NFT Seattle Downtown

Downtown

Essentials
Like most downtowns, Seattle's mainly caters to tourists, consumers, and the work-a-day crowd. Therefore department stores, happy hours, and Starbucks are plentiful. But fancy condos are starting to spring up on every block, and more people are calling this 'hood home. You can get your culture on at Benaroya Hall or the Seattle Art Museum. Westlake Center is flavor country in terms of colorful characters, religious zealots, and the occasional "Personality Test" booth.

No national telecast is complete without the requisite fish-flinging shot from Pike Place Market. Less heralded, but just as impressive, is the mastication celebration of the See more.

>Gum Wall there. If you're going to patronize a Starbucks, it might as well be the coffee behemoth's original Pike Place store. Rem Koolhaas' Seattle Central Library is as advertised, and provides a satisfying architectural counterpoint to the Space Age nostalgia just north of here.

Sundries/Entertainment

Grab a bar stool at the Zig Zag for a stiff cocktail. The Showbox and the Moore have top-notch music calendars, and the Paramount Theatre hosts all things to all people, big and small. Jazz it up with the cool kats at Can Can. Disregard the hipsters and glass-gaze the lethal drinks at the Nitelite.

As far as seafood goes, and as far as highbrow is concerned, Matt's in the Market gives a true taste of Pike Place while Tom Douglas serves up calamari and Copper River salmon for his adoring fans at Etta's Seafood. If thy lower brow, gorge thee at Emmett Watson's or Jack's. For the landlubber, the best ginger beer you ever tasted, guaranteed, is at Rachel's.

Get up early, brave the tourists, and shop like a local at Pike Place Market. The fresh food and flowers are all worth sticking out the crowds. That said, if you really can't bear the thought of seeing your dinner marched on the aquacultural perpwalk that is the Pike Place Fish Market, go to Harry at Pure Food Fish. Raise your cholesterol levels at Beecher's Handmade Cheese. And return your old car tires at the original Nordstrom.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Chasing Andy Heidel

By Rebecca Katherine Hirsch
Rebecca is the lifeblood of Not For Tourists. The lynchpin that holds the unit intact, the polestar that guides the destiny of its guides. She only has one weakness: The ones who serve her.
Read More...
The Beautiful Game in the Emerald City

By Karen Watson
Tripping over last night’s half-eaten take-out strewn across my bedroom floor, I stumble into the shower cursing live television. It’s Saturday, which for me and all the other obsessive fans means football. And I am not talking about the Seahawks but rather what we Americans call soccer. My love for the beautiful game is the only thing waking me from sleep this early on a weekend. Who knew it’s still dark at 6:30 am? Normally I watch the re-broadcasted games later in the day, but on this particular Saturday I am hitting several football viewing hotspots, some of which have live coverage beginning at 7 am.
Read More...

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Pan Africa
Can't afford to travel in this economy but spend your sleepy time dreaming of exotic locales? Consider taking a culinary journey around our foodie friendly city and definitely make Pan Africa the jumping off point. Lush spice scents waft forward to greet you when you enter, enveloping you in a welcome aroma. Come hungry because you won't want to leave one bite of the hearty portions behind on the plate. Ethiopian specialties like Groundnut (a peanut based stew), curried goat, and Piri Piri fish are served on a bed of injera which is basically a soda bread paper towel that you use to wipe up all the yummy sauce. Vegetarians are also well served here with an extensive list of combo platters filled with veggies in every color of the rainbow. If the spices go to your head and have you feeling really adventurous, sign up for one of their weekly cooking classes and learn to cook like a local. No round trip ticket required.



Posted By:  Kelsey Albro
Photo:  Kelsey Albro

Steelhead Diner
If sitting in a coffee shop, working on your post-modern novella and watching the rain drizzle down the windows is either: a) not quintessentially Seattle enough for you, or b) just too damn depressing, you need to get yourself to the Steelhead Diner. Located just off of Post Alley up the street from the Pike Place Market, the Steelhead consistently serves up seafood that's preparation is as fresh as the catch. Even if seafood isn't your thing--hey, this is Seattle, but these people still exist--there are plenty of carnivorous or vegetarian options too. Eating not your thing? Don't worry about it, they'll get you drunk on some lip-smackin' cocktails and their kick ass view of the Olympic Mountains across the Sound. Bottom line: the Steelhead is as Northwestern as you get--and it's a whole lot tastier (and less melancholy) than binging on espresso in some cafe.



Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Emmett Watson's Oyster Bar
Where I'm from, the only time you eat tartar sauce on seafood is at McDonald's on a Filet O' Fish. Otherwise it's all about the cocktail. Sauce, I mean. Thankfully I discovered Seattle's oyster bar, Emmett Watson's, where they aren't stingy with the red stuff. It's not unheard of for me to require four to five condiment cups worth for an appetizer plate of steamed shrimp. The shrimp are like a crane hook bringing the spicy to my mouth. Another huge plus of Emmett Watson's--the no frills, casual approach to great seafood. The extensive menus are handwritten on paper grocery bags and include pretty much anything that comes out of the ocean. That and the lovably torn furniture give the feeling that you've been lucky enough to have stumbled into a locals' hidden hangout where fishing boats dock out back to offload the day's catch. Ok, there may not be a dock but the seafood is some of the freshest you'll find and best for the money. It may be worn about the edges but I don't think Seattleites would want Emmett Watson's any other way.



Posted By:  Julia Farhat
Photo:  Julia Farhat

Pike Place Market Gum Wall
This public-generated "art" is supposedly the result of failed attempts to remove chewed gum that Market Theater patrons were sticking on the brick wall while they waited in line. Upon closer inspection, one finds that the collection hasn't stagnated in the medium of gum, but has also grown to encompass wrappers, cigarette butts, coins, and other mementos from visitors. Does it smell fruity and minty? No, not really. Is it a little gross? You be the judge.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Long Provincial Vietnamese Restaurant
The folks at Tamarind Tree bring their culinary badassery to downtown Seattle. The dark, gorgeous interior is cool and inviting. Little decorating delights are everywhere, including the bathroom. The fish tank is full of mesmerizing jellyfish. But the decor is just a bonus to the kick ass food. There's some menu crossover from Tamarind, but there are loads of new dishes as well, inspired by regions all over Vietnam. "Long" could easily refer to the menu which is page after page of deliciousness. It's times like this I'm extra happy to be a vegetarian. A "v" clearly marks all the veggie and make the overwhelming selection a little bit easier. Usually, I'm suspicious when a waiter says everything on the menu is a winner, but in this case it wasn't lip service. Libation-wise, they serve exotic non-alcoholic Vietnamese drinks made from every juice you can think of, as well as the usual cocktails. The prices aren't too bad either, and 2 daily happy hours make it even more affordable. It's not often you find a place that can impress both your date and your parents, but Long does the trick.



Posted By:  Barrie Arliss
Photo:  Barrie Arliss

Specialty's Cafe & Bakery
I'm pretty much spoiled when it comes to food. Therefore every time I hear rave reviews, I usually leave totally disappointed. Thus, I introduce you to Specialty Bakery and Cafe. The one thing I kept hearing about this place is that their warm cookies are the bomb. So that was my mission: eat warm cookies. Unfortunately, my first attempt was the peanut butter cookie and it wasn't fresh out of the oven. Sans warm, it was still good. Not like totally mind-blowing let me rave about this on some "other" review site good. It was just good, decent, not nearly as great as the Dahlia Bakery peanut butter cookie. And since I really wanted this warm cookie to write a fair review of my own, I waited around for a HOT chocolate chip cookie. This cookie seriously just left the oven and then was flung into my mouth. I burnt my tongue and decided to hell with this shit. These cookies are not for me.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Mee Sum Pastry
Mee Sum Pastry is one of the only places worth braving Pike Place Market for even if it's the height of tourist season. They make killer Hum Bow for under $3 each in BBQ Pork, Vegetarian, Chicken and Curry Beef flavors. Their fillings are sweet and savory and the buns are chewy and delightful. If you have a big appetite, add a Crab Rangoon or a couple of Sesame Balls to your order. Find a nice seat in the park and watch the Hobo Theatre while you munch. This is one of the most satisfying and cheap downtown lunches possible. Hum Buns are the cheeseburgers of China and you'll want another one before you finish the last bite of the one you have. As a LOLCat might say, "Om nom nom nom."



