Travel is my love language, along with licking cookie dough off the Kitchen Aid hook and not having to share with anyone. I’ve been fortunate to visit many places, and as described in my food philosophy, I plan the bulk of a trip around the restaurants I want to enjoy, with plenty of room to explore.
I most recently visited Seattle, Washington for a food writing workshop I mentioned here. I loved this class and everything else I did and ate there so much, that I want to give you, dear reader and fellow adventurer, a great (though not exhaustive) list of food and fun to be had (as well as the things I didn’t have time for but are first on my list for next time!) if visiting this rainy, gray, and delicious city.
- Frank’s Quality Produce is located at Pike Place Market, and if Chaz is working when you get there, give him a hug for me. He was generous with his time and let me sample mango, watermelon radish, and citrus to my heart’s content. I made out with a Sumo Orange (a cross between a mandarin and a California navel, and atop the fruit sits what looks like a sumo wrestler’s topknot bun!) and a Taylor’s Gold Pear, which Chaz promised would be the sweetest pear I had ever tried and it was…my teeth cut into it as if it was butter. Both pieces of produce served as the perfect first breakfast in Seattle.
- After you’ve had your morning fruit fix and have walked up an appetite, you have to try the soup (in a sour dough bread bowl, no other way) at Pike Place Chowder. I tried their award-winning seafood bisque, which is full of Pacific Cod, Northwest Salmon, Oregon Bay Shrimp and other seasonal seafood. All of this sits in a creamy tomato-based broth and has hints of basil in each bite. I burned my tongue repeatedly but could not be phased. I was close to getting the seared scallop chowder instead, which is flavored with dill and lime (literally my two favorite ingredients). I would recommend either of these, as well as eating slower so you don’t burn your mouth off your face (like I did).
- If you do happen to burn your tongue on award-winning soup or just want a refreshing drink to accompany you through the remainder of the afternoon, make your way into Rachel’s Ginger Beer, which is just next door to the chowder. The name alone whisked me to the front counter, as I proclaimed to the cash register attendant, “I’m RACHEL. That’s MY name, RACHEL”. I tried the blood orange, pink guava, and passion fruit & vanilla brews, but settled on the cucumber tarragon ginger beer. It was perfectly spicy, tickling my throat as I gulped. I was not planning on bringing back any kick-knacks from this trip, but admittedly I purchased this copper mug, because again, “I’m RACHEL”.
- You’ll need something sweet to cut that fragrant ginger, so by all means treat yourself to an oversized baked good at Three Girls Bakery. I tried the lemon bar, the chocolate drop cookie, and the Earl Gray tea shortbread. Per this Seattle Times article, in 2012 the bakery turned 100 years old! It was founded by three Seattle women who “…had no training whatsoever, just doing”. I like this place even more, months later.
- I had dinner at Rockcreek one night with my friend Max, who knows more about seafood and marine life and Seattle and being cool than I will ever know. The menu here changes daily based on seasonal availability, but we had the Point Judith calamari (garlic-y, basil-y, sesame-y, and served in a “Kari Out” box), Totten Kamilche Mussel bruschetta (with saffron aioli and dill dill DILL!), Hawaiian Tombo Tuna crudo (which was so wonderfully complex and acidic we even ate the shiso leaf garnish off the corner of the plate), and a smore’s-type dessert we were probably too full to eat but we ate anyway.
- Pestle Rock is thee place for Isan Thai cuisine. I don’t remember what I ordered, but it was sweet and spicy and shared with friends and those are always great meals.
- If you want some classy BBQ, try Bitterroot, where I think for the first time in my life I tried…chicken liver! It helped that the liver was buffalo fried, and came with a small arugula salad to cut the richness, and that I asked for a side of pickled carrots to further cut the richness, because there is no texture like the texture of liver. It is a dish I might not ever try again, but the menu is bursting with other options and everyone there is friendly!
- For a long while, I have daydreamed and nightdreamed about eating at Delancey, a pizzeria owned by one of my favorite food writers, Molly Wizenberg, and her husband. I sat at the small raised bar near the warm pizza oven. Funny enough, I did not eat pizza! In retrospect it was a silly thing to do, but while there I happily enjoyed wood-roasted brussel sprouts with a charred leek vinaigrette and goat gouda, and a vanilla-and-Meyer lemon curd ice cream with Earl Grey candied pistachios and spelt shortbread. As I paid my bill, my legs dangled several inches from the floor and I quietly slipped into my coat pocket that night’s small paper menu. Again, in retrospect it was a silly thing to do, but it stays tucked in my wallet even now as a reminder of a perfect meal. When ordering I told my kind waitress I did not care which dish came out first. Secretly I hoped it was dessert first. And it was.
- It goes without saying, but visit Pike Place Market. Watch people throw fish! Visit Rachel the Piggy Bank (where I also said “I’m RACHEL. That’s MY name, RACHEL”.)! Try pickles! Try candies! Smell essential oils! Bask in the glory of a public market!
- Stroll over to the Russell Investments Center and per my friend Max’s tip (again, knows more about Seattle and being cool than I ever will), take the middle elevators up to the 17th floor. This space is open to the public but very few know about it. You’ll get off and see outside a giant garden patio. I had an awesome view of the city, Pike Place Market, Mount Rainier and only one other person was up there.
- If you want a great view of the Space Needle and the surrounding city, hike up to Kerry Park! It’s about the size of “The Smallest Park” in the TV series Parks and Recreation, so when you arrive don’t worry, you did not miss it. That is the park.
- Check out the Ballard Locks. I watched several boats travel through and the whole surrounding area is lush and relaxing. This could probably go under the food section, but right next door you can grab fish and chips at The Lockspot Cafe.
- I think one of my favorite activities was visiting the Ballard Farmer’s Market the Sunday I was to fly back home. I got a hot dog and D’Ambrosia gelato. Again, I probably could have included this under the food section, but whatever- my blog, my rules! I wanted to buy all the produce and all the handmade candles, but again had to catch a flight later that day and had limited suitcase space.
- Head to the Fremont neighborhood and don’t forget to check out The Troll and explore the different shops and bars.
- I’m realizing I keep putting items in this play section that could most definitely fit in the food section, but head into Top Banana, a discount produce store of sorts, and buy a bunch of fruit. I got a honey tangerine and a box of raspberries.
- And finally, if you are able, take a class at The Pantry, a food and cooking school located behind Delancey. This is where I took my 2-day food writing class and it was lovely. The classes fill quickly, so plan in advance!
Wishlist for next time
- Since I couldn’t get to everywhere I hoped, I would love in the future to eat at The Walrus and the Carpenter, as well as Sitka and Spruce and The Wandering Goose. Oh, and Din Tai Fung. I would also like to “shop” at Totokaelo, though I am aware I can hardly afford to pee there let alone be there. But maybe, one day, I will be able to walk in confidently and pretend I belong there. I mostly just want to stroke all the pretty fabrics and materials.
Is there anywhere in Seattle or the surrounding neighborhoods you have been to and loved and that aren’t on my list? I would love to know! Happy eating and adventuring!