Welcome to Seattle!
A friend, a lovely American girl a met when she was working an internship in my hometown (Caracas), is coming to visit our darling city this weekend. I offered to give her some pointers, and provide a list of places to go and some activities to engage in while shes spends Staurday night, Sunday and Monday in Seattle. She’s coming with her husband, and they both love food, wine and micro-brews.
I wish I could expand a bit more with menus, and describe places in detail, but that would make this entry endless. When it comes to Seattle, descriptions can get so exciting, they take over the tip of my fingers, possess them and order them to write a book if possible. Concisely as I can, here’s what I recommend to my friend, one day at a time.
I have always said that Seattle’s essence drifts playful between its neighborhoods. I have a soft spot for Seattle views and dinner in Wallingford. This wonderful neighborhood is a step away from our own stomping grounds, so we visit and enjoy it on a regular basis.
A Saturday night in Seattle can shine like a thousand stars by jumping onto these:
1. Enjoy the view of Seattle from Gasworks Park: I am a local and cannot get enough of it. My husband and I find it interesting, “heavenly industrial” and romantic, so much we had our wedding photos taken here.
Gasworks Park, Wallingford, Seattle. Photo by Valentina Vitols. 2009
2. Dinner. Depending on the mood and on what gastronomy your taste buds are expecting to be visited by, my pick would be Cantinetta (North Italian cuisine) or Joule (Asian Fusion). If you desire a low-key, homemade-like dinner, there is the wonderful, heart-warming Golden Olive (Greek-Mediterranean).
Ask for the exquisite Roasted Beet salad at Golden Olive!
Be ready to feel the swirling tentacle of the Octopus dish at Joule, playful in your mouth!
Bring your Endive Salad back, Cantinetta!
Lovely food at Joule, Wallingford, Seattle. Photo by Valentina Vitols. 2009
3. Night Cap. No question about it. Drive to Phinney Ridge to wrap up the night at Oliver’s Twist
and enjoy great music, truffled popcorn (a bit too seen in the city, but it goes well with libations) and enjoy the not-for-under-21-drinks like a Jack Rose (apple jack, lime, homemade grenadine) or the Presbyterian (bourbon, ginger ale and soda water).
Sunday, oh, lovely day
1. Brunch is a must. Thanks to the power of Twitter and Facebook, I have a long, long list of great Seattle restaurants for brunch now. Among all those suggestions, my picks are either Lola (Modern Mediterranean / North African), Salty’s on Alki (Big buffet-style American food) or Springhill (Northwest).
2. Quick stop at SAM (closed on Mondays & Tuesdays) for art. On your way out, make sure you get coffee from Stella Caffe. I am sharing a secret here: they make a “Truffled Mocha” with chocolate truffles that is not on the menu, and it’s to die for. Speaking of which, before you head to the bus, shop for Grey & Smoked Salt Caramels at Fran’s.
Hammering Man at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). Photo by Valentina Vitols 2009
If the decision involves going to West Seattle (either Salty’s or Springhill), a stroll thought Alki Beach after brunch will kill the calories and warm the heart. Beautiful and vibrant, there is so much to see in Alki it can easily take a few hours of the day, even for locals. The views of Seattle and the landscape being the most impressive part of this tour.
Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle should be one of the stops on this side of the city adventure. This place has a wide, interesting and alluring beer selection, one of the best in town. Patrons can bring take-out (including dogs), eat and enjoy a Lager, Porter, IPA or Stout (among many others).
View from Alki Beach. Summer and its fiery colors. Photo by Valentina Vitols. 2009
Now if the decision is to stay eat in Belltown (Lola), I’d suggest to hop on the bus (17 or 18) and go to Ballard.
What to do in Ballard? Half-a-day might not be enough to cover all the fantastic things to do in this traditional Seattle neighborhood.
1. Ballard Farmers Market. On their blog, they say they are more reliable than the Post Office, as they open year-round, rain or shine, from 10am to 3pm. This market is delightful and is the quintessential Sunday activity for many Seattleites.
2. Coffee at Caffe Fiore and then a short walk to snack at Cafe Besalú. Coffee, chocolate and orange zest blend together and the result is a Sevilla, one of Fiore’s most delicious coffee drinks. The Americano itself, is bold, licorish and sublime, according to my husband. A short walk to get pastries at Cafe Besalú afterward, will make anyone sing.
3. Ballard Locks. Preceded by a stunning botanical garden, the Locks are one of those places I always bring my guest of out-of-town to, and they love it. Seeing boats go up and down in the water to either go into Salmon Bay or the Puget Sound is very entertaining, and unique. Salmon are going through the Locks right now and its possible to watch their pilgrimage through a large, underwater window located in the area.
