A city widely loved by tourists and denizens, Seattle was once known best for a granola bar-eating, flannel-wearing rock and roll scene. Coffee lovers worship the city where Starbucks began and fish lovers dream of the day they might catch a flying fish at Pike Place Market.
Whether you look up to the Space Needle or join the Underground Tour in Pioneer Square, a trip to Seattle is one that embraces nature and science about as much as it does food and drink. Creative and business minds abound in this pioneering city (Microsoft, Amazon and Nintendo’s American headquarters are all in the city), which is a vibe that infects the social and culinary scene.
We may have fought for independence from the British, but there are some of us who are really English people stuck in an American’s body. Is there anything more delightful than a warm buttery crumpet and a nice cuppa tea? (Besides a royal wedding, of course.) The Crumpet Shop in Pike Place Market serves up toasty crumpets with all manner of savory and sweet toppings. Think smoked salmon, ricotta cheese, maple syrup, pesto, honey, and ham. The list is endless. Did we mention the free tea refills and a latte happy hour? (Photo courtesy of Flickr/avis4030)
Lunch: You know when you're asked the question, “What would your last meal be?” You should answer, without a doubt, "A meatball sandwich with fresh mozzarella and peppers, smothered in garlicky sauce from Salumi." Sure, people complain about the 20-minute line, but that arguably creates a more exciting energy of getting to order and eat that delicious meaty masterpiece. Be prepared to have two sandwiches in mind, as usually your first choice will have been sold out hours ago.
Nice try getting there in time to try the Cured Tongue, but the meatball sandwich is no lame duck. The bread is thick and if you have access to a knife, go ahead and cut those big meatballs in half before diving in. Because losing a meatball would be a catastrophe.
Dinner: Oaxaca, Mexico has one big culinary claim to fame — super stellar mole sauce — and the cooks
at Carta de Oaxaca do their namesake proud. The Mole Negro Oaxaqueno throws your choice of chicken or pork into the deep end of a pool filled with mole. Forget forks. Use a homemade tortilla as a sauce mop. Their fresh Qaxaqueno cheese is liberally stuffed between tortillas in their truly divine quesadillas before being smothered with guacamole, salsa fresca, and, of course, mole sauce. The only downside is that this place is smaller than a linen closet, making the wait to even order a bit of a challenge. It’s well worth it, though. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Rojoleon)
Drinks: Going down the list of offerings from Steelhead Diner, this place will take care of your every need. Located just off of Post Alley up the street from the Pike Place Market, the Steelhead serves up seafood that's preparation is as fresh as the catch. If seafood’s not your thing, there are plenty of carnivorous or vegetarian options, too.
Then, if eating’s not your thing, they’ll happily get you drunk on some lip-smackin’ cocktails, and their kick-ass view of the Olympic Mountains across the Sound don’t hurt. This is as Northwestern as you can get — cocktails with a view and the promise of their freshest catch.
Dessert: Like ice cream, but smoother, and with an egg yolk infusion that probably makes it worse for you, frozen custard is damned tasty. It’s slow churned to eliminate ice crystals and maximize silkiness.
And Peaks Frozen Custard makes it fresh every two hours.
Their delicate process churns out standard flavors like vanilla and chocolate as well as Alumni Flavors of the Day that include peanut butter cookie dough, salted caramel cashew, and chocolate malt madness. On holidays, they get sassy with themes (think raspberry red velvet on Valentine’s Day and a genius horchata with abuelita chocolate on Cinco de Mayo). They also do lunch by way of paninis and veggie chili, but isn’t frozen custard enough of a draw? (Photo courtesy of Flickr/James Callan)
The five best beaches in Sligo… and they’re not all just for surfers
Sligo has rightly garnered a reputation for being able to offer beaches with world-class surfing. It&rsquos not for nothing it has acquired the title of &lsquoSurf Coast of the Wild Atlantic Way&rsquo.
The county can boast some of the biggest waves anywhere in Ireland, which regularly attracts surf pros from around the globe.
However, Yeats Country is not just for wetsuit-wearing adrenaline junkies as there are plenty of places for a family day out. Here we take a look at some of the best places to take a dip along the Sligo coast.
Surfer&rsquos Paradise: Mullaghmore Beach
This beach has pretty much everything from the bustling village of Mullaghmore to sandy dunes and a spectacular backdrop.
The gorgeous views are provided by the imposing sight of Ben Bulben overlooking the breathtaking Classiebawn Castle on the headland.
You can also check out the beautiful seaside bars and cafés in Mullaghmore itself. But make no mistake this is very much a surfer&rsquos dream destination.
