NFT Seattle Belltown

Belltown

Essentials
The formerly seedy Belltown now bursts with condos, boutique eateries, and noisy nightlife destinations. But don't fret, heroin can still be scored on the proper street corners. Homeless shelters and public health centers neighbor the rock clubs, art galleries, and sushi joints, making for an occasionally jarring mix of people. To escape the craziness, take a stroll through SAM's fabulous Olympic Sculpture Park.

Sundries/Entertainment
Shorty's is the closest thing to heaven in Seattle with pinball, booze, and hot dogs. Cinerama is a close second, offering one of the best movie-going experiences in the world. Other highlights include the Polynesian-tastic happy hour at See more.

>Ohana, the Rat Pack drink experience at the Rendezvous, and a rock show at the legendary Crocodile.

Eating-wise, indulge on tasty baked goods at Macrina. For something a little more upscale, try the cozy and inventive flavors of Tilikum Place Cafe. And of course there are all those Tom Douglas places: Dahlia Lounge, Lola, Serious Pie, and Palace Kitchen--it seems like the list goes on and on. For more in the Top Chef vein, visit Ethan Stowell's Tavolata. Elsewhere, all the romance and intrigue of Morocco comes alive in the mysterious-looking Marrakesh Moroccan Restaurant And if 24-7 greasy grub is all you're after, try The 5 Point Café.




         



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Vittles Neighborhood Bistro & Bar
This up-and-coming bistro in Belltown is poised for stardom. The soft brown décor makes it ideal for dates and parents alike. The classed-up comfort food and thoughtfully crafted cocktails have something for everyone. For me, the star attraction is the generously portioned Crispy Green Beans with Broccoli, tempura breaded with a truffle aioli drizzle for dipping. Make a meal out of one or two apps or share the love. Also notable: Crab and Corn Beignets and the House Poutine, which uses a cheesy sauce in lieu of traditional toppings. For even heartier fare, venture into the surf and turf laden entrees. The service is just how I like it--attentively laid-back. Things get even cheaper at happy hour.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Holy Cannoli
You may not have been aware of this, but for many years now, there has been a tube-shaped hole in the Seattle pastry scene. Fortunately, Detroit transplant, Adrienne Bandlow, has just the cylindrical pastries to fill it. Namely: Four varieties of cannoli (traditional Detroit custard, mocha, chocolate and rum raisin) and three different Stromboli (hog, chicken and vegetarian). They’re pretty small, so you're going to need to buy a couple of each. Fortunately, they're also crazy cheap (plus, you get price breaks for half and whole dozens). Let's face it, Seattle is so hurting for cannoli, that they don't even have to be that good to make me happy. But they are good. They are excellent, in fact. A word of warning for Sicilians: Bandlow does her cannoli Motor City Style. That means custard instead of ricotta and marscapone. But don't worry. They will still hit your Italian spot. There are also a couple of salads and sammies on the menu if, for some insane reason, you’re not there for the star attraction. All this, plus extremely friendly service will make you a loyal customer after one visit. Bandlow should be canonized for ending the Seattle Cannoli Famine. Holy Cannoli indeed.



Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Serious Pie
You've disappointed me Tom Douglas. After bringing us so many creative, exquisite signature dishes I wanted to be wowed by your pizza. Not to say that Serious Pie is terrible, but it's definitely not in the same league as the neighboring joint, Dahlia Lounge. Does Seattle even really need a signature style of pizza? New York, Chicago, and Naples have pretty much written an exhaustive book on pie making after all. Serious Pie's version is on a hand-rolled flatbread like crust that's given a thin smear of sauce and a random smattering of fresh cheese and assorted toppings. That's great and all but when one-third of my pizza lacks any cheese or yummy stuff I'd say the execution is slightly off. Dry cracker bread anyone? Like all other Douglas restaurants, the ingredients are top notch and sometimes unusual--I never would have considered Meyer lemons on pizza until my visit to SP but ended up being surprisingly wonderful. Every detail of the space is meticulously gorgeous from the raw stone of the pizza oven to the composite cutting boards they're served on. Still, in this pizza battle Serious Pie just doesn't bring it.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Hula Hula
Situated between the d-baggery of Belltown and LQA is a tropical paradise of good clean fun. Well, maybe not clean. But definitely good. Besides offering a fun Polynesian theme (without all that pesky sunshine), Hula Hula is currently the best option in town for weekend karaoke. The book is decent, the rules are fair (newbies get shuffled into the mix whenever possible) and you get to sing in style amongst lights and a disco ball. Like any good karaoke joint, it's best to get there early because it fills up fast. But that's OK because you’re gonna want extra time to drink those lethal tubs of tropical booze. Hungry? Their pupus may be a little westernized but they still help to soak up the hooch in a most delicious way. Plus, it's just fun to say pupus.



