Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

Best Restaurants in Seattle, WA

by Elaine Sosa

$ A steal deal
$$ Your tummy and your wallet will smile
$$$ Yikes! But if it's on my list, it's worth it

All area codes are (206)

407 Olive Way

Chef Wayne Johnson is the man manning the stoves at Andaluca, a dark and sexy dining room where swirls of ochre and mauve compete with the Dali-esque light fixtures above. Safe to say, however, that the chef hasn't been distracted by the décor - his full attention is on every plate of Spanish cum Mediterranean cuisine and the results are striking. Start your meal with the lamb skewers, a paean to Morocco with hints of mint and coriander and paired with a delicious cucumber raita. The Gaia apple salad is a refreshing counterpoint, leaves of spinach at play with chevre, fennel and a spicy apple cider vinaigrette. The Zarzuela shellfish stew is a revelation, big prawns, clams and mussels in a cumin-scented tomato broth redolent of the Spanish countryside. As good as this dish is, it gets stiff competition from the cabrales-crusted beef tenderloin, a perfect piece of meat resting on grilled pears, mashed potatoes and a marsala demiglaze. Chef Johnson has mastered the flavors of the Mediterranean, making his table one of the most exciting in Seattle. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.


The Athenian Inn
Main Arcade
Pike Place Market

Since you're going to make it to Pike Place Market while in Seattle (and you should), it makes sense to start your tour at the Athenian Inn. I'll even give you directions: enter the Market under the big clock, turn right and walk about twenty paces. You're there. Once you open the door, don't let all the old sailors scare you away. Granted, even early in the morning, these ruddy-faced gents are on their third Guinness, but hey, it's the waterfront, and that's part of the fun. The Athenian was started in 1909 by Anthony John Pappadakis, or "Papoo" to his pals, and was originally a bakery and luncheonette. It was one of the first establishments in Seattle to receive a liquor license, back in 1933. Today, it's a terrifically atmospheric eatery serving breakfast and lunch. A long wooden counter is to your left, and a U-shaped counter is in the center of the room, presided over by a mature gal partial to colorful frocks and dangly plastic fish earrings. My advice: head straight for the back of the room and snag a booth overlooking the water. The view and the morning sun are sheer delight. What to order? Hash. Seriously. I'd always found this breakfast item much too salty until I tried the Athenian's turkey hash with two poached eggs. It's sublime. Hash heaven here, with corned beef hash and red flannel hash (think beets) also on the menu. Your early morning meal can also be Scottish kippers, Philadelphia scrapple or an oyster hangtown fry. The hash browns are great. If you're a late riser, come for lunch and order one of nearly a hundred seafood selections.


2107 Third Avenue

Want masterful cooking? exceptional flavors? novel, yet inspired, pairings on the plate? Look no further than Brasa, James Beard Award-winning chef Tamara Murphy's hot (and haute) table in the Belltown district. The expansive dining room is actually two, a romantic, softly lit bar area for casual diners and a more formal, elevated dining space across the way. Between the two is a serpentine walk that leads to the exhibition kitchen, and all around is the feeling of, well, privilege, at minimum the privilege of being here. Come as two, the better to share plates such as the Penn cove mussels in a curried coconut broth and the squid ink risotto with sauteed calamari. The smooth beef tenderloin with a potato-parsnip mash and smoked pepper jam is utterly seductive, as is the almond-crusted ahi tuna with a caramelized onion blini on a rosemary-golden raisin sauce. You'll be glad you came to Brasa, and you will return. Dinner only.


Brasserie Margaux
401 Lenora Street

This edge-of-Belltown spot is a colorful yet clubby space for a late breakfast, power lunch or leisurely dinner. As the name suggests, it's French fare that's the focus at Brasserie Margaux, although the occasional flight of fancy from the kitchen will surely amuse. A good starter is the marinated sea scallops and composed Northwest seafood salad dotted with watercress and tobiko caviar. From there, it's on to the restaurant's signature duck breast in a delectable sweet and sour orange sauce, although the grilled New York steak with perfectly crispy shoestring potatoes also deserves consideration. Dessert? An absolute must. The molten chocolate cake, served warm with a liquid center and snuggled next to a scoop of raspberry sorbet, will leave you speechless. Post meal, walk over to the newly-restored Cinerama across the street for a vintage flick.