So much so it was once described by The Lonely Planet as one of the best surfing spots in the world for big wave surfing.
Just over seven km from Sligo town you will find the famous Strandhill beach which is another mecca for surfers. In fact, the swirling surf off the coast is so strong swimming is forbidden at Strandhill.
However, there is another way you can get wet by trying out the traditional seaweed baths nearby. Voya Seaweed Bath utilises the natural power of hand-harvested seaweed to deeply moisturise your skin, increase circulation and promote healing.
Island Visits: Rosses Point Beach
If you are looking for something a little more sedate you might try the blue flag beach just eight km from Sligo Town. In fact, there are three sandy beaches to choose from meaning you are almost certain to find a spot for your towel.
If you get bored of doing that there is always the option of taking a boat trip to Coney Island. The island is so named because of the vast quantity of rabbits which can be spotted on the island at any time.
A Family Day Out: Culleenamore
This gorgeous sandy beach is the perfect spot for safe bathing, but it&rsquos probably best known as a beach for horse racing.
Races have been held there since the mid-1800s and are still going strong as part of The Culleenamore Annual Races which take place in the summer.
In pre COCID times there would have been a full marquee bar on-site, live music with food stalls offering burgers to oysters and bouncy castles for the kiddies.
Enniscrone has been described as being one of the tidiest and safest beaches on the west coast stretching an impressive 5km.
It has an extraordinary number of events to offer including, of course, surfing but also golfing, walking, horse riding, fishing, swimming and a wide range of summer camps for the kids. Crucially, the tamer sea conditions make the beach an ideal place to learn how to surf which is why you will find a number of surf schools there.
Or if you don&rsquot want to get your feet wet and you fancy a round of golf you can check out Enniscrone Championship Golf Links with its panoramic views of Killala Bay, Bartragh Island and Enniscrone beach.
I am coming there Thursday to visit (Woo Hoo!) , and will be staying by Pike Place. Any local secrets for maybe inexpensive bites. I know there are a zillion tourist traps, but I was thinking there may be local favorites hidden in the alleyways.
My favorite thing to eat down by the market is Piroshky Piroshky. Fabulous. I guess it's somewhere between tourist trap and local secret - people know about it, and there's usually a line, but it's a well-justified line. Really tasty, pretty cheap. :)
I would walk over to Belltown for food during HH.
List has a half-price menu and great food. Umi (next door to List) has some great HH sushi.
If you want to grab a drink over by Pike Place, I'd recommend the Zig Zag Cafe.
Lusty Lady (historical landmark) You won't regret it!
There's a great, very authentic Mexican restaurant on the Pike Place Hillclimb. It's called El Puerco Lloron (The Weeping Pig) and nothing on the menu is over $7, all made fresh and great cantina atmosphere.
Don't pass up Pink Door and Kell's Irish Pub, either.
Next to Kell's, and much more a "secret"-feeling place, even if it's not a very well kept one, is the White Horse Trading Company pub. It's a tiny little place that's got an authentic pub feel, like you're in one from way back when that's just someone's living room--especially when contrasted relatively with the nearby sprawling expanse of Kell's. :)
There's a zillion places in that area.
Anything on the waterfront or around pike market
JP Gourmet jpgourmet.com
ART at 4Seasons fourseasons.com/seattle/…
I finally saw the place after hearing a zillion great things about Happy Hour, but everywhere is awesome for HH in that area. maximilienrestaurant.com
If you're into chocolate. Chocolate Box sschocolatebox.com
I know it's no secret, and YEAH I am still a tourist in my own town, but I love to grab a coffee and a raspberry croissant at Le Pannier right in from of the market. Katrina, if you are near the market in the early morning, I would highly recommend this bakery. It's touristy and packed, but in my opinion it's a pleasure.
Well the shops in Pike Street aren't just for tourists! There are some good places to eat right there.
Market Grill is awesome. Tough to get a seat, and you have to get there early because they only make one batch of chowder a day, and it goes quick. Yummy grilled fish sandwiches:
Piroshky Piroshky was featured when Bourdain came to the PNW, I second what Brittany said. Your nose will lead you there. They have great food. Honestly, everything is touristy. There are no real "hidden secrets'' like you might find in major cities in Europe. I totally get what you mean when you ask this question and to be honest, it's all touristy and to get a good bargain, you have to leave the city. I have found a found "local" hangouts in various cities throughout the world, i.e. Venice, Madrid, Sevilla, Paris and even in Rome. I just don't think that concept translates well to Seattle. I live downtown and I am just accustomed to the touristy nature of this city.
