• Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Vacation in Seattle

Seattle - Fireworks and Flannel
July 3, 2012
By , Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Good For: Couples, groups, solo travelers – and anyone who likes to eat like a king. This is one of the best food cities in the U.S.

The Highlights:

  • Pike’s Place Market, a mecca for foodies. You’ll sample everything from  apples to truffle oil to crab in a cone
  • Farm-to-table dining at Sitka & Spruce in the hipster Capitol Hill neighborhood  
  • Checking out the Ballard area and lining up with the masses for a croissant and coffee at Café Besalu  

What to Know: Seattle is a chilled-out city, for a chilled-out weekend. The culture is about wandering through the food markets, sampling the restaurants, and enjoying the misty Seattle weather. Touristy sights (aka the Needle) may not be that engaging for seasoned travelers.  Hotels are generally basic – we’re only recommending one in the city – and there’s not a big bar and club scene. We highly suggest doing a side trip to the wine country.

Suggested Stay: Two days, plus another for a side trip to Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla or Mount Rainer

My Seattle, ‘tis of thee, sweet land of flannels, grunge gourmets, and McDreamy. In honor of the 4th of July, Seattle is a city that epitomizes the “I sold my company for $40 mil” American dream.  But in Seattle, it’s not just tech that’s cutting-edge.   Seattle is one of the best food cities in the United States. For the quality of life and distinct Pacific Northwest architecture and culture, it’s no wonder that hitters like Microsoft and Amazon have set up shop in this corner of the world.

Home Away from Home

Seattle is a walkable city, with the central Pike’s Place Market near most of the shopping and restaurants. It should be no surprise that the Four Seasons snagged prime real estate a half block from the entrance to Pike’s Place. The Seattle property is classic Four Seasons, with a Pacific Northwest spin on its clean architecture and modern rooms. Hotel amenities are top-notch; the pool is heated and open year-round and they have a full-service spa with a relaxation room. While Seattle is not a big bar city, the Four Seasons bar is full on any given night with locals enjoying the frequent happy-hour specials and the cheese buffet. The Four Seasons is really the only game in town for high-end accommodation.  

The Mother of Markets

Any foodie worth their sea salt makes the pilgrimage to Pike’s Place Market, which is the mecca for those who are passionate about food. Seafood is a highlight. Who needs ice cream when there’s crab in a cone? The best crab is at City Fish Co., where they’ll serve you a side of cioppino with your cone, just because. Pike’s Place also smokes its salmon on-site, and will let you sample it warm, right before they box it up. They ship anywhere in the U.S. Don’t be surprised if the market also becomes your source for lobster tails for your summer grill.  

And, instead of wine tastings, it’s about apple flights, where your fruit guy will slice up various types of apples, describing each like fine wine. Our list outlines the best of what the market has to offer. Just make sure to bring those elastic-waistband pants. 

One of the best meals in Seattle is at Matt’s in the Market, which is three floors above the produce sellers. Because of its locale and easy décor, you’d expect it to be a tourist trap. Well, this is exactly where you want to be trapped. There aren’t many places where a tatted-out waiter can detail the provenance of every ingredient in your Bloody Mary – and your slow-cooked brisket sandwich and oven-baked catfish.

On the fringe of the market is Steelhead Diner. Don’t let its kitschy look fool you; they take diner food to a high art. Think caviar pie and crab benedict. It’s one of the top 45-minute gourmet meals you can have in the U.S. 

Farm-to-Fork

Here, farm-to-fork isn’t the exception. It’s the way of life. If you didn’t know, it is possible to find happiness in a pot pie, and a vegetarian at that, especially if it’s from Local 360. The pot pie comes out with a golden flaky crust with butter still melting on the top. The Local 360 may look like a casual bar, but they’re serious about sourcing all local ingredients within a 360-mile radius. At Sitka & Spruce, in the too-cool-for-school Capitol Hill neighborhood, order small plates of perfection like salmon with strawberries and rose petals, and lentils with harissa, mint, and hazelnuts. Every single flavor in their inventive dishes is amplified. The Boat Street Cafe reveals simple yet culinary highbrow cuisine that has earned it a James Beard nomination. Standouts have included trout stuffed with raisins, and the signature bread pudding. 

When you think it can’t get any better, take a look inside the kitchens of Mistral, the locals’ special-occasion place, and Bisato, for nicely priced molecular cuisine. Here, you’ll spy some of the best (looking) chefs in the country. It’s not just the food that’s yummy in Seattle.

Not just Flannels

Seattle is not known for its shopping, but they do have some gems. Goorin Brothers has cool guy and girl hats, ranging from fedoras to classic top hats. Next door, Peter Miller is a dying breed – the independent bookstore – which features finely edited collections that could easily fit in any home library on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Antiques at Pike’s Place is a treasure trove of curated items, neatly presented in rows upon rows of curio cabinets. For more mainstream gifts, pop in to Lucca in the Ballard area for gifts of stationery, books, jewelry, and soaps. When all else fails or if you need your fix of couture, Seattle is one of the few cities in the U.S. with a Barneys.

Sleepless in Seattle

With the marathon of eating, you’d think you’d be in a food coma, but au contraire, mon frère. Seattle is practically the birthplace of modern-day coffee. Or at least the birthplace of Starbucks, where the first café opened in Pike’s Place. While you can of course get Starbucks in virtually any city, the Seattle original serves distinctively strong brew. For those who can’t take the heat, Le Panier, a few doors down, makes a milder cup of joe. 

Like a sommelier with wine, you can coffee-taste throughout the city. For breakfast, head to Café Besalu in the Ballard Street area, where the coffee is solid, but the star attractions are the croissant and pain au chocolate. Expect to wait it out, like in a cupcake line in New York. Caffe Senso Unico is a locals’ favorite, located in the more commercial area of town, while Caffe Vita is giving Starbucks a run for its money as a chainlet of coffeehouses where some serious games of Scrabble go down. At the traditional Le Pichet, you might think you’re in a Parisian bistro on the Left Bank, sipping an inky espresso. Yes, it’s the strong black stuff that’ll keep you sleepless in Seattle. That, and all those late-night rendezvous with delicious chefs.