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August 4, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Restaurants where Seattle Eaters wow out-of-towners

Ours is a food-lover’s Paradise. When I asked folks to join me in singling out the places we show off to visitors, they proved loud and proud, pointing to the city’s delicious attractions. Did we miss your gotta-take-’em spots? Share them here on the blog.

Way to show folks a good time: at Matt’s in the Market (left) in Pike Place Market [Seattle Times/Betty Udesen]. And at Sitka & Spruce in Capitol Hill’s Melrose Market, where simple pleasures might include Pacific Northwest lox with zucchini and wild currants. [Seattle Times/John Lok]

There’s seafood and then there’s “see” food. With apologies to a certain native chief, that’s why they call it Seattle. “When I pick [guests] up at the airport, I like to jump on the viaduct and breeze through downtown for that ‘Chamber of Commerce tour.’ Then get off in Ballard and head for Ray’s Cafe for deck seats,” says one Eater. “By the time they finish their first beer, they’re AGOG.”

She’s preaching to the Ray-mondo Tabernacle Choir. I heard mighty praise for Ray’s, whose Boathouse “is a great way of showing what the Pacific Northwest has to offer”: classic seafood (“don’t miss the sablefish in sake kasu”) coupled with a stunning Shilshole view.

In summer, Seattle hits the deck — at Ray’s, though the view’s lovely year round. [Seattle Times/Jim Bates]

“My elderly parents are from Phoenix,” notes another water baby whose dad’s a chowder fiend, “so we love to take them to places with great water views: Anthony’s Beach Cafe in Edmonds, Salty’s on Alki for brunch and Ivar’s on Lake Union.” Worth noting (others did) is Salty’s South End version (“Redondo is cool, too!”), and Ivar’s Lake Union Salmon House has more going for it than chowder and a view (“The building is a virtual museum of Northwest tribal culture”).

Wow! That’s some Seattle “see-food” — at Salty’s on Alki. [Seattle Times/Joey Anchondo]

Chinook’s at Salmon Bay provides a more contemporary look at Northwest, uh, tribal culture: Its Fishermen’s Terminal location is home base for the crew from “Deadliest Catch.” Chinook’s lure includes an extensive seafood-driven menu and a “fun atmosphere that won’t break the bank.” Oyster slurpers from other climes will go gonzo here.

In addition, hoisters find heaven on the half-shell downtown at The Brooklyn where the bivalves are a bargain at happy hour. Ditto for Elliott’s Oyster House on Pier 56, with its extensive array of Pacific Northwest beauties. Eaters are well-versed in the charms of the Walrus and the Carpenter; reminiscent of a Parisian oyster parlor, this Ballard bo&#238te is a romanticist’s dream. But “the secret is out and it’s a small place, so be prepared to wait (no reservations!).”

Come for the atmo. Stay for the oysters (among other treats) at the Walrus and the Carpenter. [Seattle Times/Ken Lambert]

The panoramic Elliott Bay view at Palisade in Magnolia offers wow factor, note several respondents. Others employ the fabulously funky factor when wowing visitors. Says one: “I always feel like an ‘insider’ when I take guests to The Pink Door. I love entering through the unmarked door along Post Alley, and their [rooftop] patio is so charming” — thanks, in part, to its Elliott Bay view. Others hit the Door for entertainment (trapeze artists! burlesque!) to complement the Italian food.

Columbia City neighbors cite La Medusa as a guest magnet. Its summer seductions include a Wednesday-night farmers market menu, culled fresh from vendors steps away. A South Ender suggests Neapolitan pizza at Pizzeria Pulcinella in Rainier Beach, where “it’s mellow enough to talk and get caught up.”

Yes, those out-of-towners beg for salmon, but they’ll beg you to take them back to La Medusa after sampling this Sicilian favorite: pasta con le sarde. [Seattle Times/Mark Harrison]

I introduce folks to that festive Italian food favorite, Staple & Fancy Mercantile (sharing Ballard real estate with the Walrus). There, chef Ethan Stowell’s multicourse “fancy menu” is a value at $45 a head. But, surprise! That abondanza is chef’s choice.

