Tag Archives: Seattle

Travel in Seattle

The sun is shining, the grass looks walkable, and the Starbucks signs are out in a flurry of activity. It’s tourism season in Seattle.

Seattle’s been getting a lot of travel accolades recently, so I thought I’d chip in with my two cents on being a tourist in my fair home. I used to be a tour guide, so some of this could be filed under “old but still good” information, but I hope it can still help out.

Most tour groups/attractions/etc. downtown know where the first Starbucks is. It’s in Pike Place Market on the north end, a few stores before you hit Seatown Seabar. It looks like a small Starbucks. Really. If you’re dead set on going, it’s usually crazy crowded in the summer, especially when a cruise ship comes to port.

If you’re on the waterfront/Pike Place Market and want to go from one to the other, there’s an elevator connecting them. It’s slow, but it beats hauling anything up the Hillclimb. It’s half-hidden in Pike Place on street level, next to Chukar Cherries. Take it to the waterfront level and walk out of the parking garage, and the Seattle Aquarium will be to your left.

You should so use this time to hit up World Spice Merchants, which is off the elevator to the south on the stop above the parking garage. It can be hard to breathe when you first walk in, but it’s one of the best spice shops on the entire coast.

spices

I don’t have any photos of the inside of this lovely, lovely place, so have some of my recent haul. My bag of goodies smells like spicy marshmallows.

Pike Place Market fills up quickly. When I volunteered at the Aquarium, I made it a general goal to be out of the market by 10 am at the latest in the summer, which is when the non-produce vendors start up. Also, by 10:15 most of the people are out and about, so it becomes really hard to move. Learn to weave or split up, or just accept that it will be slow going. Do not, for the love of all that is good in the world, try to drive through there.

Yes, it’s on the map as driveable. It’s effectively not. Do not be that driver.

Protip: If you call it Pike’s Place, we’ll know you’re probably a tourist. Use that knowledge as needed.

Seattle is huge. It’s not as large a population as San Francisco, but getting to the cool stuff around town can take a while, even by car. Unless you want to spend a lot of the time in your car/bus, I’d hit up 1-2 neighborhoods a day, max. That or have one serious battle plan.

Also, our parking sucks in a lot of the more happening areas. (I’m looking at you, Capitol Hill.) Uber isn’t necessarily a bad idea, depending on the trek, and we also have sidecar and car2go. I wish I could say mass transit was the way to go, but with all the recent budget cuts it’s not the most relaxing experience. Still, make sure to grab an ORCA card to save money on transfers between Sound Transit and Metro, which are different systems.

Our food trucks may not be Portland-level everywhere, but they’re pretty fantastic – and some have restaurants. We finally have waffle trucks, grilled cheese trucks, and fusion tacos. They won’t be cheap per se – $15 sandwiches can happen – but there are pods forming and it’s hard to beat that in the sunshine. I mean, just look at this taco from Off the Rez.

taco-off-the-rez

Look at it.

(Yes, it’s on concrete. It was cooling and I had no patience for hunting down a table.)

And yes, some have their own restaurants, and often have near cult followings. If you’re not sure of your schedule, it’s a lot easier to grab a taco from Marination Station or Ma Kai than hunt for the truck, and Skillet is at both Capitol Hill and the Seattle Center.

Our bars are awesome – even if you don’t drink alcohol. There are a large number of obsessed mixologists, distillers, and crafters in Seattle, and that makes for a lot of experimentation with and without alcohol. Canon, Needle & Thread/Tavern Law, and Knee High Stocking Co. all do a fine job on the mocktail front in addition to their love for spirits, and that’s just a few of them. Treat that poor friend who normally gets stuck sipping Coke all night, and, if you’re at Knee High, get some seriously awesome tater tots.

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Silly hats, Dorie Greenspan, and cake: Thoughts for IFBC 2013

So I’m attending the 2013 International Food Bloggers Conference for the first time this year, and to make my budget slightly less insane I agreed to write three posts on the conference. I’ve decided they will be as follows:

  • Why you should attend
  • Silly things to do in Seattle while you’re here (Probably for August 2013)
  • A post-event evaluation of the conference

So, some reasons why I think you should attend IFBC 2013:

I will be there. Probably wearing a silly hat. I own a wool bowler I made myself in a millinery class, but for this occasion I may make something custom, maybe a fascinator in the shape of a cupcake.

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The UW Botany Greenhouse: a not-so-secret spot

The University of Washington campus, that place I call home, is huge. Really huge. It seems large enough when you’re driving by to grab cupcakes at the University Village. It feels bigger once you actually start trying to map your classes and realize it’s a half hour walk between buildings. And for those of us that attend, you end up finding nooks and hideaways even after you thought you knew most of the main attractions.

If you want a pretty day on campus, go to the Rainier Vista. If you want to enjoy an amazing library, Suzzallo’s reading room on the second floor totally has you covered. Me, I love the greenhouses.

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ART Restaurant and the infamous cheese counter

I adore cheese. I used to pack Cirrus cheese from Mt. Townsend Creamery in my field lunches. One of my all-time favorite foods is nachos, and I’m still sad I’m no longer near a Green Cactus, because I have yet to find a proper equivalent that’s not made by me. (Some days you just don’t want to turn the broiler on.) I’m a wuss towards the blues and the uber-aged stuff, but I’m quite content with good crostini and camembert, and I drag visiting friends to Beecher’s.

Ever since I’ve had enough time to actually hunt down good food in Seattle, I’ve been hearing about ART Restaurant and their cheese counter. I’m a loyal follower of Fran’s, and often visit the store adjacent to ART for my sugar fix. But it was always ‘next time’ for the cheese, because I usually had caramel at that point. This time, I trekked the arduous trip out to 1st and Union specifically with lactose in mind.

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Sweet Iron Waffles – the calm within the storm

When I was younger, I remember walking by myself around downtown Seattle on a really windy day. Being short and delicate, the breeze pushed me around fairly easily; my friends joked I was a kite without a string. I felt some serious nostalgia about those days last week as I tried to stay upright while waiting for the crosswalk light to turn green to walk to Sweet Iron Waffles.

After I passed that first test – and managed to shut the door – it was relatively peaceful inside. The staff were prepping the waffle machines and eating lunch, and as I ordered another guy joined us to eat a waffle and read the newspaper. You could still hear the wind howling outside, but it was slightly drowned out by Modest Mouse. Continue reading »

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