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My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!

Spring Break in Seattle: The Food

A few weeks ago our family took a spring break trip to Seattle. We decided to go there for several reasons – mainly because we had never visited the Pacific Northwest before and it is an area I have always wanted to visit. Also, the kids aren’t really at the age where we can enjoy a relaxing beach vacation so we needed a place with lots to do and see to keep them occupied.  Finally, I just wanted to know what it feels like to be a doctor on Grey’s Anatomy.  Just kidding…but you believed me for a second, didn’t you?

When I mentioned our upcoming trip several weeks ago, many of you chimed in with restaurant suggestions.  I can’t thank you enough!  Because of you, we enjoyed some absolutely fantastic food and discovered restaurants we never would have otherwise.  Though I strongly dislike conspicuous food photography in restaurants, I knew I would need some visuals to break up this giant page of words so I did my best to snap a few super quick phone pics without being too obnoxious.

There is so much fun stuff I want to share from our trip, but I decided to break it up into a summary of the food and then a post about all the other fun things we did.  That will come next week, so stay tuned for that!  (Trust me, there was tons of walking around the city, playing in parks and hiking to counteract all the amazing food we enjoyed.)
Our first morning in the city, we were up eeeaaarrly.  Not because we weren’t tired from traveling all evening, but because of the time difference – the kids were AWAKE. I figured this would be a great opportunity to check out Macrina Bakery since I have heard quite a bit about its popularity and the long lines that form there. Maybe it was the location we chose or maybe it was the early hour, but we had no trouble getting in right away.  Andrew thoroughly enjoyed his cinnamon roll, Caroline had a fantastic bowl of oatmeal with berry compote (I definitely enjoyed this as well) and Ben and I had freshly baked bialys.  It was wonderful – really unfussy, very good food.

We enjoyed it so much that on another day, we walked back over to Macrina for lunch. I didn’t take any photos during that visit but the lunch was also awesome.  I actually think I liked it better than breakfast.  I had a bahn mi sandwich which was so, so incredibly good. Ben also had a sandwich and the kids split some mac and cheese (so good, I kept stealing bites) and a salad.

You don’t have to twist my arm to get me to eat pizza, so when a whole lot of you emphatically recommended Serious Pie, I listened. I anticipated a crowd and a wait and yes, we had to wait maybe 20-30 minutes. It’s okay though, we just spent the whole time practicing our most serious faces for the serious pizza we were about to eat. (And singing Frozen songs – sorry to everyone else who had to wait with us.)

Once seated, the kids had a great time coloring while Ben and I each had a glass of apricot cider on tap.  I don’t know where that stuff has been all my life but it was the greatest. Not to mention it made our wait for pizza so much more pleasant.  And then the pizza came, and it was everything we had hoped for. We ordered a classic with buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil, as well as a pie with roasted seasonal mushrooms and truffled cheese.  Oooomg.  So, so good.   I only wish we had more room in our bellies to try more pies but two was just the right size for our family.

 

On our second morning we took another reader recommendation and visited Portage Bay Cafe.  I looked up their menu online and as you can see, they have a huge selection of breakfast options to choose from.  We really appreciate their focus on sourcing from local organic sustainable foods. It was really hard to even begin to narrow down our choices because their menu was so vast. I ended up being completely predictable and chose the chorizo sausage scramble. Chorizo is my kryptonite!  I believe Ben had the migas (also predictable) and the kids looooved their pancakes which they were able to dress to their liking at the topping bar which included lots of fresh fruit, nuts, whipped cream, etc.  Thank you, thank you Tara for this suggestion!  We absolutely loved it and honestly if it weren’t totally boring of us, we wouldn’t have minded eating there every day for the rest of the week.  I wish I could go back right now.

