North by Northwest: Seattle

February 18, 2013

Pike Place Market
I recently ventured out to the Pacific Northwest with the BF for a week long culinary adventure. Neither one of us had ever paid a visit to this area of the country which was surprising considering everything it has to offer. We decided to split our time between Seattle, WA and Portland, OR in order to satisfy our craving for all things related to coffee, seafood, breweries and doughnuts.

Luckily, we stayed just a few short blocks from Seattle's famous Pike Place Market, which allowed us an assortment of fresh seafood, baked goods and of course the original Starbucks location. We found ourselves here every day of our trip, either to grab a freshly baked pastry for breakfast, happy hour oysters or just to roam the vendor stalls. The market is also home to the famous Pike Place Fish Co. which is known for their fish-throwing staff. The size, quality and freshness of seafood was unbeatable! I certainly took advantage of the affordable seafood during our stay!

Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Fish Co.
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market
Two must-try places within the market are Piroshky Piroshky and Beecher's Handmade Cheese. It's pretty easy to find Piroshky Piroshky as the warm scent of buttery pastry will certainly guide you. That, or the rather long line in front of the tiny storefront. We stopped here to try both an apple cinnamon roll and a cheese, onion and potato piroshky, which is simply a handheld stuffed pastry.

Piroshky Piroshky
Freshly Baked Pastries at Piroshky Piroshky
Beecher's Handmade Cheese is also easy to spot as it has large windows which allow you to peer in and watch the handmade cheese makers hard at work. Beecher's is known for its macaroni and cheese, as well as its flagship cheddar cheese. We tried both, as well as a grilled sandwich featuring smoked turkey, jack cheese, tomato and a blend of mayo and grain mustard. The macaroni and cheese was fantastic. That flagship cheddar really pulled through and I enjoyed how they use mostaccioli noodles, rather than macaroni.

Beecher's Cheese Makers
Mac 'n Cheese at Beecher's
Smoked Turkey, Flagship & Jack Cheese Sandwich
Elliott Bay
Further away from Pike Place Market are several seafood restaurants on the pier of Elliott Bay. Many of these offer both early and late happy hours which feature steep discounts on fresh oysters and other seafood. One restaurant I wanted to check out was Elliott's Oyster House. This was actually our first meal in Seattle and boy, were we satisfied. The restaurant has a main dining room with views of the bay where we dined on clam chowder and lobster melts but there is also an adjoining cafe which has a simpler menu and happy hour. We ended up there the next day for happy hour when oysters are only $1.25 each! I was so happy to try fresh local oysters at a price far cheaper than what you find in Chicago. Elliott's also has an interesting happy hour where the cost of their oysters starts at 75 cents and goes up by 50 cents every half hour!

Freshly-shucked Oysters at Elliott's

Love those fresh oysters!
Aside from fresh seafood, Seattle is known for its wildly popular doughnut shop, Top Pot Doughnuts. Top Pot has about fifteen locations throughout Washington offering "hand-forged" doughnuts and coffee. I was in love with their brewed coffee and maple bar doughnut!

Top Pot Doughnuts

Top Pot Doughnuts: Maple Bar & Chocolate Cake Doughnut
One local restauranteur making waves in Seattle is Chef Tom Douglas. Chef Douglas owns thirteen restaurants throughout the Seattle area, four of which just so happened to be located on the same block as our hotel! We stumbled into the downtown location of his wood-oven pizza restaurant, Serious Pie. The space itself is small and minimal with communal seating. The menu, just as simple, offers seven pizza options, all served on a bubbly, burnt crust. I enjoyed our pizza but for the price ($17!) I was expecting something a bit larger in size. However, we ended our meal with a slice of coconut cream pie, a signature dessert from the chef's first restaurant, Dahlia Lounge. Unfortunately, we shoveled this delicious pie into our mouths before I could get a photo, but trust me on this, it's a must-try.

Serious Pie: sweet fennel sausage, peppers, provolone
After all of that delicious food, we had to wash it down with some local craft brews. Washington is the largest hop-producing state in the country, so it's no wonder they have so many craft breweries. We ventured to two beer bars in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle, in order to taste test some local beers. The first was The Stumbling Monk, a smaller Belgian beer bar with an extremely laid back feel and a plethora of board games! Beer + board games make the perfect pair. The second bar was The Pine Box, the perfect name for a bar that was a former funeral home. Not kidding. This place was innately cool since the space still featured the stained glass and large columns and ceilings of its previous tenant. We sat at the bar to get a nice view of their ever-changing taps, and of course, to people watch.

The Pine Box
We also had time to squeeze in two local breweries, Elysian Brewing Company and Pyramid Breweries. Both have multiple alehouses in the Seattle area so we chose to visit the locations closest to downtown Seattle. Happy hours are a staple in the area so that allowed us to try many different local brews at discounted prices.The BF and I slightly preferred Elysian over Pyramid because of the complexity of their beer styles and the sheer fact that they had more options and a more scenic ale house. However, both are walking distance from Pike Place Market and are worth a visit!

Elysian Brewing Company: Bete Blanche Tripel
Pyramid Breweries
With so many culinary and beer-centric options in Seattle, a return visit is definitely a must! What are your favorite spots to hit up in Seattle?

Space Needle
Next up: North by Northwest: Portland


Top Pot Doughnuts

Piroshky Piroshky

Elliott's Oyster House

Beecher's Handmade Cheese

Serious Pie

Bars and Breweries:

The Stumbling Monk

The Pine Box

Elysian Brewing Company

Pyramid Breweries

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