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Shucking Off in Downtown Seattle

Shucking Off in Downtown Seattle

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Sazerac hosts a celebrity shuck off on June 26th

Oodles of Oysters At Sazerac's Shuck-Off

This Thursday, downtown’s hub for good times and great food, Sazerac, is hosting their first annual oyster “Shuck-Off”. Watch Seattle celebs, including King 5’s Mark Wright and Seattle Weekly Food & Drink Editor Nicole Sprinkle test their bivalve-busting skills. While cheering on the contestants, guests will enjoy snacks, fresh oysters, prizes, and drinks mixed by the marvelous bartenders. What else would you expect from a restaurant named after a classic cocktail?

Portion of proceeds benefit Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, a non-profit focused on protecting the waters that are home to our excellent oysters. Tickets ($30) can be found here, or check out Sazerac's Facebook page for more details.

Seattle’s Best Seafood

We live in the land of seafood aplenty (oysters! salmon!). Yet, when we want to go to a seafood restaurant, few choices come to mind. What are Seattle’s versions of the great fish houses of Boston or San Francisco?

More to the point—what can we eat in them? Increasingly informed diners want to know the sources of our food but find ourselves adrift on a troubling sea of reports about overfished waters, mislabeled seafood, and environmental threats. It’s enough to make a hungry seafoodie throw up her hands and order a grass-fed burger.

Read on. Seattle is a working port, encircled by water and loaded with fishermen—but it isn’t a fish-house town. Our best seafood dishes live in our high-end destinations, our ethnic joints, our holes-in-the-wall. Thanks to careful sourcing, well-managed stock, and conscientious chefs, there’s plenty of guilt-free seafood that tastes terrific. How to find it? We’ve found it for you.


Hajime Sato is steaming. “You can’t believe how many chefs I talk to who don’t know anything about the fish they’re serving!” he roars. “They order from the distributor and believe whatever the distributor tells them!” So distributors…lie? Sato laughs wildly. “Just last week I asked a distributor where his sea bass came from—actually first I asked him what’s sea bass anyway, there’s so much that gets sold under that name—and he just said, ‘South.’ I said, ‘South of where? Florida? Chile?’ And he said, ‘South means south, okay?’ and hung up.”

Before Sato turned his cozy and well-regarded West Seattle sushi bar into a 100 percent sustainable sushi bar, he didn’t know much more than anyone else about fish sourcing or endangered stocks. The more he learned, the more inspired he became to make a change. So four years ago he ditched the hamachi, the bluefin, the farm-raised salmon, the shrimp he even began to serve a pretty decent freshwater eel substitute, namagi, made of catfish—beautifully cut and quite tasty, like all of his sushi. “Some people tell me I’m destroying sushi culture by saying you shouldn’t eat certain things,” he says. “I say if there are no fish left, we’ll have no sushi culture at all.”

So what rules does the sushi chef who calls himself “too hardcore for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch” propose for conscientious seafoodies? In general, he declares, local fish are best. Smaller, faster-growing fish (sardines, anchovies, mackerel) are better than big fish. Shellfish is generally great, assuming Dungeness crab over imported varieties. Seasonal fish is usually one’s best bet.


Somewhere along the way “Etta’s Seafood” became simply “Etta’s,” a decision Tom Douglas made to broaden the appeal of his most touristy property at the periphery of Pike Place Market. Still, that’s a whole lot of fish you’re seeing on Etta’s menus—making the festive cafe a particularly good find for lunch, when fewer fish houses are open—and Douglas’s Dungeness crab cakes are worthy of their hype, crisply fried with a high crab-to-fixings ratio. No breading, no heavy sauce. “What I preach to my chefs is that we have the most beautiful fish there is,” Douglas declares. “And somehow me or some other chef is gonna make that fish better? Our job is to get the fuck out of the way and let that thing shine.”

These days Douglas has a more pressing priority: keeping the fish around to begin with. He’s joined the crusade against the Pebble Mine in Alaska, the enormous proposed open-pit copper and gold mine at the watershed of Bristol Bay, where many of Seattle’s salmon fishermen earn a living and most of the salmon we eat originates. “It’ll poison the headwaters of the largest sustainable salmon run in the world,” Douglas warns. “It’s a travesty.

John Sundstrom offers a whole page of seafood choices at his elegant small-plate dinner house near Seattle U and has become known for his expert hand in cooking it. His baked eel, for instance—one of the few non-Japanese versions of the fish in Seattle—is sumptuous, glazed sweetly with saba, and perched atop a mound of aioli potato salad.

Like most Seattle chefs, Sundstrom keeps an eye on the shifting tides of eco-consciousness, and like many chefs he tries to find responsible sources, including one mom-and-pop operation on Lopez Island for oysters, another in Alaska for spot prawns. Still the eel issue remains tricky for him, since it is also on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch “avoid” list. Some customers chide him for carrying it others beg him to never take it off his menu. “Eel doesn’t feel open and shut to me,” Sundstrom says. “If there were a coalition here that could make a dent in slowing the bigger tide of demand, most of which comes from Japan, yeah, I’d be a part of that.”

Tanglewood Supreme

Before Kent Chappelle was a restaurateur, when he was simply a Seattle native who relished a good plate of seafood, visiting friends would ask him to recommend a solid neighborhood fish house. He couldn’t. It perplexed him this was Seattle for goodness’ sake. So he opened one.

Off an alley in Magnolia, Tanglewood Supreme is tiny and tasked with the impossible: feeding the demographic cioppino of old-timers and young families and professional sophisticates who live side by side in this peninsula neighborhood. He secured a liquor license. He installed an open kitchen. And he hired chef Jeffrey Kessenich, once Tamara Murphy’s top man at Brasa, who wrote a rotating menu of Northwest seafood—a recent one included several fresh oysters, Alaskan weathervane scallops, and three salmon dishes—in inventive New American platings.

A hunk of wild Alaskan king salmon—rod-and-reel caught in Alaska by Rick Oltman of Port Townsend’s Cape Cleare Fishery, then delivered locally—was lacquered delectably in a light glaze of tamarind and soy and served with a chunk of pork belly over carrot salad. A clutch of Hawaiian blue prawns arrived bright with cumin and citrus over turnip greens and grilled polenta. This Kessenich can cook—realizing Chappelle’s dream of great fish in the neighborhood, and all within a lively atmosphere that bubbles like a tide pool, lunch and dinner.


Ten years ago when chef Maria Hines got wind that Alaska fishermen were selling fish right off their boats, she ran down to Fishermen’s Terminal. There she met Pete Knutson, the Seattle anthropology professor–slash–Alaska gillnet fisherman who had commissioned nets sized to the heads of sufficiently mature sockeye, thus reducing the yields of immature fish and unwanted species, called bycatch. Knutson’s fish blew her away. “It wasn’t battered up,” she marveled. “When you use one of those god-awful gigantic nets, crammed full of bycatch, you bruise the fish. You stress them. You can taste stress in an animal: It’s always tougher.”

Thus began a partnership that helped establish Hines’s first restaurant, Tilth, and continues to this day. (She laments that Fishermen’s Terminal regulations prohibit such sales from the docks—allowing sales only from boats tied up to the West Wall.) Many of Seattle’s most rarefied chefs bring the same finesse to seafood that they bring to everything they touch especially good at fish are Jason Franey (Canlis), Jason Wilson (Crush), and Holly Smith (Cafe Juanita). But Hines, about a quarter of whose menu on a given night is seafood, was one of the first to credit fishermen on her menu.

She’ll take a piece of Knutson’s wild-caught sockeye that’s been flash frozen—the f-word chefs are no longer ashamed of, if frozen carefully in protective saline solution—then slow-cook it to retain moisture. Seafood plays to her strengths as a chef: a penchant for clean and delicate flavors and vegetal accompaniments. In August she might serve sockeye with corn and peppers and corn veloute in spring with asparagus and morels. It makes for some beautiful dinner a credit Hines throws back to Knutson. “It’s not from one of those giant fish companies that buy fish by the ton to have it sit at an airport or a holding tank,” she says. “I mean, Pete is family! He comes to our Christmas parties!”

