Solo dining in in Vancouver, Seattle and Portland
July 4, 2013 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Where should I eat in Vancouver, Seattle and Portland? Solo traveler, foodie, beer and seafood aficionado.

I'll be in each city for a couple of days and would love suggestions on where to eat. I love fish, seafood, beer, cheese, sushi, local foods, tend to like gastropub and breweries among other things. No food allergies or restrictions. Staying pretty central in all areas, won't have a car in Vancouver or Seattle but perfectly comfortable on transit. (And I like to have a drink with dinner anyway.)

In terms of solo dining, especially dinner, I strongly prefer to eat at somewhere with bar seating unless it's completely spectacular otherwise. Maybe a communal table too. I've done the "read with a book/magazine" at a table for one, and it's fine, but I don't particularly enjoy it. For lunch, I'm also open to more casual options, like food carts or takeout, especially if there's a nice outdoors space to eat in. (And the Pacific Northwest is nice in summer, right...?)

I've done some research and have read this thread about Seattle, although I'd love some more seafood suggestions.

I do have one specific question: if anybody happens to know where I would be able to get a good 排骨飯/Taiwanese pork chop rice in the Vancouver area that would be spectacular! I suspect it'd be in Richmond but the Canada Line goes there, right?
posted by andrewesque to Travel & Transportation (27 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
For Seattle I'd recommend (some of these mentioned in the other thread):
  • Brouwer's
  • Spur
  • Quinn's
  • Seatown
  • Brave Horse Tavern
  • Steelhead Diner
Seatown and Steelhead will be better for seafood; the others are more like gastropubs. Brave Horse is nice for solo diners - it has both communal tables and a boisterous bar.
posted by bbuda at 10:55 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, if the Sounders are playing in Seattle while you're there, try to snag a table outside at Collins Pub (you'll need to go a couple of hours before game time or it will be full). The food is just okay (get the burger) but the beer list is world-class and it will make for excellent people-watching.

I'd also recommend that you scalp a ticket to the game, but you just asked for food advice...
posted by bbuda at 11:02 AM on July 4, 2013

In Seattle, grab a sandwich at Salumi, ESPECIALLY the porchetta. Also Baguette Box.
posted by alchemist at 11:10 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

For Vancouver, I'd check out:

- The Alibi Room for beer. Spectacular beer. Communal tables.
- Bao Bei
- Any of the Heather group restaurants: Salt, Judas Goat, Bitter, Irish Heather
- Meat and Bread! The porchetta sandwich. Holy crap.
- Bella Gelateria for gelato
- Phnom Penh if you can brave the line
- The Richmond night market if you're there on a weekend, it's on the Canada line.

All of these are near Gastown/Chinatown-- lots of other neighbourhoods are good too; I found urban spoon to be a fairly reliable resource to find other places.

If you're there on a weekday, most of the food trucks will be downtown near Robson Square and will have lots of places to sit at.

Don't know about Taiwanese pork chops, but I can confirm it's pretty easy to get to Richmond!
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 11:12 AM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

Tacos Chukis in Seattle. It's right on Broadway and is the best small taco bar in town.
posted by nathanfhtagn at 11:12 AM on July 4, 2013

For sushi in Portland, get a seat at the bar at Hokusei and order the omakase. A little spendy, but well worth it.
posted by outfielder at 11:48 AM on July 4, 2013

In Portland, the bar at Yakuza might be a good fit. Sushi to start, have the burger as dessert.

For northwesty-local-seasonal - you have a ridiculous number of options in PDX. I'd skim online menus for Davis Street Tavern, Clyde Common, Gilt Club: all are fine places to eat alone (at the bar or otherwise). Tasty and Sons has excellent people-watching from the bar (although pork-fetishy tapas doesn't fit your other requirements as well).

If you had to choose between the various branded brewpubs in town (McMenamins, Widmer, Rogue, Deschutes) and something else, I'd pick (based on just the food, beer taste is so personal): something else > Rogue >> McMenamins > Widmer = Deschutes.
posted by janell at 11:48 AM on July 4, 2013

Portland: Burnside Brewing is putting out some great food, and they've got a bar you can sit at.

