When we left the top of the Space Needle in Seattle after less than 10 minutes, I joked that it was because I had eaten so much I was causing the viewing area to tilt. By that stage, we had spent 5 days eating in Vancouver and had fully embraced all that Seattle had to offer foodwise. Seattle had been on my foodie radar for many years before we visited, and when I read Stitch & Bear’s blog on the city back in 2014, it reinforced that it was the place for me. We gave ourselves 8 full days in the city, plenty of time to just enjoy being there. No rushing. No FOMO.
It’s always difficult to figure out where to stay in an unfamiliar city, so allow me to make it easy for you: Stay in Belltown, and choose an Airbnb. Not only are there plenty of places to eat and drink in the neighbourhood, but our walk to Pike Place Market took less than 10 minutes, and the transport links to other areas are pretty good. (We walked pretty much everywhere, and my husband’s artificial knees held up brilliantly.)
Like my ‘Where To Eat In Vancouver’ blog, this is carb and sugar-heavy, just the way I like it.
316 Virginia Street
Go here for: The lightest pizza crust in a laid-back setting.
Within an hour of arriving in Seattle (take the Bolt Bus from Vancouver), we were sitting in Serious Pie with a couple of local beers, waiting for our pizzas to land on our communal table. Part of the Tom Douglas group of restaurants, Serious Pie serves up the lightest pizza crust you’ll ever eat, crisp in places, chewy in others and with a decent hint of salt. I chose the Yukon Gold pizza (double carbs!) which was topped with a fluffy carpet of salty, savoury pecorino and fragrant rosemary. Glorious. My husband kept it simple with the buffalo mozzarella and basil pizza and it was just as good. Serious Pie is busy, so be prepared to queue, but it’s absolutely worth the wait.
2001 4th Avenue
Go here for: Their famous Triple Coconut Cream Pies
Sitting in Serious Pie, I fancied a little dessert and knew that Dahlia Bakery (also by Tom Douglas) was somewhere in the area. A quick Google later and we’d found it – 30 seconds around the corner. Their famous triple coconut cream pies – flaky coconut pastry and creamy coconut pastry cream topped with fresh cream and toasted coconut – come in miniature form so you won’t feel too bad going back for seconds. I (unsurprisingly) went for a classic chocolate tart. Creamy, silky chocolate encased in crisp pastry – not a soggy bottom in sight. Their cookies are incredible too (I believe the peanut butter cookie is worth a try) so I grabbed a dense, fudgy chocolate truffle cookie and I wasn’t disappointed. I suspect though, that nothing in Dahlia is disappointing.
Pike Place Market
Go here for: The tastiest tourist attraction in Seattle
I’m not sure Pike Place Market needs to be recommended. It’s the epicentre of tourist activity in Seattle, and the perfect place to start your Seattle foodie adventure. It’s also the site of the original Starbucks, which now attracts long queues. I don’t drink coffee so I couldn’t tell you if it’s worth the wait, but there are plenty of other Starbucks in the area if you’re just after a cup of coffee. Our first stop was at Seattle Bagel Bakery for traditional kettle boiled bagel. The staff aren’t too interested in the customer service side of things, but the bagels are incredible. Soft, chewy, warm and fresh – so good I grabbed a plain bagel during our second visit and didn’t miss the cream cheese.
Le Panier is a French bakery and the ideal spot for a lighter breakfast. Lighter, that is, until the smell of butter hits you as you walk through the door and suddenly you’re the proud owner of three croissants, 2 cookies and an eclair. The pastries are fresh, the queue moves quickly and the choice is immense, but not overwhelming. Try the chocolatine, an indulgent combination of almond cream and chocolate in a buttery croissant, but leave the sablé cookies behind. They’re fine, but they needed a decent hit of salt.
If you’re in search of a quick, casual lunch, head over to DeLaurenti. It’s a speciality food and wine shop, so spend a little time exploring its shelves before grabbing a slice of pizza or a sandwich from the counter at the front. The pizza is thick and chewy with just the right amount of grease – perfect as soakage before you head to The Taproom up the street for a taste of the local beer scene. We didn’t try the sandwiches, but they looked fresh and tasty.