Café Campagne
1600 Post Alley

You might call Café Campagne the little sister of Campagne, the award-winning French country restaurant right upstairs at the Inn at the Market. Sibling or no, Café Campagne easily stands on its own. While Campagne the elder is more refined (in decor as well as cooking), Café Campagne is a delight, a cozy French bistro where you can eat heartily and well morning, noon and night. The best meal of all at Café Campagne may be breakfast, since the sun pouring into the front of the café helps make the food and mood pure fantasy. Your AM repast should begin with a strong, delicious cup of joe and fresh-squeezed juice, followed by the potato and rosemary omelette, which is served open-faced with sautéed onions, peppers and Gruyere. Heaven! The French French toast are also divine, hunks of brioche fried in a dreamy bourbon egg batter and served with maple syrup. If you decide to come for lunch, dig into the Croque Monsieur, a medley of Parisian ham and Gruyere, or the lamb burger, which is served with balsamic grilled onions, fire-roasted peppers and just-right pommes frites. You can (and should) walk off your meal at the Pike Place Market, mere steps away.


86 Pine Street (at the Inn at the Market)

French-country-style cooking in the heart of Seattle? Yes, it can be done. The key is to honor the tradition of Provencal cooking, that being the appropriateness of the cuisine to the region. In the case of Seattle, it's working with the local bounty -- seafood, lamb from nearby Ellensburg, rabbit from Whidbey Island and fruits and vegetables from a number of farms within an hour's drive of the city. The results, under the sharp eye of chef Daisley Gordon, are impressive. It all starts out in a small and sexy dining room done in soft beige tones. Your candlelit table will likely overlook the Marketplace and Elliott Bay. Begin your meal with the calamari, which is dusted with ground almonds, sauteed in olive oil and garnished with fresh thyme and lemon. The tuna and striped bass tartares with vegetable Nicoise and tobiko caviars is also an interesting, and tasty, starter. Continue with the grilled beef tenderloin with foie gras butter, herb dumplings and braised artichoke hearts or the soupe de poisson, a festival of fish flavored with tomatoes, tarragon and saffron and garnished with garden vegetables, croutons and rouille. Slide over to the adjacent bar after your meal, since you'll surely be in the mood to whisper sweet nothings to someone. Dinner only.


2328 First Avenue

Chef Kerry Sear has left the lush confines of The Georgian and landed at Cascadia, a temple of fine dining pulled together with the backing of billionaire Bruce McCaw. Money is definitely a factor at Cascadia, since you'll need your gold card to pay for this meal. That said, it's a worthwhile indulgence, since you're in the company of smooth wood, etched glass and a smiling fellow tinkling the ivories. Oh yeah, the food. Chef Sear is playing with the bounty of the "Cascadia" region, that stretch of land in and around the northwest's Cascade mountain range. Consequently, one of the four tasting menus (the way to go here) is likely to turn up treats such as a vegetable shepherd's pie with a celery root crust or the salmon on cedar fronds, paired with savoy cabbage and leek greens in a port wine cream. The long bar is a hot spot for dot com millionaires and their hangers on. Dinner only.


Dahlia Lounge
2001 Fourth Avenue

Chef Tom Douglas isn't the sort who wants to be pigeonholed. His signature restaurant in the heart of Seattle isn't fusion, or Northwestern cuisine, or nouvelle anything. It's simply food which takes as much advantage of the local harvest as possible and is influenced by a number of cultures. However, he's quick to point out that "we mix cultures on the menu, not on the plate." I'd say he's got the right idea. The dining room is modern and colorful and clues you in to the fact that your meal will be lively and fun. A winning appetizer is the lobster, shrimp and shiitake potstickers, mounds of chunky goodness which you can dip into a pungent sake sauce infused with chili oil. Whew! Catch your breath (have some water, too) and proceed to the special farmer's salad of the day, always different and unerringly delightful. Next in line is the chef's favorite, crispy roast duck (well-done to the bone -- "raw food has very little flavor," according to Douglas) with a chestnut honey glaze and resting on a wonderfully flavorful flageolet bean ragout. Dessert has to be "tom's world famous creme caramel," which is worthy of the accolade. Tom is having too much fun here. Go join him. Lunch and dinner.


