The Non-Tourist's Guide to Seattle: Part Two (Where to Eat, Where to Drink)

A Seattle specialty: raw oysters.  Photo by The Walrus & The Carpenter.

A Seattle specialty: raw oysters.  Photo by The Walrus & The Carpenter.

In Part One of the Non-Tourist Guide to Seattle we tackled where to stay and what to do in the Emerald City. Now it's time to get to the really good stuff - where to eat, drink and go out at night! 

In my less than five years living here, I've witnessed Seattle quickly rise to the ranks of one of the better foodie cities in the country.  During that time, Seattle's bars have also been nationally recognized as among the best in the country by food and drink critics for GQ, Food + Wine, Bon Appetit and The James Beard Foundation. And with strong musical roots - Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice & Chains and Soundgarden to name a few - it's no surprise that Seattle has some incredible venues dedicated to live music and shows of all types from musicals to stand-up comedy.  

I am always happy to offer restaurant, bar and entertainment recs (and couldn't possibly fit all of them on this list), so if you have any questions, leave me a comment!

Where to Eat:

Asian Fusion:

*Joule Restaurant (Wallingford) - Seattle Magazine named Joule one of its best restaurants for 2013. Try Joule's modern take on Korean cuisine, especially the octopus, bok choy and hot bacon vinaigrette.

Simple and classic interior of Joule in Wallingford.  Photo by Joule Restaurant.  

Simple and classic interior of Joule in Wallingford.  Photo by Joule Restaurant.  

Monsoon (Capitol Hill) - Monsoon puts a spin on Vietnamese cuisine with Pacific Northwest influences.  Impressive wine list.

Wild Ginger (Downtown) - This Asian Fusion restaurant's menu provides its diners through a tour of Southeast Asia.  Don't miss the satays, fragrant duck, seven flavor beef and princess prawns. 

Bakery:

*Bakery Nouveau (West Seattle or Capitol Hill) - Pastries and breads are exceptional.  Enough said.

Delicious treats in the bakery case at Bakery Nouveau.  Photo by Bakery Nouveau.

Delicious treats in the bakery case at Bakery Nouveau.  Photo by Bakery Nouveau.

Belle Epicurean (Downtown or Madison Valley) - A French patisserie, Belle Epicurean has some of the best macarons this side of Paris. Check out their fine wine and high quality foods store, Provisions, located beside the Madison Valley location.

Dahlia Bakery (Belltown) - Food Network's Giada De Laurentiis named Dahlia Bakery's vanilla mascarpone and cinnamon sugar doughnuts "the best thing I ever ate."

Le Panier (Downtown) - A classic French boulangerie and patisserie across from Pike Place Market, Le Panier serves several types of classic and specialty French breads, croissants and tarts.

Brunch:

Salish Lodge (Snoqualmie) - It's about an hour drive outside of Seattle, but brunch at Salish Lodge is worth the trek.  Order the "honey from heaven" with your biscuits.

Skillet Diner (Ballard or Capitol Hill) - Skillet was so popular as a food truck, they finally opened a brick and mortar restaurant.  Great brunch.  Pork belly and cornmeal waffles... yum.

*The Wandering Goose (Capitol Hill) - The Wandering Goose is one of the most authentic Southern cooking restaurants I've found in Seattle.  It should be - the owner is from North Carolina.

One serious biscuit at The Wandering Goose: housemade sausage, sautéed kale, tomato jam and a fried egg.  Photo by The Wandering Goose.

One serious biscuit at The Wandering Goose: housemade sausage, sautéed kale, tomato jam and a fried egg.  Photo by The Wandering Goose.

Burgers:

Dick's Drive-In (several locations) - Dick's is a Seattle burger institution.  I think it's a bit overrated, but if you visit Seattle, you should probably visit Dick's.  Macklemore filmed a video at the Capitol Hill location.