Posted By:  Barrie Arliss
Photo:  Barrie Arliss

Marrakesh Moroccan Restaurant
Do you like sitting on your ass? Do you like eating an entire lamb? Do you like belly dancers? Well, shit, get a group together and go to Marrakesh right now. This is a birthday party's wet dream. There's something for everyone here. The ambience is dark, romantic, ethnic and mysterious for the daters. The pillows are plentiful so your bony, fat or old ass won't hurt when you're sitting on the ground. The lamb is not on the menu so the planners will enjoy calling two days ahead. Foodies will love the succulent eats. OCD freaks will get a kick out of cleaning their hands at the table with the water and towels provided by the staff. And bachelors, lesbians and any one who likes to have a good time will get a kick out of the talented belly dancer. Sure, it's a bit pricey. But you're paying for everything in this paragraph. And it's all worth it.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Tilikum Place Café
Two of my foodie friends had a simple request: A recommendation for a Belltown restaurant which serves quality food and isn’t touristy or owned by Tom Douglas. I'd just caught wind of Tilikum Place Cafe and was keen to try it. So we all went to dinner together to see if we had a match. Guess what, Chuck. We have a love connection! Their business model is simple, reasonably priced European food with quality ingredients and a dude who knows his wine. My French food enthusiast/cook friend loved his Duck Confit. This is quite an achievement in its own right. The Grilled Beef Tri-Tip also hit a home run. Vegetarians beware. Just like in Europe proper, they like to sneak meat in unsuspecting places. But if you ask nicely, they will be happy to accommodate you. Plus, with plenty of rock solid sides like mashed potatoes and the to-die-for Butternut Squash Tart, you won't go home hungry. If you do dairy, you don't want to miss their cheese plate. So dinner kicked ass. And since the Brunch menu includes sweet or savory Dutch Babies, I’m definitely itching for a second date.



Posted By:  Barrie Arliss
Photo:  Barrie Arliss

McLoed Residence Lounge
If your home was an art gallery slash bar. I see potential in this place. I have to admit that I've only been here once, on an early Thursday evening and the only people there were me, my boyfriend and a bartender who looked like he just got there. While the oh-so trendy wallpaper that the Urban Outfitter kids are into these days gave this once member only art studio/bar some life, I was curious why it was so empty. Did we come on the wrong night? Was 7 pm too early? Was the Michael Jackson collage too scary? Whatever the case may be, the art seemed right up a hipster's alley, complete with scenes on skateboards and a photobooth that streams your mug via the interwebs. I'm betting this Belltown haunt is more of a midnight to early Saturday morning kind of place, but I'm just not that kind of girl. Or at least I'm not that kind of girl in Belltown.



Posted By:  Ingrid Mattson
Photo:  Ingrid Mattson

Palace Kitchen
Munching pistachios at the bar, waiting for my table at Palace Kitchen, the Bible comes to mind. Well, Ecclesiastes specifically: "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the sun. Turn, turn, turn." (okay, so that last part isn't really biblical.) It took me a while to figure out Palace Kitchen's purpose under the glaring luminosity that is Tom Douglas Restaurants, but I am happy to say I've figured it out. It's not seafood (Etta's), it's not glamorously expensive (Dahlia Lounge), it's not delectable brunch (Lola's). It's where you go when you want to be treated like a grown-up. It's no-nonsense amazing food like burgers, fish, steak, and whole chickens, and it has a homey feel. Definitely not an 'it place" where you go to be seen. Rather, it's the kind of place you take your grandparents when they're in town and want to drink highballs and gimlets and be given old-fashioned service that doesn't make you feel like you're being up-charged or pushed to order and act like you really enjoy the latest food trend.




Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Whisky Bar
Straight up, I'm not sure how I feel about the Whiskey Bar. It is right across from the Moore Theatre making it a nice stop for getting your drunk on before a show. It's also one of the more innocuous bars in Belltown. Two dollar PBR tallboys can never be wrong. So it has these things in its corner. But I just can't say much more than that. You may offer the largest liquor selection in Belltown, but you're bland, Whiskey Bar. OK, the whiskey keg suspended above the bar is impressive in a, "look, that guy just shoved twelve sausage links into his mouth!" kind of way but the other atmospheric touches are uninspiring. Inside it's like a sports bar collided with a speakeasy but neither theme is done convincingly. Like the Nite Lite down the street, Whiskey is a cash only establishment. If you're like me and even pay for drip coffee with your debit card, this is a big drawback. Combine this with the apparent identity crisis and I'll continue to only drink here pre-show.