Pike Street Fish Fry closed

You might see a chef boning a halibut or a salmon at this hipster hole on Capitol Hill—something you don’t see every day at a fish-and-chips dive. It was opened by a team that included Mike McConnell (Caffe Vita, Via Tribunali) and Michael Hebb (the Ripe empire in Portland), so quality fish is prized—local cod, oysters, and calamari Southern catfish smelt and salmon in summer. Order cod and chips and the fish will be cloaked in golden batter, then beautifully fried in clean oil—oil you can hear bubbling over the ironic ’70s music—and served with not-entirely-greaseless (read: beloved) fries. Some five dipping sauces complete the experience lusciously.

Shiro’s Sushi

Four decades ago he was the first sushi chef in Seattle and he remains, by nearly every appraisal, the best. And though he’s down to working three days a week behind the bar at the minimalist little Belltown restaurant that bears his name (that’s Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays), Shiro Kashiba still does every bit of the fish shopping those days. Delivery? Please. This is Shiro, and Shiro needs to look every geoduck in the, er…eye.

Indeed, pristine product is the better part of why he’s considered the best. Kashiba trolls the wholesalers—Ocean Beauty for Alaskan and local fish, True World for Japanese fish like yellowtail and sea bream—where he’s given appropriate leeway. “I’m kind of like an employee,” he shrugs impishly. He pops by Wong Tung, a mom-and-pop at the edge of the International District, for Manila clams and, in summer, what he considers the best spot prawns in Seattle. He visits Uwajimaya every day. And though he still holds Mutual Fish in the highest regard as one of the first suppliers to bring the freshest fish to the people, it’s just not the same for him anymore since the death of the founder at age 98 in the summer of 2012. “After Dick Yoshimura passed away…I don’t know…” he says, trailing off.

Kashiba spent his apprenticeship shopping the biggest fish market in the world, the teeming Tsukiji in Tokyo, where he learned the critical importance of eyes that are bright and gills that are red and watery. Issues like sustainability and overfishing are newfangled distractions for this old-school maestro he just wants you to settle in at the bar and let him set you up with simple and beautifully cut omakase—chef’s choice—of whatever’s freshest that day. (Watch him cut—not for nothing does this old pro still win medals for speed.)

Restaurant Marché

One of Seattle’s venerable culinary leaders, Greg Atkinson, presents a mussels and fries for the ages at his Bainbridge Island Restaurant Marché. He starts with faultless sourcing—mussels from the folks at Taylor Shellfish Farms—then gives them a classic French treatment: a little Pernod, some heavy cream, a reduction with fresh fennel and plenty of mussel brine. The mussels arrive steaming in their shells, half submerged in their licoricey cream, and accompanied by a cone of crunchy twice-fried Kennebec frites sprinkled over with sea salt and fines herbes. Best mussels in the region.

Catfish Corner

They do one thing at this Central District (now Rainier Beach) takeout institution, and they do it consistently well. If it weren’t for Catfish Corner’s near-three-decade record in Seattle, the fish would be a lot rarer around here some 26 other restaurants piggyback on its standing order to get delivery at all. Here is why they want it: catfish is flaky and sweet and weirdly nonfishy tasting. Plus, it rates high on the sustainability index these ones come from an aquaculture outfit that maintains ponds of the whiskered bottom-feeders across the Deep South. At Catfish Corner it’s cut into strips, tossed in cornmeal and Cajun seasonings, then fried lightly without a trace of grease. Skip the frozen fries choose hushpuppies and the house signature spicy tartar sauce.

Anchovies and Olives

Four years ago prolific restaurateur Ethan Stowell opened his sleek seafood spot, Anchovies and Olives, to showcase exotics from faraway waters—but overfishing and quotas have diminished supply and jacked up prices, and some of his original menu offerings—East Coast skate wing, monkfish—had to go.

Today his menu still holds rarely seen imports—John Dory, orata—along with unusual natives like geoduck crudo, and some half-dozen fish and shellfish pastas, uncommonly full-throated in flavor. The housemade bigoli pasta with anchovies, chili, and mint—Stowell’s very favorite dish in his empire—takes no prisoners. Indeed, Stowell’s impressive selection of seafood pastas offers the most affordable way to eat here.

But raising prices doesn’t have to be a restaurateur’s first response to the soaring cost of seafood, Stowell believes. In March he’ll open a charcuterie next door to Anchovies—a separate business with lower food costs, which will share enough efficiencies with its neighbor to function budgetwise as one. “Sharing efficiencies is the wave of the future in restaurants,” says the proprietor, who has done a version of this now with both Staple and Fancy (which he shares with Renee Erickson’s the Walrus and the Carpenter) and Rione XIII (which he shares with Heather Earnhardt’s the Wandering Goose). “It’s my way of making sure my seafood restaurant is sustainable.”


When he opened the first Seastar restaurant in Bellevue in 2002, former Palisade chef John Howie’s goal was to build the best seafood destination in the region. At the very least, the creamy sprawler at the foot of a Bellevue high-rise may be the biggest. Business diners crowd the huge Bellevue branch, tourists the Seattle one—many of them clamoring for the two house signatures: the cedar-plank-roasted salmon, and the sesame-peppercorn-crusted ahi. The cooked and, effectively, the raw.

In general at Seastar, we favor the raw: overcooking and big sauces mask flavor on some of the cooked items, whereas Seastar’s crudo bar offers an uncommonly thorough array of sushi, ceviche, oysters, and pokes. The other thing Seastar does well is influence sourcing. Consider the freshwater coho salmon Seastar just began offering from SweetSpring near Olympia, an eco-farming operation with such pristine ways of eliminating contaminants and disease it’s earned the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch “Super Green” seal of approval. Operations like Seastar are big enough to meaningfully support operations like SweetSpring (see box below)—and thus the promising new quest to recast fish farming from the bogeyman of sustainability to its biggest potential boon.

Sushi Kappo Tamura

Sushi chef Taichi Kitamura gets most of his fish from daily pilgrimages to Wong Tung Seafood and Uwajimaya, whose fishmongers save him San Juan sea urchin and an ugly little red fish from Alaska, longspine thornyhead, or idiot fish. Idiot fish is currently on watch lists, but Uwajimaya’s seafood manager, Ken Hewitt, insists that every product in his fish market is monitored for sustainability.

What does Kitamura do with the little idiots? He serves them whole (their boniness makes them more popular for home than restaurant cooks), then braises them with soy and ginger and burdock root. Kitamura is revered as a sushi chef, but the buttery white flesh of this fella is one reason so many regulars prize the quietly elegant Sushi Kappo Tamura for its cooked fish.


This sexy, amber-drenched beauty in Belltown has achieved a quiet record of consistency with Italian seafood preparations—notably the eponymous branzino (Mediterranean sea bass), and perhaps the city’s best grilled octopus. Co-owner and veteran Seattle restaurateur Peter Lamb (Il Bistro, Queen City Grill) admits that he’s always wanted to open a simple, “butcher-paper” fish house—would it help if we beg?—but Branzino’s more intricate compositions are no booby prize. Tender octopus tentacles thick with char curl across a chunky, sure-handed puttanesca, bright with olives—a fine “starter octopus” for the squeamish. The branzino, presented as a whole fish then definned and filleted tableside, is all fluffy whitefish within a seasoned skin crackling from the Wood Stone oven, served on salsa verde, then topped with arugula and ribbons of fennel freshened with a light vinaigrette.

Ray’s Boathouse

It’s Seattle’s essential fish house—our vote for the best in town to bring a visitor—and not just for that astonishing wide-angle view over Shilshole Bay. In the ’80s, chef Wayne Ludvigsen launched a legacy of pristine sourcing that opened our eyes and wowed elites, including New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl, who confessed to local seafood aficionado Jon Rowley that New York didn’t have anything approaching it.

