Seattle may be best known for its caffeinated culture, but the Emerald City is also emerging as one of the most exciting dining destinations in the United States. Here, a new wave of bold, creative chefs—such as James Beard Award winners Renee Erickson and Edouardo Jordan—are crafting innovative dishes that showcase the region’s bounty, from wild mushrooms and nettles foraged in nearby forests, to sweet apples and cherries grown on local farms, to fresh fish and oysters drawn from the Pacific.
It’s not just the dining scene that’s booming, either. Seattle is among the nation’s leaders in new building construction, and even the iconic Space Needle recently completed a major renovation. The time couldn’t be better to visit this thriving metropolis, so hop aboard a two-hour flight and eat your way through scenic Seattle, while taking in its top attractions.
After touching down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, check into Thompson Seattle. This chic hotel is situated in the heart of downtown and offers 155 rooms and suites, most of which boast floor-to-ceiling windows framing breathtaking views of the waterfront, cityscape, or Olympic Mountains. Each guest room is also outfitted with midcentury furniture that complements the property’s hip atmosphere. thompsonhotels.com.
Just one block away is the legendary Pike Place Market, a 112-year-old food hall that’s home to a diverse array of stalls and acclaimed restaurants. Hot spots such as Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Rachel’s Ginger Beer, Daily Dozen Doughnut Company, and Le Pichet often have lines out the door, but the wait is worth it. Sign up for Savor Seattle Food Tours’ two-hour signature Pike Place Market tour to sample more than a dozen delicacies from seven different purveyors while learning about the history of the country’s oldest continuously operating food market.
Once you’ve had your fill, take a five-minute walk to the Seattle Art Museum, a world-class institution featuring contemporary and historical works from around the globe. Or stroll through the Olympic Sculpture Park to view large-scale outdoor installations against the backdrop of the picturesque Puget Sound. pikeplacemarket.org, savorseattletours.com, seattleartmuseum.org.
Dinner brings a wealth of tantalizing options. For fresh fish and oysters, make a beeline for The Walrus and the Carpenter. Chef Renee Erickson’s charming eatery in trendy Ballard helped spark the city’s seafood craze when it opened in 2010. From delicate scallop crudo drizzled with hazelnut oil to grilled sardines flecked with walnuts, the dishes on this ever-evolving menu are made with quality ingredients sourced from top purveyors.
Alternately, in hip Capitol Hill, the romantic Altura is the place for a date night. Chef and co-owner Nathan Lockwood spotlights Pacific Northwest produce in his modern Italian cooking to create elevated, seasonal plates that capitalize on the output of local organic farms. You’re bound to be impressed with the multicourse tasting menu, which changes daily.
To experience one of Seattle’s hottest dining destinations, drive to the quiet neighborhood of Ravenna and revel in the one-of-a-kind culinary experience that is JuneBaby. At this elegant eatery, chef Edouardo Jordan crafts innovative comfort food inspired by the cuisine of his African American heritage and the American South. Don’t miss the oxtails, served atop turnips, trumpet mushrooms, and mustard greens; fried pig ears with Medjool dates; or crispy catfish draped across grits and egg drop broth. thewalrusbar.com,
No visit to Seattle is complete without stops at two of the city’s most famed attractions: the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass. Both can be reached via the Seattle Center Monorail—the country’s first full-scale commercial monorail system.
Built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, the Space Needle is the symbol of Seattle. Even if you’ve been to this 605-foot landmark before, it’s worth visiting again, as it recently underwent a $100 million makeover. Among the impressive additions is the planet’s first rotating glass floor, which spins (slowly) at an altitude of 500 feet, offering jaw-dropping views of the Seattle Center campus below. For even more spectacular vistas, head up to the revamped open-air observation deck, where you can sit back (literally) to snap selfies on slanted glass benches while admiring the city. A new Space Needle restaurant is expected to debut soon, too.
Equally stunning is the neighboring Chihuly Garden and Glass, a compound comprising an exhibition hall with eight galleries, the glorious Glasshouse, and an expansive garden that gorgeously enhances the whimsical glass sculptures of artist Dale Chihuly. spaceneedle.com, chihulygardenandglass.com.
All the Buzz
To fully get a taste of Seattle, it’s necessary to savor the region’s unique terroir. Located in the Georgetown neighborhood, Charles Smith Wines Jet City is a must-visit urban winery run by a former rock-band manager who’s been named Winemaker of the Year by both Food and Wine and Wine Enthusiast magazines. Sip Smith’s award-winning vinos in the aviation-inspired space while gazing out at Boeing Field’s runways and Mount Rainier.
For nightlife, explore the neighborhood bars of Capitol Hill. The swanky speakeasy Tavern Law specializes in artistically crafted Prohibition-era cocktails, and the unpretentious Herb and Bitter Public House is known for its progressive bar program featuring Italian amari, aperitifs, and digestifs.
At the end of the evening, head back to the Thompson and enjoy a nightcap at The Nest, a posh lounge perched atop the 12-story hotel. Visitors and locals alike flock here to imbibe seasonal cocktails while taking in the views. Whether you share the Instagram-worthy Holy Flamingo (a potent elixir of rum, prosecco, and fruits) with friends or order the classy Toki Highballer (Japanese whiskey, club soda, and grapefruit peel) for yourself, The Nest is the perfect spot to toast to your wonderful weekend in Seattle. charlessmithwines.com, tavernlaw.com, herbandbitter.com.