In janell's assessment, I'd pick Deschutes over all those - their location in the Pearl is gorgeous, and I'm pretty sure they've got bar seating there. I love their food and their beer, but to each his/her own. At Deschutes, you'll be right by Powell's books, where you can kill an hour or 20.

For seafood, I've heard great things about Dan & Louis Oyster Bar, though I've not been.

Also for great food, check out Produce Row. From there, you can go wander the Eastbank Esplanade along the river.

Enjoy - sounds like a fabulous trip.
posted by hydra77 at 12:04 PM on July 4, 2013

Lot's of good suggestions so far.

In Portland, the tacos at Porque no? were memorably good. If you want to go for a quick pint on a hot day, the Rogue pub on Flanders isn't too shabby.

In West Seattle, check out the sushi at Mashiko and the Thai at Buddha Ruska. For amazing Cuban sandwiches, check out Paseo in the Fremont district of Seattle.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:08 PM on July 4, 2013

Seattle ideas:

The oyster bar at Taylor Shellfish in Capitol Hill is wonderful for casual, solo dining - get a big plate of raw oysters and geoduck sashimi, all from their shellfish farm just a little ways up north. You can sit at the oyster shucking area, grab a little table or sit at the bar facing the windows and do some awesome people watching.

Taylor Shellfish is a part of a neat little building called Melrose Market that you should check out anyway. Grab a glass of wine at Bar Ferd'nand, eat dinner at the communal table at Sitka and Spruce, or if it's really nice and you want to sit outside you could grab some salumi at Rainshadow Meats and some bread/cheese at Calf & Kid, then walk over to Cal Anderson Park with your goodies and watch some bike polo in the sun.

My favorite place for sushi is Kisaku over in the Wallingford neighborhood. Call and make a reservation ahead of time to sit at the sushi bar and then do omakase. Kisaku, in my opinion, has the best selection of seafood you probably won't find anywhere else in the US - gizzard shad, varieties of mackerel you've never heard of, grunt, abalone, firefly squid, uni of various colors from along the pacific coast, etc.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:40 PM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

In Portland, the new hotness seafood-wise is Block + Tackle. Or even hotter, Roe.
posted by mumkin at 12:50 PM on July 4, 2013

Seattle: I have to put in a plug for my neighborhood place, Smith, which has the best hamburgers ever, plus lots of other good stuff. You can sit at the bar. It's on 15th St in Capitol Hill, an easy bus ride or brisk uphill walk from downtown.

Fremont has a bunch of good places to eat, including Revel, a sort of nouveau-Korean place. Really good food, great drinks. There's a bar and I believe you can order food at it.

Seattle has amazing sushi but I'm have trouble thinking of a good place with bar seating. Avoid Blue-C - seems like it should be fun for solo dining since it's one of those pick-your-sushi-off-a-conveyer-belt places, but it's awful.
posted by lunasol at 1:20 PM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Vancouver: If you like Chinese fast food, I was blown away by the Crystal Mall Food Court in Burnaby (next to Metrotown mall, accessible by Skytrain).
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:35 PM on July 4, 2013

In Vancouver, you could try one or more of the many izakayas (essentially Japanese bar food) - in particular, there's a bunch of Guu locations downtown. They all have bar seating and many have communal tables as well.

The last time I was visiting Vancouver solo I had a fantastic omakase at Octopus' Garden. You can make a reservation for the bar, and chat with the incredibly friendly chef while he serves you multiple courses of incredible food. Arrive hungry.
posted by Gortuk at 1:35 PM on July 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

I moved away from Portland several years ago, so I can't really make any up-to-date recommendations, but want to second Janell's "something else" remark about brewpubs--I love several of the local McMenamins, and they have some great beers, but my experience with their food has always been extremely hit and miss, so I wouldn't go there looking for a solid gastropub experience.

If food carts are your thing, it's hard to go wrong with the selection downtown, particularly SW 5th and Oak. And yes, summers in the Pacific NW are generally stunning.