El Gaucho
2505 First Avenue

Ooh, the Rat Pack would have felt right at home at this steak joint. El Gaucho is one of those places which is trying to bring the 50s back to the 90s, and boy, these folks are doing it in style. The original El Gaucho opened in 1953 under owner Jim Ward. Today's version is the baby of Paul Mackey, a fellow who knows that cigars and martinis are all the rage, and if they're accompanied by a juicy Porterhouse steak, all the better. Be sure to look good on your visit here, because the restaurant looks great. The bar is a sexy beaut, a semi-circle of dimpled red leather topped with shimmery gold. The rest of the place is done in smoky blue-gray tones, with a raised platform making an L-shape around the back of the room and providing the best seating. Doing it up big at El Gaucho is half the fun, so begin with the Caesar salad for two, which is prepared tableside. After that, it's gotta be beef, so choose between that Porterhouse or a juicy brochette of tenderloin. Dessert has to be cherries jubilee, again prepared at your table. Sashay to one of the private rooms after your meal for a cigar and a chance to rub elbows with Seattle's movers and shakers (and athletes galore). Dinner only.


Emmett Watson's Oyster Bar
Soames-Dunn Building
Pike Place Market

A fish shack near the waterfront. Eeks! Emmett Watson will probably blast me in his column for saying that. But wait! Looks like the curmudgeonly old columnist has retired. Saved by the bell. His pen may be taking a rest, but his namesake restaurant carries on. This place is about what you would expect from an old newspaperman. Tucked into an alley across from the Marketplace, the place has scads of nautical paraphernalia hanging from the rafters while beer signs decorate the white walls. The tables are dressed up in blue and while-checked tablecloths, and that's about as fancy as it gets in here. The menu, scribbled on a brown paper bag, is heavy on seafood, so start off with some smooth oysters on the half shell or the cioppino, a chunky brew guaranteed to clear your sinuses. The clam chowder is slightly buttery, thick and flavorful. Keep on going. The oyster 'n chips are fried to perfection and the boiled "u" peel shrimp are mouth-watering. You can end this foodfest with the key lime pie, but in Seattle? Nah, have some steamed mussels and then the... Lunch and dinner.


Flying Fish
2234 First Avenue

The fish aren't exactly flying in here, but the people certainly are, especially in the bar area. Beautiful men and women flitting from here to there (or is that him to her?) while they have cocktails and "apps," appetizers to the uninitiated. It's all very cool. If you're not in the mood for this scene, just have a seat at one of the many sleek tables in this high-ceilinged room and get ready for some tasty, modern food. Sea-food, of course. Chef Christine Keff uses only the freshest fish available and, consequently, the menu is refreshed daily. The emphasis is on Pacific Rim-style preparations, which makes sense when you consider that Ms. Keff has spent a fair bit of time in both Thailand and Japan. Good appetizer selections are the smoked rock shrimp spring rolls with a sesame dipping sauce and the Thai crab cake with lemongrass mayonnaise. Continue with the grilled escolar, which is nestled on a bed of mashed potatoes (yum) and comes with a tomato olive relish, or the seared mahi with satsuma potatoes (an Asian sweet potato) and soy ginger butter. In a place like this, your dessert should be a martini. Dinner only.


The Georgian
411 University Street (in the Four Seasons Olympic Hotel)

One look at this restaurant and your bound to think that the only person who would eat here is your 85-year-old spinster aunt in her mink stole. Not! Chef Gavin Stephenson has modernized the menu and is creating simple dishes that take advantage of the bounty of the region. Keep in mind, though, that this is the Four Seasons, so you will get some steak and lamb on that fine Villeroy and Boch china. No problem, since a visit to The Georgian is likely to be for a very special occasion. The pastel walls reach up to a rather high ceiling, essential when you consider the size of the chandeliers. Take a seat at your lovely table and order the oyster stew with asparagus and candied salmon as a starter. Continue with the thick-cut smoked salmon in an apple brandy sauce or, better yet, the oh-so-tender veal tenderloin with morel mushrooms and a crisp potato cake. Dessert? Remember, you're at The Georgian -- order the white and dark chocolate souffle and think mink. (power) Breakfast, lunch and dinner; afternoon tea on the Georgian's Terrace.