Now about to reopen after a thorough remodel and menu revamp—we can’t say for sure how the new, more globally influenced seafood list from Mediterranean-loving chef Wayne Johnson will eat. (He does promise a version of the lobster paella he made famous at Andaluca.) There is one fish preparation Johnson knows he’d be nuts to remove, however: Chatham Strait sablefish in sake kasu. It’s been on Ray’s menu since Ludvigsen cheerfully stole the preparation from sushi master Shiro Kashiba (now of Shiro’s Sushi). Johnson has played with the plating, but the dish still bears its original hallmarks: the jasmine rice, the choy sum, and the marinated and broiled black cod, oozing its buttery oils.

Toulouse Petit

Eric Donnelly loves to catch fish, and he loves to cook fish—so much that he recently left his post as head chef of the pulsing New Orleans bar and restaurant Toulouse Petit to open a sustainable fish house of his own in Fremont, to be called RockCreek. (It’s expected later this spring aka not soon enough.) As for the joint he’s leaving—that perpetually slammed, breakfast-to-wee-hours bar scene continues to dazzle us with its encyclopedic selection of seafood—the surprise being that it’s consistently carefully cooked. The huge menu still holds the same crudo and oysters, salmon and scallops, gumbos and jambalayas as ever. And if the owners continue to get the big things right as they improbably have till now—they especially won’t mess with the shrimp, cooked succulently every time, bursting with juice, and complemented with the fiery Creole sauces and cheesy grits
of the South.

Flying Fish

The busy Belltown fish joint that deserved its fame in the ’90s for admirable preparations of unusual seafood has drifted downstream since moving to a lively corner of South Lake Union. There, owner and chef Christine Keff hews to a familiar menu of old reliables, offering some 15-plus preparations of fish nightly—grilled swordfish in an olive tomato sauce, sharable platters of salt-and-pepper Dungeness crab with sesame noodles—making the F’ing Fish an obvious choice for groups with disparate cravings.

And an obvious choice for those who prize sustainability, a priority Keff pioneered around here. To wit: Much of the tuna (the current menu has three preparations) comes from a Hawaiian supplier who works with a fleet using deep-water nets, which target the deep-swimming adult tuna better than the long lines, which catch shallower-swimming younger fish. Once caught, the adult tuna are tagged so they can be followed all the way to market. It’s the only way to combat the rising problem of seafood fraud—the sort of fraud that sold 40,000 fish as “Copper River Salmon” last year, when only 12,000 had been caught.

Wild Ginger

Rick Yoder’s first restaurant job was shucking oysters at the pioneering seafood chain McCormick and Schmick’s, where he was trained by Mr. Oyster himself, seafood consultant Jon Rowley. From there he went on to launch the sprawling pan-Asian restaurants that would become tourist crowd-pleasers—the Seattle and Bellevue Wild Gingers—but he wouldn’t forget his original seaward leanings nor the essential role seafood plays across the cuisines of Southeast Asia.

As Asian restaurants go, Wild Ginger has typically appealed to conservative palates. But regard it as an Asian fish house, and suddenly it’s terrific. Suddenly it’s a restaurant, uncommonly swanky compared with the fish house dives of the International District, with one of the widest selections of carefully sourced fin- and shellfish in town—including crab and lobster in live tanks—prepared with fish-based components (fish sauce, shrimp paste—some of it housemade) that give Asian food its distinctive complexity.

Take the panfried sea bass, a dish Yoder abandoned for years when Chilean sea bass became the poster fish for unregulated harvesting. That fish has been a success story, now safely available from boats guaranteed by the Chilean and Argentine governments. His kitchen panfries the lush white fish with restraint, then lavishes it with fistfuls of fragrant Thai basil, dill, ngo gai, ngo om, and crushed peanuts. The result is one of the cleanest, most simply exotic fish plates in town.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The outsize, New York Times–blessed popularity of the wee, whitewashed oyster bar in Ballard shocked no one more than its owner, chef Renee Erickson. “We get 200 people a night through 700 square feet,” she marvels. “I would’ve made it bigger if I’d have predicted it!”

We could’ve told you, Renee. For inside the elegantly quirky spot with the throbbing music and the hipster vibe, she forefronts some six to 12 oyster varieties a night—teensy Olympias beloved Totten Virginicas the latest find, Treasure Coves, with their wild texture and heavy liquor—alongside bare accompaniments and crisp libations. Chef Eli Dahlin crafts rarities like butter clam tartare with olive oil and lemon peel, or grilled sardines with walnut oil and shallots, or octopus with paprika and potato that octopus might’ve arrived as the 40-pound bycatch from an order of halibut or spot prawns.

Erickson buys fish from all sorts of sources, including fishermen who roll up to her door from Salmon Bay across the street, but most distinguishing are the items she can score thanks to Walrus’s prodigious appetite. Herring typically gets sold almost immediately to Asia, but because of her relationships with suppliers she can take advantage of herring’s short season and snap up 1,000 pounds of the stuff. She’ll take it out of the commercial freezer in 50-pound lumps for Dahlin to make into herring rillettes or smoked herring tarts or herring grilled with potatoes and salsa verde—a blessed novelty in a neighborhood where most of the herring comes pickled.

Featuring one of Alaska’s most iconic foods, King Crab, this food festival is typically held around Memorial Day weekend. Hosted by the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, the festival includes tons of tasty buttery crab, contests, family games and much more!

This festival brings on the spice! Held in conjunction with three different cooking competitions, the first day is the Annual Route 66 Regional Chili Cook-Off and the second day is the Annual Arizona State Championship Chili Cook-Off. Attend the event to enjoy chili tasting and voting for the Peoples Choice Chili Winner!

Cajun Food Truck Seattle

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Where to Stay in Seattle

If your budget is on the higher end, then no question consider the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle. The sophisticated Four Seasons Hotel Seattle is across the street from Pike Place Market and the Seattle Art Museum, and minutes from the waterfront. Spacious guestrooms are urban-chic and feature deep marble soaking tubs and floor-to-ceiling windows that let in tons of great natural light. The resort-like outdoor terrace offers a fire pit and infinity swimming pool, the horizon line of which leads the eye to Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains. Enjoy similar views from The Spa’s couple’s treatment room or Goldfinch Tavern, which I recommend for brunch. The restaurant, in partnership with chef and restaurateur Ethan Stowell, offers simply prepared Pacific Northwest cuisine using the finest local ingredients.

When booked through me, Virutoso amenities include:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Continental breakfast daily for up to two in-room guests
  • One $50 USD Spa credit per stay, valid on treatments only
  • One $50 USD Food & Beverage credit per stay

If you still want to have a luxe hotel experience but don’t want to pay Four Seasons prices, then consider the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. The recently renovated Fairmont Olympic Hotel has redefined downtown sophistication with its long-standing reputation as the Emerald City’s finest hideaway, along with being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1924, Seattle’s premier hotel, just steps from Pike Place Market, the waterfront, museums and world-class shopping, offers nearly a century of luxury service standards, while melding classic elegance with mid-century modern room decor. Come and see why the Emerald City’s first love has never looked more beautiful.

When booked through me, Virtuoso amenities include:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Breakfast in the Georgian or In-Room Dining for two daily for duration of the stay
  • $100 USD Equivalent Food & Beverage credit, to be utilized during stay in the Georgian, Shuckers, Terrace Bar, or In-Room Dining
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

For something with a little bit more modern flair, consider the Thompson Seattle. This luxury boutique hotel reflects the intrinsic beauty of Seattle and elevates the refined edge of downtown. Condé Nast Traveler thinks so, too—as it recently named it to its 2017 Hot List as one of the 75 most exciting hotels in the world. Vitality and innovation find their home here, where innovators, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists seek refuge from the ordinary. Conceived by the city’s own award-winning Olson Kundig Architects, Thompson Seattle is a contemporary urban landmark at the center of an unparalleled landscape. Expansive, gasp-inducing views of the Sound, coupled with the energy of Pike Place Market and the culture of downtown, ensure that Thompson Seattle embodies the best of this modern city. The hotel boasts a fantastic rooftop bar, The Nest, with astounding views of Elliott Bay. It’s the perfect spot to get the night started, or the perfect place to have a nightcap before going to bed.