The big attraction for me was Beecher’s. Mac n’ Cheese is my ultimate comfort food – the cheesier and creamier the better, and Beecher’s is famous for it. It was fine. Very cheesy with a mildly spicy kick, but it was a little one dimensional and would have benefited from a little salt. My husband’s grilled cheese was crunchy on the outside and gooey within – exactly what you’d expect from a decent grilled cheese. Grab a seat by the window and watch the cheesemakers at work.
There are endless eating opportunities in Pike Place Market, and it’s worth popping into just about any of them, but give Lowell’s a miss. The views are gorgeous, and it filled us up before our early morning trip to the Boeing factory, but the food is average.
Cow Chip Cookies
102 1st Ave S
Go here for: Chocolate chip cookies done right
There isn’t much better than a freshly baked American-style chocolate chip cookie, and Cow Chips has nailed it. Soft, buttery, chewy and packed with chocolate chips and nuts, I inhaled my Nutty Calf in seconds and wish I’d gone back for more. These are perfect cookies. ‘Nuff said.
108 Pine Street
Go here for: Moist cupcakes in traditional and unusual flavours
I can take or leave cupcakes. When the cupcake craze was at its height, it was difficult to find a cupcake in Dublin that wasn’t just a glorified (and dry) bun. (I have yet to try The Cupcake Bloke’s cupcakes though, so my relationship with Dublin cupcakes remains unfulfilled.) Cupcake Royale restored my faith in cupcakes, although to be fair, Americans were always better at that sort of thing. My Triple Threat was moist and deeply chocolate with a silky swirl of chocolate buttercream, while the Pride special, The Gay (vanilla confetti cake topped with vanilla, rainbow sprinkles and a sugar rainbow), was the antidote to the all too often blandness of vanilla.
200 Bell Street
Go here for: A taste of the local craft beer scene
Seattle has gone all-in on local craft beer. Every bar and restaurant offers a selection of local brews, while Washington is home to more than 250 breweries. A minute’s walk from our Airbnb, Belltown Brewing became our local for afternoon and pre-bed pints whenever we wanted a break from the busy downtown area. My husband is far more qualified to talk about beer than I am, so here are his thoughts:
The bar itself is cool and casual, as befits a brewpub located in one of the hippest neighbourhoods in town. The staff are friendly and the beer menu is pretty extensive with around 30 different beers on tap. While most of the taps are rotating beers from other breweries, which means every visit can be a different experience, there’s also a very solid core menu of Belltown Brewing’s own beers. The Watermain Amber is a good example of the style with a nice light fruitiness coming from the hops, but underpinned with a good malty backbone. As a style that often veers too much one end of the scale or the other, Belltown have managed to get the balance just right. The Speakeasy IPA is a nice clean, refreshing example of a brewpub staple, with pine and citrus aromas and flavours to the fore. I’m sure Belltown themselves wouldn’t claim that their IPA is revolutionary in any way, but it’s a great start while checking out the beer menu to decide what you want to try next.
Amazon Go and Whole Foods
Not a restaurant, but a grocery store. Amazon Go is a must-visit for any tourist, not necessarily for its food offering, but because it offers a glimpse into the store of the future. Download the app before you arrive, scan the barcode to enter, grab what you want and leave. Checkout-free, no hold-ups – the ultimate convenience store. As you leave, your app will update with your receipt. It’s not without its issues – my Pepsi Max was charged as a Pepsi, including sugar tax, but they refunded the full amount in response to my feedback.
For a slightly more chaotic grocery experience, Whole Foods Market is a few minutes walk from Amazon Go. Avoid the lunchtime and post-work crowds, and give yourself plenty of time to browse the aisles of gorgeous produce, organic goodies and local products. The hot bar and salad bars provide plenty of freshly prepared options – simply fill your box and pay per pound.
We barely scratched the surface of what Seattle has to offer food-wise, and we could return now and have an entirely different experience, but these recommendations should provide a good starting point if you’re planning on taking a trip to this cool technology-driven city of foodies.