This April I finally journeyed to a destination I’ve always wanted to visit — Seattle. I met up with my Danish friend Sahra and stayed at a hostel in the city, eating my way through the long weekend.
Biscuit Bitch (Belltown)
On Friday morning, we set out for breakfast. I had done a little bit of recon on what restaurants looked interesting in the area of our hostel, and to no surprise, this restaurant’s name caught my eye. Biscuit Bitch is a casual establishment, where you’ll order at the counter and quickly get out of the way while you wait for your name to be called to pick up your order. I went with the Bitchwich — a biscuit sandwich with egg, cheddar and sausage. The biscuits were ultra-buttery, flaky, and fresh as they’re made in-house. My travel companion Sahra opted for the Cheesy Pork ‘n’ Bitch, which was a biscuit smothered with copious amounts of gravy, cheddar, and then covered with crispy bits of bacon. (It was a lot of bacon!) I preferred my Bitchwich to her Pork ‘n’ Bitch though, but I’m not a big gravy fan. The gravy was very good, not too salty, but it was just a bit overkill for me to have so much gravy plus that much bacon. The ‘wich was about $6.50, while Sahra’s choice ran around $10. Biscuit Bitch is definitely a venue with a lot of hustle and bustle, so if you’re looking for somewhere laid back to sit and have a meal, this may not be your place. If you’re on the move though and don’t mind sitting outside, it serves as a great quick stop before you move on with your day.
Before going to Seattle, I was under the impression that visiting the Space Needle would be a must-see, can’t-leave-without-going sort of attraction for my trip. While we did visit the Space Needle, I can’t say I’d highly recommend it. I find that the views of the Needle are better than the views from the Needle, which is currently under construction until 2019 or so. The construction will vastly improve the views from the Needle, using glass sheets as opposed to the prior setup with lines interrupting the view, but I think in this design Seattle might have forgotten how rainy their city is. These glass sheets are around a sort of balcony area, so visitors are outside the building for the view. But with the angle of the glass, the windows are covered in raindrops. It’s also nowhere near the tallest lookout point for a view of the city. If you’re still dying to visit the Space Needle, I’d recommend waiting until construction is completed — the interior of the observation deck was all plywood and wires during our visit in early April. If you wait until completion, you can even check out the renovations on the restaurant, which will soon spin and feature a glass floor. For me, the restaurant would be more worth it than the ticket for the observation deck, and if you spend enough your ticket is included!
With all of the rain and gloom so typical of Seattle, I was already feeling pretty sleepy after breakfast and the walk to the Space Needle. So before we moved on to our next destination we stopped at Street Bean Coffee Roasters to sit, caffeinate and have a snack. While the lattes we ordered were definitely above average, I wasn’t all too impressed with my lemon poppyseed donut. The cafe was good, but not really a place worth mentioning in my opinion.
If you are dying to see the Space Needle, I’d recommend buying a combo ticket between the Needle and Chihuly Garden & Glass right next door. The combo ticket for the Space Needle and the Garden was $42, and separately the tickets are $26 and $24 respectively. Chihuly was so impressive, colorful, and beautiful! After walking through the exhibits, make sure to keep an eye out for any glass blowing demonstrations. It’s a great place for photos, and I’d say it’s a must-see tourist attraction. (Plus they have a pretty cool gift shop).
If you’re looking for some of the best views of the city without paying for admission, make the trek up to Kerry Park. This small strip of lawn at the top of the city gives you expansive views of Seattle and is awesome for photo opportunities. We walked from Pike Place Market (which I wouldn’t recommend if you’re not ready for a hike) but found the views to be well worthwhile. If you’re a Grey’s Anatomy fan, Dr. Meredith Grey’s house is up in this area! (But don’t try to go in, people live there).
While I’ll delve into more specific shops at Pike Place Market, I thought I’d include an entry of a general overview. The majority of the market is tented, and you’ll walk by an amazing assortment of flowers (often at only $10 or $15 per bouquet!) as well as a variety of artisan tables. It’s definitely toursity — don’t get me wrong about that, but it’s a worthwhile area to visit because all of the food I tasted was well worth writing about!
After reading snippets about Rachel’s Ginger Beer in Bon Appétit Magazine, I had to add it to my list when visiting Seattle. Namely, BA mentioned their ginger beer floats. Once arriving, I was pretty torn between trying said float or one of their alcoholic concoctions — I went with their Frozen Mule, which is a slushy combination of their guava ginger beer and vodka. I can’t say the guava came through all that much competing with the ginger, but it was nonetheless delicious. Sahra ordered the blueberry ginger beer, which was really good too. I’d definitely stop by again, or fill up a growler the next time I’m around.
After seeing Piroshky Piroshky bakery pop up in different blogs and getting a recommendation from our Lyft driver, we had to give it a shot. I’m never one to turn down a bakery, and this Russian shop had quite a variety of pastries as well as a line out the door. I ordered a fresh rhubarb piroshky, and Sahra chose the poppy seed cinnamon roll. Both were scrumptious, and I’m never one to turn down rhubarb in the springtime. I think my reaction photo says it all on this one. The pastries had that light, fresh-baked flavor, fragrance and softness. Plus they weren’t too sweet, which is something I often encounter with the average pastry shop.
