Feed me, fun me, help me find out what to do in seattle
May 2, 2008 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Seattle, what am I to do with you? Also, where am I to eat?

I'm moving to the seattle area in one week. I'll be there for just over 14 weeks (hooray Microsoft internship). The thing is, i've only spent 2 days there before, and those were for the internship itself.

I need some help. Tell me of what fun things I can do in the area. I'm also looking for some great restaurants in the area, as it is time for me to expand my palate.

All help, and info, greatly appreciated.

Additional info: Just turned 21. Living in redmond (i think, wherever the corporate housing is). And i'm really looking for what you guys think is fun, so that I can use your ideas of fun to help me in my search for fun.

posted by Quazie to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (13 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Kingfish Cafe--beautiful dining room (that casual, shabby elegance that rarely exists anywhere outside of the south), wicked bar, amazing staff (and patrons), real history, old school seattle Seattle neighborhood. And, oh yeah, transcendent soul food.
posted by rumposinc at 4:36 PM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're probably going to spend much of your time on the Eastside (the overall name for the suburbs of Seattle east of Lake Washington), but do make sure you get over to Seattle regularly. Spend a couple weekends doing the tourist things: Pike Place Market, the waterfront, the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Center, Woodland Park Zoo. Also, you definitely have to make a pilgrimage to Mt. Rainier, and a weekend spent touring the Olympic Peninsula would not be wasted.

Frankly there's not all that much to do on the Eastside, though the Kirkland waterfront is probably worth a visit on a sunny day, as is downtown Bellevue these days (used to be dead after 7 PM, now it's not bad). There are a ton of great places to eat over there, of course, but it's not something you will usually do for lunch during the week. I am focusing on the places I like to eat on the Eastside.

Due to the high concentration of geeks around Redmond, there is a fair amount of pretty good pizza delivery in the area: in addition to the usual chains, there's Pagliacci, Jet City, Briatore, Romio's. (I personally like Jet City the best. I haven't tried Flying Saucer or Coyote Creek.) Frankie's Pizza and Pasta is great if you want sit-down Italian. There is also no shortage of Indian and Thai food; throw a rock and whatever you hit will probably pretty good (Thai Ginger at Redmond Town Center, where you will also find many other restaurants, is one of my favorites).

For burgers, check out Wibbley's on 140th (but not right at noon -- it's a small place and will be mobbed by your fellow 'softies); a visit to Burgermaster (where they serve you in your car) is probably in order as well just for fun. There's a Kidd Valley (local chain) on Bel-Red, which is also worth a visit (it's IMHO not that great). You will want to have fish and chips at Ivar's (there's one on 156th near Crossroads Mall), as that's a Seattle-area fast food staple. The Village Square Cafe and Black Bear Cafe are decent diners (good breakfasts).

For Mexican, try Ooba's Mexican Grill (I think they still rotate through the RedWest MS cafe, too). And of course no stay in Redmond is complete without a visit to Dixie's BBQ (they rotate through the cafes, but don't be fooled; it's best to go to the original outlet so you can be served "The Man" by Gene Porter himself). The nondescript J. T.'s Deli on Northup Way has some great sandwiches, though it's a bit out of the way for a Microsoft lunch.

I hear Bill Gates serves some great grub at his shindigs too, so you have that to look forward to.
posted by kindall at 4:58 PM on May 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Go here, even though it's a little ways from Redmond. You will not regret it.
posted by Nelsormensch at 5:05 PM on May 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Eastside vs Seattle is a big question. In my opinion (and there are certainly people who will disagree with me here), the eastside doesn't have a lot to offer if you are young/unmarried/in your 20s. Even if you're living there, I'd recommend making it into Seattle if you can, especially on the weekend.

Nightlife: Belltown and Capitol Hill are my two favorite nightlife neighborhoods. Belltown is a little more upscale, and Capitol Hill is a little more alternative. There are a lot of great bars in both areas; a few of my favorites include Viceroy, See Sound, Cyclops, Havana, Barça, The Apartment, Cha Cha, Vessel, and Black Bottle. Other nightlife neighborhoods include Fremont (check out Brouwers, a neat Belgian-style beer house) and Pioneer Square (more club-focused... not my favorite scene). If you stay on the eastside, most of the action is in Kirkland, although downtown Bellevue is making its best effort to try to become a destination, with posh billiards and bowling lounges in Lincoln Square.