When booked through me, the following Virtuoso amenities are available to you:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Breakfast in Scout or In-Room Dining for two daily for duration of the stay
  • Complimentary one-way private airport transfer from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for two (2) -OR- Complimentary overnight parking for up to two (2) nights
  • Welcome amenity curated seasonally by Executive Chef Derek Simcik and Executive Pastry Chef Kate Siegel with welcome note
  • Invitation to enjoy a Virtuoso cocktail/mocktail in The Nest Rooftop Lounge at Thompson Seattle for two (2), once during stay
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Guide to Fall Seafood and Oyster Festivals in Puget Sound

Oysters are ripe for the picking in Puget Sound during fall. Shucking, slurping, cooking and savoring these mollusks is what we in Seattle know how to do! Here are some great oyster and seafood festivals!

Salty’s “Aw Shucks” Amorous Oysters Festival
Thursday, October 4
1936 Harbor Avenue SW
Seattle, WA 98126

Mark a big Salty’s on your calendar for an old-fashioned Clam Boil. The clams are fresh and tasty from local waters and our chefs will boil them up with mussels and shrimp, local corn, sweet onions, potatoes and mirepoix, at any Puget Sound Salty’s location. The price is $34.95 and includes the famous Stella Chalice to take home—while supplies last.

West Coast Oyster Shucking Championship and Washington State Seafood Festival
Saturday and Sunday
October 6 and 7
10:00am – 5:00pm
Mason County Fairgrounds
751 West Fairgrounds Road
Shelton, WA 98584

The Oysterfest is an annual tradition filled with oysters, wines, microbrews, live music, delicious food and so much more! OysterFest is home to the West Coast Oyster Shucking Championships and is Washington State’s official seafood festival. The festival also features a popular cook-off, hands-on water quality exhibits, and is itself a giant a food pavilion with nearly 100 unique items on the menu: BBQ oysters, fritters, spring rolls, garlic shrimp, fresh cider and so much more. Better yet, the event supports about 100 local non-profit service clubs and organizations, as well as funding scholarships and local community improvement projects. More information online.

Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival Port Angeles
Friday, Saturday and Sunday
October 12, 13 and 14
115 E Railroad Avenue
Port Angeles, WA 98362

This is the home of Dungeness Crab! Come to the festival in Port Angeles for the the freshest crab and great food, cooking demonstrations, music, crafts, and the annual crab derby! Free Admission, and fun for the entire family!

Annual Oyster Frenzy
Saturday, October 27
1:00pm – 4:00pm
Flying Fish Restaurant
300 Westlake Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109

All you can eat oysters𔃄 kinds of raw and 3 kinds of cooked. $35 per person. Wine, beer and a specialty cocktails available at extra cost. See the Oyster Frenzy in action!

Elliott’s Oyster House
Monday, October 1 – Tuesday, November 13
Elliott’s Oyster House
1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56
Seattle, WA 98101

Visit Elliott’s October 1-November 13 for 44 days of food and festivities, with special menu items and events! Plus, Elliott’s Seafood Cafe Happy Hour is open every day, Monday through Sunday for late night, from 8:00pm – Close.

Elliott’s 20th Oyster New Year Bash
Saturday, November 3
4:00pm – 9:00pm
Elliott’s Oyster House
1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56
Seattle, WA 98101

This annual sell-out event features Puget Sound oysters, Alaskan Dungeness crab, and other local seafood treasures. Eat, drink and be eco-friendly at biggest oyster party on the West Coast! Featuring 30+ varieties of local oysters shucked to order at the 90-foot oyster bar, a fresh seafood buffet, live music local microbrews and wines. All proceeds benefit the Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF), a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the Sound’s water quality and native marine species and their habitats. Tickets available online.

Seattle + Vancouver: A Cook’s Tour

Last week, I tagged along on one of the Frenchman’s business trips to Seattle. He spent his days at A Large Computer Company, and I spent half my day working in the hotel room, and the other half exploring the city. The best way to explore a new city, in my opinion, is by eating your way through it, hungry caterpillar-style. Sussing out eateries, and rambling around a city on foot, is my favorite way to get to know a new place. It’s easier to familiarize culture through food and walking, more so than, say, waiting in line to see the “classic” tourist attractions.

Since I put quite a lot of effort into my researches of the places we visit, I thought the time was ripe for me to start recording my findings somewhere concrete. (Up until now, I’ve been keeping a stack of hand written notes and papers, which is just as disorganized as it sounds.) From this trip on, I plan to share with you what I find. I hope you’ll find the information useful!

There won’t be a recipe this week, but instead, plenty of information about Seattle, and a bit about Vancouver, which we visited for a day. I’ve also included an abundance of photos, for your viewing pleasure.

* I will mention as a kind of disclaimer: I was only in Seattle for one week. I’m sure I missed so many gems. If you live in Seattle or Vancouver, I’d love to hear your opinions about my finds (or better yet, what I didn’t find) in the comments. I was moonstruck by Seattle, and I hope to return. The following is a reflection of what I loved in August 2013 if you find a broken link to a closed restaurant sometime in the future, I apologize. Lastly, I only included places I found truly noteworthy, the establishments I’d return to or recommend without reservation.

Have a great Labor Day. I plan to swim, grill some pizzas, and drink plenty of wine. What more is there, really?

The Wandering Goose: A pink door opens to a narrow cafe that’s full of light, darling little plants, and blonde wood. It’s casual, relaxed. The menu is breakfast and lunch friendly, but they also sell a mess of baked goods, including the largest birthday-style cakes I’ve ever seen. The fried chicken salad was just what I wanted a few hours off my flight from New York: a reasonably-sized piece of moist, dark meat fried chicken, crunchy romaine, pickled onions, and creamy buttermilk herb dressing. Reservations: no, but not necessary.

Cascina Spinasse: We started with two kinds of salumi (sourced from Olympic Provisions), served with grilled bread and roasted cherry mostarda. We move on to two pastas: the Caramelle di capretto (candy wrapper-shaped pasta, covered with a fairy dusting of salty hard cheese and filled with braised young goat, brushed with marjoram butter) and the Tajarin al ragù o burro e salvia (thinner-than-angel-hair pasta nestled in a rich and flavorful ragù.) Red wine was delicious. Reservations: yes.

Beecher’s Cheese: I had a flagship grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and basil, and a grapefruit soda. This, after about a glass and a half of wine at La Buona Tavola–it was ideal. Great bread : cheese : filling ratio. Seating: about 15 stools along a countered wall.

The Walrus and the Carpenter: This place was worth the two hour wait (they don’t take reservations) we just had a drink down the street, and all was well. We sampled: zestily spiced and flavorful steak tartare with a whole egg yolk and thin shards of rye toast manila clams with chickpeas in a heady, chorizo-studded broth soft bread with cream-salty whipped butter a whole, iced tray of fat local oysters three pungent, runny, west coast cheeses and a bottle of ice cold, mineral French white. The restaurant is all shades of gray and marble and white coral chandeliers, and you feel cool eating there. Top 5 Seattle pick. Reservations: no.

Essex/Delancey:Essex is a bar that serves food Delancey is a restaurant. They are physically connected, and owned by the same couple, one of whom has her own recommendations for where to eat in Seattle. We had a drink at Essex first, because Delancey doesn’t take reservations, and there was a bit of a wait. I had a cocktail, the Frenchman had a beer, and we snacked on olive oil-crisp toasts smeared with harissa aioli, topped with char-roasty cauliflower florets and pine nuts. They were unreasonably tasty. At Delancey, we shared two pizzas: the Pepperoni (sweet-acidic tomato sauce, fresh and aged mozzarella, Grana Padano, and a generous smattering of rich, spicy pepperoni coins) and the White Pie (housemade ricotta, fresh and aged mozzarella, garlic, and Grana Padano). I consider myself a bit of a pizza snob–I’m from NY/NJ, it comes with the territory–so let me just say: these pizzas were ridiculously, marvelously delicious. They were near-perfect. Top 5 Seattle pick. Reservations: no.