4. Golden Gardens. Hopping on the bus or the car might be necessary, but Golden Gardens is still in the neighborhood, and a stop that won’t be forgotten.
5. Early dinner at Ray’s Cafe, with a breathtaking view of Shilshole Bay can be perfect. Ray’s is famous for superb dessert.
6. Night cap. A perfect way to wrap the day of would be at Sambar. This minimal lounge has a sophisticated wine, beer and spirits list, where the cocktails’ names sound like music, and become seductive in your hands. The have perfect frites, and even better steak to accompany them. Dinner was already served, but there might be still a little space to share!
1. Pike Place Market: enjoy the loveliness of an early Monday morning at the Market. Go before 11am. You’ll be able to roam around, take some beautiful photos and talk to vendors and artisans.
Sunflowers are still around. I love this kind. Photo by Valentina Vitols 2009
Frequently, the surprised question “Three dollars for a bunch of Dahlias?” can be heard. Yes, flowers at the Market are beautiful and CRAZY cheap. Three things I would do while in the market? Have a couple of cinnamon sugar doughnuts, snap a free sample of Orange-Cinnamon Tea at Market Spices and get at least a bag of Chukar Cherries spectacular Bing Cherries. Don’t forget fish can be shipped to NYC!
I know, I do love Sunflowers! Photo by Valentina Vitols 2009
2. Lunch. I would stay in the Market and do any of these amazing places:
Matt’s in the Market: the finds here are their perfect, sheer Don & Joe’s Lamb Burger or the unbeatable Braised Beef Brisket sandwich. Both dishes include Macrina breads. If you’re in luck, and they have Cantaloupe Sorbet, try it!
Maximilien: privileged view of the Puget Sound, adorned with dishes like Fresh Oysters with Champagne Mignonette or the Salade Norvégienne (Smoked Salmon, Dungeness Crab, Avocado, tomatoes and toast over mixed greens, dressed in Balsamic vinaigrette). Oh, la lá!
Produce at Pike Place Market. Photo by Valentina Vitols 2009
Steelhead Dinner: what do you want? Rabbit? Coho Salmon? Lamb? Rainbow Trout? Yes, these are all in the menu, ready for you!
Le Pichet (a block away from the Market, on 1st Ave and Virginia St). I am just an eater with a really curious palate, and maybe a fairly good experience…and for me, Le Pichet makes the best lentils in Seattle. And the “craft” best coconut sorbet, too. Anyone wanting to venture into food adventures (sounds funny) should try their tongue dish, if they have it. Sublime!
Fishmonger in Pike Place Market. Photo by Valentina Vitols 2009
3. Ferry Ride. The Seattle-Bainbridge Ferry is, for me, a must-do for an out-of-town guest. The schedule allows visitors some flexibility to stroll around the island once getting there. Mora Ice Creamery is where one can quench the thirst of walking from the ferry terminal…only with creamy sweetness. Their Gianduja ice cream is fabulous. Along Marron Glacé and Dulce de Leche, they honor the flavors of the owners hometown, spectacular Buenos Aires.
Seattle from the Ferry. Photo by Valentina Vitols 2009
4. Tea Time in Capitol Hill. One of my new favorite places in Capitol Hill is HEALEO. A charming and urban “Nutrition Bar”, this place carries more than vitamins and supplements. Their Caramelized Pear Tea induces non-stop sighing. They serve the teas in pretty, pretty pots. If you prefer smoothies instead, try their Almond Coconut Delight. Ever since I had it the first time, it reminded me of the good, ol’ Cocadas in my country, Venezuela.
HEALEO smoothies. Photo by Valentina Vitols 2009
Other afternoon delights in Capitol Hill can be found at Espresso Vivace and Dilletante. First one prides on serving “Una bella tazza di caffe”. True. Caffe Nico is a proof of this. Dilletante holds a long, long tradition, which includes a more modern cocktails-with-chocolate options!
Caffe Nico, Espresso Vivace. Photo by Valentina Vitols 2009
5. Wrapping up in Seattle. Around 48 hours in our fair city…not much but enough as hors d’oeuvres.
Whatever the decision is on how to spend the last hours in Seattle, which can include a bite at Quinn’s or a drink in the new Tavern Law, don’t miss one spot that is highly touristy but at the same time, breathtaking. Kerry Park is a place where people may say goodbye to Seattle, but, most likely, that farewell will become a promise to come back. I am not going to post a photo so your eyes will have the opportunity to look at this view without a preview.
Say goodbye to Seattle by making a last stop at Gelatiamo. Again, coconut will make you smile.
Enjoy your stay, RS!