*Lunchbox Laboratory (South Lake Union) - Order the Burger of the Gods.  It lives up to its name.  Oh and they have old school video games upstairs.  Ms. Pac Man, anyone?

Burger, fries and a shake with old school lunchboxes in the background. Photo by Lunchbox Laboratory.

Burger, fries and a shake with old school lunchboxes in the background. Photo by Lunchbox Laboratory.

Cheese:

*Beecher's Handmade Cheese (Downtown) - A Seattle cheese institution, Beecher's recently expanded to New York City but still calls Pike Place Market its home base.  Peer in the window and watch the cheese being made. Or better yet, go inside for a sample.

Watching the cheesemaking at Beecher's at Pike Place Market. Photo by Beecher's Handmade Cheese. 

Watching the cheesemaking at Beecher's at Pike Place Market. Photo by Beecher's Handmade Cheese. 

DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine (Downtown) - Located at Pike Place Market, DeLaurenti offers over 250 cheeses and will let you sample to your heart's delight. Don't miss DeLaurenti's large wine selection to pair with the cheeses you bring home.

Coffee & Tea:

*Bauhaus Books and Coffee (Capitol Hill) - Any coffee shop that takes itself so un-seriously as to serve old school Kool Aid and Ding Dongs is high on my list.  Good, albeit sometimes loud, place to sit with a book.

Wall of books inside Bauhaus.  Photo by Bauhaus Books and Coffee.

Wall of books inside Bauhaus.  Photo by Bauhaus Books and Coffee.

Miro Tea (Ballard) - In the event you overdose on coffee (and being in Seattle, it's possible), Miro Tea is the perfect caffeinated alternative. Offering over 200 teas, Miro also offers a quiet place to relax with a book or to play one of the many board games tucked away on their shelves.

Starbucks (Madison Park) - Yes, I did it.  I included Starbucks.  Not only is the Madison Park neighborhood quaint, this Starbucks has a fireplace, wine in the evenings and more upscale food offerings than the usual scone.

Victrola Coffee and Art (Capitol Hill) - This coffee shop is large enough to offer ample seating but intimate enough to feel like you are home in your living room.  Victrola Coffee and Art lives up to its names with excellent coffee within art-covered walls.

Contemporary American:

Bar Sajor (Pioneer Square) - Matt Dillon won the 2012 James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest, and with his restaurant, Bar Sajor, it's easy to see why.  The restaurant is rustic yet chic, and the menu has a similar feel.  If you're hungry, spring for the whole roast chicken.

Book Bindery (Fremont) - Dine on exceptional food in Book Bindery and sample wines in Almquist Family Vintners winery attached to the restaurant.  Sit in the greenhouse for al fresco dining year round. 

*Canlis (Queen Anne) - A Seattle dining institution, Canlis is a can't-miss spot for fine dining. The Canlis salad is an old favorite on the menu. Reserve "The Cache" for an intimate dining experience for up to four people, featuring an amazing view of Lake Union.

View of Lake Union from The Cache.  Photo by Canlis.

View of Lake Union from The Cache.  Photo by Canlis.

Crush (Madison Valley) - Situated in a charming house in Madison Valley, Crush uses French cooking techniques for modern American food.  Order the "Bacon and Eggs."  One of the best dishes I've ever eaten.

Cookies:

Cow Chip Cookies (Pioneer Square) - Cow Chip Cookies makes it worth it to have an entire category dedicated to cookies.  Best chocolate chip cookies I've ever eaten.  And considering how many I've sampled, that says a lot.

Cow Chip's Pioneer Square storefront. Photo by Cow Chip Cookies.

Cow Chip's Pioneer Square storefront. Photo by Cow Chip Cookies.

Cupcakes:

Cupcake Royale (several locations) - Cupcake Royale was the first cupcake bakery to open outside of New York City.  Cupcakes of the month are to die for (this month's flavor: Strawberry Champagne).

Cupcake Royale's strawberry champagne cupcakes. Photo by Cupcake Royale.