"he touristy nature of [downtown Seattle, west of around 5th Ave]."
Fixed that for you. ) Not many tourists in West Seattle (though I imagine a few may straggle over to Alki), or too many other neighborhoods.
BTW, if you do want to drop some $$ on an fine meal, Chez Shea is awesome, and its right across from the market. Nice romantic hideaway up on the third floor of the building.
Alibi Room has got a great ambiance and a pretty good happy hour. Looks like yelp likes it too. Here are a couple links to check it out.
If you're looking to get a little away from Pike Place I would suggest heading to TAT's. Best sandwich I've had in Seattle.
Have fun while you're here!
See lists- most spots are tourist and townie friendly- I am down there all the time :)
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the recommendations! I am uber excited to come to your rad city!
Go get some pierogies at Cafe Yamarka. Yum.
fried chicken at Chicken Valley
Pink Door so much - trapeze artists over the dining room on Sunday and Monday nights. Well worth it.
So there is the old standby of the Three Girls Bakery, it's in the sanitary market across the street from the main market, and above the sanitary market looking right down on the mainmarket entrance is Matts in the Market, simply amazing. A block up on pike is the Seattle coffee roasting company for a great (but sligjtly snooty) cup a joe, and further up Pike street is the well known Thai place known as Mai Phim, not fancy nut good cheap eats. Oh, and toward the water along the pike street hill climb is a great Gelato place on the first landing, on the next landing is the best loal Mexican plate lunch you can find in Seattle, El Peurco Loron. Have fun and bring an umbrella and some warm clothes. It will rain next week with sun breaks and only be in the upper 40s to low 50s!
An itinerary for visiting 7-8 restaurants and bars
A map to give you a sense of space
Restaurant details, like their address, hours, and prices
Tips for avoiding crowds and wait times
Detailed recommendations for what to order
Drool-worthy photos so you know exactly what to expect
Interviews with the owners to learn their story and where they eat
Recommendations of what to do between eats
Honorary mentions so you can customize your tour
And much more…
20 Restaurants In Lake Chelan You Can’t Miss
Blueberry Hill Farm
website | directions | cuisine: American | best for: breakfast
A lot of visitors don’t know about this restaurant in Lake Chelan. That’s probably because it’s on the north shore in Manson, about 15 minutes from the downtown area tourists mostly stay.
This breakfast and lunch spot is worth the trip alone, though I recommend you explore some of the wineries near Manson too! It’s a blueberry farm that offers u-pick in the summer and sells a ton of blueberry-based products in their gift shop.
But the real gem is the cafe with friendly service and a delicious menu of baked goods and savory dishes. Two stand outs are the blueberry cinnamon roll and Pepe scramble with ground beef, bacon, and sausage. During the summer there can be a wait to eat here, so get their early or try to visit at off hours.
Mi Paloma Cocina y Cultura
website | directions | cuisine: Mexican | best for: vegan & vegetarian options
If you’re looking for more of a fast food, casual spot to hit between wine tasting, check out Mi Paloma. This Mexican restaurant in downtown Manson is serving family recipes for lunch or dinner.
My absolute favorite items on the menu are their Baja fried fish tacos and chile verde pork. While both of these are for meat eaters, they also have a delicious menu just for vegetarians and vegans. If you stick to the vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Seattle, you’re going to want to add this to your Lake Chelan restaurants list.
Bear Foods Natural Market
website | directions | cuisine: French | best for: crepes
You’d never guess there’s a breakfast and lunch cafe inside this natural foods grocery store in downtown Lake Chelan. But if you bear right upon entering what looks like a convenience store, you’ll find a small creperie serving both sweet and savory crepes.
If you’re going for lunch, definitely get the tuna crepe. It has cheddar on it, which you might not think should go with tuna fish, but it’s so yummy! Make sure to get there before 2:30 pm when it closes because you have to try this Lake Chelan food!
website | directions | cuisine: Mexican | best for: refried beans
There are a lot of Mexican restaurants to choose from in downtown Lake Chelan, but this one is by far my favorite. During non-pandemic times it’s lively, with sports playing on TVs, people gabbing over margaritas, and sometimes musicians roaming the floor. It’s a good spot for after hours thanks to the full bar and delicious menu that will keep your group entertained for hours.
You’ll find a lot of great Mexican dishes on the menu, but the must-get here is the refried beans. You might be thinking, “Uh, wut?” but trust me, their refried beans are out of this world. And lucky you, they serve them along with queso cheese when they bring out their free tortilla chip basket.
If you’re looking for a fast food spot with friendly service, make sure to stop at this restaurant in Lake Chelan.