Il Terrazo Carmine
411 First Avenue South

Tucked away in the lobby of an office building in the Pioneer Square area, this Italian restaurant is nothing if not traditional. Owner Carmine Smeraldo presides over a kitchen which turns out Florentine specialties that will do the home folks proud. The dining room is a light and airy space, thanks to the floral prints and a floor-to-ceiling window at the rear of the room. A mouthwatering antipasti bar graces the open kitchen. Start with the minestrone di verdure, a fresh vegetable and bean soup. Pause for the spaghettini dell'Ortolano, silky strands of pasta which are coated with arugula, goat cheese, tomatoes and pine nuts. The medaglioni di animelle are sweetbreads sauteed with parma prosciutto, peas and a touch of wine sauce which will leave you sighing. A dollop of gelato is the crowning touch to your meal. Lunch and dinner.

2400 First Avenue

Chef Scott Carsberg is a man who says what he thinks. "This is not fusion confusion," he tells me. "My only trend is quality cooking." As an American chef doing regional food in his hometown (albeit with an Italian twist), Chef Carsberg likes to use local ingredients cooked very simply, with only one or two elements on the plate. Having spent time in Northern Italy, he has a fondness for letting the flavors of the food shine through. "Italian food is what it is. Flavor and sensitivity equal art." So, put him to the test. Start with the ravioli aperto with zucchini and ricotta. Follow it with a creamy red wine risotto, then segue into the breast of pheasant with whipped potatoes. This clubby room with soft lighting lends itself to dining a deux, so have your friend order the grilled lamb loin with roasted pepper. The warm chocolate dumplings with vanilla sauce are sexy morsels meant to be shared (remember the lobster scene in "Flashdance?"). Dinner only.


Le Pichet
1933 First Avenue

Chef Jim Drohman, late of Campagne, has turned his love of French food into Le Pichet, a cozy, classically French bistro in the heart of the city. Dark wood tables pair with lemon yellow walls and simple mirrors and invite that very French quality, introspection. Look outward and onto the menu, however, and order charcuterie ranging from pork pate and air-dried country sausages to marinated olives and house-smoked salmon. Heartier fare includes a chicken roast to order and a hefty grilled pork chop. Chef Drohman is keeping things simpler now that he's on his own, and the results are a welcome addition to the Seattle dining scene. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Macrina Bakery and Cafe
2408 First Avenue

Seattle's in-the-know folks like to start their day at Macrina Bakery and Cafe, where the emphasis has always been on the "bakery" part of the equation. Much credit for the magic of the ovens goes to owner Leslie Mackie, a woman whose kneading knows no peer. This homey, hip Belltown spot is a mix of cool stone floors, colorful wood chairs and good light that draws in everyone from the suit crowd to the slouch crowd. Line up to order the daily bread, which could be anything from herbwheat walnut to cinnamon monkey or sour ficelle. Many patrons simply want a morning roll, which goes awfully well with the strong, flavorful coffee. The muffins are gooey and glazed, although health-minded sorts might prefer a bowl of granola with milk or soy. Macrina's offers an array of inventive sandwiches at lunchtime, but the morning meal is the ticket here.


Marco's Supperclub
2510 First Avenue

The husband-and-wife team of Marco Rulff and Donna Moodie know how to please the palate and make it fun, too. The food at Marco's Supperclub is "eclectic, multi-regional bistro," according to the owners, and that about sums up the decor (minus the bistro part). Mix 'n match chairs are set against jewel-toned walls in this low-ceilinged room, with bottles of wine placed everywhere. The plates on the tables look like they came from Grandma's. As for the food, it's inventive yet homey and generously served. Start with the fried sage leaves with a medley of dipping sauces, something you're not likely to get at Grandma's but worth every bite. The Marguerita mussels are kicky morsels, steamed as they are in a chipotle and lime juice broth. The Jamaican jerk chicken is the signature dish here, thanks to Donna's family recipe. Half of a free-range chicken is lovingly rubbed with herbs and spices, grilled to perfection and placed amid a sweet potato puree. Yum! Another worthy choice is the steak frites, grilled beef tenderloin with a red wine demiglaze, crumbled Roquefort and pommes frites. Dinner only.


