We just spent several days in Seattle sussing out the old, the new, the interesting and the totally delicious. What follows is a mapped-out guide to enjoying the Emerald City this Fall.
WING LUKE MUSEUM | This simple but informative cultural space uses audio, video and major gallery exhibitions to walk visitors through the history of Seattle’s Chinatown International District (CID). There are both permanent and rotating exhibitions at the Wing Luke. This month you can catch the new show Where Beauty Lies: “A look at the history, culture, industry, psychology, and politics of beauty from the Asian Pacific American perspective”. Wing Luke also runs some great programming. Create your own postcard using carved linoleum and rubber block prints at a Printmaking Workshop, or sign up for one of their Twilight Noodle Slurp tours. From the museum: “Warm up with a new season of food tours featuring bowls of fresh hand-cut, pan-fried, artisan noodles and soups from the neighbourhood’s best noodle restaurants. Learn history, talk food, and slurp with us!” A history lesson with noodles — how cool does that sound?
Wing Luke House Party | October 18, 7pm – late | Explore exhibits, enjoy live performance after hours in the museum with BI QTPOC artists | DETAILS
Printmaking Workshop | Saturday, October 26, 1-3pm | Create your own postcard | DETAILS
Twilight Noodle Slurp | Fridays, October – December | 4:30 – 7pm | Learn the history of the neighbourhood, talk food, slurp noodles | DETAILS
NOODLES | Speaking of noodles, superstar Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s recently opened Seattle location of famed Momosan Ramen is in CID, so that’s handy. In addition to 7 kinds of ramen, Momosan offers hamachi, duck and jellyfish tacos, tableside seared Wagyu and all the yakitori. At present, Momosan Ramen is only open for dinner on a first-come, first-served basis, so be first. Find out more.
DUMPLINGS | Dough Zone is pretty much always busy, but don’t let the line-up scare you off, tables come up quickly. Order xiao long bao, sweet & sour cucumber, bao, and green onion pancakes. Find out more.
UWAJIMAYA | An Asian specialty supermarket — emphasis on super. What we expected to be a three minute look around a grocery store turned into an hour-long exploration of many cultures through the prism of food and products. In business since 1928, this giant store has evolved beyond produce, groceries and seafood to also include housewares, stationary and a substantive assortment of prepared foods (from sushi to seaweed salad) in a grab-n-go area. Uwajimaya is also home to a handful of take-out food stalls, including the wildly popular mochi doughnut outfit from Orlando, Dochi Donuts. This is a great place to spend some time shopping, eating and learning. Take advantage of the small indoor seating area to watch the crowd while you enjoy a mochi donut and matcha. Find out more.
REFRACT | Refract is a four-day long, city-wide celebration of glass that includes exhibitions, studio tours, talks, panels and demonstrations. The big ticket event will be the opening night party at the famous Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum (expect a night of live music, food and drink, glassblowing, and museum tours), but explore some of the 20-odd artist studios that are open to the public is also a cool way to get to know the city. Below are our picks for Refract events, but you can check out the full line-up of events here.
Gather | Thursday, October 17, 6-9pm | The official Refract 2019 opening party at Chihuly Garden | DETAILS
Open Studios | Saturday, October 19 & Sunday, October 20 | Get to know Seattle by visiting workspaces of glass artists to learn about their practice and techniques. DETAILS
ORDER THE TASTING MENU AT ADANA
Adana is beautiful, contemporary and comfortable, three things that often struggle to intersect have no trouble here. The cocktail, sake, wine and beer lists are all interesting but approachable; the service is on point but warm (this team is tight!); and, most importantly, the food is precise but honest and satisfying. There’s a special harmony to this place. Please go. It’s fantastic.
There are two ways to enjoy Adana. Slip into the lounge for drinks and snacks (the menu is inspired by Japanese street food, so expect small bites that pair well with sake and beer), or cross the narrow walkway in front of the open kitchen to the recessed dining room for a multi-course tasting menu (3, 5 or 7 course menus are available for $37, $62 and $88 per person). We were so besotted with Adana that we went twice to experience both lounge and tasting menu. Don’t miss out on grilled octopus, black cod, or any of the tempura. (photos in gallery below)
Pro tip: On Wednesdays, Adana serves up housemade ramen. If there was ever a reason to extend your weekend away into midweek, this magical bowl of spicy miso broth, marinated egg, char siu pork, pickled mushrooms and nori might be it.