Local Myth Pizza
website | directions | cuisine: pizza | best for: pizza with wild toppings
Pizza is the ultimate fast food for lunch or dinner, and you know given my obsession with finding the best pizza in Seattle that I’d be all over the pizza scene in Chelan.
Local Myth is the best option for pizza in Lake Chelan. They have a delicious menu with funky toppings, such as the “taco wagon” or barbecue chicken pies.
This is also a great option for people who are gluten free or vegetarian. In fact, my favorite pie is their vegetarian Chrome pie with sun-dried tomato, basil, roasted red pepper, pepperoncini, kalamata olive, feta, pine nut, garlic, and both a pesto and red sauce.
Apple Cup Cafe
website | directions | cuisine: American | best for: greasy spoon diner food
Sometimes after a day of wine tasting, you want a big, greasy, all-American breakfast the next morning. Apple Cup Cafe will hit that craving.
It has an extensive menu full of eggs, pancakes, French toast, and similar diner fare. It can get crowded, so get their early to avoid a long wait.
You can’t go wrong with most of the omelets, but my favorite is the Apple Cup one with cheddar, ham, pepper, and mushroom. And I love how they serve hash browns. So much better than home fries in my opinion.
Lake Chelan Wineries With Food
Don’t want to miss valuable time wine tasting? Here are Lake Chelan wineries with restaurants.
Lake Chelan Winery
website | directions | cuisine: barbecue | best for: casual food while wine tasting
In the summer, Lake Chelan Winery has covered outdoor seating right outside its tasting room for you to enjoy barbecue and wine. Think smoked chicken, ribs, mac and cheese, etc. Visit this restaurant if you want low-brow food with 5-star views and ambiance.
website | directions | cuisine: Pacific Northwest | best for: fine dining
Karma is an award-winning winery on the south shore of Lake Chelan that focuses on some of the finest wines with bubbles. They have a sweet wine cave that doubles as a tasting room where you can order food from their restaurant, 18 Brix.
The “brix scale” refers to the system used to measure the sugar contents of grape. The restaurant offers outdoor seating on their beautifully-landscaped patio, or you can turn it into a fine dining experience and rent out their wine cave. Regardless of where you choose to eat, you’ll find a Pacific Northwest menu that leans French, with yummy gourmet sandwiches served during lunch.
Vin du Lac
website | directions | cuisine: Pacific Northwest | best for: farm-to-table food
Vin du Lac is one of the most stunning tasting rooms on the north shore of Lake Chelan. It has a beautifully-landscaped patio overlooking the water, with plenty of outdoor seating for wine tasting.
Their bistro serves food using ingredients from their own garden, with a seasonally-changing menu highlighting what’s fresh.
Siren Song Vineyard Estates & Winery
website | directions | cuisine: pizza and small plates | best for: pizza
Siren Song is one of the best Washington wine country hotels because you can stay right on the property. Guests don’t even have to leave their south shore tasting room thanks to their on-site restaurant serving shareable small plates and artisan pizza. You can enjoy bites overlooking Lake Chelan on their beautifully landscaped patio and enjoying some of the area’s finest wines.
website | directions | cuisine: Italian | best for: a fine dining experience
Tsillan Cellars (pronounced “shuh-lan” like the region, it just uses the Indigenous spelling) is one of my favorite wineries in Lake Chelan. They serve Italian-style varietals in their over-the-top winery with Italian decor and architecture.
Matching their tasting room ambiance is Sorrento, a fine dining restaurant with breathtaking views of the lake. I love how it serves traditional Italian-American dishes I grew up eating, like chicken marsala and picatta. Unfortunately they’re closed during the pandemic, but make sure to give this restaurant in Lake Chelan a visit when it opens again.
Wapato Point Cellars
website | directions | cuisine: Italian | best for: fine dining
Wapato Point Cellars is a winery on the north shore of Lake Chelan that offers a fancier menu out of their tasting room. On it you’ll find a lot of pasta dishes and steak cuts.
Other Restaurants to Try
Here are a few restaurants on my list of places to try next time I visit.
- – Cafe in Lake Chelan known for baked goods and lunch. – Spot I heard was good for burgers and my beloved soft serve ice cream. Note it closes during the colder months. – Mexican restaurant in downtown Lake Chelan. – Asian-fusion spot multiple people recommended to me. – Walk-up cafe known for biscuits. Closes during colder months. – Coffee shop that roasts its own coffee and serves baked goods. – Hole-in-the-wall sandwich spot with a Chelan and Manson location. – Hotel along Lake Chelan said to have great baked goods.
