Seattle locals are known to prefer the charm of hanging out in neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and Fremont instead of the Emerald City’s downtown. Maybe it’s the coziness factor, more bike parking or beard salons in those areas. But Seattle’s real locals know the spots downtown that helped define this city and aid her growth.
And there’s a reason these spots pull crowds from Seattleites and visitors alike.
This second floor restaurant, with a view of the iconic red Pike Place Market sign overlooking the water, is the perfect afternoon spot to watch the throngs of people do their thing at the Pike Place Market. All the better while enjoying oysters on the half shell and a glass of wine. But don’t stop there. Other local favorites are the famous fishwich, an artist’s palette of deviled eggs, and “Robbie’s Bloody Mary.” Robbie McGrath, the much loved bartender at Matt’s in the Market, serves his masterpiece with a snit of Miller Lite beer. It is viewed by many Seattleites as the best Bloody in town.
Local’s tip: Regulars time their appearances with when Robbie’s tending bar, which is the lunch shift Mondays through Fridays. A spot at the bar is as highly valued as a window seat.
The notion that Seattleites avoid the Pike Place Market to let the tourists have their space is false when it comes to DeLaurenti. This Seattle specialty food store, located at the corner of First and Pike, is a food lover’s mecca. Pick from a selection of over 250 cheeses, choose from the rows of olive oil, grab a bottle of wine, and then scour the wall of artisan chocolates.
Local’s tip: Pick up a crusty baguette, a hunk of cheese, some cured meat and head over to the Olympic Sculpture Park to enjoy your edible treasures.
Follow the downtown crew of 9-5ers to Le Caviste, a cozy French wine bar, located across from the courthouse. Ordering is easy. No menus. Three main boards on the back wall, one for white wines, one for reds, and a well curated food list consisting of duck canard, smoked seafood platter and cheeses (if they’ve got a stinky, gooey cheese, it’s probably the Epoisses. You want it.). You can request bottles but the locals know to order by the glass so they can experience owner/sommelier David Butler’s finely curated list of wines.
Local’s tip: The best ways to start and end the meal are not listed on the menu: Steak tartare for appetizer and citrus madelines for dessert. The latter goes great with a glass of 2004 Sauternes.
Lovers of top-notch cocktails sans the pretension, b-line it to a warm and dimly lit spot tucked under the Pike Place Market. This is one of those spots where all you need to do is tell the bartender what you’re into and like an oracle, the perfect drink will present itself a few minutes later. The bartenders are known to elevate each ingredient that goes into your adult beverage. For a drink that includes basil or mint, watch them rip off a leaf from their stack of herbs, rest it on the back of their hand, and smack it down the palm of their other hand to release the oil. The leaf floats majestically in your glass.
Local’s tip: Those in the know line up 10 minutes before doors open at 5pm to secure one of the 13 coveted seats at the bar where you get front row seats to watch the bartenders in action.
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Photo by Stalman & Boniecka