The Painted Table
1007 First Avenue (in the Alexis Hotel)

Chef Tim Kelley wears a Yankees cap in the kitchen. I love this guy already. Even better, he can really cook. The "painted table" refers to the beautifully hand-painted plates gracing the tables and various other places in this restaurant, but Chef Kelley doesn't need the help. Give him a simple white plate and he'll create a masterpiece. What is the chef trying to do here? "Keep my job," he says modestly. Actually, he's working with vegetables, or making veggies the focus of the meal and letting the other ingredients work with them. "I hate fusion," he says. "My food is free of shit." Now tell me: how can you help but LOVE this guy? Begin with the layered goat cheese and vegetable salad, a mini-tower of grilled eggplant and ovendried tomatoes with an onion-thyme confit. Follow it with the grilled five spice Oregon quail, served on a bed of frisee along with glazed mango and a Chinese rice wine jus. This petite quail is perfection. Continue with the delectable horseradish-crusted salmon with fresh market vegetables, sprouts and turnips, all arranged on a bright-red beet jus. You will want to eat here every day of the week, whether you like the Yankees or not. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.


Palace Kitchen
2030 Fifth Avenue

This is the third member of chef Tom Douglas' triumvirate of restaurants (along with the Dahlia Lounge, he also owns Etta's Seafood). Everything about the Palace spells F-U-N. "It's really a bar with good food," according to Douglas. I'd say that's half the fun. For starters, you'll wish you had his chandeliers at home. They are colorful fruit drops suspended from a gold twist, and go quite nicely over the U-shaped bar with its profusion of even more colorful liquor bottles. The walls are a creamy yellow, the high ceiling is cranberry red and the sinewy curtains are a royal blue. The open kitchen at the back of the room showcases the Palace's rotisserie grill, where many of the best dishes are rendered. Consider the free-range chicken with porcini jus and polenta cakes or the goat with curried sweet potatoes and coriander chutney. The maple-cured pork roast with creamy corn grits is yet another delightful concoction. If you're in the mood for bar food (no offense, Tom), try the Dungeness crab salsa with fried green tomatoes or the roast shallot flan with vegetable chips. Lots of desserts to go with your tawny port: I suggest the Dahlia coconut cream pie. Dinner only.


Pink Door
Upper Post Alley (between Stewart and Virginia)

With an owner/chef by the name of Jacquelina Di Roberto La Padrona at the helm, you know you've found your way to some good Italian cooking. Start by walking through the Pink Door (no sign at the entrance) and then decide whether you want to enjoy your meal in the main dining room (the plastic floral tablecloths are a hoot), the ample bar area (a hodgepodge of found objects) or the outdoor terrace, your best bet on a rain-free day. The accent here is on Tuscan-influenced food, utilizing simple, fresh ingredients with an emphasis on vegetables. A delightful starter is the pasta broccoli, the "chicken soup of the Italian culture," according to La Padrona. You'll get ditalini pasta and broccoli flowerettes in a rich vegetable broth topped with parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Bring a few pals and proceed to have a pasta fest. Excellent choices are the penne al fumo, pasta tubes topped with smoked mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and grilled eggplant, and the lasagna Pink Door, fresh spinach pasta layered with bechamel and pesto and topped with a marinara sauce. The house favorite is the gnocchi, made with porcini mushrooms and enveloped in a light cream sauce which changes seasonally. The definitive dessert is the Bongo Bongo, profiteroles drizzed with a chocolate espresso sauce and dotted with fresh fruit. Ms. La Padrona learned to make this dessert in Florence. What a country! Lunch and dinner.


