Seattle Pit Stop
March 15, 2011 11:05 PM   Subscribe

Tacoma/Seattle-Filter: Need advice for stopping in Seattle on my way back to Vancouver, BC.

One day next week, I have to attend a work event in Tacoma from 10 am until 3 pm, and then drive back to Vancouver (same day). As I've just moved to Vancouver and have been extremely eager to see Seattle, I am hoping to stop off in Seattle on my way home, just to get a taste of the city.

Questions:

1. Anything I need to know about this drive, overall? (Vancouver - Tacoma - Seattle - Vancouver)

2. Where should my co-worker and I go for dinner in Seattle? We're not very spendy. The more interesting the dining experience, the better.

3. Is there anything cool/fun/'very Seattle' we could fit in before or after dinner that isn't too time-consuming?

I will definitely be returning to Seattle in the near future, but want to make my first trip to/through the city memorable. Any advice or suggestions welcome.

Thanks!
posted by gursky to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
1. Expect to hit rush hour traffic both ways on the Seattle – Tacoma stretch (I can't directly link to what I'd like to show you, but if you change the Live traffic option to the times you'll be on the road, you'll see what I mean).

2. I'd eat at one of the South Lake Union restaurants, for instance Duke's Chowder House. There's plenty of parking (you'll appreciate that after a long drive), and they serve decent local cuisine at very reasonable prices.

3. I'd go check out the library before dinner. Pick up a self-guided tour pamphlet, make your way to the top floor archives and spend some time looking at Seattle insurance maps from the 19th century or laugh at some yearbooks from all the awesome decades of the 20th.
posted by halogen at 11:21 PM on March 15, 2011


I've heard Vancouver has good sushi though I've never had it there. I'm assuming you also have good fish in general, so all of my normal restaurant suggestions for out-of-towners aren't going to be as amazing to you. However, if I were you and I could leave Tacoma right at 3, I'd go to happy hour sushi at Umi Sake House in Belltown (4-6pm) to get really yummy sushi for practically half price. If only I could leave work at a decent hour I'd hit up that happy hour all the time. From there it's a short walk north to sculpture park so you could see the fun art there and the puget sound before or after eating.
posted by kthxbi at 11:21 PM on March 15, 2011


I meant this particular Duke's. Here's the dinner menu.
posted by halogen at 11:23 PM on March 15, 2011


If you clear Tacoma right at 3PM, you'll probably beat the worst of the commute traffic. I'd head to Wallingford (take the 45th st exit off I-5 and head West). It's north of downtown and therefore easier to get going north again when you depart.

Food: Cantinetta (36th & Stone) is incredible rustic Italian and well priced for its quality. Plates can run to $18 but the whole meal isn't terribly expensive if you're moderate on drinks.

Or, if you're looking for something overall less spendy, Cafe Bizarro is a unique Seattle dining experience - mostly Italian, very kitschy and fun. It's on 46th just off Stone. The Blue Star next door is good pub food, and there's a Molly Moon ice cream and Chocolati chocolate cafe a few blocks away on 45th. Progressive meals are awesome.

Check out Gasworks park, and the south end of Wallingford, before you go. It's nice for an after dinner walk. Great view of downtown and you can sometimes see the seaplanes take off and land. Green Lake to the north is another option for digestive strolling.
posted by SakuraK at 12:40 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was also going to say that you should check out the Seattle Public Library. It's an amazing example of architecture and design that is both functional and beautiful.
posted by number9dream at 12:52 AM on March 16, 2011


Best answer: If you can get there before 8 PM, I recommend a shot at Homegrown if you like some really fascinating sandwiches.

It also has the benefit of being in visible range of the Space Needle, but not actually there, which can be a net positive.

The Pike Place Market would be amazing, but it's pretty much totally shut down at 5 PM.
posted by mephron at 3:00 AM on March 16, 2011


Best answer: Paseo's makes some of the best Cuban sandwiches in the country (no, really) and they're not too far off I-5.

Archie McPhee is worth a stop if you like goofy stuff, and is also not too far off I-5.

Agua Verde makes delicious and reasonably priced Mexican food. Happy hour is before 6 and the Cadillac margaritas are really yummy.

There's the usual Space Needle, Gasworks and Sculpture Park.

If you like Japanese stuff, take a walk through Uwajimaya. If you like Vietnamese food, I'd recommend Green Leaf, which is a few blocks away.

Pike Place Market is fun during the day, but starts shutting down between 5 and 6. You might not get there in time, but if you do, there are lots of places to eat, including Lowell's, Seatown, and Matt's in the Market. If you like French snacks, you might pick up some fresh croissants from Le Panier.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:41 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you come back during the day, downtown's Pioneer Square is worth an hour or two. I wouldn't go there at night, though, as it gets a bit sketchy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:44 AM on March 16, 2011


For food, the best thing I've eaten in Seattle (that I couldn't get in Vancouver) was pizza at Serious Pie, one of Tom Douglas' downtown restaurants. He's a famous chef for good reason. Asian food you can get in Van--at least as good or better. This, you can't.
posted by smorange at 6:38 AM on March 16, 2011


A dissenting voice here about the library, which I love from the outside but which is utter crap inside imho. Also, parking downtown is not easy and always pricey.