Map of Lake Chelan Restaurants
Here’s a map of all the best restaurants in Lake Chelan alongside my favorite Lake Chelan wineries to give you a sense of where to stop between wine tasting.
Things to Do Between Eats in Lake Chelan
Hey, even champion eaters need a break! See my other guides for activities besides eating.
Places to Visit Near Lake Chelan, WA
Will you be in Chelan for a few days? Take day trips to these areas nearby!
A Local&rsquos Picks for the Best Places to Eat in Seattle
To answer the question of where to eat in Seattle, we asked local expert Laura Lynch of Savored Journeys and Savored Sips to provide inside tips for the best food in Seattle. Laura lived in Seattle for seven years. Here are her recommendations for six of the top restaurants in Seattle:
Favorite Local Seattle Restaurant
Brunch at Lola is not a light meal. Pictured here is Lola&rsquos loaded Eggs Benedict. | Photo/ Laura Lynch
I have two ultimate favorites in Seattle. These are the first two restaurants I recommend to visitors and take out-of-town guests.
If you love brunch, Lola is an absolute must for classic favorites. It&rsquos an upscale Greek-influenced restaurant for lunch and dinner, but the restaurant also serves Northwest inspired breakfasts. I am in love with the eggs benedict. It&rsquos piled high with Bavarian ham and drizzled with creamy dill hollandaise that&rsquos to die for.
For dinner, I love Staple & Fancy. It&rsquos dark, rustic interior with exposed brick and beams creates a comfortable ambiance. It&rsquos owned by one of Seattle&rsquos top restaurateurs, Ethan Stowell, and is consistently good.
The chef&rsquos menu includes a parade of dishes delivered all at once to the table as appetizers, followed by a pasta, main dish and dessert. The food is always stellar and it&rsquos exciting to see what will come out of the kitchen next.
Lola is located at 2000 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, USA.
Staple & Fancy is located at 4739 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107, USA.
Iconic Seattle Food
You shouldn&rsquot miss oysters at Elliot&rsquos Oyster House when you visit Seattle. | Photo/ Laura Lynch
Oysters are a Seattle icon. In fact, there&rsquos nothing that feels more Seattle than a plate of freshly shucked oysters.
One of my favorite places in Seattle to eat oysters is Elliott&rsquos Oyster House on the downtown waterfront. Elliott&rsquos is a classy restaurant with a fantastic view of Elliott Bay and an extensive menu of local favorites.
This Seattle restaurant serves the freshest oysters on the half shell, as well as Dungeness crab (another Seattle icon) and other seafood specialties.
Elliott&rsquos Oyster House is located at 1201 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101, USA.
Favorite Seattle Cafe
It&rsquos always a good time to drink coffee at a Seattle cafe.
I wouldn&rsquot say there&rsquos just one special cafe for coffee in Seattle. That&rsquos because Seattle is well known for its coffee &ndash from huge companies like Starbucks and Seattle&rsquos Best Coffee to smaller cafes like Slate and Milstead & Co.
Most tourists in Seattle flock to the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market, but I prefer the smaller cafes. Seattle Coffee Works is just a few steps from Starbucks and offers a much more personalized experience.
Coffee shops are located all over Seattle.
Special Occasion Meal
The plates at Art of the Table please both the eyes and taste buds. | Photo/ Laura Lynch
We really enjoy going to Art of the Table for a special occasion meal. The food there is art.
The restaurant creates a new menu daily depending on ingredients that are sourced from local markets. Order the chef&rsquos tasting menu made up of 7-10 dishes and you&rsquoll eat like a king.
The restaurant has moved from a tiny sliver of a location in Wallingford to a larger space in Fremont. They even offer a 5-seat chef&rsquos table with an excellent kitchen view.
Art of the Table is located at 3801 Stone Way N Suite A, Seattle, WA 98103, USA.
Favorite Seattle Dessert
Though we really aren&rsquot dessert people, we could never resist the Smoked Caramel Panna Cotta at Heartwood Provisions. It&rsquos served with brown butter apples and hazelnut crumbles and is one of the most decadent desserts I&rsquove ever eaten. It&rsquos worth every calorie!
Heartwood Provisions is located at 1103 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, USA.
Hidden Seattle Gem
Veraci serves authentic Neapolitan pizza in Seattle. | Photo/ Laura Lynch
A pepperoni pizza from Veraci in Ballard is one of the best things you can eat in Seattle. Of all the pizza we&rsquove eaten around the world, we&rsquove never found one that can beat Veraci. While you can find Veraci by the slice at random street markets, we recommend the Ballard location.
