Dining Out

Seattle: A Food Tour

One of my good friends from high school, Connor, came and visited me in Seattle for the past few days. He’s never been here (aside from when he was young), so I got to play host/tour guide and take him to some quintessential Seattle spots.

Three days later, and I am totally exhausted. But it was fun going all over the city and doing things I don’t normally get to do. We walked to Volunteer Park, we went to Pike Place (on a weekday, so we didn’t even have to deal with the normal weekend crowds!), we checked out the EMP (of course), we took advantage of free admission at the SAM, we people-watched outside Cafe Vita for a solid hour…It’s funny, we really did pack a lot of stuff into the time he was here, and yet there are still a lot of things I can think of that we didn’t get to do. Farmers markets, concerts…next visit, right?

Before Connor came, I tried to think of the restaurants I needed to take him to. No tour of Seattle is complete without a tour of the awesome food, especially if I’m hosting. Needless to say, I knew ahead of time that I most certainly would not be starting my healthy eating return until after his visit… I wanted to give a decent overview of all the different types of food the city has to offer. Obviously, places like Canlis or Art of the Table weren’t exactly in the game plan…we stuck with things a bit more in my meager college student price range.

The night he flew in, we grabbed a late-night meal at Cafe Presse. He got to try their Croque Madame and fries, and got his first taste of Capitol Hill. The first morning, we grabbed breakfast at Skillet. It’s within walking distance from my place, which made it more convenient than Beth’s (plus I’d just been to Beth’s and wasn’t really feeling it…sorry…). As far as breakfast in and around Capitol Hill, Skillet’s one of my favorites. There’s also Glo’s and Oddfellows, but Oddfellow’s brunch is only on weekends, and personally, I like the menu options, although more limited, at Skillet over Glo’s. Because we weren’t at Skillet on a weekend, we missed out on the giant cinnamon rolls…definitely for the best.

Later that day, we stopped at Espresso Vivace on the way to Volunteer Park. Vivace tends to get the reputation of being the best espresso in Seattle…not quite sure if I totally agree, but it is pretty good! For dinner the first day, we went to Poquitos in Capitol Hill with friends. While Poquitos isn’t exactly one of those “must-see” restaurants in the city, my friends and I go there fairly often, so I thought it would be nice to take Connor there. He got the yam tacos on our recommendation, I stuck with their beet salad and too many chips. We also made late-night stops to Big Mario’s pizza and Cafe Pettirosso, which I’m a tad obsessed with since their remodel.

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Yam tacos at Poquitos in Capitol Hill

The next day, we made our way down to Pike Place and grabbed Piroshky Piroshky. There are so many great places to grab a bite down there, but Prioshky Piroshky has a special spot in my heart, plus a friend had told Connor about it and he was eager to try. We both got one sweet one and one savorybecause you might as well go all out on vacation, obviously. Connor got Bavarian sausage and Oscar’s Star (loaded with chocolate hazelnut sauce and whipped cream), I got cabbage and onion and a cinnamon cardamom braid. Delicious, as usual.

They gave Connor a special box for Oscar's Star instead of the usual paper pouches...so fancy!

They gave Connor a special box for Oscar’s Star instead of the usual paper pouches…so fancy!

Every time I go to the market, I’m tempted to buy the warm nuts at the stand towards the end. The cinnamon almonds are so good; with Connor here, I had my excuse to give in. We split a bag of caramel cashews, and then grabbed sushi for a late lunch at Japonessa.

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Super Bad Boy Roll

If you live in Seattle and haven’t taken advantage of happy hour at Japonessa, you are crazy. It’s some pretty awesome sushi (arguably some of the best in the city, or at least downtown) and their happy hour prices make it pretty affordable. You could go to Genki sushi and get mediocre/questionable sushi for a few bucks, or you could go to Japonessa and get miso soup for $1, a spicy Seattle roll for $5, and my personal favorite, the Super Bad Boy roll (tempura fried and filled with unagi, cream cheese, avocado, and crab, and topped with more crab and spicy mayo) for $6. Plus the happy hour lasts almost all day, and there are a lot of roll and appetizer options to choose from.

The menu at Thai Tom

The menu at Thai Tom

That night, we drove to the U District and got dinner at Thai Tom. I’d thought about taking Connor to Gorditos, but we were both pretty stuffed, and he thought Thai sounded awesome. Thai Tom, if you’re unfamiliar, is a super tiny hole-in-the-wall on the Ave. They don’t have a website, and their menu lacks food descriptions.

The place inside is always packed and a tight squeeze, and having to wait upwards of 45 minutes for a seat is usually expected. Personally, it’s my favorite Thai food in Seattle. The plates aren’t as large as lots of other places, but they pack some serious spice…I stick with 2 out of 5 stars for spice level, and I love spicy food…I learned my lesson the one time I felt brave and requested a 3. I got the Chef’s special, which was garlic chicken, and Connor got the curry Thai fried rice. We also split some fried tofu and got Thai iced tea.

After dinner, I felt obliged to take him to at least one of the popular dessert places in Capitol Hill, so we went to Bluebird for ice cream. I’m not a big Molly Moon’s fan, and Bluebird is only two blocks away and a lot better. All the flavors are awesome, but my personal favorite is their Elysian Stout.

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On the third day, we slept in and grabbed an early lunch with one of my friends at HoneyHole. I haven’t been there since last year, but it remains one of my favorite places, both for the atmosphere and awesome sandwiches and fries. Normally I stick with the Fast Eddie, but I decided to try one of the vegetarian options and opted for the Bellissimo, which has field roast, tomatoes, sauteed onions, peppers, basil, goat cheese, and red pepper mayo. Connor tried Chachi’s Favorite, which has turkey, havarti, tomato, and ranch.

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I also made sure we stopped at Cupcake Royale, as I feel like a tour of Seattle wouldn’t be quite complete without trying at least one of their flavors. Luckily, they had the Whiskey Maple Bacon cupcake, which Connor definitely thought was worth trying. (I snagged a chocolate babycake). There are so many places to grab dessert in Capitol Hill, but Cupcake Royale remains one of the most popular, and they have some great flavors. This month, they’re featuring the Velvet Elvis, which is a banana cupcake with peanut butter chocolate frosting, topped with bacon.

After going to the Space Needle and EMP, we grabbed coffee at Cafe Vita. For dinner, we  went to Oddfellows and shared some appetizers. I tend to only go to Oddfellows for breakfast, but their appetizers for dinner are pretty good. The food, in my opinion at least, is pretty similar to a lot of places in Seattle, with simple, local ingredients. (And of course, since it’s in Capitol Hill, their drink menu is pretty great as well). We got a fig, burrata, and arugula crostini plate, a side order of their cauliflower romanesco with red onions and almonds (absolutely delicious), the pumpkin soup with curried apples, and a radicchio and beet salad. After dinner, we stopped at Manhattan, which is celebrating their one-year anniversary this weekend. I got to try their fried pickles, and I have to say they were pretty darn good.

Overall, I must have been a pretty good tour guide, because he’s already talking about coming back. And now, the food recovery begins…hello, grapefruit.

For those of you visiting Seattle any time soon, here are some of my other favorite places I think are worth checking out that we didn’t have time to get to:
Beth’s Cafe (greasy spoon food for breakfast, late night)
Gordito’s (split a giant baby-sized burrito for dinner)
Terra Plata (earth-to-plate food good for a nice dinner)
Pike Street Fish Fry (forget Ivar’s, the fish & chips here are way better)
Annapurna (Indian/Tibetan/Nepali food, cozy and warm atmosphere)
Paseo (awesome Caribbean sandwiches perfect for lunch to-go)

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