 

Oh, Poquitos.  My goodness, how we loved this place.  This was yet another recommendation from reader Andrianna whose fiancee is actually a sous chef there, and we were SO glad to know about it!  It’s no secret that we adore Mexican food so we knew this would be a great meal.  The guacamole and the salsas were fab, as were the margaritas.  The waiter was super tolerant of the kids, bringing lots of coloring pages and helping us clean the inevitable spilled drink.  For dinner I ordered the special that evening which was halibut marinated with tequila and ancho chiles served over a mixture of beans with bacon and spring onions.  It was unbelievable!  Also, they take reservations.  Always a plus in my book!

 

When we first asked Caroline what she wanted to do in Seattle, she declared over and over, “We’re going to eat pink ice cream!”  Needless to say, finding a good ice cream place was high on my list of priorities when planning our trip.  Brief internet searching combined with reader comments led us to Molly Moon’s, a Seattle staple.  Caroline got her strawberry ice cream and was over the moon excited – pink ice cream in Seattle!  I tried both the honey lavender and the coffee ice cream.  The honey lavender was okay but a little heavy on the lavender for my taste.  (I’ll definitely be playing around with that in my own kitchen soon, because I love the idea.) LOVED the coffee ice cream though, and the waffle cone was also excellent.

 

Years ago I saw a feature about Top Pot Doughnuts on Food Network and I have wanted to go there ever since.  A bit out of character I suppose, since I’m generally not a huge doughnut person.  They were pretty good and they had a lot of great flavors. I tried the apple fritter doughnut and it was very good.  Ben had the raspberry bismarck and once I tasted a bite, I totally wished I had ordered one for myself.  Delish!  My only complaint is that the doughnuts weren’t warm at all.  For a place with such a reputation, I would have hoped the doughnuts were a little fresher.  It’s okay though, we still thoroughly enjoyed them.

 

On the day we visited the Public Market, we stopped at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese for lunch.  Just reading their declaration of “World’s Best Mac and Cheese” was enough to hook me. We ordered a few different things so we could sample a variety. We thought the mac and cheese was good but by no means the world’s best.  However, we did LOVE the grilled cheese and the dungeness crab sandwich (my fave). Overall the food was great and Beecher’s is definitely worth a visit!  Also if I were staying in a place with a kitchen, I would have loved to buy some of their cheese to cook with.

 

If you have noticed the apparently glaring oversight that hey, we were in Washington and ate very little seafood, don’t worry.  I noticed it too.  Our last evening in the city, we had every intention of eating at a seafood restaurant recommended by a friend and Seattle local. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations and the wait was an hour when we arrived.  HA!!!  The kids’ max wait is about 15 minutes.  I was disappointed and frustrated which quickly morphed into hangry Annie.

Thankfully, once again, my amazing readers saved the day.  While we were driving around, I pulled up the comments you had all left and decided to take Kate’s recommendation to check out Vios Cafe.  This completely turned the night around. This restaurant has the best feature EVER for families with small kids – a play area for kids right next to the booths where the parents sit, so the kids can play while the parents can enjoy some time to themselves and still keep an eye on the kids.  It just happened to be 25% off bottle of wine night – lucky us!  That, combined with the fresh pita bread, tzatziki sauce, and all sorts of other fabulous food made it pretty much a perfect evening.  (I should also add that this restaurant would still have been awesome without the play area – the food was wonderful, the service was great, and the atmosphere was lovely. The play area is in the back so it doesn’t disturb the other diners.)

 

Four days into our trip, we left the city and took a ferry to nearby Bainbridge Island where we stayed for a few more days.  We explored around Bainbridge as well as a lot of the other island towns. Most of the restaurants we tried were decent and some were less than mediocre, but there were a couple worth mentioning here. Our first day on Bainbridge we had lunch at Subi, a sushi restaurant. We loved our entire meal. The sushi was awesome and the kids had little lunch bento boxes which had sushi as well as some rice and veggies.  It was wonderful!