Second the suggestion that you try Tom Douglas. Or steer toward the waterfront and hit one of the tasty and not expensive seafood joints that run along it. Very Seattle, very picturesque in all weather.

I'd also suggest taking a walk and a breather at Discovery Park, perhaps the most beautiful of all of Seattle's gorgeous parks. For a more urban but entertaining experience, take a walk around Greenlake. For a beautiful drive through or walk experience, buzz through the Arboretum. And if you want to take a gander at Lake Washington, you could drive across and back on either 520 or I-90.
posted by bearwife at 9:49 AM on March 16, 2011


A vote for Top Pot doughnuts, and a note from a former 15 Corridor Super Commuter to not overlook the traffic situation between Everett and Seattle. If I had to be in Tacoma by 10AM for a work function (i.e. critical to be there on time) I would seriously look into driving down the day before and staying at a hotel.

If that's not a possibility, assuming this is a week day, I would probably leave Vancouver by 5AM at the latest, no joke.

At that time of the morning it's about 2 hours from Vancouver to Everett, 1 hour from Everett to Seattle, 1 hour from Seattle to Tacoma, and then you want to budget 30 minutes for finding the place, getting a parking spot, etc.

For a drive of that length I like to add in an hour to help absorb any driving contingencies - traffic at the border, an accident, etc. Then I add in another buffer of time based on how important it is that I get there on time and be coherent. And hey, if you get there early, you can dawdle at a coffee shop and relax.
posted by ErikaB at 10:19 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry: Top Pot Doughnuts.
posted by ErikaB at 10:19 AM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


AwesomeCheapSpicyDinnerFilter: Thai Tom, in the University District of Seattle. After dinner, there are many many awesome things to see if you walk south on University Way from there.
posted by negative1 at 1:13 PM on March 16, 2011


Not too big a fan of Thai Tom as the food's always a bit on the carbon flavored side for me, but I send people to the Green Leaf and consistently hear that it's some of the best Vietnamese cuisine on the west coast. The cooks there have introduced the shiso leaf as a flavor element that cannot be described for it's ability to magically transform the content of what would otherwise only be considered 'really, really good' food.

And if you end up in Wallingford for your meal then check out Molly Moon's for the yummiest home-made ice cream in the city. I hated ice cream until my significant other ordered me to try their's. Now I have an ice cream maker and steal flavor ideas from that joint. It's on 45th and Woodlawn.

Across the street is Sutra, a vegetarian/vegan joint. It's probably better for your return trip as it's a bit spendy. Around $30 without the wine pairing. The thing that makes it amazing is they grow and sometimes smoke or cure their own herbs and fungi. All the produce is local. The staff, including the cook, will come out and explain everything you might be curious about as regards the origins and preparation of your 4 course meal.

There's also In The Bowl on Capitol Hill, another Vietnamese joint and completely vegan as they're Buddhist oriented. They have a large selection of dishes and give free desert with every meal. They have rotis, too, which are delicious. They're at Denny & Olive Way and close at 9:30.

Next door to In The Bowl is the Bus Stop, a cute little hole in the wall bar and a favorite of mine.

From there, heading south, you can walk to Pine Street. If you go 'up' the street (away from the water) you'll find the most Seattle thing there is: bars. Bars. Bars. If you walk the opposite direction, you'll have a lovely stroll into downtown. It's a short walk and if you keep going you'll hit the Pike Place Market. Snake around it and head on down to the waterfront for awesome views of the Sound. Or walk into the Market and hit the CanCan or the Alibi for interesting atmospheres in which to imbibe spirits.

The Seattle Art Museum is quickly south of there on 1st Avenue and they currently have the Nick Cave Sound Suit exhibition running. Wow. That's the best description I can give of it. Just... wow.

Concluding, I'll also give a thumbs up to the Library and Gas Works park; those are 2 things our city is rightfully proud of.
posted by artof.mulata at 5:06 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: all of this is incredibly helpful advice! thanks so much.

will report back on what we end up doing with our (short) time in the city.

thanks!
posted by gursky at 11:11 PM on March 22, 2011


Response by poster: thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

somehow, we managed to get back to Seattle for about 3:30! we were able to see the Pike Place Market, and we had a quick dinner there as well (though i forget the name of the place).

since we were pretty tired from a busy day, we got coffee and hit the road shortly after dinner. this advice will help when i return to Seattle, because i am definitely going back.
posted by gursky at 8:38 PM on March 29, 2011


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