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Stella Caffé
Everyone knows that Seattle loves coffee. So it's surprising that it took this long to get an authentic Italian cafe. Stella fills that void with ease. The Vespa in the window tells you they're bona fide before you even order your espresso. You may think a shot isn't your thing, but that's because you've never had it the Italiano way. It's not bitter like that Starbucks crap. Their dark Roman blend is brewed just right, covering every shot with a thick layer of "crema". This is the magic of espresso and it lends sweetness to every nutty sip. Afterward, you will feel relaxed and pampered instead of jittery. Of course, Italians also like to eat and Stella serves up the classics with perfection. Choose from 9 huge Panini for under $6 featuring a variety of meats, cheeses and vegetables. They have the Sweet-tooths covered too. If you're a native Seattleite, chances are you’ve never had a proper Canoli. Now is your chance to try these crispy, creamy confections of perfection. The portions are small so you don’t have to share unless you want to. They haven't forgotten about the Panetone either. This light, sweet fruit bread is served grilled. La Vita es indeed Dolce!



Posted By:  Ingrid Mattson
Photo:  Ingrid Mattson

Seattle Ferry Terminal
When the Washington State Ferries are not crashing into docks or cancelling routes due to the hulking outdated vessels literally falling apart, they are a great way to see Puget Sound.  I've heard it said they're also a great romantic date: Walk on the Bremerton ferry in downtown Seattle, and it's a mere $6.70 a person roundtrip for two hours of heaven.  Stand on the deck and look for marine life. Gaze at Seattle's skyline lit up like Christmas on your return trip. But woe to the hapless person who expects to treat their date to a meal on the ferry. If you happen catch a boat with an open galley (that's kitchen for you landlubbers), one that hasn’t been shut down due to understaffing or a lack of running water, your options are slim. Unless your date likes warmed over hotdogs, gray "chicken tenders," and chowder that looks as though it's been simmering since the first ride of the day. True, the ferries serve things it is possible to eat, but there's no way in hell you're going to score that second date if this is what you call dinner.



Posted By:  Ingrid Mattson
Photo:  Ingrid Mattson

Matt's Famous Chili Dogs
Some people go to Matt's for the hot dogs. I go for the hot dog porn. Entering the ferry terminal, I instantly spot the giant hot dog standing outside Matt's. He's almost six feet tall, and he's licking his lips salaciously as he squirts mustard all over his intestine-encased body, pretty much begging me to eat him. Pressed between the hot dog and his soft, tender bun are all the fixings including cheese, relish, celery salt, onions, and pickles. Mouth watering, I breathe in the savory smells of steamed dogs and buns and respond to his come hither look. To paraphrase the great troubadours 2 Live Crew (and the Kubrick classic "Full Metal Jacket"): "Ooh me so hungry. Me eat lunch long time." I know what you're thinking: how does she know the hot dog is male? Go to Matt's and see for yourself.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Noc Noc
If you ever desire to lose an entire Friday to the darkness, I know just the place for you. Happy hour at the goth-themed bar/club starts at 5 pm and offers $1 PBRs and $2 wells. But here's the killer: If you order a glass of wine ($5), they will upsell you to a bottle and you will take it. Why? An entire bottle is only $8. Throw in a couple of GIANT plates of tater tots or some personal pizzas and you've got yourself a party. It's not unheard of to enter Noc Noc at 5, only to leave four hours later, drunk off your tits and wincing in the still-shining sunlight. It's a sobering experience, but not sobering enough because try as you may, a night begun at the Noc Noc simply cannot continue past 11. $2 wells, people. But at least you only spent $20. Oh, if you're so inclined, you can also stay past 9 for the nightly show. They have all manner of gothertainment including DJs, cabaret, burlesque and live music, all with a sinister edge. Allegedly, their burlesque acts really deliver the scary/sexy. Me, I'm in it for the savings.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Nitelite Lounge
It's a Seattle cliche to love dive bars. So much so that someone called Linda has made a career out of emulating them. But the Nite Lite is a true blue original dive. It's mostly unencumbered by irony-seekers. Surprising considering its location: a block away from the Moore Theatre. It's owned and operated by Seattle bartending veterans who understand enjoyable bar experience basics and deliver that and only that. An oasis from Belltown douchbaggery, the beer is cheap, the cocktails are lethal and the game is always on. The staff might seem grumpy at first but they'll have a smile for you if you flash 'em one first. Same goes for the regulars. Wednesday through Saturday, the doors to the left lead to the poolroom with the classic rock juke box. Every day, the doors to the right lead to the main bar with darts, Christmas lights year-round and the awesome classic country juke box. The bar is cash only but there's an ATM for your convenience. You won't need to get much out. $4 buys a pitcher of PBR or double well. Sop up the booze with a bite from their bar menu laden with any greasy delight your heart desires from tacos and burritos to burgers and fries. If you don't love the Nite Lite, you don't really like dives.



