When people think of west coast America, chances are they picture sun-drenched beaches with great surf and the lavish lifestyles of the super-rich folk of Orange County. For the most part, these images are real and true, however there is another side to the fairytale coastline – a grayer side.
Similar in climate to Ireland, Seattle, Washington gets its fair share of rainfall and is the last major city along the coast before reaching the Canadian border. However, what Seattle lacks in sunshine it makes up in bucket loads of character and grit. This is a city not afraid to get its hands dirty and it’s easy to see how some of the angstiest, most profound music ever written found a home on these streets.
So get rockin’ in Nirvana’s home city by tasting some authentic cuisine and enjoying a few beers in the local craft breweries – something Seattle isn’t short of.
This is a city of districts and lakes that are spread out over a large area, so expect to do a lot of moving around. That being said, I can think of no better first port of call than stopping in Espresso Vivace on Broadway for a caffeine fix before setting off for the day.
The ‘Nico’ coffee, a flat white with cinnamon and orange, is off-the-charts good and will give you the energy you need to get around this exciting city.
Very much a bare-basics setup, with a dining room decorated in pre-schoolers’ finger paintings, there’s certainly no air of pretention with Fiddlehead in West Seattle.
While you can expect to find some good, honest, tried and true, no-frills food on offer, it’s their buttermilk biscuits that have people coming back for more. Crumbly and fluffy at the same time, these are a delight and a definite must on any plate.
“Eat Like You Give A Damn” is the ethos embodied by Portage Bay cafes. Focusing on local, organic and sustainable produce, their values resonate with many Seattlites, cementing themselves as a favourite spot for the young, millennial workforce of the city’s growing tech industry.
A large room with a full- scale canoe hanging from the ceiling, the breakfast and brunch options that are served up within are unparalleled. With a whole menu of benedicts and sweet options like Oatmeal Cobbler French Toast, the only problem here is the sheer variety of appetizing options to choose from.
With six locations in the greater Seattle area and award-winning chowder, Dukes Chowder House is a firm family favourite with locals.
Perched right on Commencement Bay, the Tacoma restaurant is worth the short drive south of the city of Seattle on a summer’s day, although the Alki Beach location boasts an equally stunning view. Monster fish tacos with a side bowl of deliciously creamy chowder is the name of the game here.
One particularly interesting part of the trendy Capital Hill district is a small side street known as Chophouse Row.
Having previously housed a number of auto body repair shops, these spaces have been repurposed into trendy bars and restaurants. One such establishment is Petit Rosso.
With friendly staff, an award-winning grilled cheese sandwich and beautiful beef brisket, this is a prime contender when it comes to sorting out lunch around this uber cool district.
When the weather is good grab one of the few outside tables so that you can take in some old façade of the previous building that still hangs overhead.
Describing itself as a “neighborhood cafe offering a globally inspired, vegetable driven menu”, Tallulah’s of Capital Hill should be first port of call for both full- time and part-time vegetarians alike.
With a variety of dishes like grilled Halloumi Salad and Falafel Bowls, Pork Chops with Juniper Berries or even a Hanger Steak for the carnivores, this contemporary restaurant makes a great choice for dinner as well as lunch.
With plenty of greenery and fully opening walls onto a peaceful patio area, there is a freshness to the atmosphere that matches their menu.
Staying in the Capital Hill area, with a tranquil oasis of calm surrounding this restaurant, Momiji offers some of the best Japanese food you will find in the Northwest.
With halibut cheeks, blackened cod and any array of masterfully prepared sushi, it’s clear how they maintain a consistently busy dining room.
A quaint restaurant specializing in Greek/ Mediterranean food located right on the pristine Alki beach, Phoenecia is a true gem of West Seattle. The food here is really quite unique.
Offering artisanal flatbreads served in the style of pizzas the star of the show is without doubt the Fig and Pancetta flatbread. With caramelized onions and freshly made mozzarella scattered on top, there will not be a single slice left by the end of the meal. This is great value food, made for sharing.
One thing they are not short on in the northwest are craft breweries. Fremont is the area with a number of fantastic on-site taprooms within walking distance of each other. This is something we hope to see develop in Ireland with the recent Craft Drinks Bill passing legislation.
If you are looking to get the full craft brewery experience without leaving the downtown area, then Cloudburst Brewing is a great choice. Located a stone’s throw from the popular Pikes Place market, this no-nonsense, sawdust-on-the-floor taproom operates right out of the brewery loading bay.
Once the brewing has wrapped up for the day, this room quickly fills with craft connoisseurs straight out of the office or those simply taking the dog for a walk.
The taps rotate at such a high rate that the beers offered are quickly sketched down on a makeshift crate paper scroll just before service begins and the room erupts into good-natured beer drinking and dog petting.
Located on California Avenue in West Seattle, Beer Junction is a bar and bottle shop duo. With 30+ fridges of every type of beer imaginable and over sixty taps, this small room has an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to suds.
With a growler filling station and even a canning machine for customers to take home fresh draft beer in tins, this is a serious operation that caters to a beer fan’s every whim.
Food, however, is not available but customers are encouraged to grab whatever food they desire from any of the nearby joints to enjoy in the bar.
If beer isn’t your thing and you’d much rather a strong cocktail to get you going as you hit the dance floor for the night, Havana Social Club is a lively choice located in the heart of the city’s gay district.
With an authentic Cuban atmosphere throughout, expect to find high quality rum based drinks being slung out as the patrons embrace the passion of Latin dance to the up-tempo swing music that floods the building. This is an easy place to lose an entire night, so be sure not to plan a visit before an early rise the next day.
Having previously devoted every ounce of his spare time to music, Tony is more commonly found these days in a kitchen than on a stage. With experience in writing on festivals and shows around the country he has recently turned his pen to more culinary exposés. With a particular penchant for craft beer he can often be spotted travelling from one bar to another in search of the latest brew to hit the market.