Ivar’s:This place is a bit touristic, but the chowder and french fries I tried were quite good. The most entertaining part of this outside, waterfront institution though is feeding the seagulls: they’ll eat french fries right out of your hand!

Terra Plata: Attached to Melrose Market, I went here for lunch, although the dinner menu was calling my name far more. I had a simple, chicken fattoush salad with cucumber, tomato, beans, mint yogurt, and feta. It was a bit delicate, a bit small, but the flavor was there, and the pita was almost deep-fried, so that it crunched spectacularly. Apparently the rooftop bar is quite the scene in the evenings.

Taylor Shellfish:Just off of Melrose Market, Taylor Shellfish is equal parts casual oyster bar, shellfish vendor, and provisions shop. (I bought a Pacific Northwest-style fish cookbook while we were there, but they also have a small grocery, including a selection of smoked oysters from Washington state.) Open basins of oysters, mussels, clams, and geoducks (the options change, based on what is available) allow guests to really get a look at the merchandise. We went for a round of oysters on a Friday night, and the shop felt like a party: 90’s hip hop and R&B rang down from the speakers, everyone was clearly enjoying themselves. The dudes shucking oysters (looking cool and sporting “get shucked up” aprons) were personable, and really knowledgeable.

Lark: As the Frenchman noted upon our arrival, this restaurant feels like stepping into a fancied lodge. We shared: three cheeses (Robiola Due Latti (velvety, milky, light barnyard), Yarmuth Dylan (subtle, lemony, lingering), and Kukulu (deep, buttery, herbal)) Jones Farm pork rillettes with crostini apricot mostarda (smooth, mild rillettes, which I thought paired well with the apricot mostarda, although the frenchman would have preferred cornichons) Pommes de terre “Robuchon” (sadly, while good, these paled in comparison to my favorite (and same-styled) puree at Craft in New York) Carpaccio of Yellowtail with preserved lemon and green olives (light and well-balanced, I could have eaten twice as much of this) and Charred octopus with house tesa, tomato, pea and Black Venere rice (octopus was perfectly soft, the dish was deeply flavored and delicious). The real coup of the evening was dessert: a black fig tarte tatin with brandy caramel and chevre sorbet–a crisp square of puff pastry, drenched in high season, oven soft figs and buttery, salty, ever-so-slightly boozy caramel. The dollop of chevre sorbet melted into the caramel, and provided a tart counterpoint.

Sitka & Spruce: This jewel box of a resto is really inside the Melrose Market. They specialize in Pacific Northwest cuisine, and the menu changes often to match the season. We shared: their homemade sourdough bread with airy whipped butter, sprinkled with Oregon sea salt raw king salmon, new potatoes, smoked roe & huckleberries (very tasty) chanterelles, fava bean, sherry, & soft egg on grilled bread (I could eat this for breakfast every day) and grilled chicken with cracked emmer, lentils, endive, and elderberry. The Frenchman had his favorite cheese, and I had some housemade cookies. The food was good, but I’m not sure it lived up to the hype. The service was excellent.

La Buona Tavola: Stop in here for the well-curated wine selection (the buyer will conduct a tasting for you it’s a good idea), and for really wonderful, hand selected specialty products, particularly a slew of truffle wares imported by the owner directly from her truffle-hunting Italian brother-in-law. The truffle oil–made, unusually, with real truffles–and the truffle salt might just change your life. The best part? If you spend $75 or more, the shop will ship your purchases to your home. (They’ll even let you throw your other Pike Place Market acquisitions into the box, so stop in here last.) The runners of this shop are super friendly, and super passionate about what they do. Top 5 Seattle pick.

Pike Place Market: The market is big and sprawling and full of foodstuffs. My favorites: City Fish‘s smoked salmon (both the traditional alder wood as well as the garlic and pepper) Stackhouse Brothers Orchard‘s cajun spice almonds Johnson’s Berry Farm‘s tayberry jam and strawberry habanero jam Woodring Orchard‘s strawberry and golden raspberry jam Mick’s death-valley pepper jelly and red-mild pepper jelly any of the fresh doughnuts from the Daily Dozen Doughnut Company any dried fruit or vegetable from Simply the Best anything (but particularly the probiotic pickle brine) from Britt’s Pickles.

Melrose Market: Here, in one large, chic-industrial market space, you will find a (fancy-locavore) butcher, baker, and candle stick maker. I stopped into the cheesemonger, to pick up a local cheese we’d eaten the night before at The Walrus and the Carpenter, and she was both friendly and knowledgeable. I poked around the home goods/kitchen shop, Butter Home, and tried to control myself, and then gave in. (Sorry in advance–they also have an online shop.) On my way out, I picked up a simple, perfect sandwich of serrano ham and butter at Bar Ferd’nand.

Intentional Table:I stumbled into this shop while on a tour of Bainbridge Island. The store was pretty and full of light, and the test/class kitchen (they conduct cooking events, lessons, parties, etc) was gorgeous and enviable. I found a good selection of cookbooks, wine, and some pantry items, and the ladies were super friendly.

Sorrento Hotel:We had a lovely stay here. Our room was small, but well appointed–marble in the bathroom, and a mattress that felt like it was padded with feathers. The hotel has been in operation since 1909, so it has a feel of relaxed, somewhat faded charm. Still: the wifi was free and quick (important, as I was “working from home”), and the in-room coffee was of an unusually high quality. Downstairs, the bar/lounge sometimes becomes an art performance space, and the Frenchman and I enjoyed a happy drink there one night after dinner. At the front of the lobby, a collection of concierges are generally friendly and knowledgable (although one in particular–thanks, John!), and if you call ahead, they’ll drive you within two miles of the hotel. There is a gym, but it’s subterranean, with old equipment that doesn’t encourage exercise. You’re better off walking around the hilly city. $165-375 per night.

Seattle Free Walking Tours: I’m not always one for touring cities with a group, but this company knows what’s up. Owner Jake leads clever, friendly, and informative tours from an insider’s perspective. You only pay what you feel the tour was worth, but I happen to think his tours are worth a lot. I participated in Seattle 101 and The Market Experience, and I’m glad I did both. (In fact, his tours were way better than another tour I actually paid for.) Top 5 Seattle pick.

Kerry Park/Parsons Garden: These petite parks are right down the street from one another, in a residential neighborhood of Seattle. Both offer panoramic views of the city. Head to Kerry Park at dusk to see downtown Seattle (including the space needle) all lit up. But I preferred Parsons Garden, where views of the water, city ports, islands, and mountains really impressed. The Frenchman and I watched the sky grow darker, sneaking illicit sips of Prosecco. Very romantic.

Ferry Ride/Bainbridge Island:Ferry rides are impossibly picturesque, and inexpensive as well. I took the 35 minute ride to Bainbridge Island, which was beautiful, although far more residential than touristic. I loved the rocky beaches and the sea-stripped timber buttressing the shore, the little yellow wildflowers growing in the tall grasses, the skinny jutting ports where old women fished for crabs, the blackberry bushes growing rampant all over the island, the glass houses built into the cliffs, overlooking the dark water and the tall pines. I easily could have spent a week there. Top 5 Seattle pick.

Didn’t Have Time to Visit, But Recommended by Locals:

In General:Happy Hours. Apparently, they are really a thing in Seattle for both food and drink, and good restaurants participate. If you happen to have off from 3pm-7pm, check it out Alki Beach.

Restaurants/Eateries:Salumi (my one food regret of the trip: I waited in line for 30 minutes, but had to leave 10 minutes shy of a sandwich to catch the ferry), Bar Sajor (same owners as Sitka & Spruce), Toulouse Petit, The Kingfish Cafe, Local 360, Il Corvo, 8oz Burger Bar, Uwajimaya (for great, but inexpensive sashimi), The Harbour Public House (on Bainbridge Island), Owl n’ Thistle Irish Pub (especially at happy hour, for fish and chips, and a beer), Bar Cotta, Joule and Revel, Poko Wine + Spirits, Mora Iced Creamery (for ice cream), Hitchcock (Bainbridge Island), Restaurant Marche (also Bainbridge Island), Mesob, and Meskel.


Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway:Mountains, trees, water! This is a really pretty drive, folks. You can also take the train along the water, if you prefer not to drive.

Where to Stop for Picnic Supplies/Eats Along the Way:

Snow Goose Produce: This is a good-quality farm stand on steroids: fruits and vegetables, cheeses, smoked salmon, jams and honey, bread, seafood (including a tank of live dungeness crabs, oysters, salmon, and already-steamed prawns), ice cream, and wine.

Goat Mountain Pizza: This place is owned by a culinary school classmate of mine. They serve inventive pizzas made with local, well-sourced ingredients salad, quality beers on tap, and wine. You can also have sea salt chocolate chip cookies, or a Belgian waffle, for dessert.

Where to Hike off the Picnic you Just Ate:

Larrabee State Park: There are picnic tables for the picnic, and then plenty of hiking trails to work it off. We did a 4.5 mile hike that brought us around a perfectly lovely little lake, which made me wish I’d brought my bathing suit. The woods are beautiful, dark, and deep. The hike was medium-strenuous, and the park rangers friendly and helpful. The park also allows camping, if that’s your thing.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park: Sort of expensive, sort of a Disney-fied, but still: it’s undeniably cool to walk over a super-long suspension bridge, over a river, through the trees. We even saw a bald eagle while we were there. Plus, it takes you over the Lions Gate Bridge, which offers fairly stunning views of the water and mountains.

Didn’t Have Time to Visit, But Recommended by Locals:

In General/Sightseeing:Stanley Park (Rent bikes, pedal around the sea wall, and enjoy panoramic views of Vancouver Harbour. Wind your way through trails and beaches, but make sure to visit lily pad-speckled Beaver Lake.) Granville Island (visit the public market, art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants–in particular, the roof of The Sandbar. Sit outside on the water, watch live music.) English Bay Beach (includes a walking path along the ocean. Eat gelato.) The Aquabus (runs often, takes you where you want to go, low-cost, and gets you on the water.)

Restaurants/Eateries:Tojo’s (Rather than the resto, go to the bar/lounge with no reservation order the same menu. Costly, but a once in a lifetime experience) Blue Water Cafe Cioppino’s Cibo Trattoria Meat & Bread Hawksworth Restaurant CinCin Ristorante España Restaurant YEW Seafood + Bar L’Abattoir Kirin and Sun Sui Wah.

Seahawks Rise, as Does Seattle, in Hometown Tycoon's Vision

SEATTLE, Jan. 20 - For years, Paul G. Allen was the invisible billionaire here, a tentative tycoon with a yacht longer than the football field where his Seattle Seahawks will play Sunday.

But just as the Seahawks have shed years of obscurity in their first shot at the Super Bowl in more than two decades, Mr. Allen's prints appear everywhere as he remakes his hometown into an urban center to match his peripatetic passions.

As an investor, Mr. Allen, who founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, has had a kind of reverse Midas touch, losing billions on ill-fated ventures. But it is a different story in Seattle, which some here are calling Allentown, a nickname that cuts two ways, inciting both hope and fear. Seattle's major institutions are being drawn to Mr. Allen's vision of a city built around compact urban living and a biotech job engine that some city officials suggest could one day rival that of the Boeing Company, which still builds its planes here.

At a time when many cities are trying to find their footing in the global economy, Mr. Allen is redesigning whole parts of Seattle with the help of what could amount to almost a billion dollars in public investment. The city, known for airplanes, software and coffee, is moving swiftly into a role as a place whose monied elite promote philanthropy, global health and the life sciences -- gambling on a new economy that some worry may never materialize.

"I'm just trying to do some things that are good for the city and have a positive return on investments," Mr. Allen, who will turn 53 on Saturday, said in an interview.

And while his portfolio has shrunk by about $10 billion from ventures elsewhere, according to independent analyses of his holdings, Forbes magazine pegs his wealth at $20 billion, and his Seattle properties are surging.

"What's happened so far has exceeded my expectations," Mr. Allen said of his fast-moving Seattle developments in biotechnology, real estate, philanthropy, art and sports.

Critics say Mr. Allen has become a social engineer with cranes and cash.

"The job projections may be vastly overstated because no one really knows how big biotech will be, and we're still not sure how much this is going to cost the city," said Peter Steinbrueck, a Seattle City Council member who has known Mr. Allen since grade school.

But Mr. Steinbrueck added, "We're getting a very attractive urban neighborhood" that most cities would jump at the chance to have. What bothers many Seattleites, he said, is the image of a very wealthy man controlling so much of the city.

Of late, it is hard to avoid the reach of Mr. Allen's empire. The Seahawks' "12th man flag," a tribute to the noise from fans that can upset the rhythm of the 11 opposing players on the field, flies atop the Space Needle. Mr. Allen has owned the team since 1997, and says few things now thrill him more than the chance to slap hands with middle-aged men in Seahawks blue hair and face paint.

Down below, one of the biggest private urban makeovers in the country is briskly taking shape under Mr. Allen's hand. While his better-known partner in Microsoft wealth, Mr. Gates, is spending his fortune on reshaping the world, particularly global health and poverty, Mr. Allen has focused on his own backyard.

His company, Vulcan, is trying to build a biotech hub and housing for 10,000 or more. Nearby, researchers study frozen 56-day-old mice as part of the $100 million Allen Brain Atlas, an effort to go where no neuro-cartographers have gone before.

And the $240 million museum he set up to honor the hometown hero Jimi Hendrix will take a step into the visual arts this spring, becoming -- for a time -- a showcase for rarely seen paintings by Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and Picasso, among others.

And yet, despite the fact that Mr. Allen's influence has never been greater here, he remains an enigma. In the city where he grew up, Mr. Allen, a librarian's son, is little known, and his appearance on the football field and in the locker room at last week's Seahawks game caused the kind of stir usually reserved for Bigfoot sightings.

The mayor, Greg Nickels, has met Mr. Allen only once, said Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis. Stimson Bullitt, whose family has been a driving force in broadcasting, real estate and philanthropy here for nearly a century, said he did not know him. Most politicians, though they receive campaign contributions from Vulcan, say they have never met Mr. Allen.

"You hear all these stories from people who go to dinner at his house and they wait for him to arrive and then when he materializes, you don't know what door he came in from," said David Brewster, who founded Town Hall, Seattle's idea salon and culture center. "He is a real interesting eccentric, and this town has always had a high tolerance for that sort of thing."

Mr. Allen, who has been in remission for Hodgkin's disease since 1985, has been a part of three big waves: the personal computer, the Internet and private space travel. (Vulcan financed the rocket that launched successfully in 2004, winning the Ansari X Prize.) For a man who owns a submarine and bought Captain Kirk's chair from "Star Trek," it can seem like he is casting about, trying not to miss a bet.

In the interview, Mr. Allen said he had no specific master plan for the city he was remaking, and he laughed at the idea that he was Carnegie in khakis. If anything, his idea is a back-to-the-future Seattle he remembers as a boy, where people got around the center of town by walking, combined with a New Urbanist setting.

In the South Lake Union area just off downtown, he plans to build 10 million square feet -- the rough equivalent of a dozen 50-story towers -- of condos, European-style alley-fronted homes, biotech and medical research facilities, hotels and retail space, with a trolley car connecting it all. The projects are ahead of schedule, with the cluster of condos built around a luxury hotel, Pan Pacific, and a Whole Foods store set to open later this year.

The words "Rethink Urban" and the eco-friendly phrases of "sustainability" and "authenticity" and "urban sanctuaries" are used in almost every presentation of what Mr. Allen is trying to do with the 60 acres he owns in South Lake Union.

The South Lake Union plan also includes a retirement home, moderate-income apartments, a big new park, and medical research facilities drawn to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, a non-Vulcan property that moved to the area before Mr. Allen began to build.