Veraci is located at 500 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107, USA.
The Return of Seattle's Greatest Chef
E ven if you've been eating sushi all your life, you'll never know as much as Shiro Kashiba.
Kashiba, born in Kyoto in 1941, began apprenticing with Tokyo sushi masters when he was 19 years old. Eventually he immigrated to the United States and, in 1970, set up Seattle's first full-service sushi bar at Maneki, one of the city's oldest restaurants. Kashiba opened his first restaurant, Nikko, in the International District in 1972, where, for nearly two decades, he introduced scores of local diners to Japanese cuisine. For another 20 years, he stood behind the sushi bar at his Belltown restaurant, Shiro's, which he left in 2014 after selling it to new owners.
For more than 50 years, Kashiba has fished and foraged in the waters and mountains of Puget Sound. He pioneered and popularized sushi made from local seafood such as geoduck, smelt, albacore tuna, and salmon, including its roe, which he first procured for free from fishermen on Seattle's waterfront in the 1960s. Kashiba couldn't stand to see the roe, which was either thrown away or used as bait, go to waste. Now the briny, squishy, coral-colored eggs, known as ikura, are prized ingredients. Kashiba became such a beloved local figure that the entire city calls him simply, affectionately, by his first name.
So when you sit down at the sushi counter or a table at Shiro's new restaurant, Sushi Kashiba, open since last November and perched above the fish vendors of Pike Place Market, the smartest thing you can do is surrender to his lifetime of knowledge and order the omakase sushi dinner (the price changes based on the market prices and availability two weeks ago the meal cost $95 per person).
Omakase, from the Japanese characters meaning "entrust," puts you entirely in a chef's hands. At Sushi Kashiba, omakase means a leisurely, multicourse dinner of a broad array of the freshest seafood available, prepared and presented with a variety of techniques, and lightly seasoned to highlight the natural flavors of each fish.
Food at Sushi Kashiba will taste exquisite whether you're sitting at the sushi bar, in the small dining room, or the lounge. But if you're lucky enough to secure seats at the sushi counter, each course will be served to you by Shiro-san himself, along with a generous helping of his benevolent expertise and humor. (Because of high demand, the sushi bar is seated exclusively on a first come, first served basis. Plan to get there before the doors open at 5 p.m., or be prepared to wait. Either way, plan to be there for a few hours—don't worry, it will all be worth it.)
Our meal began with four slabs of tuna, each on rectangles of perfectly cooked and seasoned rice: local albacore, a beautiful blush color blue fin, a robust shade of rose bluefin belly, pale pink and marbled through with white fat and bigeye tuna, a deep magenta.
"I have already seasoned these with soy sauce and wasabi," Shiro-san told us, explaining that at sushi restaurants in Japan, chefs prepare their own nikiri, a light, seasoned soy sauce that they flavor pieces of nigiri with before serving. He showed us his own sauce and stirred it gently with a brush.
"And there is already salt and sugar in the rice," he added, his message friendly but firm: Don't even think of reaching for the containers of soy sauce on the counter, the tuna tastes exactly as it should.
"Okay, ready, big bite, one bite—go ahead," he said, waving his hand and signaling that it was time to begin eating.
Each piece of tuna tasted clean and clear, and felt cool and lush in the mouth. The albacore was bright, while the bluefin belly, or toro, melted away and lolled around slowly on the tongue. The bigeye tuna, which had been marinated, was made meatier by an umami-rich, slightly sweet sauce. It reminded me a bit of the flavor of jerky, but without any trace of dryness or toughness.
Many other courses followed. Two kinds of amberjack: buttery hamachi served alongside kanpachi, the flavor of which was comparatively light. Squid—the body and legs served as two separate nigiri, each with a completely different texture: The long white body was delicate and soft, while the purple-tinged, curlicue legs were pleasantly chewy. Snow crab and king crab were both wonderfully sweet, but served together, the snow crab seemed stringy and fibrous compared to the succulent mound of king meat. A trio of shellfish, all imbued with briny and dulcet flavors: a single translucent spot prawn, served with its deep-fried head ("Eat the head first! Before it gets cold!") an ultra-sweet scallop, so soft it felt like someone had gently laid their tongue on top of mine and a thin slice of geoduck, firm with an ever-so-slight crunch.
Omakase menus change daily based on what's in season, what's available, or maybe even who happens to be sitting next to you at dinner. As in life, every day is different, and no meal is exactly the same. An omakase dinner is expensive, but here, as it progresses, its value becomes incalculable. Several courses featured different varieties of the same fish, some from different parts of the world, all served next to each other on the same wooden board. Eating them in progression allows you to experience the range of flavors and possibilities that reside within a single family of fish.