Posted By:  Gawel Feliga
Photo:  Gawel Feliga

Golden Singha Thai Cuisine
We stopped in here for some lunch and sat down just before it got really busy. It seemed the owners hadn't anticipated this; there were only two people on the floor taking orders, as well as seating and bussing. I don't know what else they expected, on Labor Day weekend, right next to Seattle Center, during Bumbershoot. The food was quite good; average or better for moderately priced Thai. The service, however, made me not want to come back. I had badly splintered, nearly broken chopsticks and asked for another pair. Twice. I didn't get them. We ordered a starter and two main courses. One of the dishes brought out was wrong, as my companion stated, upon which the waitress/manager gave me an indignant, questioning look, like "she's bullshitting right?" I confirmed politely, that yes, we'd ordered something else. Eventually, the waitress brought out the right order, without a word of apology or anything resembling courtesy. To add insult to injury, with our bill we got two cheap-ass sorry excuses for lollipops. I let them keep those, even stale fortune cookies would have been better. Come on! Coconut and pineapple?! I bet they keep all the good flavors stashed away--next to the proper chopsticks.




Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Olympic Sculpture Park
Dr. Seuss would get a stiffy over this place. Not only are giant whirligigs and abstract sculptures tossed hither and tither but there's plenty of space for Thing One and Thing Two (some call them children) to cavort in the lovely manicured green spaces. The Olympic Mountains provide the totally bitchin' backdrop for all this outdoor art and ferries even glide by now and then. This is my new favorite spot for dates with my current read. Even with dogs and kids running about you can always find a little corner to hide in with a good book. Of course you should wander around and enjoy the sculpture first.



Posted By:  Craig Nelson
Photo:  Aaron Schielke

Rob Roy
NFT is back with the second edition of The Not For Tourists Guide to Seattle. To celebrate we’re throwing a party this Thursday at 6 pm at The Rob Roy (formerly Viceroy). Whether you’re a Microsoftie or a Capitol Hill panhandler, NFT has your number. We cover 49 neighborhoods in detail, making it easy to find the best spots to eat, drink, shop, and play from Ballard down to Rainier Beach--and we cover the whole East Side, Vashon, Whidbey, and the San Juans to boot. Wow, right? Plus, we’ve got over 4,000 indispensable listings, maps of parks, sports arenas, and universities, tips on entertaining the kids, finding gay-friendly nightspots, and day tripping, directions for getting around by car, bike, kayak, bus, and ferry (but not by Monorail). ALL for little more than the price of a ticket to the silly old Space Needle.



Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Big Picture Seattle
The thought of Belltown's swank watering holes and twenty-somethings on a manhunt rollin' on dubs makes the bile start rising in my throat. Wait, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. I am a fan of drinking however and the temptation of sipping a cocktail during a movie drew me to The Big Picture. Unfortunately, ordering drinks once the movie has started is a complete pain in the ass. Forget no-talking-during-the-movie when you have to hail down the one cocktail waitress and then whisper your order over three other people. The bar and comfortable lounge area just outside the theater are inviting barring the rude staff who seem surprised that they have customers. The Big Picture suffers from poor execution of a great idea, so after a one-time novelty visit invest in a big purse and a thermos.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Shorty's
If there is a heaven, I imagine it is a lot like Shorty's. Here, a pocket full of quarters will buy you an evening in their pinball room full of old favorites like Medieval Madness and Monster Mash, plus more recent nerd fare such as The Lord of the Rings and the new Indiana Jones game. Yes, it references that silly crystal skull, but it also has mini replicas of the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail and a Sankara Stone (What? It's COOL!). When you tire of flippers and plungers, trade them in for buttons and joysticks and kick it with Mario or destroying some asteroids. But this isn't just an arcade time capsule. There is also plentiful booze and hot dogs (both veggie and mystery meat) which will energize you enough to return to your alien-battling mission. If you're feeling tropical, try one of their "Boozie Smoothies", a slushie-like beverage that's rumtastic. It comes with an umbrella. That swell secret bar in the back is available for private party rentals too. Man, I love this place.