Me, entertaining my friends at Staple & Fancy (and vice versa). The food was almost as good as the company!

For an equally memorable Italian meal in a more restrained environment, kudos go to Kirkland’s Cafe Juanita. My guests (and my readers’) go home raving about “spot-on service, fantastic food and a nice but relaxed setting.”

Relax at Cafe Juanita, where braised rabbit is a house specialty. [Seattle Times/Barry Wong]

“If we are treating a foodie, we love Book Bindery,” insist those who put this on the guest list for its gorgeous food, glam bar and elegant dining room (count me among them). Greenhouse seating affords Ship Canal views, and wine aficionados will appreciate the owners’ adjacent winery, Almquist Family Vintners, complete with a tasting room.

“I love taking visitors to our many wonderful international food haunts,” wrote one reader, naming Ras-Dashen (a former church in the Central District) for Ethiopian, Kabul (in Wallingford) for the foods of Afghanistan and Tamarind Tree (in Seattle’s Little Saigon) for Vietnamese. Me, too!

Vietnamese-food fans also swoon for Monsoon (on Capitol Hill and in Bellevue). Poppy, on Capitol Hill, takes its cue from India, making use of a tandoor and chef Jerry Traunfeld’s signature thalis for a taste sensation that’s decidedly Northwest. (It’s also “great for bar nibbles.”) Thai food tempts at West Seattle’s Buddha Ruksa, a stop that should include sightseeing along Alki Beach.

Nibbles and drinks at Monsoon East in Bellevue (left) and at Poppy on Capitol Hill [Seattle Times/Erika Schultz].

Got adventurous teens in tow? Some say “Take ’em to Dick’s Drive-in!” I say, take them to the food court at Uwajimaya! Or to Fremont’s Revel, for artistic Asian eats with a Korean accent. Others suggest introducing them to Ballard’s Senor Moose, La Carta de Oaxaca and Cocina Esperanza— for Mexican food they won’t find at Taco Bell.

My favorite seat’s at the counter at La Carta de Oaxaca, one of several popular Mexican restaurants in Ballard. [Seattle Times/Courtney Blethen Riffkin]

There’s a million reasons why millions of tourists pay homage to Pike Place Market. Among them: Matt’s in the Market, affording visitors a bird’s-eye view of the big clock day and night — and spectacular sandwiches at lunch. French-food fanatics flock to intimate Le Pichet, where I treat guests to breakfast. But the big hook, say many, is the Steelhead Diner, where you won’t find steelhead, but you will find some of the city’s finest salmon.

A seasonal treat at the Steelhead Diner: Copper River king salmon with morels, braised artichokes. [Seattle Times/Mike Siegel]

Pike/Pine’s Melrose Market isn’t as old or as big as Pike Place, but it’s captured Seattle food lovers’ fancy and stolen our hungry hearts. “Melrose Market is perfect on the weekend,” suggests an admirer. “Brunch at Sitka & Spruce and pick up meat (from Rain Shadow Meats) and cheese (The Calf & Kid) for dinner.”

At Sitka & Spruce, the expansive kitchen table, where food is prepped and served, is a visual attraction by day or night: it’s also the best seat in the house, says me. [Seattle Times/John Lok]

Throughout the week, hit Homegrown for sandwiches, Bar Ferd’nand for wine and a nosh, Marigold & Mint for organic herbs and produce, and don’t miss Melrose Market’s latest addition, Taylor Shellfish Farms retail store, where guests can get giggly over geoducks and slurp one last oyster — in order to remember the many Seatown treasures Seattle has to offer.

Sensational sandwiches to eat in or take out, at Bar Ferd’nand (left) and Homegrown, both in Melrose Market. [Seattle Times/John Lok]

Have you got a question about today’s restaurant roundup? Anything else you’d like to know about the local food scene? Pull up your computer screen and join me and Seattle Times restaurant critic Providence Cicero for a live-chat from noon to 1 p.m. Friday August 5 at seattletimes.com. Care to ask a question in advance? Do that right here.

Comments | More in | Topics: Nancy's Restaurant Roundups

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