Wild sockeye salmon from the Pacific Northwest is deep crimson, almost purple, and tastes as rich as it does muscular. Right next to it, a slab of king salmon, brought in from the frigid waters of Scotland, looked flimsy and mild: pale and peach-colored, wearing a dainty little belt of seaweed that affixed a thin slice of pickled onion to its flesh. But as soon as I bit into it, I was caught off guard by its inherent oiliness, enhanced by the light citrus sauce Shiro-san had brushed onto it, and swept into an all-consuming moment of pleasure.
A quartet of what Shiro-san called "blue-skin fishes"—three types of mackerel and herring—was stunning. I happen to love the strong, fishy taste of mackerel, and the Spanish variety (which actually comes from Japan), while still unmistakably mackerel, held just a whisper of those typical characteristics. The sturdier flesh of Norwegian mackerel, on the other hand, was much more pungent. A piece of king mackerel, brought in from Florida, had been lightly smoked, which firmed up the meat and gave it a darker, smoldering flavor. A long, thin filet of Alaskan herring was pickled, giving it beautiful vinegary tang. It was served skin side up, so you could admire its silver sheen and dark gray speckles.
In a city with both strong Scandinavian and Japanese histories, Shiro-san's pickled herring was an unexpected, contemporary, and playful salute to the region. It was the epitome of a philosophy he laid out in his moving memoir, Shiro: Wit, Wisdom & Recipes from a Sushi Pioneer (Chin Music Press, 2011): "[It's] about preserving tradition, but it's also about infusing that tradition with fresh life."
Typically when I go out for sushi, my order tends to be predictable—I stick with what I know and like. But while seated across the bar from a man with a lifetime's worth of knowledge of so many fishes from around the world, it was one of the most gratifying and freeing feelings to admit I knew nothing at all.
If not for Shiro-san, how else would I have discovered my love of flounder wing, something I had never even heard of before? As he wielded a blowtorch over a set of firm-looking pieces of white fish, giving them bubbly, charred blisters, I asked what we were having next.
"I will tell you after you eat it," Shiro-san replied. "You will like it, I am sure."
The flounder was unlike any sushi I'd had before, utterly creamy and soft. It immediately filled my mouth up with its warm fat and smoke, then, just as quickly, it vanished. It will haunt me until I get to have it again. Shiro-san was, of course, right.
Shiro Kashiba is in his mid-70s, and to watch him work is to see a man both fully at ease and in complete control of his powers. He slices fish and molds grains of rice with effortless precision, all while keeping a watchful eye on the dining room, giving instructions to the front- and back-of-house staffs, and cheerfully bantering with diners. His mastery is not only one of sushi making, but of communicating and establishing a rapport with people. He exudes the quiet confidence and happiness that comes only with experience and age. There is a simplicity to his words that belies the depth of thoughtfulness and knowledge behind it.
Shiro's staff of sushi chefs, servers, and hosts are in constant, quiet motion—seating diners, managing the wait list, making sushi, running food. Behind the sushi bar, the chef directly to Shiro's right anticipates all of his needs, slicing fish and passing them to him stealthily so service can continue smoothly.
Front-of-house service here is seamless and formal, but always warm and gracious. A water glass will never sit unfilled—in fact, it will never get less than halfway full, but you'll likely never notice that anyone even came by with a pitcher. There's an impressive amount of teamwork, attention, and communication happening at Sushi Kashiba—and everyone respectfully defers to Shiro-san, diners included.
As part of a recent omakase dinner, Shiro-san deftly filled sheets of toasted nori with cucumber, shiso, and delicious custardy, golden-orange uni. He rolled them into objects reminiscent of savory ice-cream cones and handed them across the bar to diners. "Eat quickly, while the seaweed is still crunchy, before it gets soft," he instructed us. "Take big bites!"
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He laughed, noting that many of his customers aren't used to doing this, having been taught their whole lives to eat slowly and take small bites. "Food is culture," he said, "and it is different everywhere you go."
Seattle is lucky to continue to have our culture shaped by Shiro Kashiba.
Where to Stay
1415 Fifth Ave. +1-855-515-1144
For the more minimalist crowd – a respite in the city with spacious rooms, massive fluffy white beds, and beautiful views of the fog over the sound in the morning. Have a bottle of Walla Walla Valley pinot noir waiting for you upstairs, and you might not leave the room. If you do, head to the rooftop bar with roaring fireplaces.