Place Pigalle
Main Arcade, Pike Place Market

This restaurant, hidden away in the maze which is Pike Place Market, has the best view of any restaurant I've seen in this city of views. Literally hanging over Elliott Bay, you can see Puget Sound and the glorious Olympics in the distance. So will you come here just for the view? Nope. Owner Bill Frank provides a clue: "we're not a seafood restaurant, but then I think you'll find the best seafood at places that aren't just seafood restaurants." I'd have to agree. Mr. Frank, who's been here for fifteen years, was an early proponent of Northwestern cuisine, which to him means less butter and cream and more of a tilt toward Asia, the Meditteranean and Latin America, plus the good sense to take advantage of what's fresh and in season. The small dining room is filled with elegant tables resting on a sheet of black and white tiles. The walls which aren't glass display beautiful artwork. Take a cue from the man in charge and order fish, starting with the steamed mussels Pigalle, whih are dressed with bacon, celery, shallots and a balsamic vinaigrette. Continue with the scallops with red curry, seared sea scallops served with bok choy, red pepper and a Thai red curry butter sauce. Another good choice, although not seafood, is the "rabbit reminiscence," saddle of rabbit filled with roasted eggplant, spinach and feta cheese and served with a black pepper and mint demi-glace. The wine list is a favorite with Wine Spectator and will be with you, too. Lunch and dinner.


Queen City Grill
2201 First Avenue

Okay, back to those sexy bars populated with beautiful boys and girls. Queen City Grill is round two, and lucky you, it's right across the street from Flying Fish! You could do a lot of damage on this block. The maitre d' is quick to tell me that "this is a restaurant that has a bar," but I'm not buying it. The room is a long, dark and intriguing place. Exposed brick lines the tall windows on one side, while peach-colored walls carress the elegant bar opposite. Candlelit tables are clustered near the front door. Queen City exudes romance, or at least the possibility of something. And if you get hungry while you're here, the menu says it best: "we grill fish." You might want to start off by nibbling on the goat cheese appetizer with roasted bell peppers and roasted garlic, then freshen your breath with any of the daily seafood specials, all simply grilled and prepared to enhance the natural flavors. Your dessert will probably be along the lines of a ruby port. Glamour girls, go to it. Lunch (huh?) and dinner.


2808 E. Madison

"Life has never been greater!" beams chef Thierry Rautureau, a broad grin spreading across his round face, letting you know that there's no place he'd rather be. Not even back in Brittany, where his family raised all their own vegetables and gave him a sense of what good food is all about. He's brought those lessons to Rover's, where he creates winning French-American cuisine based on classic dishes. In other words, lighter sauces (no starch) in an attempt to make flavors, not volume. This is, after all, contemporary cooking -- "I'm not a dinosaur," Rautureau proclaims. What else can you expect here? A performance, of sorts. "People who come here will make an evening of it," the chef continues. "It's a special event...you know, the difference between an opera and a rock concert." Touche, Thierry. Let the music begin with the seared Hudson Valley foie gras with wild greens and a black fig sauce or the roasted squab with a smoked apple bacon, corn and leek ragout. Continue with the seared venison medallions with wild mushrooms, pommes Rissoles and a black peppercorn sauce. The final note? An almond chocolate souffle. Dinner only.


1101 Fourth Avenue (at the Hotel Monaco)

Hallelujah, the Big Dawg has come to town! The Big Dawg would be chef Jan Birnbaum, who has been wowing diners with his Cajun-style fare at Napa Valley's Catahoula for quite some time. He's moved north, and the Pacific Northwest will never be the same. "Seattle is a town that loves food," says Birnbaum. "People love to eat out here, they enjoy their lifestyle. There's lots of great food here, but there are many similarities with it. I'm aiming to give them something completely different." It may be different, but the quality and inventiveness of the cooking at Sazerac are hard to beat. You can come for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and the morning and evening meals are the stars here. In the AM, bring a friend, the better to team up for the brioche French toast with bananas Foster (incredible!) and the bubble and squeak with poached eggs and jalapeño gravy. The latter dish is a rendering of the Irish staple, a beef patty melded with onion, cabbage and potatoes. In Birnbaum's hands, it's perfection and enough to make the Irish cross the pond in droves. In the evening, the colorful, playful and expansive dining room is both sexy and inviting. Take a booth if you can and start with the hominy cake with a smoky onion vinaigrette and the season's vegetables, although the saffron and basil-scented salmon chowder is smooth bliss. Continue with the grilled Copper River salmon, which is served with morels, scallion mashed potatoes and a smoky red wine-veal sauce and is absolutely fabulous. The grilled, dry-aged New York strip steak, served with a complement of buttermilk onion rings and blue cheese dressing, shows that the chef is as adept with meat as he is with fish. The Big Dawg is one HOT Dawg, and that's that.


