Seattle is a slow and whole foodie playground. Let me illustrate just how so with this example: the other night at Sitka and Spruce, a Capital Hill restaurant featuring local produce, I had one of my gut aches. When I have a gut ache I generally take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in some warm water before eating. It settles things. So I tried my luck with the cashmere sweater-wearing waiter and asked if the kitchen might have some ACJ, used for cooking purposes. “I believe we ferment our own…one moment.” He promptly arrived with a mug of the stuff, along with my glass of biodynamic Burgundy. For, while not flagged in neon lights on the menu, the entire wine list is organic, natural or biodynamic.
It would all be tediously “Portlandia”, except I was in Seattle, where this kind of eating is very unpretentious.
Which makes things fun for someone like me. Actually it was food that brought me to Seattle – the city is regarded as the second best restaurant destination outside Manhattan, has the second largest wine industry outside California and it’s a mecca for food bloggers. Like my mates Shauna at Glutenfreegirl, Aran at CannelleVanille and my new mate Mickey at Autoimmune-Paleo. All of us have autoimmune disease, all of us connected online, all of us wanted to meet. Ergo, a jaunt to Seattle.
In addition to a bunch of other amazing wholefood nuts I met while in town, as well as the Visit Seattle team, they helped me put together this Portlandia-without-the-pretence guide. Enjoy.
* Out of the Box: A Paleo food van that pops up around the place. Fantastic fare, like pork belly with cauliflower rice…you know the kind of thing. The also do meal delivery…good for hotel room service!!
* 50 North (University District): A wonderful American restaurant with plenty of gluten-free options; a great place for dinner. The fish and chips are excellent [I usually opt for sweet potato fries instead of regular ones – Mickey]. The lamb burger and BBQ pulled pork sandwich (without the buns) are also tasty Paleo options.
* Sea Breeze Farm (at the U-district market Saturdays and Ballard market on Sunday, year round): Every week this farm brings their best freshly butchered meats, raw dairy, and prepared goods all raised on their sustainable family farm to the market. Buy some Porchetta for a snack as you walk the market. [They sell the best pork belly I have ever had the pleasure of cooking with! – Mickey] If you are looking for an out of town adventure, they also have a farm-to-table restaurant on Vashon Island.
Pike Place Market
* Make sure you do the Savor Seattle tour. They get local comedians to run tours of the best stalls and cafes nearby. Two hours, heaps of fun.
* Britts Pickles: Lacto-fermented sauerkraut and kimchi, as well as a brine you can buy as a probiotic drink – a great idea for when you’re travelling.
* Pike Place Fish Co: Generally considered the best place to pick up some smoked salmon etc. Check out their salmon throwing stunts.
* MarketSpice: Pick up some great teas and spice combos…great for having on hand when travelling to toss on salads and room service bowls of steamed veg.
* Storyville Coffee (upstairs, above Franks veggies). A lovely spot to get a warm, mindful coffee in front of a (fake) fireplace. That said, I did hear they are run by a church group that don’t support gay marriage…so…
* The Confectional: You. Must. Get. One of their hot chocolates – cacao, milk, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
Cafes and restaurants
Pretty much all the joints below serve sustainable, local and organic produce. Take it as a given.
* Sitka and Spruce on Melrose Ave, Capital Hill. Chef Matt Dillon is talked about around the country as the Lord of Locovore. The place is in the Melrose Market complex that includes a butcher and flower shop. Note: they make their own kombucha, fermented celery soda and ginger beer, as well as ACV. Again: fully natural/organic etc wine list. Of course: all food is sourced locally.
* London Plane on Pioneer Square, downtown. Such a pretty place with a really interesting breakfast menu, including a split pea porridge with a poached egg & spiced brown butter (cashew, toasted coconut and beet chutney). I popped in for their salad plate. Their sour dough is regarded as the best in town. The London Plane is also in the Sitke and Spruce family.
* Local 360, downtown: as the names suggest…local from all around. A cosy ranch-meets-diner feel.
* Oddfellows, Capital Hill: A fun, cosy, eclectic place with really reasonably priced honest food. Big communal tables and incredibly kind staff. Great for brunch, I hear. Also for an afternoon cocktail or pot of tea. I spent a we afternoon with their free wifi and a pot of chamomile.
* Terra Plata on Melrose Ave: I checked out the menu…very mindful and a lovely space.
* Staple and Fancy on Ballard Ave…I read and heard about it. You turn up, you state any allergies, you then get served what’s available that day. $45 for four courses.
* The Whale Wins. Renee Erickson’s Wallingford restaurant does most of its cooking in a wood-fired oven so the menu features loads of delicious, charred seasonal veggies and roasted meats. [I love the roasted carrots and fennel with harissa and yogurt, the half roasted chicken, sometimes served with housemade pickles, and the sardine toasts with heaps of fennel and parsley on real sourdough bread – Lara, from Book Larder]
Here’s a few places Aran from Canelle et Vanille recommended:
* The Walrus and the Carpenter: Super amazing raw bar and seafood restaurant.
* Rainshadow Meats, near Pioneer Square: This is a butcher where you can also order the meat cooked on the spot.
* Also check out Seattle Slow Food.
Products and tours and other food stop-offs
* Theo chocolates: The only organic and free trade chocolate in the US (seriously!). They have a 85% cacao version worth looking out for…and proceeds go to a bike scheme in Africa. A trifecta of good stuff.
* Ballard Farmer’s Market: A cute little local Sunday market with local produce and some great cafes nearby.
* The Book Larder: Over in Freemont, and really worth a visit. They do regular chats with cookbook authors – some of the biggest names in the world go out of their way to head here and present! Check out their calendar.
* Seasonal Farmer’s Markets: [My favourites are University District on Saturday and Ballard on Sunday (year-round) and Columbia City on Wednesdays. Look for local foraged mushrooms and Huckleberries, local seafood, veggies, summer berries, just follow your senses to what’s fresh and talk to the farmers about how they like to eat it. Last year I got addicted to padron peppers sautéed in oil in a very hot skillet and sprinkled with sea salt. And all of the markets feature vendors who make prepared foods sourced from the farmers – Lara, Book Larder.]
* The Corson Building: [Book dinner here or catch brunch when they offer it. The space is off the beaten path but amazing: an Italian stucco home with a micro farm between a highway and a railroad track! Chef Emily Dann creates gorgeous seasonal menus that are sometimes served ala carte, but sometimes served family style at big communal tables. The menu changes constantly so it’s hard to recommend a favorite—just trust Emily’s marvelous cooking! – Lara]
Washington is the second biggest wine region in the States but weirdly biodynamic and organic isn’t a huge focus. That said there is a great guide to “Salmon Safe Wines” (who knew!?) which covers off much of the same angles. Look out for Hedges Family Estate and Naches Heights Vineyard on menus around town.
Yoga: There’s heaps of power yoga joints here. I bought a weekly $25 pass at Urban Yoga Spa.
Hiking: There are a stack – Mount Si and Rattlesnack Mountain are meant to be amazing. Sadly it was too wet and my time too short to do any but a short one around Discovery Park (not far from Ballard). Check out here for hikes.
Extra ethical/local shopping
Some great shops to check out featuring local art, fashion and bits.
* Totokaelo in Capitol Hill.
* Glasswing at Melrose Market.
* E Smith Mercantile near Pioneer Square. They also have a bar at the back serving “pre- prohibition era cocktails”.
* Inn at the Market: (This is where I stayed.) Owned by locals, right on the market square, amazing service, simple, with windows that open to fresh air.
Brad at Visit Seattle also recommends the following green hotels:
Feel free to add below…and I’ll update the guide with links to your site/wares!