Cupcake Royale's strawberry champagne cupcakes. Photo by Cupcake Royale.

Doughnuts:

Mighty-O (Tangletown) - With its vegan and organic doughnuts, Mighty-O is the quintessential Pacific Northwest doughnut shop.

*Top Pot (several locations) - Glazed. Old. Fashioned.  Order it.

Case full of Top Pot doughnuts.  Photo by Top Pot.

Case full of Top Pot doughnuts.  Photo by Top Pot.

Food Trucks:

The food truck scene is big in Seattle.  (I counted 166 that are currently making the rounds.)  Consult Seattle Food Truck for the food trucks' daily schedules.

El Camion - In a city lacking in authentic Mexican food, it's worth hunting down El Camion.  Carne asada tacos are my go-to order.

*Maximus/Minimus - It's BBQ served out of a giant pig-shaped truck.  And it tastes really, really good.

Maximus/Minimus serves BBQ from its pig truck.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Maximus/Minimus serves BBQ from its pig truck.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Skillet Street Food - Menu changes weekly, but you can always count on the burger and the poutine as Skillet staples.

French:

*Loulay (Downtown) - "Chef in the Hat" Thierry Rautureau opened Loulay (named after his hometown in France) after closing his renowned Rover's in the summer of 2013.  Amazing food, wine list and decor.  Don't miss "The Egg" - organic scrambled egg, crème fraiche and sturgeon caviar placed back into the shell.

Interior of Loulay strikes the perfect balance between traditional and contemporary decor.  Photo by Loulay.

Interior of Loulay strikes the perfect balance between traditional and contemporary decor.  Photo by Loulay.

Maximilien (Downtown) - A classic French restaurant, Maximillien is situated in Pike Place Market.  The food is great, but especially go for the amazing panoramic views of Elliot Bay.

RN74 (Downtown) - Celebrity chef Michael Mina is originally from Washington state and finally opened a Seattle outpost in RN74.  The restaurant bills itself as a French bistro.  Fantastic wine list. 

Ice Cream:

*Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream (Capitol Hill) - Three flavors to try that are Molly Moon's staples: salted caramel, honey lavender and balsamic strawberry.

Sampling of Molly Moon's ice cream and sorbet.  Photo by Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream.

Sampling of Molly Moon's ice cream and sorbet.  Photo by Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream.

Mora Iced Creamery (Bainbridge Island) - FoodandWine.com included Mora in its 2012 article on America's best ice cream cities.  Worth the ferry over to Bainbridge.

Indian:

Shanik (South Lake Union) - If you know and love Indian restaurant Vij's in Vancouver, BC, you will want to try their Seattle outpost, Shanik.  The lamb popsicles made it across the border.

Contemporary decor inside South Lake Union's Shanik.  Photo by Shanik.

Contemporary decor inside South Lake Union's Shanik.  Photo by Shanik.

Italian:

*Altura (Capitol Hill) - Altura's menu changes weekly, showcasing the local Northwest bounty in the form of Italian cuisine.  Sommelier Guy Kugel perfectly pairs wine with your chosen three, four or five courses or the chef's tasting menu.  If the Risotto Mantecato appears on your menu, order it.

Get a seat at the bar to watch Altura's chefs in action.  Photo by Altura Restaurant.

Get a seat at the bar to watch Altura's chefs in action.  Photo by Altura Restaurant.

Cascina Spinasse (Capitol Hill) - Spinasse's specialty is hand cut egg pasta with butter and sage.  It's simple and perfect.

How to Cook a Wolf (Queen Anne) - Go to the restaurant for its intriguing name, stay for its impressive assortment of Italian cuisine small plates and pasta.

The Pink Door (Downtown) - The Pink Door near Pike Place Market provides a show - sometimes burlesque, sometimes a trapeze artist, sometimes a tarot card reading - alongside its Italian-American menu.

Dinner and a show at The Pink Door.  Photo by The Pink Door.