"The thinking was to really have a place with activity going on all the time," said Ada M. Healey, the head of Vulcan real estate.

Ms. Healey said South Beach in Miami Beach, the pedestrian shopping area in Santa Monica, Calif., and the Pearl District in Portland, Ore., were inspirations.

But each of those neighborhoods has been criticized as one-dimensional and empty of children or people from certain income groups. Ms. Healey said the demographic trends and costs of in-city living might be beyond Vulcan's ability to do much to attract families.

Mr. Allen said he "pushed my people" to come up with a new-century neighborhood, with green building principles and tight density, imagining a community of scientists who were never more than a few minutes stroll from their experiments.

But the biotech idea, which many cities are pursuing, has been oversold, Councilman Nick Licata said, and ultimately may not be the kind of job producer worthy of substantial public investment. And Mr. Allen's experience in Portland, where he encouraged development around a sport complex he owned, ended in bankruptcy and hard feelings between city officials and Mr. Allen.

Still, in Seattle, the Seahawks have taken the town by storm. The $430 million stadium where they play, Qwest Field, has been a fan favorite since it opened for football in 2002, after a substantial public investment and about $100 million from Mr. Allen. The owner asked his executives to try to re-create an atmosphere similar to the one Mr. Allen felt while attending University of Washington football games as a boy.

"For a sports team owner, you better enjoy this because it doesn't get any better," he said.

Coming on the heels of a dot-com bust that left Seattle leaders wondering about their next economic engine, the city approved most of what Mr. Allen asked for in the South Lake Union area, and the public investment could total $500 million to $1 billion, with infrastructure changes, city officials said.

"Paul Allen is doing some very good things," Mr. Steinbrueck said, "but it's tainted by the public image people have of him -- this very rich, flamboyant guy who hasn't grown up. He is seen as an enigmatic guy who wants to fulfill his fantasies from childhood."

Looking for something special to do on wife's birthday.

My wife is turning 40 next month and I need some local activity ideas, please. I wanted to take her on a nice vacation for this milestone, but Covid put a stop to that of course. Not looking for a hotel stay (waiting to be vaccinated before doing anything like that). We live in the South Sound.

Any ideas for a special something to do on that day? I know sheɽ really like something that feels luxurious and not just "every day", but that seems hard to come by with most things closed.

Thanks in advance for any ideas!

If you are outdoorsy there are quite a few state parks with little cabins you can book for a couple of nights. They have electricity, heat, beds, furniture etc. and you can very easily avoid contact with other people. The beachfront cabins at Cama Beach are especially cute.

Thanks so much for this idea. Unfortunately, she doesn't want to stay anywhere at this time.

You could try a VBRO/Air BB rental of a luxury space with chefs kitchen.

Otherwise, not certain what you're looking for.

Maybe schedule something for the 6 month mark after her birthday? Luxury VBRO or Air BB in Chelan and do wine stuff in the summer?

Thanks for this. Yes, I thought I might give a gift for a future activity, however was hoping for something fun and different to do on her actual birthday.

I believe the Fog Room is the only rooftop restaurant/bar open right now in Seattle. It's outdoors but covered and has lots of heat.

By next month there may be more but this is a great way to feel luxurious in a pandemic.

Yes, I'm hoping more things open up!

You like wolves and wildlife? Check out Predators of the Heart! My partner and I just went for his birthday and had a fantastic experience. They’re hurting for business our tour was essentially private as we were the only two that booked for that day/time!

I'll look into this - thanks!

Did we learn nothing from Tiger King??

Canlis does amazing boxed dinners. We did that for my Mom's 70th. Reservations open up the Wednesday for the following week.

If you haven't visited Ft Casey on Whidbey it's my favorite Adventure wander/drive day trip. Take the Mukilteo ferry one way & check out the Deception Pass bridge on the way back.

For our anniversary we drove out to a Taylor Shellfish farm location and picked up a couple dozen oysters (order ahead online for seamless & quick pickup) and had a fun time shucking oysters for each other (we brought them back home to eat). Include a shucking knife in your purchase if you don't have one already! It's neat that now we do have a shucking knife and it came with a story.

All that could be one day if you plan it right. Ferry to Whidbey - walk around Ft Casey park - Deception Pass - stop at Taylor shellfish on Chuckanut Drive, head to Seattle, pick up Canlis or a favorite of yours, then have a fun celebratory dinner at home.

A Seattle Lexicon: Festivals & Events

Arts Orbit: Held the first Saturday of every month, an art walk from noon to 5 on Capitol Hill that links up participating galleries, museums, and other art venues. For more information, call (206) 328-7158.

The Basset Bash: Takes place at the end of March in Woodinville. $10.00 a dog to enter (Basset Hounds only). Free "basset-sitting" available to those who wish to make the rounds of the local watering holes. Takes place in conjunction with Woodinville's All Fools' Day Parade, which takes place on the last Saturday before April 1st.

The Bear Festival: The McCleary Bear Festival, now in its 45th year, held on the second weekend of July. Where to go if you want to savour a bear stew lunch, without having to shoot the bear yourself. Also features a parade, softball tournament, 10k road race, soap box derby, lawnmover race, street dance, carnival, and food and crafts bazaar

The Bite: The Bite of Seattle. A lot of people go to Bumbershoot or Folklife just for the food. So, why not a festival for just food. That's the basic idea behind the Bite, which takes place on the third weekend of July at the Center. It seems like practically every restaurant in town shows up and sets up a booth. Instead of music with some food on the side, you've got food with music on the side. The Bite has been so successful, it now has imitators--the Taste of Tacoma (on the first weekend in July at Point Defiance Park), the Taste of Edmonds (on the second weekend in August), the Bite of San Juan, a.k.a., The Pig War Picnic (on the first Saturday of July at the San Juan Historical Museum, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island), and last, but not least, the Nibble of Des Moines (on the first weekend in September at the Des Moines Marina).

The Blackberry Festival: Held Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend in Bremerton in celebration of one of the Northwest's hardier non-native invader species. A free alternative to Bumbershoot, adjacent to the ferry dock.

Bon Odori: Local Japanese Buddhist festival, held the third weekend in July at the Seattle Buddhist Temple, 1427 S. Main St., just east from the International District. For information, call (206) 329-0800.

Bumbershoot: Seattle's end-of-summer festival held every Labor Day weekend at the Seattle Center. While Bumbershoot was originally touted as an arts celebration (it replaced the Northwest Annual, for one thing), and there is still a good deal of art on display at the festival, it has long since become largely music festival featuring many popular groups and performers (as well as more obscure ones, as well). Bumbershoot tends to be a good deal raucous than Folklife, which kicks off the summer over the Memorial Day weekend, undoubtedly due to its focus on popular and rock music, versus Folklife's emphasis on folk, bluegrass, and ethnic music. If you go, be prepared for quite a crunch (heap big crowd). Bumbershoot, upper case, is not to be confused here with "bumbershoot," lower case, which is simply an umbrella. Northwesterners, it should be noted, are more partial to hats than umbrellas, knowing that umbrellas don't last long here, tending to get blown inside out. Look under an umbrella, in other words, and you're liable to find a Californian.

Chinese New Year: The Lunar New Year Celebration, which takes place in 2002 on February 16, 2002, from noon to 6 p.m., in combination with the Year of the Horse Celebration, at the Union Station Great Hall (401 S. Jackson). Admission is free. The word "Chinese" is a bit of a misnomer, in that the same New Year's celebration is observed by a number of different Asian cultures.

The Driftwood Fair: Driftwood Show and Artisan Fair at Grayland Community Hall, Grayland. The event to go to see glass float collections and driftwood art. April 2-3, 2016. Driftwood art has a long history on the coast -- I remember going to driftwood art shows when I was a kid down in Aberdeen back in the late 50's.