Posted By:  Sara Dow
Photo:  Sara Dow

Maximilien
Seattle has amazing summers. Spring can be gray, but by mid-July we are lost in 80 degree weather with blue skies and picture-perfect mountains. That's when it starts--my search for the perfect view patio. I discovered the Islander a few years ago, and of course there's the Pink Door, but Maximilien tops them all. It's tucked into a back part of the market, the deck off a chichi French restaurant. You walk in past the suited waiters not sure what to expect and find yourself perched above Puget Sound, the Olympics sketched out in the background. Your French-speaking waiter brings you a menu and recommends the French martini ($4). After a few martinis, a bucket of Kronenbourgs, some moules mariniere ($3) and a plate de fromage ($3), you have long forgotten where you work or why you work in the first place. Highly recommended. Get there early for the best spot.



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo:  Meiwa Chen

Le Panier
Want real French croissants for breakfast, but can't afford the plane ticket to Paris? Head over to Le Panier at Pike Place Market. Then stand in line and wait. Because there will be a line of people waiting and wanting for eclairs, baguettes, pastries, cakes, and many, many other types of specialty breads and desserts with fancy French names that I can't pronounce. I just point. And then I squish myself into the cafe line to complete the French experience. Le Panier's setup resembles a real, local French bakery, also offering sandwiches made with their fresh baked bread, so pretend you are actually in France and take a long, sacred lunch break like the French.



Posted By:  Rebecca Katherine Hirsch
Photo:  Rebecca Katherine Hirsch

Pike Place Market
Everything I need to know about the Pike Place Market I learned when I was 14. All follow-up research has been done via the Internet. Deal. But truly, my memories are like crystal oracular balls, I know what's up and things can't have changed much since Year Y2K, yes? Pike! What a market that was! I was overwhelmed with fish! Gypsy women sold me a pink stone kaleidoscope and thuggish men gifted me with a freshly plucked peach. To think, the entire establishment has been with us since 1907! And Starbuck's founded nearby in 1971! The storied history of it all. And now: I saw restaurants, head shops, greengrocers, fishmongers, street vendors, saffron cloth-swathed mystery women and flying fish. Did you know that the Pike Place mascot is a bronze piggy bank named Rachel? But it's true! She oinks in contentment when a fish is thrown, and bellows in elation when a fish whacks a purchaser in the head. Named after the 1977 Island County prizewinner, passersby rub Rachel's snout for luck, which is the same thing I do when I'm in the mood for... fishery... and... fortune... in... Seattle.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Harried & Hungry
Every downtown office seems to have a boner for Specialties, but I've never enjoyed them. Maybe it's because I get the veggie options, but my food has always been bland and soggy. But Specialties isn't the only lunch delivery game in town. There's also Harried and Hungry. If you're dining in, you'll note the 'harried' part. It's not the patrons dining and dashing back to work. It's the owners who don't let you stare at the menu for more than 30 seconds before ushering you to a register. That's why I like to ponder the website menu before I go. Once I have a mission in mind, I'm usually not disappointed. Their lunch fare includes the souped-up versions of the staples: sandwiches (Grilled Pesto), salads (Curried Chicken) pizza (Bacon Blue) and soup (Wild Mushroom Grain). They are generally outstanding and never soggy. On occasion, they have been too 'harried' in the kitchen to remember the 'balsamic' part of my Caprese sandwich, but it's still pretty tasty. Wash it all down with a fresh-made smoothie infused with green tea for that low-level afternoon buzz. Unfortunately, the prices are more NYC than Seattle, so save your patronage for when you have access to the corporate credit card.



