ALA Midwinter Seattle Dining Planner! @alamw13 #alamw13 #alamw #vegetarian #travel

[This post originally appeared on The Beekeeping Librarian blog]

Sometimes I wonder if my blog shouldn’t be called “the unhealthy vegetarian traveler” because so often that’s what I want to write about: extravagant things I eat (or want to eat) while traveling. Take, for example, this post I found: Ten Terrific Pastries to Try in Seattle. Knowing I will be in Seattle next week, how can I avoid looking at this post and saying, “yep, I should eat there… and there… and there.” And suddenly, I am eating only dessert for five days.

As far as dessert, I will apparently be covered. A friend recently posted a photo of the deconstructed s’mores at Hot Cakes in Ballard, which led me to their website. There, I found information on their molten chocolate cakery and now I desperately look forward to their “boozy shake” as well as their grilled cheese and, yes, grilled chocolate. It became the first thing on my list. They make their own chocolate syrup! That’s serious business.

It isn’t all dessert, though. Blogger Jay Friedman, who offered the Ten Terrific Pastries (above), also suggests 10 Terrific Tofu Dishes in Seattle that look good (including stinky tofu!) and 26 favorites in Seattle for 2012. ALA has put out their Seattle Dining Guide for the conference, and you can usually take the restaurants chosen for the ALA Dine Around Seattle restaurant choices as good recommendations, even if you don’t plan to join one of the groups. Failing all else, I know I can wander down to the Pike Place Market and browse (9-6 M-Sa, 9-5 Su).

My suggestions are usually based on: good vegetarian options (but usually not fully vegetarian since my friends all eat meat); interesting choices I can’t get in Montana (but that’s most things); reasonable price (although I am willing to splurge for something promising); and, unless it is super awesome, I am looking for restaurants generally located close to the convention center and Space Needle areas, or a short drive nearby. And yes… I am easily wooed by funny food names like snitters, crumpets, and piroshky.

Without further rambling, here are my choices for eateries in Seattle during ALA:

Breakfast

  • Nielsen’s Pastries @ 520 2nd Avenue West – Close to the Space Needle (and my hotel), Nielsen’s website is fancy and momentarily made me think I might have to pay too much for my snitter–but apparently not. First of all, I need to go because I want to eat something called a snitter (a flat cinnamon roll with custard and icing for $2.50). Second up? A traditional kringle. Mr. Friedman suggests the Apple Kringle slice. Open 7:30-5 M-F, 8-3 Sa. Closed Sunday.
  • Crumble and Flake Patisserie @ 1500 E Olive Way in Capitol Hill. Jay Friedman recommends the smoked paprika and cheddar croissant. Expect a line for the first half an hour after opening–and you know that means it’s good stuff inside. Open 7-3 T-F, 9-3 Sa-Su (or “whenever they sell out).
  • Top-Pot “Hand Forged” Doughnuts @ 2124 5th Avenue – Thank you Macmillan Library Newsletter (via Sami) for the recommendation. Good doughnuts can be so hard to find… and these folks have more than forty varieties to choose from. Trip Advisor rates it highly, and says to expect a short line. Again, a sure sign you are waiting for something good! Maple bars get the most mentions. It was also voted “Best Place to Get Fatter” in Seattle’s Best Of 2012. Open 6am-7pm M-F, 7-7 Sa-Su.
  • Pike Place Bakery in the Pike Place Market – Voted Best Bakery 2012 in Seattle Weekly, it has both breads and rolls as well as doughnuts and baklava. Apparently quite cheap, some of the giant pastries are worth the trip to the Market. But honestly, you want to go to the Market anyway. So get an 8″ across, Glazed Texas Doughnut while you are there. There are a lot of bakeries in this city; being voted “best of” by the people is a pretty significant feat. Open 7-4 W-F, 7-2 Sa, closed Su-T.
  • The Crumpet Shop @ 1503 1st Avenue in Pike Place Market – Rated high on Trip Advisor with over 170 reviews, recommendations include: egg pepper and blue cheese; walnuts, honey and ricotta; pesto and tomato; and ricotta and Nutella. Check out the website photos–they look fantastic. Also lots of teas and scones, with almost everything organic. Open 7-3 M-F, 7:30-3 Sa-Su. 
  • My far-away choice: Calamity Jane’s
    (“where all the girls can kick your ass”) @ 5701 Airport Way South in
    Georgetown, south of the downtown area – was voted Best Breakfast in the
    2012 Seattle Weekly “Best Of” awards. With a subtitle like that, how
    can any group of librarians not intend to flock there? Despite having
    the best breakfast, it looks like they only serve it on the weekends
    from 9:30am-3pm, and that might be difficult–especially since it is a ways south of where I will be on this trip. Still, the breakfasts DO
    look good: johnny cakes, grits and other southern fare; an
    awesome-looking (vegetarian) eggs florentine; and for those of you who
    not only like fish but want it for breakfast: a seafood omelet. My
    mother used to call me Calamity Jane. A trip to make if  you brought the car. Open 11-11 M-T, 11am-2am W-F, 9:30am02am Sa, 9:30am-Midnight Su.