1112 4th Ave. +1-206-264-6000
Homages to the Seattle music industry are everywhere. Wallpaper is made from an enlarged photograph of a Seattle-bred vinyl collection, and an on-site recording studio, the Sound Suite, is the ultimate party place for the musically inclined. If you make it to the Sound Suite, request the Queen Bey to get a bottle of Dom Perignon, champagne truffles, oysters, an eye mask, and fresh white florals delivered to the room. The appreciation for fine local cuisine extends all the way up to the room service menu, so order the charcuterie platter of the day.
Kate’s PNW Trip
So you may have noticed that when we re-designed our blog, we kind of did away with The Scoop section of our blog, mostly because with the way the new site was designed, we couldn’t really have a page that didn’t show up on the main page anymore (and also because, even between the two of us, it was really hard to post 4 times a week. Burnout, y’all.) But we really loved those once-a-week lifestyle posts, so we decided that if we have something non-food to post, Friday is a great time. If you’re anything like me, I’m just thinking about naps and pizza delivery.
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed that last month, my family and I went to the Pacific Northwest for our family vacation. We live thousands of miles away from both my family and my husband’s family, so we don’t get to see either of our families as often as we’d like to (and it only gets harder and more expensive as our kids get older). Two summers ago, we went to Utah to see my family, so we were way overdue to go to the Seattle area to see my husband’s family.
A few disclaimers: 1) This was not sponsored in any way, just our family’s vacation. 2) Both Seattle and the Oregon Coast are Sara’s territory (in fact, I asked her which town we should go to in Oregon because there are so many!) So I’m barely scratching the surface of places to eat/things to do. We did a lot of really touristy things because they were fun to do with our kids. We didn’t eat in a lot of (read: any) trendy restaurants because as fun as it is to pay $10 for a meal your kid doesn’t eat and will not eat in the future, we decided to opt out of that on this particular vacation. 3) Pretty much all these pictures were taken with my iPhone. I actually did bring my big, fancy camera, but the only time I used it was when I shot some family pictures. On one hand, there were times I wished I had brought it with me instead of leaving it at the in-laws’ house or our hotel (especially when we were exploring the coast), but on the other, nothing hinders adventure quite like an expensive 10-pound weight around your neck. So. In the spirit of living in the moment, I decided on my cell phone.
For the first leg of our trip, we flew from our tiny little Louisiana airport to Seattle. This was the first time we had flown in 3 years, so the older two were pretty nervous…and my youngest, who has actually flown more than the others combined (but it all happened by the time he was 1) was in a perpetual state of wonder.
We stayed with Grandma and Grandpa, but we spent a lot of time enjoying a bigger city and playing with cousins. My computer needed repairs, so after dropping it off at the Apple store, we went to MOD Pizza (which I’ve written about before, but I maintain it’s one of my favorite, most fun, most family-friendly restaurants.)
And my Marianberry-Lemonade Float. Do it.
I also went to Trader Joe’s FOR THE FIRST TIME. I know. I should have my food blogger’s license revoked. But we don’t have one close by and really, when I do go to places that have Trader Joe’s, fancy grocery shopping is rarely on my to-do list. It was a delightful place and I bought a lot of baguettes.
We spent a day doing the whole Pike Place/waterfront thing and it was amazing (as usual. It’s so touristy, but it really is one of my favorite things to do in the world.)
My kids got their faces painted…
Note: if you want everyone to be super nice to your family, have your preschooler get a full-face Spiderman face painting. Everywhere we went, people were gasping and pointing at “Spiderman” and he felt pretty amazing.
Some highlights of Pike Place were the dude in the alien mask playing the bongos, the two guys playing a ukulele and a washtub bass, the smells coming out of Piroshky Piroshky, the giant cookies from Cinnamon Works Bakery, the cheese curds from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, the flowers…
Even (especially!) when it’s crowded, Pike Place is a must every time we go.
Another must is Ivar’s for fish and chips, which has to include feeding the gulls our leftover fries. Chips. Whatever.
For a Late-Night Sandwich (and Drink)
You know you’re in a serious cocktail spot when the vermouths get front-page billing on the menu. Fortunately, Damn the Weather is rakish and relaxed rather than prim (as some serious cocktail bars can be). The young after-work crowd tends to mingle by the front door, but as with a sushi joint, what you really want is a spot at the bar, where you can go omakase-style with DTW’s veteran bartenders and let them create your dream drink. Conversation might lead to a sample of different amari or a new trick (like topping a cocktail with dry French cider instead of sparkling wine). The excellent food—fine burgers, blood-sausage sliders, and charcuterie —is in revved-up comfort mode. Vegetarians may choose to drink their dinner instead.