GET TO MOONSHINE HOUR AT JUNEBABY
At Junebaby, Chef Edouardo Jordan and his team serve up honest Southern cooking made with heirloom ingredients (think buttermilk biscuits, Nashville hot chicken, beef brisket, gumbo, catfish, shrimp and fried green tomatoes). But before you sit down to stuff your face, take a moment to think about the story behind the food. The cuisine is in and of itself something of a history lesson, so sayeth the restaurant:
“Southern food’s humble beginnings embarked when West Africans were taken from their home and were forced across the middle passage to North America. The term soul food originated during American slavery to not only describe a type of cuisine but also a period of time of oppression and overcoming hardships. It is traditionally cooked and eaten by African Americans of the Southern United States and merges influences from West Africa, Western Europe, and North America. As a result, America’s culinary history was built on corn, rice, peas, and the hog; many of the ingredients associated with Southern food.
Southern cuisine has always had and continues to have stereotypical connotations. Seen through the eyes of most Americans as inferior, unsophisticated, and unhealthy, Southern food reflects hard times and resourcefulness and is nothing short of beautiful. It is a cuisine to be respected and celebrated.”
Context, when this crystal clear, has the ability to enhance a dining experience. At Junebaby, a reverence for both history and ingredients translates to a transportive meal. Short story: you should go – it totally lives up to the hype.
Pro tip: Don’t expect to just walk in and grab a table, this is a no-reservation restaurant (unless you are a group of 8 or more) and wait time will likely be a factor. Good news, the Junebaby crew opened Lucinda Grain Bar right next door. Put your name on the list at Junebaby and head to Lucinda for a cocktail and a snack. Also, Junebaby does a little something called “Moonshine Hour” between 3-5 on Saturdays and Sundays. Although the Moonshine Hour menu is an abbreviated version of the regular menu, the chances of snagging a seat are pretty good and you won’t suffer for choice. We hit this magic window and enjoyed the hell out of a fried catfish sandwich with heirloom tomatoes, pickled jalapeño & tartar sauce, as well as cast iron macaroni & cheese, a serving of collard greens, mixed pickles and some bread pudding for dessert.
ENJOY A DRINK
CANON | This tiny 32-seat bar boasts America’s largest spirit collection (4000 labels and counting). You won’t even make a dent in Canon’s offerings over a weekend visit. The only sensible strategy here is to stop in to sample at least one new pour from this impressive line-up every time you’re in Seattle. Don’t worry, Canon staff are patient and ready to help you narrow down their extensive selection until you find the right drink. DETAILS.
DEEP DIVE | Holy sexiness! The team behind Seattle’s well-known and deservedly loved Walrus and The Carpenter add another winner to their portfolio. They’ve stuck with the marine theme, but they’ve switched channels from light, bright and airy to dark, and sultry. Grab yourself a plush blue velvet seat and saddle up to the bar for a Mixtape (strawberry infused aquavit, ancho chili, cardamom, citrus & egg white) or a Kodak Moment (vodka, passion fruit, orgeat, ginger and citrus). Not that Deep Dive needed to be any cooler, but it is worth noting that it’s located under The Spheres, a building and cultural hub worth visiting in and of itself. Find out more. DETAILS
ROQUETTE | Looking for a French-inspired hideaway for a civilized late night cocktail? Roquette is your place. When we visited, around 10:30 on a Saturday night, the 40(ish?) seat room was close to full and felt very French indeed with the din of chatter and glass clinking. Aim for a booth at the back of the room under the palm trees and order a Daiquiri for an exotic end to your evening. DETAILS.