After plenty of eating and exploring around Pike Place Market, we walked over to the Pioneer Square area, branded as Seattle’s original neighborhood. While wandering around the area, we discovered Smith Tower. Built in 1914, Smith Tower was Seattle’s original skyscraper and was the fourth tallest building in the world in 1922! There’s plenty of history there, and I would highly recommend visiting Smith Tower over the Space Needle if you’re choosing one ticket for aerial views of the city. The tower is much higher than the Needle, and if you visit during their “happy hour,” admission to the observatory is only $8 between 4–6 p.m. or 9–11 p.m. excluding Fridays. Adult non-resident tickets are $19 the rest of the time, but you can also save 10% by booking online. If you’re not convinced, there’s staff dressed as elevator operators to take you up, and there’s a speak-easy style bar at the top! Plus there’s a cool gift shop on the first floor with t-shirts and barware with the slick logo on them.
For dinner, we were seeking out seafood, and the elevator operator at Smith Tower mentioned Ivar’s when we told him we were looking for something fairly affordable. I wouldn’t consider dinner at Ivar’s a cheap bite. I opted for the salmon caesar salad because it was one of the lower priced items — at around $22. The waitstaff kept emphasizing their just-in fresh halibut, but the entrees featuring halibut ran around $37 and I couldn’t very well justify the cost when I wasn’t all too hungry after our day full of snacking. My salad was good, but not incredible, and I still felt sort of guilty spending around $30 after tip and tax for a decent salad. Maybe this is a better option for lunch, but it felt a little more like a tourist trap than a great seafood restaurant.
Ah, the Ferris wheel. It seems to be a staple attraction in a lot of places. While we enjoyed our ride, I’d say if you’re not aiming to get every single aerial view of Seattle (like we were apparently?) it’s an activity you can do without. It was sort of cool seeing the nighttime view of the city, but as you’re encased in glass, it’s not ideal for photos. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun and I’m glad we did it, but if you’re on a budget, I’d say this is one you could skip. You do get around 5 rotations around the wheel which is a nice chunk of time. Tickets are $14, which I’d personally rather spend on more drinks at Smith Tower.
Established in 1976(!), The Crumpet Shop is an adorable little café. I’ve only had a few crumpets in my day, but their’s were delectable. A crumpet has a unique combination of a warm fluffiness paired with a slightly crisp exterior. We chose to split a crumpet with butter and honey, but there’s a pretty wide variety of options for sweet spreads, savory toppings like pesto or salmon, as well as crumpets paired with eggs atop them. I’d definitely recommend checking this shop out, especially because it makes an ultra-affordable breakfast with crumpets ranging from $3–$6.50. You’ll want to watch your timing though — we arrived around 9 a.m. and beat the line that formed out the door. If you want a later start, no worries, the line moves quickly since the crumpets are constantly being made fresh and are just waiting to be topped.
File Dim Sum under things that I really enjoy but hardly ever get to experience. Dim Sum is a Chinese brunch in which a variety of steamed dumplings, buns, etc. are ordered and shared among the table along with tea. It’s definitely more of a savory take on brunch, and all of the dumplings are bite-sized portions. It can also get rather expensive if your eyes are larger than your stomach (like mine are). Our waitress informed us that people typically order 2–3 items per person, and because there were so many things that I wanted to try, we ordered 6 items: chicken dumplings, small dumplings with soup, pork buns, vegetable and pork wontons with spicy sauce, vegetarian mushroom fried rice, and sauteed string beans with garlic. Obviously, way too much food! We could only eat about half of it, so I’d definitely recommend sticking with 2 orders per person rather than 3 unless you’re prepared to bring home leftovers. We were obsessed with their string beans — they were somehow crisp and bright and addictively tasty. My favorite items aside from the beans would have to be the vegetable and pork wontons with spicy sauce, and the small dumplings with soup. Apparently, Din Tai Fung is well-known for these soup dumplings — after my trip, I saw chef David Chang visit a Din Tai Fung location (probably in California), on episode 8 “Stuffed” of the new Netflix series Ugly Delicious, which I highly recommend watching.
We wanted to peruse the Capitol Hill area, and this bookstore had been another blogger recommendation on my list of things to see. It’s an awesome bookstore, with a large, wide selection, and some lesser-known titles than I’ve seen at other stores. Plus, they have pretty frequent author appearances and signings. There’s also a little coffee shop in the back of the store if you feel like doing your reading in-house.
Remember how full we were after dim sum? Apparently, I didn’t. My theory is that ice cream goes to my heart or soul rather than the stomach. Molly Moon’s had been a shop that kept popping up in popular views, and when it happened to be around the corner from the bookstore, I had to give it a try. I chose two scoops — their honey lavender ice cream and their Earl Grey tea ice cream — in a waffle cone (always), topped with their homemade lemon curd sauce. It was divine. The subtle florality of the flavors was complimented so well by the tanginess of the lemon and the creaminess of the texture, and a waffle cone is always the perfect vessel, especially when made fresh! I also loved Molly Moon’s branding, so I picked up one of their incredibly-soft pullover sweatshirts while I was there.
