Ours is a food-lover's Paradise. When I asked folks to join me in singling out the places we show off to visitors, they proved loud and...
Ours is a food-lover’s Paradise. When I asked folks to join me in singling out the places we show off to visitors, they proved loud and proud, pointing to the city’s delicious attractions. Did we miss your show-off spots? Share them on the blog.
There’s seafood and then there’s “see” food. With apologies to a certain native chief, that’s why they call it Seattle. “When I pick [guests] up at the airport, I like to jump on the viaduct and breeze through downtown for that ‘Chamber of Commerce tour.’ Then get off in Ballard and head for Ray’s Cafe for deck seats,” says one Eater. “By the time they finish their first beer, they’re AGOG.” She’s preaching to the Ray-mondo Tabernacle Choir. I heard mighty praise for Ray’s, whose Boathouse “is a great way of showing what the Pacific Northwest has to offer”: classic seafood (“don’t miss the sablefish in sake kasu”) coupled with a stunning Shilshole view.
“My elderly parents are from Phoenix,” notes another water baby whose dad’s a chowder fiend, “so we love to take them to places with great water views: Anthony’s Beach Cafe in Edmonds, Salty’s on Alki for brunch and Ivar’s on Lake Union.” Worth noting (others did) is Salty’s South End version (“Redondo is cool, too!”), and Ivar’s Lake Union Salmon House has more going for it than chowder and a view (“The building is a virtual museum of Northwest tribal culture”). Chinook’s at Salmon Bay provides a more contemporary look at Northwest, uh, tribal culture: Its Fishermen’s Terminal location is home base for the crew from “Deadliest Catch.” Chinook’s lure includes an extensive seafood-driven menu and a “fun atmosphere that won’t break the bank.” Oyster slurpers from other climes will go gonzo here.
In addition, hoisters find heaven on the half-shell downtown at the Brooklyn where the bivalves are a bargain at happy hour. Ditto for Elliott’s Oyster House on Pier 56, with its extensive array of Pacific Northwest beauties. Eaters are well-versed in the charms of the Walrus and the Carpenter; reminiscent of a Parisian oyster parlor, this Ballard boîte is a romanticist’s dream. But “the secret is out and it’s a small place, so be prepared to wait (no reservations!).”
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The panoramic Elliott Bay view at Palisade in Magnolia offers wow factor, note several respondents. Others employ the fabulously funky factor when wowing visitors. Says one: “I always feel like an ‘insider’ when I take guests to The Pink Door. I love entering through the unmarked door along Post Alley, and their [rooftop] patio is so charming” — thanks, in part, to its Elliott Bay view. Others hit the Door for entertainment (trapeze artists! burlesque!) to complement the Italian food. Columbia City neighbors cite La Medusa as a guest magnet. Its summer seductions include a Wednesday-night farmers market menu, culled fresh from vendors steps away. A South Ender suggests Neapolitan pizza at Pizzeria Pulcinella in Rainier Beach, where “it’s mellow enough to talk and get caught up.”
I introduce folks to that festive Italian food favorite, Staple & Fancy Mercantile (sharing Ballard real estate with the Walrus). There, chef Ethan Stowell’s multicourse “fancy menu” is a value at $45 a head. But, surprise! That abondanza is chef’s choice.
For an equally memorable Italian meal in a more restrained environment, kudos go to Kirkland’s Cafe Juanita. My guests (and my readers’) go home raving about “spot-on service, fantastic food and a nice but relaxed setting.”
“If we are treating a foodie, we love Book Bindery,” insist those who put this on the guest list for its gorgeous food, glam bar and elegant dining room (count me among them). Greenhouse seating affords Ship Canal views, and wine aficionados will appreciate the owners’ adjacent winery, Almquist Family Vintners, complete with a tasting room.
“I love taking visitors to our many wonderful international food haunts,” wrote one reader, naming Ras-Dashen (a former church in the Central District) for Ethiopian, Kabul (in Wallingford) for the foods of Afghanistan and Tamarind Tree (in Seattle’s Little Saigon) for Vietnamese. Me, too!
Vietnamese-food fans also swoon for Monsoon (on Capitol Hill and in Bellevue). Poppy, on Capitol Hill, takes its cue from India, making use of a tandoor and chef Jerry Traunfeld’s signature thalis for a taste sensation that’s decidedly Northwest. (It’s also “great for bar nibbles.”) Thai food tempts at West Seattle’s Buddha Ruksa, a stop that should include sightseeing along Alki Beach.
Got adventurous teens in tow? Some say “Take ’em to Dick’s Drive-in!” I say, take them to the food court at Uwajimaya! Or to Fremont’s Revel, for artistic Asian eats with a Korean accent. Others suggest introducing them to Ballard’s Señor Moose, La Carta de Oaxaca and Cocina Esperanza — for Mexican food they won’t find at Taco Bell.
There’s a million reasons why millions of tourists pay homage to Pike Place Market. Among them: Matt’s in the Market, affording visitors a bird’s-eye view of the big clock day and night — and spectacular sandwiches at lunch. French-food fanatics flock to intimate Le Pichet, where I treat guests to breakfast. But the big hook, say many, is the Steelhead Diner, where you won’t find steelhead, but you will find some of the city’s finest salmon.
Pike/Pine’s Melrose Market isn’t as old or as big as Pike Place, but it’s captured Seattle food lovers’ fancy and stolen our hungry hearts. “Melrose Market is perfect on the weekend,” suggests an admirer. “Brunch at Sitka & Spruce and pick up meat (from Rain Shadow Meats) and cheese (The Calf & the Kid) for dinner.” Throughout the week, hit Homegrown for sandwiches, Bar Ferd’nand for wine and a nosh, Marigold & Mint for organic herbs and produce, and don’t miss the latest addition, Taylor Shellfish Farms retail store, where guests can get giggly over geoducks and slurp one last oyster — in order to remember the many Seatown treasures Seattle has to offer.
Nancy Leson: 206-464-8838 or email@example.com. Read her blog, www.seattletimes.com/allyoucaneat, and listen to her on KPLU-FM (88.5)