How Shall I Spend My Year In Seattle?
December 6, 2008 10:24 PM   Subscribe

An East Coast raised 20-something working in Seattle for a year; what are some things I must do / things I must eat?

I am a 23 year old male who moved from northern New Jersey to Seattle to work for a year.

Even though a year sounds like a long time, I know that it can go flying by, especially since I'll only see each season once.

So what are some things I should not miss while I'm here? I've been to the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and I definitely have plans on taking the underground tour and making a trip up to Vancouver.

Also, good food recommendations would be very welcome.

A little more about myself: I'm not a big party-er (no clubs for me) and I'm into photography.
posted by carpyful to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (18 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Thai Tom in the udistrict.
posted by mmdei at 10:38 PM on December 6, 2008

You say Jersey, I say cured meats at Salumi.
posted by TomSophieIvy at 10:39 PM on December 6, 2008

I don't live in Seattle, but honeymooned there and have visited a couple of times--when we go, we never miss dinner at Le Pichet, a little bistro. The food is just so good, and the atmosphere is really warm and low key. They have an amazing cheese menu; the cheese board changes regularly. You need to order their chicken an hour in advance and it's really worth doing! Don't miss this place.
posted by seaward at 12:43 AM on December 7, 2008

Than Brothers pho. Downtown library (especially the red floor). Columbia Tower Club bathrooms (you will need permission). Seconding Salumi. Tom Douglas has several restaurants. World Spice Merchants. Mini-burgers. 12-egg omelets. Pioneer square. Nearby mountains. Nearby forests. Nearby ocean. ...too much to mention actually.

God, I love Seattle.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:24 AM on December 7, 2008

Cuban sandwiches at Paseo. Mole at La Carta de Oaxaca. Espresso from Vivace. Book shopping at Elliot Bay. The Happy Hour menu at Brasa.
posted by proj at 7:05 AM on December 7, 2008

Mt Rainier, but only in the summer if you want to drive to the Visitor's Center.
Drive over to the Olympic Peninsula, and take the loop (US 101) around. this is more than one day's drive. There's a ferry to Victoria, BC in Port Angeles.
Port Townsend was rather neat, as was Fort Worden State Park. Fort Worden, Fort Flagler, and Fort Casey were built as artillery batteries to defend Seattle from attack by sea. Fort Worden and Fort Flagler are on the west side of the sound, and Fort Casey is on Whidbey Island.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:28 AM on December 7, 2008

El Puerco Lloron for Mexican food.
Noodle Ranch for noodles.
Wild Mountain Cafe for breakfast.
The ever-stereotypical Kerry Park on Queen Anne for photography, but also the Volunteer Park Watertower (great 360 degree view) and Boren Park (great view of the Eastside and Cascades).
posted by pdb at 9:19 AM on December 7, 2008

Take your camera to Gasworks park.[self-links, previously]
posted by ook at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2008

When the summertime comes, be sure to eat some wild Pacific salmon. It'll be available at most reasonably nice restaurants, but you do need ask specifically if their salmon is wild Pacific salmon (as opposed to farmed Atlantic salmon).

In general, you can't go too wrong with seafood in Seattle, sushi in particular. I can recommend the 100-year-old Maneki.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can try fugu at Shiki. It's only available in autumn/winter and you have to call ahead. Although, to be honest, I wasn't as flavorful as I expected.
posted by mhum at 11:01 AM on December 7, 2008

2nding fort worden. if it seems familiar, it's because much of the movie "an officer and a gentleman" was filmed there.

the olympic penninsula is lovely. cape flattery is a nice view of the most northwest point in the continental US. the trail at sol duc hot springs leads thru some nice near-rainforest areas. and hurricane ridge gives a great view into the olympics.

other things to do -- go to vancouver, bc. it's great.

get bbq at dixie's in bellevue.

of course, see the troll under the aurora bridge. hang out watching the locks at the ballard locks. hang out in fremont. visit the archie mcphee retail store.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:16 AM on December 7, 2008

In addition to the parks mentioned above, Greenlake Park is a great place to walk around and enjoy the scenery, especially in spring and fall. The Woodland Park Zoo is nearby as well. The Washington Park Arboretum is another place to enjoy the scenery, and the Japanese garden is a wonderfully peaceful spot that changes subtly with the seasons, and a great place to take photos.

If you can drive out to the Skagit Valley tulip festival in April, I highly recommend it. The tulip fields are an amazing sight.

For food, nthing Paseo, Salumi, and Brasa's happy hour.

I loved the miniburgers too, but sadly, Cascadia has closed.

For upscale food, Harvest Vine (Spanish) and Lark (sort of French) do great small plates.

