Typical media coverage of Seattle has always seemed warped to me — the inevitable mentions of Boeing, Amazon, and the rain. How depressing.
Today, we’re going to talk about food. I truly believe Seattle is one of America’s first class cities for gourmet dining. And I’m going to show you what you need to know to do it in a long weekend.
Tours, Markets, Carts, and Windows
One disappointment I have with Seattle food is that often some of my favorite establishments change or close. Thus, Seattle is one of the towns where I strongly recommend getting on a food tour or two to guide to you to the latest and greatest. Savor Seattle is a great option, and with choices like “hip on the hill” or “booze n bites,” what are you waiting for? Their guides are really in the know, so be sure to hit them up for recommendations and tips while en route.
Savor does a Pike’s Place Market tour, but actually I think you should wander the market on your own and see what you uncover. Get some doughnuts from daily dozen, pick up gourmet gifts and treats to take home at DeLaurenti’s, sample some cheese at Beecher’s, get chocolate (and chocolate spa products!) from indi chocolate, or wander into Market Spice at the back of the market and see what you fancy.
The Pacific Northwest also seems to be a fan of the food window. It’s sort of like a food cart, but the cart is in a building. (I know, it’s weird. Just trust me.) If you want a food cart, that’s cool; here’s the list — Ivar’s, on Pier 54, is a classic example. But if you head out into the neighborhoods, check out Marination Station or Kedai Makan in Capitol Hill.
Sit Down Dining
Seattle is not like Portland – people love to sit down for a fine meal, completely with linen napkins. (And unlike Portland, people do actually dress up for dinner here. I’ve lived in both cities, I speak with confidence.) Canlis is the most famous — reservations required — and probably has some of the best service of any restaurant in the country. And what a view.
Normally I don’t flock towards celebrity chefs, but Tom Douglas is a notable exception. All of his Seattle venues I would recommend: Lola is wonderful, Serious Pie is simple (and more casual — pizza shown above), Dahlia Lounge for brunch.
Pour Yourself a Beverage
Looking for a cold one? Seattle has all that and more. Wine is easy; Purple Cafe is one of the most well-known (perhaps for its beautiful wine staircase), but honestly I find this place just meh. I prefer The Tasting Room or Fonte.
Seattle has some great beer, too, though I have to say most breweries in Seattle don’t have the best food, nor service. Pike Place Brewing and Elysian are the two best for brews, though I also like having a beer at Six Arms in Capitol Hill (photo above), an extension of the McMenamin’s chain of locally-owned restaurants.
Foodies Need to Sleep
After all those calories, you’re going to need safe refuge, and Seattle has your back. Four Seasons Seattle is one of the best hotels in the Four Seasons network, with an amazing on-site spa and very comfortable rooms, all just a couple of blocks from Pike’s Place Market. Rooms have a great view, and if the weather has you down you have not only one of Seattle’s best restaurants in the lobby but also chocolate and salted caramels from Fran’s, all available to you without having to step foot outside.
Motif is a relatively new hotel to the Seattle scene (for those in the know, it used to be a Red Lion). It’s a sleek, sexy hotel — ask for a west-facing room if you can, the views (above) are wonderful. Right on 5th Avenue, the hotel is steps from all the shopping hot spots and is also home to the up-and-coming Frolik restaurant, which I think has some strong culinary talent in the back of the house. Frolik has a wonderful outdoor terrace (see lead photo, above).
Wine lovers will want to hang their hat at Hotel Vintage, part of the Kimpton brand. With wine-themed rooms, a free wine happy hour, local wines in your minibar, and a great Italian restaurant (so good we held an event there), you’ll be a happy camper here.
Disclosure: The author has received discounted stays previously at the hotels mentioned.