My fiancée and I just got back from our week long trip to the Pacific Northwest and for the first time we had a chance to explore Seattle and some of the surrounding areas. Our main objective was to visit family and friends and we also wanted to get a first hand look at the famous coffee scene and hit up some notable eateries along the way.
We had been meaning to make the trip over the last couple years and decided to visit during the HUMP! event hosted by Dan Savage. If you don’t know what it is and are intrigued by the name (it’s along the lines of what it sounds like), you should check out his column at The Stranger or his podcast on iTunes. Definitely NSFW, but we are big fans of his work and he works hard (in an entertaining way) to be an advocate for logic and reality in relationships. The event itself was highly entertaining and worth checking out if you ever find yourself in Seattle during early November.
Since this is a series of posts about non Rochester establishments, I will mostly stick to short descriptions and highlights of places that stood out one way or another and shy away from my usual level of detail. I won’t promise not to nerd out in spots, but I’ll try to contain myself from making this a Stephen King length epic.
I’ll start off with a glowing recommendation for airport food which would be surprising if it wasn’t the Tortas Frontera location in the O’Hare United Terminal. I’ve enjoyed the tortas I’ve had there on two occasions and the menu and style mimics the other restaurants in the Rick Bayless Mexican empire around Chicago. Our egg and bacon breakfast torta was freshly made with enough spice from the salsa to cut through the other rich flavors and the mango lime agua fresca was acidic, fruity and quite refreshing. Not a bad way to spend a layover!
Prior to our ferry ride to Bainbridge Island, we hit up Fonda la Catrina in the hip Georgetown area for some tamales and tacos to comfort our jagged minds after our cross country flight. Only slight issues marked these as less than perfect and we absolutely loved the flavor of the masa and the green chile sauce on the tamales along with the well seared off pieces of lengua on our tacos. A cool neighborhood and a restaurant worth stopping in on the way in from the airport to the city.
The first leg of our trip after arriving took us to scenic Port Townsend, which is located approximately 2 hours northwest of Seattle, where we were visiting my fiancées aunt (future aunt-in-law?) and her aging Siberian husky. For a small, quaint town they have some compelling food and drink options that are worth checking out. Velocity Coffee stood out to me as the best option for third wave roasted coffee with an amazing oceanside location inside of the Wooden Boat Foundation. Simple, wood based interior with great light and coffee from Olympia Coffee Roasting and Stumptown Coffee. I had some pleasant and acidic espresso shots there and got some good advice on where to stop for coffee in the city on the second half of our trip.
Pane d’Amore offered up some tasty and artfully presented pastries including danishes that featured a glossy apricot glaze that gave them a shellacked look that really popped in the display case. We didn’t have a chance to try their breads, but the selection was strong especially for a small shop. After a couple of home cooked meals, we ended up in town to grab dessert and had some successes including some full flavored sorbets from Elevated Ice Cream and a modified pecan pie from Addie Mae’s Southern Kitchen right across the street.
Local flavors from Elevated like the Marionberry (a cross between a blackberry and a loganberry) and the black currant (a richer cranberry like flavor) made the most impression on me and the bourbon glazed chocolate pecan pie was a refreshing take on the classic that cut down a bit on the sweetness and melded well with some vanilla bean ice cream (from Elevated of course!).
The big dinner trip we made was a rainy 45 minute drive to Quilcene for the old school styled Olympic Timberhouse Restaurant. Fully decked out in wood including giant cross sections of trees for tables and sporting animal heads on the walls, I felt very comfortable in the dim lighting of the expansive and lowly populated dining room. The menu echoed the decor with classic American dishes and execution that was slightly better than the average restaurant of this style. The clam chowder I had was extra rich and satisfying and the Caesar salad was well put together with house made croutons. My main dish was some well fried oysters with decent frozen fries and, while we walked away reasonably happy, we weren’t blown away with anything we ate.
After a jaunt to Olympic National Park for some hiking and sightseeing and some final exploring around Port Townsend, we made our way back down to the Seattle area where we’ll pick up on the second part of my Seattle trip recap. See you there!