Mashiko does sort of an irreverent take on sushi and other Japanese foods (go for the omakase rather than ordering off the menu). Nishino is a somewhat more traditional place, but also offers great food.

Seattle's International District has a lot of great restaurants. Tamarind Tree and Green Leaf offer delicious and unusual Vietnamese food. Malay Satay Hut has really good Malaysian food (the roti canai and fish head curry soup are fantastic). There are many banh mi places for cheap but good eats.

Lunchbox Laboratory offers up tasty but super-rich burgers (trust me, you'll want to split your burger with someone else). The number of options of meat, sauce, and cheese and sides is overwhelming, and you can get tater tots with bacon salt.

Some of the best Mexican food in Seattle comes from its taco trucks. My favorite is El Asadero which has an outstanding burritos and terrific mullitas.

A lot of Seattleites choose not to stray from their home neighborhoods, but I think some of the best food in the area is on the edges of Seattle.

Bellevue has an outstanding Chinese scene, with Bamboo Garden and Szechwan Chef offering up great Szechwan specialties like Chonggin chicken and cumin lamb. (if you can only do one, I think Bamboo Garden is a bit better.) Noble Court does tasty dim sum, and Facing East offers tasty Taiwanese food. Bellevue excels for Indian food, with Spice Route, probably the best Indian place I've been to in the Seattle area. The eggplants in tamarind sauce and vegetable dumplings are terrific and unusual. Go for dinner, not the lunch buffet. There's also Curry Leaf (Keralan food, I think), Udupi Palace for vegetarian Indian, and Mayuri for standard but tasty Indian food. Also, my favorite chocolate place, Amore Chocolates is in downtown Bellevue. The cookies, chocolates (especially the peanut butter cups, brown sugar buttercreams, and cinnamon truffles), and hot chocolate are amazing.

Beacon Hill has El Quetzal which specializes in Mexico City style food. The portions are ginormous, and I particularly like their huaraches and tortas.

Aurora Avenue/ Hwy 99 has a bunch of great places, mostly Mexican and Korean, including Barriga Llena which specializes in tortas, and Hosoonyi for great Korean (seafood pancake and the tofu soup are great).

South Seattle/Rainier Valley is also a great place to explore. In addition to El Asadero mentioned above, Jasmine and Saigon Pearl offer unusual Vietamese food, and Salima offers Vietnamese and Malaysian food (both are delicious).
posted by creepygirl at 12:48 PM on December 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

I never go to Seattle without going to Ivar's.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:51 PM on December 7, 2008

Ivar's Salmon House is a great place to get salmon (though not as famous as the original Ivar's on the waterfront).

I loved the miniburgers too, but sadly, Cascadia has closed.

Sad news indeed. But every time Seattle closes a restaurant it opens a window instead (no, I mangled that... it opens another restaurant instead).

So my advice is to pick up copies of The Stranger and Seattle Weekly (free from news boxes all over the city) and spend some time reading the restaurant reviews. Seattle is a city for foodies and you can find all kinds of good stuff at all prices all over the city.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:00 PM on December 7, 2008

And it occurs to me that a good way for someone in your position - one year to spend in Seattle - to get to know it would be to systematically explore some of its neighborhoods. Seattle, more than many cities, has distinct neighborhoods each with its own character. So take one weekend each to walk around Belltown, Capitol Hill, the International District, Queen Anne, the University District, Pioneer Square, the Waterfront, Greenlake, etc. The bus system will take you there if you don't have a car.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:13 PM on December 7, 2008

And Fremont. How did I forget Fremont?
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:15 PM on December 7, 2008

People have covered Salumi & Paseo, so I'll throw in a few more delicious sandwich options. Seattle Deli has great bahn mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) for $2 or so. I go for the BBQ pork and advise against the special (various organ meats). They also have a ground pork filled puff pastry that is amazing. Their may be cheaper or better Bahn Mi joints in Seattle, but this place is great.

Baguette Box takes inspiration from the humble bahn mi, but they charge 3x as much. The price is easy to swallow though, because the sandwiches are delicious. I'm fond of the pork braised in red wine.

Also, get sushi, often. I'm fond of the sushi bar at Chiso in Fremont, but there are lots of great choices.

As for where else to go, if you are even a little bit geeky, the Museum of Communications is a must. The website is a little thin and out of date, but they have multiple generations of working central office switching equipment, and a whole bunch of other stuff. You could make a day of industrial museums and head to the Museum of Flight too.
posted by Good Brain at 8:30 PM on December 7, 2008

i agree with two left feet. get out of downtown and check out the neighborhoods where most of the people in the city live.

i can't think of seattle without thinking of music, so even though you say you aren't a big club person i think it'd be a real error to live here for a year and not attend a single show. lists the best of 'em
posted by groovinkim at 1:11 PM on December 15, 2008

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