Seattle: a city where everyone is so hopped up on caffeine, they don’t mind walking vertically. I caught the buzz last week. It would have been almost impossible not to… (and over here, we have Starbucks, and if you look down the street, just past the Starbucks… oh, yeah, that’s another Starbucks).
|A view from West Seattle|
While it’s true, there are probably more Starbucks’ than germs on the Post Alley gum wall (below), Seattle has a lot more to offer than the worlds most loved/hated coffee. In fact, Seattle has kind of got it going on. Case in point: Pike Place Market (tour courtesy of Saveur Food Tours).
|Leaving forensic evidence on the Gum Wall|
|Scenes from Pike Market Place|
At the famed institution, you can stuff your face with impossibly fluffy donuts, get some laxative tea, catch a salmon, and buy your girlfriend some flowers (chances are, if you’ve been together long enough, she’s probably mad at you). At face value, it’s a consumer paradise for cheap, good Seattle eats; however, don’t miss a chance to delve into the market’s history. It is clearly portrayed through murals throughout the market. Its tale is as good as the food… almost.
|Donuts, tea, and smoked salmon... it's all about pairing|
So many food gems surround the market; it’s like the advanced level of minesweeper, and you want to land on these mines. Piroshky, Piroshky, your light, fluffy dough sings a song that unfreezes my cold, rained out heart (oh, wait, the weather was actually beautiful while we were there; we’ll pretend for effect). Yep, it sure rained a lot. And how can we forget Beecher’s cheese, where you can watch the birth of the little cheese curd babies that you will soon be devouring in the form of their famous macaroni and cheese. Delicious murder.
We are in Seattle, the land of Tom Douglas, so a stop in at Etta’s for a dungeness crab cake is definitely in order. Fortunately, Sir Douglas knows that it is called a crab cake, and not an everything-but-crab-cake. People, take notes. Also note, you can get some damn good breakfast downtown at his restaurant Serious Pie/Biscuit.
The market is indeed a damn good way to get familiar with the city’s eats; however, there are a few other things you should cross off your list if you really want the true Seattle experience, and each comes in a different neighborhood.
Venture over to West Seattle via water taxi and have yourself some Kimchi Fried Rice at Marinator Ma Kai. You can sit at a picnic table and take in the view of Seattle from across the Bay. Make the rounds and find yourself at Alki beach, possibly molesting seal statues… no one is really sure what’s happening here.
Next, ride the 40 bus with a diverse collection of the cities more frugal folks up to 36th street in Fremont. Get off, head north, and pop into one of the best damn sandwich shops I have ever been in. Seriously, Dot’s Delicatessen knows how to do a sandwich. The high quality bread, meats, and dressings make for my standout food experience for the whole trip. Try the Porchetta. Thank me later.
Have brunch in Capital Hill. Sure, it’s probably better known as the party central and a haven for the GLBT crowd, but Capital Hill knows how to cure a hangover: delicious brunch. Take part in this culinary right of passage at Skillet Diner. You can cry into a cinnamon roll the size of a salad plate, or rejoice over a waffle topped with two eggs and a slice of crispy pork belly.
Weave your way through the factories that line the streets of the Ballard neighborhood and make a game out of finding Walrus and the Carpenter. The humble sign and long hallway reveal a tiny, 42-person occupancy room where nine employees provide the true Seattle experience: honest, good seafood. Oysters shucked right in front of you (smell test included). Steak tartar made to order right in view. Truly a treat, even if you have to wait an hour, despite being at the restaurant at 4:15 on a Sunday (FYI they open at 4:00).
Also, don’t stick you nose up at the more popular Seattle sights. Be the tourist that you are (who are you kidding, you’re wearing Uggs in 70 degree weather) and visit the space needle and the Chihuly glass museum. You owe it to yourself to shove yourself in that tin-can elevator with a bunch of foreigners! Woo!
Final word of advice: walk. It’s the best way to get to know a city and its residents, even if one of those neighborly inhabitants is wielding a rather large wooden knife and having an intimate battle of one on the street corner across from you (5 bucks on the guy with the knife).
Here are some other mentionable delicious finds:
|IFBC sponsor and my official thirst quencher|