Lunch

  • Piroshky Piroshky in Pike Place Market – Recommended by a grad school friend (thanks Elaine), this place looks great. Piroshky or all flavors, including numerous vegetarian and dessert offerings. What is a piroshky? Well, they look a lot like kolaches. What, that doesn’t help? Ok… they are like semi-sweet bread filled with things. I plan to try the potato, mushroom, and onion, and also a spinach, egg, and cheese. And maybe a poppyseed raisin. And then a cinnamon cardamom braid.
  • Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Pike Place Market – ALA online led me to this great online review. But it was Food and Wine’s award for The Best Macaroni and Cheese in the U.S. that sold me. You can watch cheese being made while you eat. Open 8-7 every day.
  • Dahlia Bakery @ 2001 4th Avenue – Close to the convention and recommended by multiple librarian friends, this seems like a good bet for breakfast, lunch, or dessert. Meatless Monday offers a grilled eggplant, marinara, braised kale and crispy Parmesan sandwich on a soft baguette for $8.50. Also salads, soups, regular breads, fancy breads, and all manner of sweets. Open 7:30-6 M-F, 9-6 Sa, 9-4 Su.
  • The Cheese Cellar @
    100 4th Avenue North, Suite 150 – close to the Space Needle, this
    little shop has sandwiches to go and a fantastic cheese selection–high reviews everywhere I looked. Buy some interesting cheese and bread and make that your lunch.
    Also, soups, salads, and six kinds of locally made gelato. Open 10-6 M-W
    and Sa, 10-7 Th-F. Closed Su.  
  • Lunchbox Laboratory
    @ 1253 Thomas Street – ALA recommended, I want to go here just because
    they have an awesome website and ketchup called Satan’s Tears. They also have a masterful selection of food
    oddities. Mainly focused on burgers, vegetarians can substitute their
    house-made veggie bean patty for any of the burger combinations,. If it doesn’t contain bacon, you could also try the Mac ‘n
    Cheese of the Day, or yet another Boozy Shake (but then maybe this should be a dinner option instead of lunch ;). In fact, Seattle’s Best 2012 votes it “Best Milkshake” and mentions flavors including Boston Creme Donut… yes, in a milkshake. Go to their website and
    check out their weekly food experiments. Open 11-11 every day.
  • My risky choice: Saigon Vietnam Deli @ 1200 S. Jackson Street – The Tofu Banh Mi sandwich
    is a Jay Friedman “10 tofu dishes” recommendation and it looks great,
    but there are twelve other EXTREMELY cheap ($2.50) sandwiches to choose
    from for the meat eaters. Since they do pick-up/carryout it might be a
    nice place to run and get lunch to eat at the conference. I am weary of
    the fact that there is also something called “Innards Rice Porridge” on
    the menu, but I suppose that speaks to the authenticity of this little
    place. Not too far SE of the convention center if you have a car, menu
    items are listed on separate pages on the website. Open 7am-8pm every day. 

