It's a group of "kids, adults, adventurous, picky, etc." Where can they all eat happily together while getting a taste of the best of Seattle's restaurant scene?
In case you haven’t been to Pike Place Market lately, it’s prime tourist time in Seattle. Vince writes seeking advice for a group that sounds fun, but also like, um, a bit of a challenge when it comes to getting fed.
It’s Vince Press in Rochester, New York. I write a local food column for our daily paper The Democrat & Chronicle. We’re heading to Seattle/the San Juans next week, and I thought I could hit you up for your top recommendations. Traveling with a mixed group — kids, adults, adventurous, picky, etc. — so looking for solid, creative food and vibe without crazy, crazy prices or unrecognizable menus (which I would like!). Thanks in advance and I owe you one if you travel to upstate New York!
- Semi-casual seafood/oyster bar
- Cool cocktails and beers (If I get to escape with my wife one evening)
- Lunch (pizza?)
- Friday Harbor restaurants
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Welcome to our perfect weather and incredible food! Seattle in the summertime is the world’s best place to visit (and hey, no one can afford to actually live here anymore). Thanks for being so specific about what you’re looking for, restaurant-wise — it’s really much easier to make recommendations for a somewhat pain-in-the-neck group than it is to answer the incapacitatingly broad question “Where should I eat when I’m visiting Seattle?” Here are some kid-friendly-ish, not-too-esoteric-or-expensive choices for each of your categories. With a group, always call to try to make a reservation or at least warn them that you’re coming (but you know that). I hope you do get to escape with your wife… make it happen!
Semi-casual seafood/oyster bar: Hidden away in Pike Place Market (which you’ll be going to as required by Seattle tourist law), Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar is an old-school, low-key favorite with a cute, divey oyster bar and a bit of sweet outdoor seating — and it’s got a journalism background, too. (If an oyster bar isn’t to some of your group’s taste, those poor souls can get very tasty, on-the-cheap Chinese at neighboring Country Dough.) In historic Pioneer Square (also required; note that the Underground Tour is surprisingly neat), the little Faerie Queene is often overlooked but lovely, with lots of choices for everyone. For something more upscale, try one of the three Taylor Shellfish Farms oyster bars (Pioneer Square and lower Queen Anne are best suited to groups). And for real grown-up seafood restaurants in Seattle: The Walrus and the Carpenter or RockCreek (both absolutely worth stashing the kids and ditching any seafood-haters!).
Cool cocktails and beers: Damn the Weather in Pioneer Square is a personal favorite that’s gotten national recognition, with very good, interesting food, too (and the new chef should still be great); they only have a handful of beers, but those also look good/interesting. My cocktail-writer colleague Tan Vinh recommends Canon on Capitol Hill (and I concur!).
Lunch (pizza?): Italian Family Pizza, which just moved to First Hill, is among the best in town, plus they’re super-friendly and it’s well-priced. While eating congee in a basement in summertime may not sound appealing, Kraken Congee in Pioneer Square makes a cool break with much more than rice porridge (and theirs is super-tasty! And they have a full bar! This one could also easily go under “Asian” for a casual dinner). Salumi, also in Pioneer Square, from the family of one Mario Batali, is world-famous for its sandwiches (rightfully so). Also: Take the water taxi to Marination Ma Kai for Hawaiian-Korean lunch (or midafternoon, or dinner, or drinks). Warning: May be crowded. Worth it.
Asian: Revel in Fremont, from an inspired/inspiring Seattle chef duo, makes awesome Northwest-Korean food, and it’s busy/fun enough that the kids probably won’t get too bored (the kids are well-behaved, right?). Ba Bar, near Capitol Hill, is an excellent, pretty-but-not-fancy Vietnamese place (with probably the city’s best pho) from the Banh siblings, who also run the wonderful upscale Monsoon and Seven Beef. Little Uncle on Capitol Hill makes delicious Thai food (no sweet, red pad Thai here), but it’s small — Soi, bigger and not far away, is also well-reputed (I haven’t been yet). Capitol Hill’s Kedai Makan makes incredible Malaysian food, if that’s not too out there for your group. Want fancier? Try Korean steakhouse Girin in Pioneer Square.
Friday Harbor restaurants: Seattle Times restaurant reviewer Providence Cicero (yes, her real name!) says she’s always heard good things about Duck Soup Inn. Otherwise, I haven’t been there in ages, and my sources are oddly silent on the subject, so read reviews online, and maybe some readers out there will help in comments…
Have fun! Let me know where you go and how you like it.