The Virginia Inn
1937 First Avenue

It's known as the "V.I." to locals, who have been bellying up to the bar since 1908. This tavern, located on the original Skid Row (actually "Skid Road"), operated continuously through prohibition, when it was a cardroom and lunch stop. Current owners Patrice Demombynes and Jim Fotheringham bought the V.I. fifteen years ago with the idea of taking care of the old-timers. Sadly, most of them have died off, although "Momma" still stops by every day for a spot of lunch. Today's crowd is younger and much more inclined to ask for a margarita or a martini. Along with your cocktail, you can get a bite to eat for lunch or dinner. The menu is limited, so stick with time-tested favorites like the Dungeness crabcakes served with coleslaw, blanched vegetables and roasted potatoes or the chicken and sausage gumbo, chock full of chicken and spicy Cajun andouille sausage. The present owners, both formerly in the arts, made the V.I. the first "art bar" in Seattle, and the rotating shows are a visual treat. If you're sleepless in Seattle...


2801 Alaskan Way at Pier 70

Room with a view? You'll get just that at Waterfront, a cavernous space hugging the Puget Sound. Solicitous waiters in tuxedoes prance about and compete for your attention - but the water view wins. Also a winner is chef Vicky McCaffree's cuisine, especially the seafood with Asian flavors inspired by her mentor, noted chef Barbara Tropp. Start with the addictive salt and pepper prawns nestled on a bed of sweet/sour Asian slaw or the delicate Thai crab cakes paired with a watercress citrus salad. The sesame seared sea bass is also silky-sweet and worthwhile and pastry chef Jessica Campbell is sure to strike the right note at meal's end. Ah, but the view… Dinner only.


Wild Ginger
1401 Third Avenue

This temple of Pacific Rim cuisine is as popular for its food as it is for its lively bar scene. Across the street from the symphony's new home, Benaroya Hall, Wild Ginger is a spacious affair accommodating to those who want to lounge over their meal as well as folks eager for satay and a Stoli martini. And satay is why you're here, at least food-wise. An Indonesian word meaning "skewered and grilled," Wild Ginger has a satay menu that makes for a delicious meal. Consider the singing fish satay, fresh fish brochettes kissed with a hint of ginger or the Prince's satay, large prawns marinated in garlic, chili and coconut. All satays are served with a rice cake and perfectly-seasoned pickled cucumbers, and most come with either a peanut or soy and black vinegar dipping sauce. While there are a number of other dishes to choose from (the duck is especially popular), the satays are the way to go (and Mayor Norm Rice, a regular, agrees). Lunch and dinner.


Eating all this good food in Seattle might induce a bit of slumber. If that's the case, spend the night at the spanking-new Hotel Monaco, in the heart of downtown Seattle. Yet another Kimpton Group creation, the Monaco is color and comfort in a modern yet luxe package. The rooms are striped, floral, loud and utterly fun. Even romantic, so come a deux if you can. A handful of suites have a two-person Jacuzzi tub which is a clean dream, so by all means ask for one. Two-line data port phones, as well as fax machines, can be found in all the rooms, but don't get so busy with work that you forget about the nightly wine reception in the hotel's swank lobby. Museums, the financial district and the Pike Place Market are all an easy walk away. If you're lucky, though, you'll get hungry close to home, since Sazerac is the Monaco's trendy table. Hotel Monaco, 1101 Fourth Avenue, Seattle (206) 621-1770 Standard rooms are $195; suites with separate parlor are $255, while suites with Jacuzzi tub are $325.

Another good choice is the Mayflower Park Hotel, a short walk from the trendy Belltown district and close by downtown Seattle's best shopping. The city's only member of the Historic Hotels of America, the Mayflower Park is homey yet elegant, traditional yet relaxed. Rooms are spacious and done in taupe tones and the bathrooms, although snug, give you everything you need. The spacious sitting room just above the lobby is a treasure for those tired from touring and one of the best reasons to book a stay. Opt for one of the reasonably-priced suites and see to it that the concierge books you into Andaluca, the hotel's stellar table. Mayflower Park Hotel, 405 Olive Way, Seattle (206) 623-8700 Standard rooms are $150; suites start at $190.

Elaine Sosa
is a freelance food & travel writer who legitimizes her coffee addiction through her business, JavaWalk, a walking tour of San Francisco coffeehouses.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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