 

Finally, we tried a few bakeries in the area and Bainbridge Bakers was our favorite. We had breakfast there one morning. I had poached eggs on brioche toast and it was perfection.  We also tried some of the granola with greek yogurt and loved that too.  I especially liked the ambience of this place.  It was spacious and light, and just seemed like a perfect neighborhood breakfast place.

That’s all of the food highlights worth mentioning from our trip. Next week I’ll share more about the other things we did in the Emerald City!

  • Emily @ Life on Food

    I think Seattle would be a great place to visit. I am dying over that pizza and sushi.

  • Lauren Ochoa

    Annie, I have to ask you…how do you get your kids to have such adventurous palates?! My husband and I are fairly adventurous and healthy eaters and when our kids were first introduced to solids, they were too. Sweet! I thought. Those people who talk about how picky their kids are must be doing something wrong. Inevitably though, my kids turn 2 and immediately they refuse to eat anything but chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, spagetti and pizza. And broccoli is the only vegetable they will eat and it has to be served with ranch dressing.

  • Melissa Brooker

    Oh wow! Your trip looks phenomenal! I so need to go to Seattle! Those pies looked like they were to die for! I always love your trip posts, it always makes me feel like I was there! Can’t wait for next week’s post.

  • annieseats

    Lauren, I know it can be so hard when they hit that “picky” phase, but honestly for us the answer was simple – we give them no other choice. We make a wide variety of foods and only offer them the exact same meal that we are eating. There is no accommodation based on what they say they dislike. We try not to make a fuss about it but if they are having a difficult night, we just say that’s fine, we’ll save this for when you are hungry again. They will eat it eventually when they are hungry enough. And honestly, it only takes a brief period of this before they know they eat what’s on their plate, there will not be back up options or short order cooking, and we generally don’t have trouble with it after that initial phase. We don’t have chicken nuggets, spaghetti, etc. in the house, so there is no other choice for them. This was the advice given to me by two of our past babysitters, both with multiple grown children, and it was some of the best parenting advice I have ever received. It takes some effort up front but pays out big time in the end.

  • Liz N.

    I love what I’ve seen so far! Can’t wait for the next installment! Finding kid friendly restaurants like Vios are so few and far between. The kids play area in close proximity to the dining tables is just plain smart. Migas…don’t get me started. YUM! Chorizo, guacamole…my kryptonite too! So cool that Beecher’s had their vats of cheese on display. Did you try the cheese curds?

  • annieseats

    We did not try the cheese curds. Next time for sure!

  • Kerry Cooks

    The food in Seattle looks so awesome!

  • http://meganmoments.wordpress.com/ Megan Anderson

    I was just in Seattle in March visiting a friend (she lives in Kirkland) and absolutely loved the city! If you ever go back, be sure to stop by Paseo. Their sandwiches are simple, but amazingly good.

  • Susan (Oliepants)

    Your trip looks delicious! Random: we (mainly my toddler) love the rubberband/chopsticks hack!

  • Frances Russell

    I’m so glad you posted this! I’m just about to head to Seattle for a three-month internship and I was hoping for some restaurant recommendations. This is perfect!

  • Cowen Park Kitchen

    Fun to see you visited Vios! I actually used to be a cook there and still dream about that heavenly rich tzatziki…

  • Karen @ The Food Charlatan

    Sounds like a fun trip Annie! Also I just have to say, your daughter’s hair looks so cute in all these pictures. I have a similar age daughter who’s hair looks like Einstein’s most of the time, so I’m super impressed.

  • annieseats

    Oh gosh, I don’t know about that. She lets us brush it about once a day if we’re lucky, so I would say the Einstein analogy is pretty apt most of the time :) I now totally understand why my parents always made me have a pixie cut as a little girl!

  • annieseats

    Oh my gosh, that is awesome! Can you tell me, do they make the pita bread from scratch there? I thought about asking them to share a recipe because though I love my current pita recipe, that soft, thin, pocketless pita is exactly what I would love to make at home.