Dinner

  • Icon Grill*
    @ 1933 5th Avenue – Icon was recommended by ALA Dining Guide but also a
    number of other places: a good sign for sure. My attention was drawn to
    this restaurant by the deep fried macaroni and cheese (pictures in the ALA magazine and eating guide online), which I will
    share with friends so I don’t die. There are a number of other small and
    large plates of interest, including: artichoke heart and gruyere dip;
    grilled pear salad with spicy pecans and pomegranate vinaigrette; and
    (yes) more macaroni and cheese, this one with tomato snow! Apparently
    they like to deconstruct things in Seattle, like the deconstructed
    s’mores at Hot Cakes: here it’s the deconstructed banana cream pie,
    which actually looks pretty damned good. Open 11-11 M-Th, 11-midnight F,
    10-midnight Sa, 10-11 Su.  
  • Panos Greek Taverna Kleftiko
    @ 815 5th Avenue North –  Close to my hotel in the Queen Anne
    neighborhood, and highly rated on Trip Advisor, Panos has a good variety
    of Greek food with lots of vegetarian options. The baked feta looks
    fantastic and there are some dishes they will light on fire at your
    table. C’mon, that’s awesome. Hillariously, they say to check if you visit during September since they may be in Greece “eating, drinking, fishing, greekying.” Open 5-9:30pm M, 5-1pm T-Th, 5-10:30pm F-Sa. Closed Su.
  • Edge Grill*
    @ 1522 6th Avenue – The southern fried pickles ($6.95), golden beet
    salad, quinoa salad, homemade southwest black bean burger, and grilled
    cheese made with brie (and other cheeses) helped this restaurant/sports
    bar make the cut. However, I will avoid the wild mushroom penne because
    one review said it had “enough black pepper in it to mace a burglar.”
    People speak highly of happy hour specials. Open 11-11 M-Th, 11-midnight
    F-Sa, 11-10 Su. 
  • Rocco’s*
    @ 2228 2nd Avenue – self-described as “a big-time pizza destination”
    Rocco’s uses local, organic, and artisan ingredients whenever possible.
    Lots of vegan and vegetarian pizza options here including: a mushroom
    pizza with truffle oil finish; or a fig, taleggio and radicchio pizza
    with no sauce. Also, it has neat-looking brick walls and tables made
    from the old ceiling beams. Pretty nice beer list, too. Open 11am-2am every day.
  • Cafe Bengodi*@
    700 1st Avenue – It may not be very big, but apparently the pasta is
    fantastic. The Salvatore sandwich has mozzerella, eggplant and roasted
    peppers for $8, and they also a variety of pasta and pizza. Open
    11-9:30 M-W, 11-10 Th, 11-11 F-Sa. Closed Sunday.
  • My far-away choice: Sushi Kappo Tamura
    @ 2968 Eastlake Avenue East – If I thought I could convince my friends
    to go to a sushi place and drive a little farther away from the hotel
    and convention, this is where I would go. Voted the best sushi
    restaurant in the US by Travel and Leisure, and one of the best new
    Japanese Restaurants by bon appetit magazine, I want to go. “But wait!”
    you say. “Aren’t you a vegetarian??” Yes, and I’m not a vegetarian who
    occasionally eats fish. But I LOVE vegetarian sushi and Japanese food.
    There are six vegetarian sushi roll options, and some of their specials
    (which change) sound fabulous: soft tofu salad topped with organic
    mizuna, fried tofu skins and sesame dressing ($9); or vegetable tempura
    with purple yam, lotus root, kabocha squash and green kale served with
    vegan dashi ($9).  It’s a little north of my target eating area, but I
    think it would be worth it if you are a sushi fan. If you plan on
    spending over $50, Jay Friedman recently pointed out a $50 for $100 coupon here. Open 5-9:30pm M-Th, 5-10 F-Sa, 5-9 Su. 

Late Night

  • Cafe Presse @ 1117 12th Avenue – Voted best late-night dining by Seattle’s Best, they have a weird French menu with food available until 1:30am. If you find yourself craving Tartine Montagnarde aux Poires (winter pears, comte cheese and grain mustard-caramelized onions baked on country bread and topped with watercress) for $8 at 1 am during the conference, you will find this conveniently close to the Saturday night after-hours party at Linda’s Tavern. Open 7am-2am every day.
  • Dick’s Drive-In @ 500 Queen Anne Avenue North – So close to my hotel, incredibly cheap, and open late, I will be unable to avoid going here at some point. Sure, they mainly server hamburgers but at 1 am I might need a shake ($2!) and some fries ($1.50!). Fries are fresh cut daily, shakes are hand dipped and old-fashioned. In honor of their anniversary, cokes are 10 cents on the 25th and you can get 2 cheeseburgers for the price of 1 on the 29th. Open 10:30am-2am every day.

Dessert

  • Dahlia Bakery
    @ 2001 4th Avenue – Listed in the lunch options, this bakery is home to the “Triple Coconut Cream Pie” … Open 7:30-6 M-F, 9-6 Sa, 9-4 Su.
  • My far-away choice: Hot Cakes in Ballard @ 5427 Ballard Avenue NW in Ballard – North a ways, I am making the trip for this one. Molten chocolate cake, bread pudding, malts, boozy shakes, boozy floats, happy hour specials and even vegan dark chocolate cakes and vegan salted caramel. Mmmmmm. Open 6pm-10pm M, 11-10 T-Th, 11-11 F-Sa, 11-10 Su.
  • Yes, another far-away choice: A la Mode Pies @ 5821 Phinney Avenue N. – The fact is, if you want to stay close to the convention you have a slew of bakeries to choose from. You’ll be fine, I know it. But if you WANT to go above and beyond in trying out Seattle’s best desserts, I hear that A la Mode is the best. Go for the marionberry and hazelnut, stay for the blue Hawaiian. Or, if you are really in a spot and can’t eat there, order an apple and ginger pear or a bourbon butterscotch and bring it back to your hotel room, where your friends will surely help you finish it. Open 8am-9pm every day.

Not that I will have much time with the conference and all of this eating… but does anyone have recommendations for things to see in Seattle? Other than the obvious: library, Space Needle, Pike Place Market. I also plan to hit up Gamma Ray Games and Blue Highway Games because that’s the kind of dork I am.

Here’s a Google map of all of these lovely places.

Additional comments/suggestions welcome :)

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