BA BAR | Pho for lunch? No problem. Midday sugar hit? The Saigon Float will sort you out (fresh coffee, coconut ice cream, condensed milk, roasted peanuts and coconut flakes). Dinner, late night snacks, cocktail? Ba Bar Capitol Hill is up and running until 4am on the weekends. This is a great place for a casual cocktail at any point of the day. We suggest you try a Nguyen Dynasty (gin, rhubarb syrup, fresh lemon juice and cava). And because it doesn’t hurt to hydrate, you might also want to tack on a some fresh coconut water (the real deal – served in the coconut with a spoon for harvesting coconut flesh). DETAILS
NOTES, TIPS & POINTS OF INTEREST
HOTHOUSE | We love Seattle, but the drive to get there can be taxing. If you’re female, once you arrive at your hotel, we suggest you ditch your suitcases and Uber your way to Hothouse, a tiny, community-minded women’s bathhouse in Capitol Hill. Access to Hothouse Spa (only $18) includes hot tub, sauna, steam room, ice shower, regular showers, a relaxation area and all the filtered drinking water you can manage. Towel or lock rental are $1 extra each (lock rental reimbursed when lock is returned). Massages are also available (book in advance). Two hours here and you’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to explore – which is handy because you’re right in the middle one of Seattle’s most interesting restaurant and bar districts. DETAILS
PLAN | With gazillion-foot ceilings, white walls and white floor, the airy Pioneer Square location of General Porpoise was a great place to grab a coffee and a doughnut and set a plan for the day. Doughnuts are made fresh daily and you can expect to have to decide between flavours like Vanilla Custard, Chocolate Marshmallow, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Lemon Curd, Italian Plum Jam, or Tiramisu Cream. Don’t try to taste everything in one go. Make General Porpoise a starting point for each day and work through the flavours responsibly. Oh, and not for nothing…the coffee here is top-notch with options sourced from some of the best roasters in the nation (eg. Elm, Heart. Sweet Bloom, etc.). DETAILS
LONDON PLANE | Pack a snack for the drive home. After brunch at the Pinterest-ready London Plane (the Green Goddess leek & feta spread with roasted mushrooms, herbed tahini and a poached egg was so good!), we decided to check out the bakery display and, even though we were good and full, we could not resist purchasing one of every cookie available. We left with one sesame honeycomb, one whisky, rye & chocolate chip, a coconut amaranth, a miso oat, and a pistachio halva. We didn’t regret it and you won’t either. DETAILS
HIT THE BOOKS | Working remotely in oder to get away? Check out the Seattle Public Library. From durable but beautiful materials to intuitive way-finding and engaging gathering spaces, the Seattle Public Library has a cutting edge style — even 15 years in. Hit it to check out the collection, set up with your laptop and do a bit of work, or just wander the 11-storey glass and steel building to admire the design details. DETAILS
RESTAURANT WEEK | Seattle does their own version of Dine Out twice a year. They call it Restaurant Week. The fall edition of this week of deliciousness goes down October 27 to November 7 and includes more than 165 restaurants. You know the deal: Each participating eatery will offer a special three-course dinner for a very affordable $35 (Sunday through Thursday). If you’re able to sneak an extra day on to your weekend, or if you have the flexibility to schedule a mid-week trip, this is a great opportunity to sample some of Seattle’s best food and drink on the cheap. DETAILS
WHERE TO STAY
We like to stay at Hotel Vintage. Not only does this boutique hotel have contemporary rooms with full bathrooms and extremely comfortable beds, but it’s also located right across the street from the central branch of the Seattle Public Library and within walking distance of Capitol Hill, C-ID, the waterfront, Pioneer Square, and Pike Place Market. Such a central location makes it easy for us to leave our car parked all weekend and get to know the city on foot (see map). What’s more, Hotel Vintage offer guests wine in the lobby in the late afternoons, and it has a good restaurant of its very own. With generous booths and a dark colour palette, the award-winning Tulio makes for a cozy retreat at the end of the day. Executive Chef Walter Pisano’s menu (Northern Italian classics meet Pacific Northwest ingredients) is perfect Fall comfort food. Try the corn saffron risotto, burrata served with watermelon and micro basil, and the halibut with black lentils. Extra bonus: all Kimpton Hotels allow pets!