Dinner and a show at The Pink Door.  Photo by The Pink Door.

Serafina (Eastlake) - The menu focuses on Italian regional cuisine.  Best time to go: Sunday's Jazz Brunch or in the summer when it's warm enough to sit on Serafina's romantically-lit patio for dinner.

Mexican:

La Carta de Oaxaca (Ballard) - One of Seattle's dining weaknesses is a lack of good Mexican food.  La Carta de Oaxaca is the exception.

Photographs of the places and people of Oaxaca, Mexico line the walls.  Photo by La Carta de Oaxaca.

Photographs of the places and people of Oaxaca, Mexico line the walls.  Photo by La Carta de Oaxaca.

Pizza:

Elemental Pizza (University Village) - For dairy and gluten intolerance sufferers who still need their pizza fix, Elemental can substitute gluten-free crust and vegan mozzarella.

Pegasus (Alki Beach) - Greek style, deep dish pizza served with a view of Alki Beach makes for a great lunch on a sunny Seattle day.

*Serious Pie (Downtown or South Lake Union) - These pizzas are serious.  Well, seriously gourmet.   And seriously delicious.  Try the roasted seasonal mushrooms and truffle cheese pizza.

Serious Pie's housemade juniper salami, robiola and caramelized onion pizza.  Photo by Serious Pie.

Serious Pie's housemade juniper salami, robiola and caramelized onion pizza.  Photo by Serious Pie.

Sandwiches:

Salumi (Pioneer Square) - Owned by Mario Batali's parents, Salumi is both a salumeria and a restaurant.   Small space will have you getting to know your fellow diners at communal tables.

Daily specials greet Salumi's patrons waiting in line outside.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Daily specials greet Salumi's patrons waiting in line outside.  Photo by Rebecca Garland.

Seafood:

*AQUA by El Gaucho (Downtown) - AQUA sits on Pier 70 with walls of windows overlooking Elliott Bay.  Great seafood.  Order the Emerald City Volcano for dessert and enjoy the show.

Gorgeous view of Elliott Bay at AQUA.  Photo by AQUA by El Gaucho.

Gorgeous view of Elliott Bay at AQUA.  Photo by AQUA by El Gaucho.

Ivar's Salmon House (South Lake Union) - There is nothing fancy about this place, but the few weeks a year (mid-May to mid-June) when Copper River Salmon is being served, just go.

Ivar's Seafood Bar (several locations) - Even less fancy than the Salmon House, Ivar's Seafood Bar is your place for fish and chips, clam chowder and delicious fried goodness.

The Walrus & The Carpenter (Ballard) - If you're into raw oysters, you should be into The Walrus & The Carpenter.  The oyster bar describes itself as a cross between French elegance and a local fishing pub.

Steak:

Capital Grille (Downtown) - Everything on the happy hour menu, whether food or drink, is $6.  Drink the Stoli Doli - housemade pineapple infused vodka martini.

*Metropolitan Grill (Downtown) - Best steak in town.  Check out the walls covered with photographs of The Met's famous patrons.  Have a seat at the bar and ask Rob to make you a Met Manhattan.

The Met's bartender, Rob, pours a Met Manhattan. Photo by Claire Barboza Photography.

The Met's bartender, Rob, pours a Met Manhattan. Photo by Claire Barboza Photography.

Sushi and Japanese:

Maneki (International District) - The James Beard Foundation named Maneki an American Classic in 2008.  Unless you want to wait in line, call ahead for reservations.

Mashiko (West Seattle) - Mashiko specializes in sustainable sushi and their own special brand of quirkiness (www.sushiwhore.com is their website).

*Shiro's (Belltown) - Chef Shiro Kashiba trained under Jiro Ono (of Jiro Dreams of Sushi).  Go early to get in line for a seat (no reservations for the sushi bar) and watch Shiro do his magic.

Shiro shows off a fresh catch at his namesake sushi restaurant. Photo by Runei Matsumoto. 