Posted By:  Ingrid Mattson
Photo:  Ingrid Mattson

Serious Pie
I love pizza. Crappy take-out chain store pizza, local hole-in-the-wall pizza (e.g., Bill's Off Broadway), frozen pizza, homemade pizza, you name it. I want it all. Compared to these standards Serious Pie is decidedly different but nonetheless unbelievable. The pies don't generally have sauce, they run between $11 and $18 a piece, and they're rectangles running approximately 5x12 inches. Weird, huh? Here's the thing: the wood-fired oven crusts and unheard of toppings (variations on veggies, cured meats, and cheeses that taste as though they were milked straight from the cow/goat/sheep) are so good they are beyond description. I could write of their essence, the piquant flavors, or whatever, but nothing would do justice to the experience of just eating the stuff. Eating this pizza just feels right. As an aside, Serious Pie does not take reservations which is a drag because they are frequently packed. However, they will put you on a wait list when you arrive and give you a call when a seat is available. I suggest you head across the street to the bar at Lola's (yet another Tom Douglas establishment) for a pre-pizza cocktail and wait for the call. Really, like you couldn't use another drink?



Posted By:  Barrie Arliss
Photo:  Barrie Arliss

Dahlia Bakery
Tom Douglas is apparently a God in Seattle. Not sure I get why, when I've had more amazing meals at a Taco Truck then at his restaurants, but maybe my palate isn't meant to eat $40 fish with rice. And his teeny tiny bakery one-off sitting next door to his Dahlia Lounge almost falls in the same category, what with their mediocre coconut crème pies and way too figgy fig bars. But there are a few amazing exceptions. If you really want something yummy and shit-your-pants awesome, then I recommend the Peanut Butter Cookie. Nothing I tried compared to these two small, sugary cookies with creamy peanut butter shoved in the middle a la Oreo. Except the Peanut Butter Cookie was way better than an Oreo. This treat beat out the rest I tried because it tasted like a girl scout cookie had sex with a peanut butter river and this magical desert was its jizz. And in my opinion, nothing is better than girl scout cookie peanut butter river jizz. Just don't tell my boyfriend I said that.



Posted By:  Barrie Arliss
Photo:  Barrie Arliss

Cinerama
One of the reasons this place is so great is because it's just one big screen in one big theater. You can bring every friend you've ever made to see action flicks like Snakes on a Plane or Indiana Jones. Or sit in the way back of the second tier and give your boyfriend a blowjob during Wall-E. No matter why you come (no pun intended), Cinerama is good old fashioned fun. For some weird reason, the sound seems better and the screen seems bigger. And everything from the lazy movie attendants to the old zombie movie posters brings me back to a time when people were still in black and white. Basically, I tell people if you want to see lots of car ads and a shitty movie starring Lindsay Lohan in a huge Cineplex with no character, then go to fucking Bellevue. But if you want to go to a historic theater, with one movie screen and old timey balcony seating while getting or giving head then go to Cinerama. The choice is yours.



Posted By:  Gawel Feliga
Photo:  Gawel Feliga

King Cat Theatre
The long standing King Cat Theater has recently re-opened and booking is in full swing. Although it appears that right now the highlight is "Euro Fever" featuring a trio of tribute bands. And I'm so glad, because it's really been a while since we heard someone covering Abba, Bowie and the Bee Gees. Far too long. I didn't get to see the entire theater, which holds close to a thousand people, but spent an evening in the adjoining Amaani Lounge. Local funk/jazz band Bits of Knowledge and others were playing. The place looks like some of the swankier Belltown lounges. Fortunately, the crowd was not a match with the decor and the show was pretty good live, despite meager turnout. The location of the theatre doesn't allow for much people wandering in by accident, but if promotion and booking get their shit together, this could look to be a real promising venue.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Bento World
Belltown is seriously lacking in good cheap lunch spots. What are the working stiffs supposed to do? We can't afford to lunch at a Tom Douglas restaurant every day and lord knows we are sick to death of the Westlake Center food court. Thank god for Bento World! It may be small but their comprehensive menu equally accommodates vegetarians and carnivores. $6.95 will buy you an entree, vegetables, and rice enough for at least 2 meals. Sushi, bento boxes, bee bim babs, and teriyaki provide Japanese delights for any mood. The tempura meal is truly transcendent. What a beautiful Bento World!



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo:  Meiwa Chen

Boston St
Need a gift for your newborn niece or nephew and want to be known as the cool, hip aunt, but not so much that the new mother will freak and not let you anywhere near her child? Boston Street--The Children’s Everything Store has a few fun, silly shirts, but also everything else a responsible mom would want for her child to keep him or her from getting cold. Socks, shoes, onesies, blankets, sweaters; you name it, they got it. The majority of the clothing and accessories here are designed by local artists and producers so they cost a wee bit more than Target, but they’re oh-so-cute. Now, if only I had a niece or nephew to give that I-Poo’d shirt to…




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