  • Dawn

    What impresses me is that it stays clean even though it’s not pulled back with a headband or anything. In our house, that last shot with the Greek yogurt would be a disaster waiting to happen!

  • Stephanie

    Caroline’s outfits are killer!!!

  • Stephanie

    Thank you for sharing that!

  • Suze

    I am in FL and have never been west of Texas. I know! I need to get out more. I think I gained 5 pounds just reading about your food in Seattle!! LOL. I would love to visit Seattle, now I have a list of great places to eat. I hope you post where you stayed as well, now I need a great place to stay! :)

  • Dawn

    We’re taking a six-day trip to Seattle on the 10th, so this post was very helpful, and I’m hanging on for the next one! If you have time to answer this beforehand, I was wondering if you could tell me how you guys got to Mt. Rainier (I’m assuming that’s where you were in the photo of your son hugging the beautiful tree in your Earth Day post). We really want to go to the Grove of the Patriarchs (or any other old-growth forest), but we don’t know if we should go on a day-trip tour bus or rent a car, and I don’t know how difficult it will be driving there with some parts of the park still closed for winter. I would appreciate any guidance you could give!

  • Kellie

    Hi Annie!! I loved the Seattle food post. I am flying to Seattle on Monday. Any chance you could share rest of the info before then? Or would you mind emailing me? I would be eternally grateful!

  • annieseats

    That photo was actually taken in Olympic National Park. We drove up there during our stay on Bainbride Island. We had a rental car for the entirety of our trip. Though we didn’t use it as much in the city as on the island, it was a necessity for us with the kids in tow.

  • Kate A.

    So happy you were able to take my Vios recommendation! I wish we had a place like that here in Denver. Sounds like you ate well.

  • Dawn

    Oh, okay. I don’t think we’ll have time to make it all the way to Olympic National Park, so I’ll have to keep exploring our options for Mt. Rainier. Thank you for responding!

  • annieseats

    Kellie, I’ll do my best. I’m not sure I’ll have it ready to go before then but if I do, I will definitely email it to you! The post will probably be public on Tuesday.

  • mallory

    It’s sad, I’ve lived in Seattle for 5 years now (originally from the Indy area as well!) and I’ve only been to a couple of the places you mentioned. I guess I need to do some more exploring! Portage Bay is definitely a go-to when we have visitors. Olympic National Park is one of my favorite places in the state. Sounds like a fun trip!

  • Samantha E.

    I loved Portage Bay when I lived in Seattle! Poquito’s was one of my favorites too. So jealous!

  • Andrianna

    I’m so glad you were able to go to Poquitos!! :) Looks like you had a delicious trip, can’t wait to read the next installment!

  • Susan Adelgren Chester

    We’ve done this very same technique with our kids. I’ve got four ages 7,5,4 and 2.5 and they all eat pretty much anything put in front of them. I agree, that parenting advise is awesome!! I’m so thankful for the person who shared it with me.

  • Liz @ FloatingKitchen

    All great places….especially Molly Moon’s!

  • Cowen Park Kitchen

    They did not make the pita there when I worked for them, and I imagine it’s much cheaper to purchase it at the rate they go through it! I believe they bought their pita from Yanni’s (http://www.yannis-greek-restaurant.com/) which apparently appeared on Kitchen Nightmares last year (who knew!).

  • Ann Grismore

    I am a Seattle native and have lived all but 16 months of my life here in Seattle. It is the best! All of the restaurants you show in this post are wonderful and some of my favorites. So glad you enjoyed your trip! I’m sorry I didn’t see your other post early enough to offer suggestions but it looks like you had a great trip. If you do ever get back to Seattle I would strongly suggest any of the other Tom Douglas resturants – they are all fantastic!

  • annieseats

    I know, I wish we had had time to check out more of them! We’ll definitely be back someday and will surely check out Serious Biscuit. Really wanted to this time but we were just too full from all the other good eats!

  • annieseats

    Ha! Good to know, thanks for the info!