also liked the drinks, but he's not an expert on tequila.

                                                    2. re: grayelf

                                                      If La Bête has the Burgundy Snails on special -- you must get those! We're talking some serious "the earth moved, the angels wept" type of stuff. This isn't the garlic herb-butter treatment... it's a more of a red wine stew. Oh so good.

                                                  2. re: grayelf

                                                    Add Irwin's Bakery at 40th/Bagley & 65th/Latona. Oh that apple pie with coffee. For starters...

                                                    1. re: grayelf

                                                      If you are interested in a great burger, try the one at Roux. My burger club went recently and loved it.

                                                  3. re: mforbes

                                                    Great summary. I wasn't even aware of half of the places you've listed. Going to add this thread to my "go try these" list.

                                                    1. re: mforbes

                                                      I just have to say I'm delighted to see at least one quality coffee shop/café that stays open after dinner. Very hard to find in the cities I dine in most (Vancouver, Toronto, Portland, San Francisco).

                                                      1. re: mforbes

                                                        Thanks for the steer to Slate, mforbes, it was impeccable in every way: rock star parking, great music, super-engaged and knowledgeable staff, lovely interior, interesting offerings (they are doing a ridiculously good cold brew, a new thing, get it now!), total package.

                                                        Toast was not so good, alas, bad barista wrecked the SO's capp and my cold brew was not salutary, with none of the smoothness I look for -- also tasted coffee grounds-y so I doctored with cream and sugar, which I don't do. We only drank half of each.

                                                        The pastries we snagged from Besalu after a not too bad wait were worth every moment. Really top notch plain croissant for the SO, whereas I indulged in both the ham and swiss pastry and the sour cherry gallette. The former was delicious and generous in the filling, whereas the latter was dare I say it, transcendently light and flaky, with that little crunch you get from this type of pastry done well. I'd line up again!

                                                        1. re: grayelf

                                                          That's a shame about Toast. When were you there? (Last time I was in, their barista was from Slate, so I would have expected it to be up to snuff.)

                                                          1. re: grayelf

                                                            I'm surprised no one has mentioned Fuji Bakery for croissants. While I am a major Besalu fan, Fuji is to me the closest second. They're open on days Besalu is closed (Mon-Tue) and are close to downtown. I've never seen a line more than a couple of people long.

                                                            Fuji is at 6th and S. King St, on the corner across from the original Uwajimaya.They are also in Bellevue.

                                                            Note: My comparison is based on plain croissants only, and to what would be top (rarely found) croissants in Paris.