Homesick now for the Portland food scene...
posted by tiger tiger at 2:01 PM on July 4, 2013

In Vancouver, if you're up for ramen, there are several good places in the downtown core. Personal favorites are Santouka and Kintaro. You also mentioned cheese, and that to me says poutine. We're finally getting some decent poutine places in town, a couple worth checking out are La Belle Patate and Smoke's Poutinerie.

I would also second checking out the Richmond Night Market if you're around on the weekend.
posted by barc0001 at 2:55 PM on July 4, 2013

will you have a car in Portland? (although these are all pretty easy to get to via the bus (#8)
Places in NE Portland with bar seating:
Podnah's for BBQ
Pok Pok Noi for Thai
Grain and Gristle (adjacent to Pok Pok Noi!) pub-ish food with a nice big U shaped bar

NE/SE (harder to get to via transit)
Killer Burger not much of a bar at the Sandy location, more bar/window seats at the Sellwood location. And you must have a high tolerance for classic rock and televised sports (me, I just read the paper)
posted by vespabelle at 4:02 PM on July 4, 2013

The Boat Street Cafe in Seattle has what might be the freshest food in the city. I'm a mad snob when it comes to fresh food and since arriving here 20 years ago it's been a fair amount of disappointment.

It's at 3131 Western Ave #301 near the bottom of Denny (near the Sound) and it has the most wonderful little bar seating area. The staff are delightful and the food is never, never overcooked. The vegetable dishes are a delight... Try the black tea ice cream and the bread pudding!
posted by artof.mulata at 4:51 PM on July 4, 2013

I'd also recommend TASTE at Seattle Art Museum - their happy hour menu is pretty wonderful, and not too pricey. Entrees are expensive, but always fresh, inventive and seasonal.
The bar is the place to sit without a reservation - they have an okay selection of beers on tap, and usually at least one local hard cider on tap.
Seconding the suggestion for Salumi - it's mind-blowingly good!
Also, in Portland, I've had great meals and wonderful cocktails at the Davis Street Tavern.
Have fun!
posted by dbmcd at 5:02 PM on July 4, 2013

In Vancouver I would recommend Fable they have a bar to sit at. Their specialty is the canned tuna (I'm veg so I didn't try it but everyone else LOVED it) All the food was excellent. I liked sitting at the bar watching all the meals being prepared.
posted by sadtomato at 5:05 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's been a long time since I left Vancouver, and I was student-poor when I lived there, but my old favourites are still there: the Eatery, a wacky studenty (i.e. cheapish) sushi place; the Fringe, not a place to eat, but a friendly dive bar with a good beer selection; and the Yaletown Brewery, a cavernous brewpub with good pizzas.
posted by irrelephant at 5:48 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the suggestions! I will have a car in Portland.
posted by andrewesque at 10:01 PM on July 4, 2013

Thanks for asking this question, and thank you to everyone who left a response.

Just like OP I'm headed to these three cities on a vacation this fall. All of these suggestions are fantastic.
posted by Old Man McKay at 7:47 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just popped in to say I had a fantastic solo meal at Beast in Portland. The website makes the place look like a "date night" kind of restaurant, but I wound up seated at the "chef's table" (which was really Naomi Pomeroy's workspace) where she chatted with me about food, Portland, traveling, and cooking while she prepped dinner for 30. A friend has also eaten here solo and gotten the same treatment, so I'm inclined to think it's not that unusual.
posted by conradjones at 10:18 AM on July 5, 2013

My favorite Portland food cart pod is at SE 43rd & Belmont -- a ton of options, lots of diversity, and good food. Some of the carts are written up here.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 11:19 AM on July 5, 2013

foodie+seafood+Vancouver= Blue Water Cafe. OMG so good.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 11:54 AM on July 5, 2013

In Seattle, I'd recommend Il Corvo pasta in Pioneer Square (pretty easily accessible by bus). I haven't been since they relocated to this spot so I can't speak to seating but it's just one pasta-obsessed guy who cooks 2 or 3 dishes a day, whatever he feels like making, and serves them for lunch until he runs out. Cash only. Best pasta I've ever had!
posted by skycrashesdown at 1:02 PM on July 5, 2013

« Older Can I show up to the airport and expect to find a...   |   No you can't go to our university! We screwed up.... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.