Restaurants: Again, I'm biased towards the Seattle side of Lake Washington. Belltown/Downtown/Pike Place have a lot of the best restaurants, although Queen Anne and Cap Hill have some good places as well. There are a lot of fun casual-but-really-tasty restaurants in the city... a few recommendations: Txori (belltown tapas), Quinn's (capitol hill gastropub), Flying Fish (asian-inspired seafood), Beecher's (cheese shop in the market with Mac and Cheese to die for), Tavolata (belltown modernist italian), Umi (fantastic sushi). Seattle also has a fantastic set of more upscale restaurants (Restaurant Zoe, Wild Ginger, Cafe Campagne, Crush, Lark) if you are really serious about expanding your palate a bit. The eastside is a little more focused on chain restaurants--Bellevue is PFChang/Cheesecake Factory central--although I'm sure there are some fantastic gems that I just don't know about.

Activities: Check out the SAM (Seattle Art Museum), the Ballard Locks, the Olympics Sculpture park, the architecturally stunning downtown library, and of course Pike Place Market. Personally I'd skip the EMP and Space Needle. There's also loads of hiking in the surrounding areas, if you're into that.

Good luck on your move... Seattle is a fantastic place to be, and summer is the best time to be here. I hope you enjoy it!
posted by stilly at 5:57 PM on May 2, 2008

The Brown Bag Cafe is a great spot for breakfast. If you can get into the pro club on a coworkers membership or if they give you one as an intern, it's awesome. Not exactly entertainy, but definitely a great experience.
posted by cashman at 6:01 PM on May 2, 2008

I second kindall's suggestion to get the hell out of the Eastside. It's my urban bias, to be sure, but despite a lot more trees the "urban" part of the Eastside (Bellevue, Redmond) is about as exciting as a strip mall in Orange County, CA. (Downtown Kirkland and the waterfront there is kinda cute.)

If you don't have a car, then King County Transit is your friend.

In Seattle the touristy stuff is absolutely worth doing--as noted the Pike Place Market, Seattle Center, the brand new and pretty damn awesome Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront, etc.

But having done that stuff, you might want to meet some people and hangout and have fun.

Capitol Hill is chock a block with bars and great live music venues. You can wander around, drink fantastic coffee (at anyone of the many many non-Starbucks/Tullys cafes), get a cheap meal, an expensive meal, or drink fantastic beer. My two favorite places in Cap Hill are the Elysian (best brewery in Seattle IMHO) and Cafe Presse (wonderful French bistro food--not fussy, well priced, and open 7am-2am). The aforementioned Kingfish Cafe is also good and in Capitol Hill but not near these two places which are near the bustling Pike/Pine corridor. Lots of other places to check out--Google "Lindas" "Comet Tavern" "Six Arms" and "Neumos."

Note that if you want to hang in this hood *and* get your geek on, watch for the Ignite Seattle events.

The University of Washington is a gorgeous park, with a fantastic art museum and a pretty good natural history museum. The surrounding neighborhood, the UDistrict, is a classic college neighborhood with thrift stores, record shop, theaters, and lots of decent cheap places to eat. My faves to eat and drink in this hood are Big Time Brewery, Flowers, and Cedars.

In these two neighborhoods you'll a high concentration of 20somethings.

If you're at all into the outdoors there is a ton to do in/near Seattle. Take a trip to the REI flagship store--they have lots of info + it's a pretty one of a kind retail experience.

Take a ferry to Bainbridge Island. Just walk on, get a beautiful view of the city, stroll into town and have lunch at the pub at Eagle Harbor .

You'll want to visit Fremont, though its best days are behind it. Keep going west to Ballard and check out the locks--they're awesome. Sit on the patio upstairs at Ray's and have some fish and chips. Go have brunch at Hattie's Hat.

Belltown is another center of nightlife and it's a mix of places trying to feel like LA/NYC (and mostly failing) and genuine, homey, divvy places. 2nd Avenue between Battery and Blanchard is a stretch that you should get to know--the names Rendezvous, Shorty's, Mama's, Buddha, Lava Lounge should be in your lexicon before you leave.

