This summer we took a week off to unwind and escape the heat in Seattle, WA. I had never been, but the laid-back vibe and sense of community had me at “hello.” After 100+ degree temps in Southern California, high 70s in the Pacific Northwest was pure bliss. Add amazing food and stellar coffee to the gorgeous waterfront views all over the city, and you have an idea of why I didn’t want to leave. Since we visited so many lovely spots, I’ll be splitting my guide into two parts. This one, Part I, will focus on food and drinks. In Part II I will talk about sights, shops, and places to stay.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
You will have the opportunity to eat fresh, delicious seafood everywhere you turn in Seattle, and this elegant spot was no exception. I had some of my favorite oysters of this trip here, briny and fresh, and the Sea Wolf Bakery bread and butter was perfection. Roasted medjool dates with vanilla oil and salt made for a decadent sensory experience to end the meal. Open for dinner daily, and they offer an oyster happy hour M-Th 4-6pm. Know that there is often quite a wait, but fear not! Amazing cocktails reside next door at the Barnacle Bar. Order a spritz with the Spanish sardines with salsa verde. Trust.
Sitka & Spruce
For my birthday we indulged in the tasting menu at this quaint eatery in Melrose Market, and it did not disappoint in any way. Unable to choose between the wine and beer pairings, we got both and sipped among the table — great call, might I add. Every dish was as beautiful as it was delicious, and the drink pairings were a delight. Their menu changes daily depending on what is forage-able or in season, so you’ll always have something interesting to look forward to.
Shiro’s made for a special meal, with their combination of local and Japanese fish offerings. Our omakase meal was pitch-perfect, from the kampachi to the toro and everything in between (the local salmon was particularly nice). And is there anything quite so refreshing and the freshest sushi and a cold Asahi?
If you enjoy soba noodles, look no farther than Kamonegi. This tiny noodle shop offers hot and cold handmade soba in a cozy, fresh space, along with playful and delicious appetizers like yakitori duck tsukune with soft egg and shishito peppers with a miso spicy cod roe aioli. If you arrive early for your reservation like we did, hop next door to Midnight Cookie Co. for cookies and milk and a little Nintendo.
I was a bit dubious when we walked into the dim bar of No Anchor, but my doubts began to melt away with my first sip of ale. By my first bite of shishito fritter, I was a fan. No Anchor boasts an extremely well-curated beer selection, with drafts offered at 42 and 52 degrees F to showcase each beer in its best light. They also offer a grid with each of their beers ranked by how approachable/esoteric and traditional/modern you can expect them to be. Their food is also delicious (corned duck breast with strawberry curd and fennel, I’m looking at you). Don’t skip dessert, either — between the vanilla semifreddo and the dark chocolate sorbet, I was a happy camper.
The Fat Hen
This adorable brunch spot in Ballard may have been my favorite meal of the trip. A small slice of Europe plunked right down in Seattle! Between the best crab Benedict I have ever had and the egg bake alla Boscaiola, I was in heaven — and a shandy that paired Austrian beer with a spot-on fresh lemonade put me right over the top. Don’t miss their house-made ricotta, either.
Frankie & Jo’s
Just across the street from The Fat Hen is Frankie and Jo’s plant-based ice cream shop. While a visit to Molly Moon’s homemade ice cream is a necessary Seattle stop, make time for Frankie and Jo’s as well, and you won’t be disappointed! My scoop of chocolate mint brownie was out-of-this-world good. Also, two words: moon goo.
Coffee, coffee, coffee:
Regardless of where you fall on the coffee-lover spectrum, you likely equate coffee with Seattle. Seattle was an epicenter for the second wave of coffee, is the birthplace of Starbucks, and is regarded as a world center for both roasting and supply chain management. Let’s just say that tons of great coffee can be found here.
We skipped the line at the original Starbucks location in Pike Place Market in favor of visiting the Starbucks Reserve Roastery over in Capital Hill. It is like Disneyland for coffee in every way: glossy, commercial, and undeniably delicious. I highly recommend the experience bar downstairs, where you can order small-lot coffees from all over the world in espresso or siphon tasting flights (with optional chocolate truffle pairings!). If sweet coffee drinks are more your style, order a Shakerato affogato and thank me later.
For old-school espresso and an obligatory hat-tip to David Schomer, visit Espresso Vivace. ‘Nuff said. (My iced mocha was delicious.)
Seattle Coffee Works
A homey spot just outside of Pike’s Place Market, Seattle Coffee Works’ flagship location offers an espresso counter and a slow bar for pour-overs. Solidly good coffee and a great variety of direct trade beans.
This modern spot in Capital Hill offers a simple core menu with stunningly good single origin coffees. A Kenya single origin espresso shot recommended by the barista here was definitely one to remember.
This grandaddy of espresso machines and grinders has a beautiful, light-filled cafe and showroom right in the Seattle city center. Each month a new, renowned coffee brand or roaster takes up residence in their cafe, trains their staff on their coffees, and creates a unique experience for guests. We had the pleasure of sampling coffees from roaster La Colombe while ogling the beautiful espresso machines. Think car showroom for baristas, only full of light and plants and delicious coffee.
For places to visit, shop, and stay (and maybe more food, shhhh!), tune in to Part II here!