Who better than the 2014 Washington Wine Commission Sommelier of the Year to guide you around Seattle’s wine scene? Sommelier of Seattle’s RN74, Jeff Lindsay Thorsen, has specially curated his favorite spots in the city that truly represent Seattle’s thriving wine culture and diverse culinary scene. So follow Jeff through Seattle and the greater Seattle area for the best of the best!
The Market Grill offers up an outstanding selection of seafood, ranging from delicious clam chowder to halibut sandwiches, all fresh and ready for your enjoyment. Located inside the main part of Pike Place, service is quick and friendly but not rushed. The Market Grill is known by locals as the best place to go for a fish sandwich and is a great place to stop for lunch on a tour of one of Seattle’s most popular destinations.
Everything on the menu at RN74 revolves around pairing with wines, and we’d say that’s a pretty excellent place to start. The food is as innovative as it is simple, and as modern as it is steeped in French culinary tradition. Everything is prepared with seasonal and fresh ingredients, which are expertly crafted and balanced to bring out some classically daring flavors–but with that distinct RN74 spin.
Seattle’s Downtown nightlife may not be as bustling as other major cities, but there are some unique bars and venues that make this part of town a fun and happening place to hangout at night. For some expertly crafted cocktails and a classier crowd try Zig Zag Cafe, Rob Roy, Bathtub Gin, or the newly opened Radiator Whiskey (in the Market).
BALLARD BOUTIQUE SHOPPING
The somewhat yuppy neighborhood of Ballard combines the young and stylish vintage look of Seattle hipsters with high fashion and high quality. Once in the Ballard neighborhood, walk down Ballard Ave which runs from Market to Leary Ave. Great boutiques like Horseshoe, Ketch, Jax Joon, Damsalfly and more, line the street making Ballard Ave a boutique shoppers heaven. Also don’t miss Market St, which also has lots of great shops like Velouria. We also recommend checking out some other non-clothing stores like Lucca or The Palm Room, and indoor exotic plant store.
LA CARTA de OAXACA
If you like spicy (or you’re just feeling a little crazy), check out Oaxaca (pronounced WUH-HAAK-UH, after the Oaxaca province of Mexico). It’s a tiny little cafe with plenty of sunshine (whenever there’s sunshine to be had, at least), but be warned, the restaurant is as crowded as the food is amazing. It’s been voted the best Mexican restaurant by the Seattle Weekly, and uses traditional Oaxacan ingredients like corn, chilies, and chocolate. So, if you’re craving some authentic south-of-the-border goodness Oaxaca might be the ticket.
Recommended by Local Expert Jeff Lindsay Thorsen:
Cafe Juanita, although not actually in Seattle is certainly worth the trip. Known by Seattle foodies as one of the best restaurants in the greater Seattle area, Cafe Juanita serves up absolutely divine Northern Italian fare. Traditional flavors and dishes collide with artistry and innovation to bring patrons simply delectable dishes that will fill your belly and your soul. Chefs at Cafe Juanita have a commitment to sustainability and try to use local ingredients whenever possible.
Cafe Besalu is a small family owned bakery and coffee shop that produces some of the best croissants in town. Any given morning there will likely be a line out the door for these freshly baked heavenly breakfast pastries. As soon as you approach the bakery, you will likely be drawn in by the smells wafting out the door. On those cold Seattle mornings, nothing warms the soul more than hot coffee and a fresh out of the oven croissant.
Stoneburner is not your typical pizzeria. In fact, expect to find fresh ingredients, innovative combinations, and all around delicious pizza and Italian cuisine. Recently opened on the bottom floor of the brand new Ballard Hotel, Stoneburner has already become a smashing success. Not only do they offer truly well prepared and scrumptious food, but they also serve up a great selection of wine and handcrafted cocktails to complement your meal. The atmosphere is classy and traditional with sleek dark wood finishes and plenty of light from the large front windows.
ROCK CREEK SEAFOOD AND SPIRITS
Situated in an ultra cool, two story, urban fishing lodge (built with as much reclaimed material as possible, no less), Rock Creek offers both a stellar culinary experience, and an unique, absolutely-Seattle dining experience. While they do incorporate local ingredients into their menu, they also have ingredients like striped bass and kampichi delivered fresh every day so that, not only is your food as delicious as possible, you also have a large selection of seafood to choose from. So, if you’re in the mood for seafood in a one-of-a-kind building (and maybe want a cocktail, too), Rock Creek may be a good place to anchor up.
While Seattle may not immediately strike you as a haven for Thai food, when you spend a while in the city, you soon realize that there’s a very strong Thai presence—especially in the culinary scene. With scores and scores of Thai restaurants around town, Little Uncle stands out thanks to its intrinsic homage to family-run, generations-old restaurants that dot the whole of Thailand. Little Uncle focuses on creating delicious, simple dishes, with up front and relaxed counter service, and a relaxed dining environment, that, on top of offering some pretty stand-out Thai food, also serves beer and wine.
Bakery Nouveau focuses on two things: community and mind-blowingly delicious culinary confections. What sets Nouveau apart from all of the other stellar bakeries in Seattle? Well, let’s take a look at the owner’s qualifications: 20+ years of baking experience, and captain of the 2005 Bread Bakers Guild Team USA (yes, there is such a thing). This all culminates in a good-sized string of awards for both him and Bakery Nouveau.
Steeped in the traditional cooking techniques of Northern Italy, Spinasse has caused quite a stir in the food scene of Seattle since its opening in 2008. While Chef Jason Stratton’s goal is to craft superb, straightforward Italian food, he and his chefs do so with local ingredients. On top of the homemade pasta and seasonal dishes (and the subsequent food coma), the quaint, Piedmont-inspired dining room make it difficult for you to leave–especailly with the view from the trattorias , which overlooks the kitchen.
CAPITOL HILL NIGHTLIFE: CLASSY COCKTAILS
If you are looking to hang out in one of Seattle’s most happening areas but you want something on the classier side, there are many options for you to choose from. Not only does Capitol Hill have a wide variety of high end cocktail bars, but it also has some unique and distinctly Capitol Hill bars as well. Local Expert Jeff Lindsay Thorsen recommends Canon and Tavern Law.