Posted By:  Gawel Feliga
Photo:  Gawel Feliga

Seattle Aquarium
Maybe I'm a bit spoiled because my parents to took me to Sea World and all those surveillance-filled, real-estate hogging theme parks and museums, but I was just a tad disappointed with the Seattle Aquarium. First of all: no sharks. Enough said. Secondly, we came around octopus feeding time. I was expecting a ferocious half-ton monstrosity, being fed a live baby. Well, at least a writhing school of fish. Instead, the octopus lazily pulled a piece of filet (sic!) off a feeding stick and unconvincingly tugged on it a bit, after drifting away. It's not all mid-day PBS, though. I personally find aquariums, even the small hobbyist ones, fun to observe. You can definitely do plenty of that here. There are whole micro-societies of fish milling around in shapes and colors you may have never seen. I wish there was a bit more seating, in places where you could actually see something. And they should get some man-eating sharks. Other than that, good thing for a slow afternoon.



Posted By:  Meiwa Chen
Photo:  Meiwa Chen

Beecher's Handmade Cheese
I've found the World's Best Mac & Cheese. Seriously. Get off the internet, head to your nearest specialty grocery store (unless you're lucky enough to live by Pike Place Market to run over to the actual Beecher's Handmade Cheese store to sample their huge selection of cheeses; check out the huge cheese making vat behind the glass), and grab a tray of Beecher's Mac & Cheese in the frozen entree aisle. Yes, it's quite pricey, but it's Beecher's, man. Splurge. It is absolutely worth the $12 bucks. The bubbly, aged Flagship and Jack cheeses melt in your mouth as you slowly savor the penne pasta, and it's not too rich that you'll feel sick afterwards. These cheeses are award-winning, by the way. And while the tray label says it serves two, there's no freaking way in hell I'm sharing.



Posted By:  Rebecca Katherine Hirsch
Photo:  Rebecca Katherine Hirsch

Seattle Ferry Terminal
Just the kind of ferry I was looking for! All my life. Large, utilitarian, powder blue of seat and tawny fibrous rigging material of rope, the Washington State Ferries have taken me places I've never been, in many senses, on many islands. The former "Mosquito Fleet" now contains 28 ferries; the largest carrying up to 2500 passengers and 202 vehicles. They rove to the lovely Victorians in Port Townsend, the weird bags with the dolphins on them in Friday Harbor. The running space on board is bounteous, the amount of vending machines sufficient. Voyage often enough and you might run into a gaggle of early adolescents sprawled indecorously on deck, reading magazines and singing mysterious idiomatic songs. A ferry ride is a romantic mode of transport, but not without its darker elements. Years ago I saw a drug bust. I can only imagine what sinful nuggets they have now.



Posted By:  Barrie Arliss
Photo:  Barrie Arliss

Shy Giant Yogurt
I discovered this Smoothie/Ice Cream gem when I first moved to Seattle. I was probably still in awe of Pike Place Market when, roaming around, this hidden vendor started calling my name. Well, it didn't really call my name, 'cause that would be creepy. But I swear to everything that is wonderful, their photos of lovely yogurty/fruit goodness were whispering sweet nothings in my ear, telling me to come over and buy one. So I did. But I'm no good with options. I saw a bunch of varieties and decided that I didn't want to decide. I wanted the smoothie-making girl to give me something she really likes. And what she created was like magic wrapped inside a unicorn. It was the best smoothie I've ever had. Ever. Fuck Emerald and their powders and ginsengs. I like this place because they keep it real and fatty (no matter how non-fatty you ask them to make it). And I love this place because every time I come back and get a different girl's special smoothie I am never disappointed. And neither will you.




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