The absolute best thing to do when going on a trip is to find locals and get their opinion on everything in the city! No magazine, blog, vacation brochure or advertisement can really give you the low-down the way a local can. They know their stuff!
Think about the city where you live. This is the place you know best. You have your favorite restaurants, shops, activities, parks, etc., and I bet you even know some hidden spots that only locals know. Not to mention the laundry list of tourist traps and what to avoid. As a local… you know it all!
It’s true to say that everywhere we go, we find locals to guide us through the city, and Seattle was no exception. As a matter of fact, we found more restaurant gems through locals in Seattle than ever before. The people we met were all very friendly, and oh, so proud of their city. Hearing the people of Seattle talk about their city is something special in itself – they treasure where they live, and they should. It’s fantastic!!
Check out our top three favorite restaurants in Seattle (recommended by none other than locals, of course):
I can easily say that Chinooks is the best breakfast I have ever had. It was definitely off the beaten path of Seattle, about a 10 minute drive outside of downtown, but it was more than worth it. As we drove up, we questioned whether or not it was even a restaurant because it’s in a market-like shopping center. There is a place to buy the freshest fish I have ever seen, almost connected to the restaurant. I looked at Tres and said, “If this isn’t local, and this isn’t good, I don’t know what will be!”
Walking inside the restaurant is even better. The back of the place is completely glass, showing a gorgeous view of a huge boat dock, so you not only get to enjoy great food, you have something to look at too! The waiter greeted us each with a gigantic scone on our bread plates. And let’s not forget the amazing butter we were given to dip it in… that’s exactly how I like to start off a good breakfast! The menu was overwhelming, as I could have ordered a number of items, and just ate on them for weeks. I wanted to experience Seattle the best way possible, so I narrowed my choices down to something with salmon. The final result for me was one of their famous Breakfast Bowls – mine included Salmon cakes. I have never had these little pieces of joy before, but it was the kind of food you take tiny bites of because you completely dread when it’s gone. I would have taken home 10 dozen of those cakes if I could. And if you’re wondering… yes, they are similar to crab cakes. Are the y better? I could go the rest of my life and never have another crab cake… as long as a salmon cake took it’s place!
After breakfast, we walked around the tiny market, Little Chinooks, but left in complete jealousy. How lucky are the people who live around there to buy fish so fresh and go home to cook it. Tres and I would be in heaven if we lived here and could go buy fresh fish any hour of the day. Another cool thing to see outside the restaurant was a memorial for the fallen fishermen of the area. It reminded me of the movie The Perfect Storm and gave me a greater appreciation for seafood.
Chinooks is known for producing only the highest quality of seafood available and they have been highly awarded for it over the last several years being recognized as Seattle’s Best Restaurant and Seattle’s Best Breakfast. Out of 307 reviews on Zagat, Chinooks gets 4 stars. Whether these ratings are from locals or tourists, I suggest everyone go and experience one of the best breakfasts of your life!
Mama’s B*tchin’ Burritto Kitchen
I don’t think this is the official name, but it’s what our local told us they called it in Seattle. The name says it all, and while the burritos are indeed b*tchin’, you definitely won’t leave this place with anything to b*tch about! On the corner of a trendy street in Downtown Seattle, this place stands out above the rest with its’ bright colors and loud images painted on the outside of the little restaurant.
It’s funny we even found the place. The guy sitting next to us on the plane, who had lived in Seattle his entire life, suggested it, only we forgot the name. But Tres remembered him saying, “you won’t miss it.” And we didn’t! After a trip to the Space Needle, we were starving. As we were walking, hoping to find great grub, we saw bright colors, and Tres said, “I wonder if that’s the burrito place.” Thank goodness it was, because it was definitely worth every bite of the massive burrito we split.
Tres and I have discovered on our travels that there’s a little bit of Memphis everywhere you go. I’m not talking the Blues or Beale… I am talking ELVIS! We can’t go anywhere without some restaurant, bar, or store recognizing Elvis in some way. It always shocks me how often we see Elvis, but Tres’ response to that is, “Come on, Andrea… he’s THE KING” (I will go ahead and point out that he’s quite the fan)! Momma’s Burrito Kitchen more than recognized Elvis… they had one tiny room in the place that was a shrine of him! Pictures, posters, stamps, road signs that looked like they came straight from Elvis Presley Blvd…. you name it, they had it! That tiny room could quite possibly challenge Graceland it had so much Elvis in it! And I must, too, mention the Elvis burrito on the menu. Apparently, Mama loves The King!
Out of 619 reviews, only 3 stars have been awarded to this Mexican joint. While that’s average, here’s my advice: If you like Mexican food, fresh salsa, large portions, and yummy margaritas, go to this place! Even the atmosphere is worth experiencing just once. Plus, a local suggested it!
While doing a wine tasting at Urban Enoteca, Tres and I chatted it up with a couple from Seattle. They actually ended up giving us a ride back our hotel (we are brave souls…). On the ride back, we talked about Brunch spots. It was our last night in town, so we wanted to make sure to leave the city that already made us so food-happy on an even tastier note. The couple never hesitated when they exclaimed, “SALTY’S!” It’s the best view, best buffet, best brunch in the city! With that said, we didn’t even hesitate to make reservations. We were put on the list immediately and couldn’t wait for our final Seattle meal.
Also off the beaten path, we had to drive to a place on the other side of the city called Alki Beach. When I say on the other side of the city, I mean it to the point of the most beautiful view I have ever seen from a city. Completely on the other side, of the water, Alki Beach’s view of Seattle is the one to see. I think I saw more of the city from over there than I did on top of the Space Needle… no joke, the view is picturesque, and from the inside of Salty’s, every angle is a painting.
The food only adds to the beauty of Alki Beach. Salty’s has been on Seattle’s Food and Wine award list for years, and it has even been named one of the best restaurants in the Northwest and one of the best brunches in the country. These awards don’t lie! The buffet was HUGE! Even the person with the largest appetite in the world could never eat everything in this buffet. There is a seafood section with never-ending crab legs, oysters, shrimp, and fish. There is a center section with hot breakfast and lunch food – everything from bacon and eggs to macaroni and cheese and salmon casseroles. There is also a pasta station with a chef who will create the most unique, fresh-made pasta you have ever tasted. There is a waffle, French toast, and pancake station and even a made-to-order crepe station. And the dessert area could be a restaurant on it’s own… everything from chocolate cupcakes to carrot cake to cheese cake to many different pies!
I HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MUCH FOOD IN ONE PLACE! This is a foodie’s dream, and it’s not just the never-ending food combinations and portions that can be added to your plate – it’s the taste that makes this place so special. Think of the number of times you’ve been to a grand buffet; lots of food to choose from, yet only a few items on the spread could be considered taste-worthy. I tried as much as I could fit on three plates at Salty’s (yes, I said three plates, and that doesn’t include the dessert plate), and every bite of every dish was a party in my mouth! And where can you go and eat crab legs until you are just sick of cracking and peeling them? Salty’s! Tres piled his plates with crab legs galore, and if he wouldn’t have been so full, he could’ve had several more plates… there are no rules at Salty’s! I think if they had a rule it would be to stretch your stomach until you can’t breathe or walk. It is rare that I get so full that I only eat one meal a day. After this breakfast, I did not have one bite of anything the rest of the day! Out of 368 reviews on Yelp, 391 reviews on Open Table, and 176 reviews on Yahoo Travel, this restaurant is awarded 4 stars… reviews don’t lie!