36 Hours in Seattle
April 2, 2007
Dine at Kingfish Café (602 19th Ave. E., Montlake, 206-320-8757), a neighbourhood hotspot with lineups out the door and a Southern menu that takes you to rural Alabama-which is exactly what the owners, who hail from there, intend. Family recipes inspire the rustic menu (picture fried green tomatoes, griddle cakes, pork chops) and old sepia family portraits line the walls. Portions are huge but if you make it to the dessert course, order the red velvet cake; it's the size of the tabletop and enough to feed a party of six.
Seattle has no shortage of live music venues, but The Triple Door (216 Union St., Downtown, 206-838-4333) gets a nod for style (it inhabits a restored 1920s-era vaudeville theatre) and diversity (pop, rock, blues, folk and indie acts get equal stage time). Musicquarium, the attached lounge and restaurant, is hoppin' at happy hour, which runs from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Don't go to Pike Place Market for breakfast, unless you're an early riser or don't mind wading through packs of hungry, Frommer's-toting tourists. Instead, take a walk up the hill to Le Pichet (1933 First Ave., Belltown, 206-256-1499), an authentic French bistro right down to the zinc-topped bar and mud-brown tableware. Reasonably priced breakfast items are available all day: Les oeufs plats, jambon et fromage (eggs broiled with ham and gruyère) served with a house-made baguette is excellent, as is the ramekin of plain yogurt laced with honey and walnuts.
Across the street, Urchin (1922 First Ave., Belltown, 206-448-5800) and Peter Miller Books (1930 First Ave., Belltown, 206-441-4114) cater to the American Institute of Architects crowd (their office is also on this block) with exceptional design-forward inventories: Urchin supplies the home accessories and original art; Peter Miller has the gorgeous coffee table books. Stroll north on First Avenue to the Seattle Art Museum's new Olympic Sculpture Park (2901 Western Ave., Belltown, 206-654-3100). Zigzagging paths run past large-scale, contemporary installations to a rise overlooking Elliott Bay and the Olympic mountains. But don't get distracted by the view: Wake, a 300-tonne, five-piece steel sculpture by Richard Serra is a major highlight. Admission is free.
For all its newfound coolness, Ballard is still very much a slow-paced seaside town. To fully experience it, grab lunch on the pier at Ray's Boathouse (6049 Seaview Ave., Ballard, 206-789-3770). A Seattle icon, it's been at its current location since 1945 (though completely rebuilt in '88 after a fire) and its Pacific Northwest-style seafood is excellent. Reservations recommended-especially on sunny days.
Ballard's retail gems warrant spending half a day here: Tableau (2220 NW Market St., Ballard, 206-782-5846) is a spacious home décor store with a small children's section-look for the line of old-fashioned knit cardigans, caps and bibs by Makié; Sonic Boom Records (2209 NW Market St., Ballard, 206-297-2666) is a local chainlet of music stores right out of the film High Fidelity; Clover (5335 NW Ballard Ave., Ballard, 206-782-0715) pays homage to the area's Scandinavian roots with Norwegian-inspired children's clothing and simple wooden toys, while re-souL (5319 NW Ballard Ave., Ballard, 206-789-7312) stocks hard-to-find lines of home items, accessories and shoes. Our favourites: the line of sandals from Chie Mahara, unisex wallets from J. Fold and handbags from Italy's Mandarina Duck.
For happy hour, there's wallet-friendly Hattie's Hat (5231 NW Ballard Ave., Ballard, 206-784-0175), a century-old neighbourhood relic offering deeply discounted pints and cocktails from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. If you order food, skip the southern-leaning house specialties (the fish tacos were disappointing) and order one of their hefty sandwiches, like The Hat Burger-an organic grain-fed patty, topped with Tillamook cheddar from Oregon. Serious beer drinkers should opt for the Old Town Ale House (5233 NW Ballard Ave., Ballard, 206-782-8323). They have a stellar selection of made-in-Seattle brews on tap and a roster of unusual cask-conditioned ales.
Seattle Metropolitan declared 2006 the year of the "hidden foodie haunt," referring to a subset of new restaurants that rely on word-of-mouth buzz instead of advertising, street signage or focus-group-approved décor. These two restaurants do it best: Elemental@Gasworks (3309 Wallingford Ave. N., Wallingford, 206-547-2317) offers a three-course seasonal menu for a reasonable $36. Expect to wait for a table-they have only five and don't accept reservations (or tips). Gypsy (Apply@gypsydinners.com) is less a restaurant than a supper club: diners apply for reservations online and, if accepted, are sent location info. Foodie-cred strongly recommended.
Come nightfall, Pike Place Market's Post Alley goes from family stroll to nightlife stroll, with bars like The Alibi Room (410-85 Pike St., Downtown, 206-623-3180) and The Pink Door (1919 Post Alley, Downtown, 206-443-3241) offering boozy cocktails and live music in cool surrounds. For something more low-key, take in a late show at the Seattle Cinerama Theatre (2100 Fourth Ave., Belltown, 206-441-3080). Paul Allen's restoration of the 1963 movie house guaranteed a venue for classic '60s and '70s films, but it usually shows first-run blockbusters.
Celeb chef Tom Douglas' Pacific Northwest-inspired comfort food is in top form on the brunch menu at Lola (2000 Fourth Ave., Downtown, 206-441-1430). Clever takes on breakfast standards abound but for something more adventurous, try Tom's Big Breakfast: fried Pacific octopus, butternut hash, goat cheese and olive oil fried egg ($13). Brunch is served from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends; reserve a table on the patio.
Nearby Pioneer Square area is a great place to score tasteful souvenirs: Laguna Vintage Pottery (116 Washington St. S., Pioneer Square, 206-682-6162) stocks vintage American pottery from designers like Edith Heath and Russel Wright; Betty Blue (608 Second Ave., Pioneer Square, 206-442-6888) sells last season's styles from designers like Zac Posen, Jimmy Choo and Chloe, at deeply discounted prices (picture Winners with better shoes and minimal rack-hunting). Take Fourth Avenue up past the Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Central Library (1000 Fourth Ave., Downtown, 206-386-4636) for a photo op, then carry on to Nordstrom's flagship store (500 Pine St., Downtown, 206-628-2111) for department store shopping American-style-the men's department on the lower level is exceptional.
Before hitting the I-5, stop off at always-interesting Henry Art Gallery (University of Washington, 15th Ave. NE and NE 41st St., University District, 206-543-2280). A retrospective on Cologne's art scene in the '80s and '90s runs until April 22.