sleepless in seattle

27 Mar

i went to seattle back in december and january, but there were honestly so many things to share it’s taken me a little longer than expected to get this blog together. oh, and there was no way i could fit it all into an itty bitty post. so get ready to scroll a lot for the 411.

i’m going to start with perhaps the emerald city’s most famous destination: pike place market. yes, it’s touristy, but it’s also amazing. i love a good farmer’s market, but this offers so much more! restaurants, fresh produce stands, and loads of charm. aside from wandering the stalls and watching the fishmongers work their magic…a few things to check out:

-the original starbucks. see where the mermaid got her start, at this tiny little outpost of the most famous bean on the planet.
-the market theater’s gum wall. yes, it’s what it sounds like. a wall covered in gum. quite artfully. bring purell though, you’ll want to smother yourself with it after checking out this masterpiece.
-frank’s quality produce. it’s definitely quality. i dream about their jazz apples on a weekly basis.
-mee sum pastry. i tasted the steamed chicken hum bao during one of the first days i was in town. i was so enamored that i went back two days later to have another one. haven’t found a comparable option in new york city yet.
-a stall or two away is cinnamon works, which boasts a variety of sweet treats to debate over. gluten-free? vegan? no worries, you’ll find something you can indulge in. my choice? the classic cinnamon roll.
-the athenian. great breakfast spot. get a table by the window and enjoy the scenery with your crab cake eggs benedict.

ok, after you’ve got your taste of the public market, catch a free bus (yep, they’re free within an area of downtown) to the space needle. i have no shame going to touristy spots like this, because where else am i going to get a view from the top? plus, i went at dusk and got to watch the city’s lights go on. from way up high, i caught a glimpse of pier 70, which i immediately remembered as the real world house.

on the way home, i was yet again a sucker for the tourist trap. i took the monorail. but honestly, when have i ever done that? had to! plus, it took me back to just a few blocks from my hotel and ran more frequently than the bus.

a few downtown spots i grouped together: melrose market, uwajimaya, kinokuniya, and shanghai garden… melrose market reminds me a bit of chelsea market, here in manhattan, but on a much smaller scale. grab a cup of coffee and wander around for a little. uwajimaya was like no other market i’ve experienced. the asian grocery store had so many cool finds. even though i couldn’t read most of the labels, i loved walking the aisles. under the same roof is kinokuniya, a fabulous japanese bookstore i’ve been to here in new york, but always enjoy visiting. and then i crossed the street to shanghai garden for a delicious bowl of soup. a huge bowl, with shrimp, mushrooms, spinach, and hand-pulled noodles. while in the international district, i also swung by the old union station, which no longer services trains but the great hall does make for a great wedding venue!

i also checked out the seattle public library’s central branch. one of the most fascinating architectural specimens i’ve seen lately. it’s so stimulating visiting this spot that i’d check out books all the time if i lived nearby.

i spent a few hours in the fremont neighborhood, and stopped in to the vintage mall on the main stretch. yes, i wanted to buy everything. but i just picked up a pair of awesomely retro cat-eye glasses with sequins in the frames and fake plastic lenses. if mad men needed an extra, i’d put these on and be camera-ready in seconds.

walking around the queen anne hill neighborhood filled hours. i loved the mix of architecture, quaint streets, and the view from kerry park was noteworthy.

the olympic sculpture park, which is part of the seattle art museum, is quite a site. located right on the water, the views are great, but so is the artwork! it’s a versatile location to take portraits in too.

i channeled mcdreamy and even took the ferry. i hopped over to bainbridge island for a little bit and got the skyline view the entire way back.

ok, so where’d i stay? i split my time between two places. first, i stayed at hotel andra. a newer boutique hotel with modern decor and amazing hospitality. i loved the vanity in my room, where i would sit and get ready every morning. and the hook by the door, where i’d hang my coat every night. located downstairs is delicious dining in local superstar chef, tom douglas’s lola restaurant. and the house wine here puts all other house wines to shame.

the last few days i had a room at the fairmont olympic hotel. classic, massive, and quite elegant. my favorite part about this place was the hotel “car”, which just happened to be a luxurious jaguar complete with massaging seats and leg room for days. call ahead and request a ride to your destination (within a specific radius that’s about a mile) and they’ll drop you off. call back when you’re done and they’ll pick you up. no taxis. no hassle. amazing.

it’s pretty easy to get around. the bus system is remarkably easy to learn, and with google maps on my phone, it was easy to plan my trips because the schedules are factored in. you can walk a few neighborhoods a day without overdoing it. and there’s always cabs.

i ate so much in seattle that i think i’m still digesting. yes, it’s thought of as a seafood town, but there’s so much more than that. so a few more culinary musts to note:
-homegrown. a local/sustainable chain that was great for lunch on-the-go. i enjoyed a hearty-not-heavy soup paired with a sandwich. the kicker? a slice of sharp cheddar from pike place market staple, beecher’s handmade cheese.
-top pot. here’s another place i had to swing by twice. hands down. some of the best donuts i’ve ever tasted. and they make a great latte.
-serious pie. another great tom douglas spot. if you’re indecisive—and hungry—go for happy hour. individual pies are $5 a pop, so you can order a few to share, and a drink or two to pair.
-venture north to the east lake neighborhood to check out cicchetti. it’s small, but packs a punch. savory small plates, fantastic drink offerings, and it’s cozy.
-oddfellows. walking into this place, i knew i’d love it. the style is right up my alley, the typography was good enough that i asked to keep a menu, and it was pretty packed. we ordered mostly appetizers to share since they were extra enticing, plus superb soup, the meatballs, and an elderflower cocktail i have yet to replicate successfully.
-one of my final destinations, was macrina bakery in belltown. if this place was near my apartment i’d easily go on a nearly daily basis. it was perfect for breakfast, lunch, and snacks to-go and the staff couldn’t have been any nicer (when you arrive minutes after they open and start rattling off an order with about two-dozen items, making some changes because something new caught your eye, it’s a miracle they can be that patient and kind). having some yummy goodies in my carry-on was what helped me survive my 6am departure…

seattle, i miss you.

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3 Responses to “sleepless in seattle”

  1. Meri Keithley 03.29.2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Great writing, Shira! Makes me want to go to Seattle! –Meri

  2. Dorothee 03.31.2012 at 10:10 pm #

    What a sweet post about the Emerald City.. come back soon ;)

  3. Shira 04.01.2012 at 2:38 am #

    Thanks meri. And dorothee, I would love to do another trip!

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