Thursday, January 19, 2012

Culinary Seattle: a food guide

 Something I've noticed about the way Sean and I do tourism is that it always centers around food. Even if we were visiting the Nürnberg birthplace of Albrecht Dürer, eating those delightful little sausages across the square would be just as important. And so it was in Seattle, a city in which good food is happily plentiful and it's citizens take pride in it. I've prepared a short guide to the food we ate, including our favorite spots for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Enjoy!
I was delightfully surprised by a tiny breakfast spot we came upon in the university district. Nook is a cute little hole-in-the-wall that you might miss if you're not looking hard enough. The unassuming facade is just a front, I assure you. Once inside, you'll be enticed by the smell of Nook's specialty (and really, the only thing on the menu): biscuits. That's right, tray after tray of fresh, fluffy biscuits. Like many eateries in this city, Nook's focus is narrow, but what they do they do extremely well. The menu consists of either biscuit sandwiches or biscuits and gravy. And oh, the gravy! I had a chili cheese smothered biscuit with pickled jalapenos and Sean ordered the vegetarian Mushroom gravy with the most perfectly poached egg perched atop it. I read a lot of Yelp reviews before deciding on this place and I'm not the only one who these biscuits reduce to a childlike state. I think the only word I could remember for the next hour was, "yum!" Do note, however, that Nook's commitment to excellence means no frozen biscuits are ever to be served which means once they run out the doors close for the day, so get there early.
The food guide continues after the jump!

If you're looking for something closer into town with better coffee, go to the original Starbucks on Pike street. No, no, don't go IN. Turn right and walk four doors down to Le Panier, where you can sip on delicious Caffe Umbria and enjoy fresh baked pastries in the french tradition. The stuffed croissants were crazy good. Plus, it looks right out onto the hustle and bustle of the market. Then, when you're ready, you can walk just a couple store fronts over to...
at Piroshky Piroshky. Piroshkis are little pockets of delicious dough stuffed with various fillings. My favorite was the beef, cheese, and onion, though we had to go back a couple times just to try a few more, like potato with cheese and spinach with cheese. Piroshkis traditionally hail from Russia, where they are a vehicle to use up whatever leftovers you have laying around. Believe me, they're a far cry from the freezer-burned hot pocket you throw in the microwave. Try life-changing.
Outside of Piroshky Piroshky and our delectable sandwiches at Salumi
We of course had to visit the acclaimed Salumi at least once for lunch. Salumi boasts the most delicious cured meats imaginable, and it has a wonderful history behind it as well. Anthony Bourdain says it best, so I'll let him tell you:

I've never had meat with such complex and lovely flavors. The sausage I had definitely had floral notes. I know, I don't get it either, but it's heaven.
Our first night in Seattle we just wanted some good old fashioned Thai food, so we drove around until we spotted something. We ended up in Golden Singha in Belltown. Now I've got to tell you: since we've been there, I've read some reviews that were no-so-satisfied with the place. But personally, I thought it was incredible. We shared a large bowl of Tom Kha Gai, one of my personal favorites, and it had a sweetness that we don't usually taste when we order it in Ohio. The Ba Mee was absolutely delicious. I wish I could eat it every day. Sure, it may not be the most high-end Thai, but the portions are good and the dishes are tasty.

We also decided that it would be a shame not to eat seafood at least once while we were there, so we asked a woman we met where we should go for seafood on a budget, nothing fancy. She immediately lit up and told us we HAD to go to Pike Street Fish Fry in capitol hill. And we did. We probably got there around 6pm and immediately I could tell this was the sort of place people crave when they stumble out of a bar at 2am. It was totally empty, the two employees seemed sort of surprised to see us, and the butcher block counter we sat at still had a faint smell of beer from the previous night. I was glad we beat the crowds, though, because the food was great. We had fried Halibut and Catfish and an order of fried asparagus to split. You might have been able to guess from the name, but this was another spot with a limited but sublime menu. The lemon aioli dipping sauce is a must, as are the deep fried lemon slices.
I hope this was helpful to you globetrotting gastronomes out there, and even for the regular folk. It's always nice to have some good comfort food when you're traveling, and Seattle is in no shortage of that. -hil

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