Shiro shows off a fresh catch at his namesake sushi restaurant. Photo by Runei Matsumoto. 

Sushi Kappo Tamura (Eastlake) - Sit at the sushi bar and order omakase from Chef Taichi Kitamura to find out why Travel + Leisure magazine named Sushi Kappo Tamura one of the best sushi restaurants in the U.S.

Where to Drink:

Bathtub Gin & Co. (Belltown) - With a speakeasy feel, the unmarked door to Bathtub Gin is found off an alley in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood.

The bar and its namesake bathtub at Bathtub Gin.  Photo by Bathtub Gin & Co.

The bar and its namesake bathtub at Bathtub Gin.  Photo by Bathtub Gin & Co.

Canon (Capitol Hill) - Canon boasts the Western Hemisphere's largest collection of spirits.  If you are a Manhattan drinker, try the "Manhattan Experiment" - a delicious flight of three Manhattans.

A sampling of the largest liquor collection in the Western Hemisphere.  Photo by Canon.

A sampling of the largest liquor collection in the Western Hemisphere.  Photo by Canon.

Knee High Stocking Co. (Capitol Hill) - Another Seattle speakeasy.  Text for reservations.  If you aren't on the list, you may not get in the door.

*Needle & Thread (Capitol Hill) - Tiny bar tucked away upstairs at Tavern Law.  (Enter by using the telephone on the wall inside Tavern Law.)  Advance reservations are necessary.  Don't order off a menu - just tell the bartender what ingredients you like and they will construct the perfect cocktail.

Tavern Law (Capitol Hill) - GQ Magazine named Tavern Law one of the 25 best cocktail bars in America.  Only stay downstairs at Tavern Law if you can't get into Needle & Thread upstairs.

Behind the bar at Tavern Law.  Photo by Tavern Law.

Behind the bar at Tavern Law.  Photo by Tavern Law.

Where to See a Show:

*5th Avenue Theatre (Downtown) - Gorgeous theatre (worth visiting for its architecture and design alone) is a draw for Broadway fans to see shows like Les Miserables and Jersey Boys.

The interior of the 5th Avenue Theatre was modeled to reproduce features of Beijing landmarks.  Photo by 5th Avenue Theatre. 

The interior of the 5th Avenue Theatre was modeled to reproduce features of Beijing landmarks.  Photo by 5th Avenue Theatre. 

Benaroya Hall (Downtown) - Home to the Seattle Symphony, Benaroya Hall also hosts concerts from acts like Heart and Natalie Merchant.

Chateau Ste. Michelle (Woodinville) - If you are in Seattle for the summer, check out Chateau St. Michelle's summer outdoor concert series.  A sampling on tap for 2014: Ringo Starr, Sarah McLachlan and John Legend.

*The Crocodile (Belltown) - Over the years, countless bands have played The Crocodile, including Nirvana, Pearl Jam and R.E.M., making the venue part of Seattle music history.

Dimitriou's Jazz Alley (Belltown) - For jazz fans, Dimitriou's is THE place to go in Seattle.

The Moore Theatre (Belltown) - Seattle's oldest operating theatre, The Moore recently underwent a facelift and has reopened to begin hosting everything from concerts to stand-up comedians.

*The Paramount (Downtown) - The Paramount opened in 1928 and underwent a massive restoration in the mid 1990s to return it to its original glory.  The theatre offers a little bit of everything - Broadway shows, comedians and concerts.

The classic Paramount sign lit up at dusk.  Photo by The Paramount.

The classic Paramount sign lit up at dusk.  Photo by The Paramount.

The Triple Door (Downtown) - An intimate space, The Triple Door is a musical venue, lounge and dinner theatre serving Wild Ginger's menu (which is just around the corner) and offering an extensive wine list. 

The Triple Door's marquee advertises upcoming shows.  Photo by The Triple Door.

The Triple Door's marquee advertises upcoming shows.  Photo by The Triple Door.