One shop that we kept passing by during our trips to the Pike Place Market was Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. Through the large windows, you could see the cheese actually being produced, and there was always a line in the store. A popular item from the counter was their “World’s Best” mac and cheese, which was $6 for an 8oz cup. With all of the gloom in Seattle (and the fact that Saturday was much colder than Friday), I picked up a cup before we made our way to the Ferry. It is delicious, I can vouch for that. The sauce is a bit thinner than I might make my own mac and cheese, but the quality of the dairy is definitely there. There’s also a Beecher’s in the Sea-Tac airport, where I picked up a chicken-apple grilled sandwich before my flight back.
What’s a trip to a seaside city without being on the water? We decided to take the Harbor Cruise with Argosy Cruises, an hour-long narrated cruise that took us by the Seattle skyline, container ships, and had weather been better, would’ve given us a nice view of Mount Rainier and the Olympic mountains. This was probably the most informative aspect of our trip — we didn’t take any other tours while I was there, so it was pretty interesting to learn some of Seattle’s history and about all of the importing/exporting that goes on. It was $32 per person, which felt a little high but they were sights that you couldn’t see on your own, and the storytelling was nice so I thought it was worthwhile. (You can also save a couple bucks if you book online.
As we were on our way to dinner, we passed the Cupcake Royale shop a few minutes before closing. I figured I’d pick up a couple of cupcakes that we could eat after dinner in the hostel later on, so I grabbed a carrot cupcake and a chocolate cupcake topped with meringue. Once we finally opened them up, I was pretty disappointed. They didn’t taste like anything special to me, and we’re super sweet. Plus for $4 per cupcake, I didn’t think they were worth it.
After a lot of walking, we were eager to find some comfort food, namely burgers. Unfortunately, Sahra wasn’t 21, and most burger options were only served at bars. After making the trek to a bar and restaurant we found online, we quickly discoverd Sahra wouldn’t be able to enter. We glanced across the street and noticed Wasabi, a modern-looking Japanese restaurant. So why not? We went in and only had to wait 5 minutes or so before we were seated. I ordered their QQ Tini, a martini made with Moonstone pear sake, orange liqueur and muddled cucumber, garnished with an orchid flower — lovely, light and delicious. The warm edamame soybeans for the table were also a nice touch that helped stave our hunger until our order arrived. We shared three rolls — the Seattle roll (salmon, avocado, cucumber & tobiko), the Eel roll (cucumber, eel, teriyaki), and the Ka-Me-Ha-Me-Ha roll (shrimp tempura, avocado, tobiko, topped with sockeye salmon, wasabi aioli and seared), which was recommended on Yelp. Our favorite was definitely the Ka-Me-Ha-Me-Ha — it had a great variety of flavors and textures, and the Seattle roll was a bit uninteresting.
If a Liege waffle fan club existed, I’d be in it. After writing an article explaining Liege waffles and later searching for them in Belgium, I’m always pleasantly surprised when I come across a purveyor of this specialty. So for my last morning in Seattle, we went to Sweet Iron, a very small shop with limited seating. I ordered the special at the time — a waffle topped with poached pear, hazelnuts, chocolate and ice cream from local creamery Full Tilt. (Which I feel obligated to mention that the Ellenos yogurt guy that I’ll later mention told me he preferred over Molly Moon’s). It was definitely a tasty and interesting waffle, but I can’t say it’s quite on par with Waffle Lab here in Fort Collins.
Yogurt is truly one of the perfect breakfast foods. After our waffles, I was still a bit hungry (after adapting to constant snacking during this trip), and we had a couple of hours left to waste before I headed to the airport. Ellenos was another shop I’d heard about and seen in Pike Place Market, so I figured it’d be a good way to supplement my breakfast with some protein. After striking up a conversation with the man purveying said yogurt about favorite grocery store brands and the better ice cream in Seattle, I asked what his favorite flavors were, and chose the passion fruit. It was delightfully tart, thick and creamy. It reminded me a bit of Noosa Yoghurt which is made here in Colorado, but definitely not as sweet. If you’re a yogurt-love Ellenos should definitely be on your list.
Naturally, on my visit to Seattle I attempted to drink as much coffee as possible. After consuming coffees at Street Bean, the Crumpet Shop, Sweet Iron and Storyville, I’d definitely say Storyville came in at number one. The ambiance was sleek yet warm and inviting, with a variety of leather and wooden furnishings and low lighting. The baristas were also exceptionally calm despite the rush, and it was overall a very cozy and welcoming environment. I ordered a cortado, and my barista poured in my milk with such deft skill and ease to form a perfect heart. The coffee was robust and delicious, not bitter. I’d definitely seek out their coffee again.