The Duck Dodge: A sailboat race held Tuesday nights on Lake Union, I'm told. The name of the race comes from it originally being a real duck dodge: if a duck had to dodge a boat (rather than the boat dodging the duck), the boat had to do a 360 degree turn as a penalty. The winner was the one who managed to cross the lake while disturbing the fewest number of ducks. The winner got to tow a duck decoy until the next week's race. These days, however, the Duck Dodge is just a regular race, held each Tuesday during the season, with the winner getting a gold, silver, or bronze sticker in the shape of a duck, depending on their place in the race. The Duck Dodge season startsw in mid-May.

Evergreen State Fair: Held in Monroe since 1908, and in its present location (Evergreen State Fairgrounds) since 1948. Held from August 24th to September 4th (in 2006). For more info, see The Evergreen State Fair site. Not to be confused with The Puyallup Fair, formerly called the Western Washington Fair.

Fat Tuesday: What Seattle's Mardi Gras celebration used to be called. They changed its name for the 2001 celebration, with the obvious intention of establishing the same kind of booze-and-tits fest as New Orleans' Mardi Gras has turned into and got more than they bargained for, with sexual assaults and gang violence shown live on TV, with one celebrant blugeoned and trampled to death when trying to do what the police refused to do, come to the assistance of a woman who was being assaulted by a gang of attackers. One person was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 18 years. The City of Seattle paid a settlement of $1.7 million to the family of the victim, Kristopher Kime, for the failure of the Seattle Police to provide any protection to its citizens (they were ordered to stand by and do nothing). They cancelled any official event for the following year, but an unofficial celebration still occurs.

First Thursday: The art galleries in Pioneer Square some years back came up with the bright idea to coordinate their show openings, designating the first Thursday of the month as the date for such events. Art fans can make the rounds of the openings for many different art shows, all in a single evening, each and every month. Most galleries in Pioneer Square and downtown Seattle participate. The Seattle Art Museum is also free on First Thursday. More recently, an Art in the Park event has also been organized on the first thursday of the month, which is a city-organized public market of original art held in Occidental Park, the primary rationale of which is to rope-in all of the ad-hoc unlicensed art-selling that has been clogging up city streets on First Thursday evenings. Gallery owners have been quite skeptical, worried that it will detract from the real purpose of First Thursday (an art walk, rather than an open art market).

Folklife: The Northwest Folklife Festival. Yes, one word, not two. Folklife takes place over the Memorial Day weekend at the Center, kicking off Seattle's summer. Features a gadzillion different performers, exhibits, craft booths, lots of food, and much, much more. I remember going to the very first Folklife, when it was about 1/10th its current size. And, come to think of it, the crowd was about 1/20th the size of the current Folklife crowds. Has almost become as popular as Bumbershoot, which may not be such a good thing.

Head of the Lake: A series of crew races held at the end of October, I believe, from the head of Lake Union through the Mountlake Cut to Lake Washington, which mark the end of the crew racing season.

Hempfest: A celebration of all things hemp, held on the third Sunday of August at Myrtal Edwards Park on Elliott Bay. This is not now the wild and wooly affair it may have been in the past, due to rather heavy police enforcement--at Hempfest 98, some 20 revelers were cited for possession and removed from the park, while two people were put under felony arrest for drug dealing. The days of openly flaunting the law (Hippy Hill II?) would seem to be over.

The Highland Games: The Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games and Clan Gathering. Held at the King County Fairgrounds in Enumclaw, the last weekend in July. If you like bagpipes or guys in kilts, this is the event to go to. The sixth-oldest gathering of its type in the nation, the Highland Games features dancing and piping competitions, as well as various "heavy events," including the caber toss, sheaf toss, and other forms of heavy weight throwing and tossing.

The Kite Festival: The Washington State International Kite Festival on the Long Beach Peninsula. The main kite festival hereabouts, but not the only one. Other kite festivals include the Ocean Shores International Kite Challenge, Westport Windriders Kite Festival, Up Your Wind Kite Festival (Pacific Beach), Whidbey International Sport Kite Championship, among others.

The Milk Carton Derby: Held at Green Lake as part of Seafair, a race, open to all milk drinkers, between boats built from empty milk cartons. Also has a cow milking contest.

Opening Day: The Opening Day Boat Parade, taking place on the first Saturday of May and which marks the opening of the boating season in Seattle. The parade proceeds from Portage Bay through Mountlake Cut to Lake Washington. Lately, the actual boat parade has been preceded by an invitational crew race, the Windemere Cup, pitting the U-Dub crew against a major international crew (the Chinese, Russians, Australians, etc.).

The Outdoor Cinema: The Fremont Outdoor Cinema, held in a parking lot at N. 35th and Phinney Ave., from late June 24 through late August 30. Bring your own seating -- lowback chairs and bean bags are recommended. Sofas and other wacky seating are also encouraged, although highback chairs may be directed to the back (to not block others' views). Suggested donation if $5.00(?). For more information, including a schedule of movies to be shown, see the Fremont Outdoor Cinema home page.

OysterFest: The West Coast Oyster Shucking Championship and Washington State Seafood Festival, held the first weekend in October, at the county fairgrounds just outside Shelton. Features oyster shucking contests, seafood cook-offs, and more.

The Puyallup Fair: The new official name for the fair formerly known as the Western Washington Fair. The Puyallup Fair is not the official state fair, but is the largest fair held in the state and is considered as a state fair-level competition by 4-H, FFA, Junior Poultry Association, etc. Initially known as The Valley Fair, the fair has been held since 1900, making it both the oldest and largest fair in Washington state. Initially named The Valley Fair, in 1910 its name was changed to The Western Washington Fair, which is still its official name, although more recently it has been marketed as The Puyallup Fair. Held spanning the last three weekends of September, it is the sixth largest fair in the U.S. For more info, see the Do the Puyallup web site. Not to be confused with The Evergreen State Fair, which is located in Monroe.

Rainier Mountain Festival: An event celebrating mountaineering in the Northwest, at Rainier BaseCamp, in Ashford, Washington, just outside Mt. Rainier National Park. Held this year on the weekend of September 20 - 21. See and meet world-class climbers and Mt. Everest guides (Ed Viesturs, Jim and Lou Whittaker, Dave Hahn, and many others), shop at the equipment and clothing clearance sale, participate in a 5-mile run, and compete in the Alpine Games. Other attractions include demonstrations, an all-age climbing wall, a salmon bake, live entertainment, kids games, and more. Admission is free except for the 5-mile run. For more info, visit the Rainier Mountain Festival site.

SalmonDays: Issaquah SalmonDays Festival, first weekend in October. Hatchery tours, parade, arts & crafts, food stands, and live entertainment.

Seafair: Seattle's main community festival that takes place the first week of August. Seafair goes back to 1949. Decidedly family-oriented, with the possible exception of the Seafair Pirates. The centerpiece of Seafair is the Races, although they are not anywhere near as big a thing as they once were. There has even been talk of getting rid of them, of a Race-less Seafair--actually, I believe Seafair predates the hydroplance races. You'd still have the parades though--every neighborhood has one, plus the main parade, the Torchlight Parade. In fact, there used to be two main parades, the Torchlight that was at night and the Seafair Parade that was during the day, but that was eventually considered one parade too many.

The Seattle Film Festival: The Seattle International Film Festival. May 18 to June 11, 2001. Running since 1978, your chance to catch many films that will never hit the multiplexes.

Trolloween: Fremont's unique Halloween celebration. Celebrators gather at the Troll in costume and be-lanterned for a torchlight parade. The Troll-au-Go-Go, a costume ball, follows (or at least used to).

The Tug Boat Races: Part of the Seattle Maritime Festival. If you have ever seen one of the Tugboat Annie movies, they were actually filmed on Elliott Bay and were based on actual tugboat races held there in the early part of this century. The current Tug Boat Races, if not the direct continuation of the Tugboat Annie tug boat races, are at least their spiritual heir. The Seattle Maritime Festival is held on the second weekend of May. Unfortunately, it looks like the tugboat races have been replaced by something called a Tugboat Ballet.

Zucchini Jubilee: Held on the second Saturday of September in Oakville, which is south of Elma on the highway to Chehalis. Celebrates everything zucchini, including a zucchini cookoff and recipe contest.

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