Elliot Bay Books is an outstanding bookstore located in Pioneer Square. Also in this historic district are tons of tech startups and Utilikilt.

In terms of events that are intown during your stay, well read The Stranger to keep tabs. I'd suggest checking out the Capitol Hill Block Party and most certainly Bumbershoot if your stay extends past Labor Day. Oh! I highly recommend a Rat City Roller Girls bout!

I'm not a Seattle native (at last count there are less than 150 of them--I kid!) but have been here for going on 16 years and love the place. Feel free to ping me when you arrive--I would be happy to buy you a beer if you get your ass across the 520 and make it to Seattle ;-)
posted by donovan at 6:04 PM on May 2, 2008

Serious Pie, seriously.
posted by Freedomboy at 6:34 PM on May 2, 2008

The PNW and the Northwest forum on the Mouthfuls food board is quite active, and full of knowledgeable and friendly folks who know their restaurants. The last time I was in Seattle, I got together with a bunch of them for a lovely dinner at Le Pichet, which I can't recommend highly enough.

Seattle's a terrific city -- enjoy your stay!
posted by trip and a half at 7:23 PM on May 2, 2008

Eat at Quinn's. Try the Wagyu beef burger (allow your arteries to recover for at least a week if you've been near the Lunchbox Laboratory, recommended above and seconded here), go back for the Wild Boar Sloppy Joe. Definitely visit Cafe Presse (above), which thrilled me for the umpteenth time last weekend. Shame on you if you skip a visit to Salumi, Armandino Batali's (yes, Mario's father) home of the best house-cured Italian meats just about anywhere stateside. If you can wing it (i.e. afford it), visit Tilth with its fantastic all-organic menu. Ummm...and what everyone else said. And yes, for the quintessential NW experience, hop a ferry to Bainbridge Island--top deck, on the rail, coffee in hand--er, you do drink coffee, right?
posted by prinado at 8:11 PM on May 2, 2008

Hey, welcome to the neighborhood!

Here's an itinerary for a fun weekend morning:

Drive across the lake on I-90, take the Rainier Ave S. exit, go a couple of miles to the hip and happening Columbia City neighborhood.

Breakfast at the Columbia City Bakery--astonishingly good baked goods of every stripe.

Continue southward to Kubota Garden, a phenomenal Japanese garden. Hang out for the morning, hike the paths, ogle the koi, snooze on the lawn.

Return to Columbia City for lunch at Jones Barbecue, also top-notch. The brisket is incredible and the hot link sandwiches for lunch rock, too.

Browse the bookstore or art gallery or take in a matinee at the local cinema.
posted by Sublimity at 8:18 PM on May 2, 2008

Also, check out my neighborhood of Ballard. Just got back from our little downtown area and man, is it hopping. Have pizza at the restored firehouse, cupcakes at Cupcake Royale, take in a movie at the independent Majestic Bay theater, shop for CDs at Sonic Boom, and people-watch like mad.
posted by GaelFC at 8:38 PM on May 2, 2008

Some more Eastside specific things:

1) Bellevue Botanical Gardens (not to huge, but nice, especially this time of year). The Mountains to Sound trail is a good walking or biking trail.

2) After all that exercise, you'll need some places to eat (on the Eastside): Wibbley's (as already suggested), Malay Satay Hut (Malaysian), Andre's Eurasian Bistro (mixed Asian), Bamboo Garden (OMG killer Szechuan), Shanghai Cafe (Chinese, get anything with barleygreen noodles). Pomegranate is a little pricey, but they have a great brunch. Speaking of brunch, try dim sum at Noble Court. My wife has now reminded me of Spice Route (Indian) and Facing East (Taiwanese). Seoul Hot Pot (Korean, not much of a Web site).

If you want upscale try Bis or Cafe Juanita.

3) If you get tired of having other people cook for you (and really, how could that happen?), try one of the Farmer's Markets in the area (on the Eastside, Bellevue and Redmond will be closest). And Uwajimaya is also worth a trip, the Bellevue one is closer and smaller, but still nice. The Seattle one is amazing.
posted by Gorgik at 10:50 AM on May 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

« Older Argh, the lines! Why won't they go like how I want...   |   Document management with SharePoint Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.