USA Today: Sample the sights and tastes of Seattle

| May 4, 2012



•Travelers used to more formal cities may find Seattle’s casualness puzzling. Canlis, however, is worth putting on your heels for. Located in a midcentury house overlooking the lights along Lake Union, it exudes elegance, Pacific Northwest-style. Your waiter can — and probably will — tell you exactly where your perfectly grilled king salmon was caught. Your sommelier can help you navigate the 100-page wine book, with dozens of choices from Washington. Or you can splurge for a seven-course tasting menu with wine pairings. 206-283-3313;

•It began with a crazy idea: Let’s drive a vintage Airstream around Seattle selling comfort food! The Skillet Airstream still does, but now you don’t have to follow Twitter to locate chef Joel Henderson’s bacon jam. Skillet Diner opened on Capitol Hill in 2011. Satisfy your craving for grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or chicken and waffles until midnight during the week, 2 a.m. on weekends. 206-512-2000;

•Water, water everywhere, with lots of fish to eat. Seattle’s location makes the city a natural for sushi. Only West Seattle’s Mashiko boasts all sustainably fished species. While multi-course omakase (chef’s choice) meals are great for gourmets, Mashiko provides plenty of fat rolls for less adventurous palates. If it’s in season, don’t miss geoduck, a foot-shaped clam native to the Northwest. It packs a briny crunch. 206-935-4339;

•After the bustle of Pike Place Market — the loud fishmongers throwing salmon, the buskers performing outside the original Starbucks — take a break at Matt’s in the Market, across the street in the Corner Market Building. Go at lunch for the cornmeal-crusted catfish sandwich. Or at dinner for sunset over Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains along with your seafood stew. 206-467-7909;

•Chef Tom Douglas continues to inject flash into Seattle’s dining scene with the Brave Horse Tavern. His South Lake Union gastropub serves burgers, local beer and brick-oven malted pretzels with dipping sauces ranging from beer cheese fondue to smoked peanut butter and bacon. On weekday nights, you may have to fight with employees from nearby Amazon for space at the picnic tables. Go on Sunday, for cornmeal pancakes and smoked brisket hash for brunch, a fried chicken dinner starting at 4:30 p.m. and happy-hour drinks all day. 206-971-0717;

Step Out

•For an adult night out that you won’t regret in the morning, try The Triple Door, a downtown theater reimagined as a performance space with half-moon banquettes, lounge-y lighting and first-class food from Wild Ginger next door. If Seattle’s own pinup girls, the burlesque troupe The Atomic Bombshells, are putting on a show, go. Never has dirty fun seemed so clean. 206-838-4333;

•The Tractor Tavern hits it all: interesting bands, a divey atmosphere that’s not dirty, and a neighborhood where you can find a cab without fear. This small club in upscale Ballard has the rustic trappings of a Western bar, but music ranging from indie pop to alt-country to roots rock. You can even square dance on Monday night. 206-789-3599;

•Maybe it’s the city’s penchant for midcentury modern. But Seattle has embraced the cocktail renaissance with Mad Men-like verve. And Canon, a speakeasy-style bar, is one of the latest practitioners. Choose a whiskey from the wall of spirits that encircles the bar or play cocktail roulette with mixologist Murray Stenson. The drinks are strong, so coat your stomach with an order of pork belly buns or a cheese and charcuterie plate. 206-552-9755;

•There’s something about the Pacific Northwest that drives people to extremes. Brouwer’s Café embraces the beer version of this mind-set. This Fremont bar offers 64 beers on tap, including local microbrews, and more than 300 in bottles hailing from 18 countries. It’s beervana for suds geeks. Also on hand: 60 types of draught whiskey and countless varieties of liquor. 206-267-2437;

Get cultured

•Some art galleries restrict their wine and cheese to openings or monthly art walks. Vermillion gallery on Capitol Hill breaks the mold by having its own bar and restaurant in the back . The space holds arts events and series, such as Breadline, a multi-media performance art/open-mic showcase every third Wednesday. 206-709-9797;

Insider tip

Most bars and restaurants have discounted drinks and nibbles at some point between 4 and 7 p.m. Many even have a second happy hour after the dinner rush. Another order of $6 lamb meatballs? Yes, please.

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