4-Day Trip to Seattle - Itinerary Check?

Hey all,

Heading to Seattle for Christmas and a few days, and I’ve started planning and thought I would ask for your help! We’re a small group coming from SF and LA. We’ll have a car and not much plans other than eating and exploring. Staying about a mile from Pike Place. We want to get a sense of the Pacific Northwest, love pristine shellfish, and we’re not looking for Asian or Mexican food on this trip. We don’t care for communal dining tables, so no Corson Building.

Below is a prelim itinerary I’ve made, as I noticed that people plan early here - availability at some places is already quite limited! Of course that might have to do with the holidays, but I’ve made a few reservations and mental notes for places to visit, but thought I’d ask here for any suggestions, changes, what am I missing, what is overrated? I’ve done a little homework but I’d value your input.

Thursday, 12/24 Christmas Eve (arrive)
Lunch: something casual, walk-in like Gnocchi Bar or a sandwich from Rainshadow Meats (is the porchetta a must-order?). Open to suggestions here!
visit: Seattle Art Museum…what else is there to do? We don’t like tours, but like art and sightseeing, nothing too out in the woods, please.
Dinner: Sitka & Spruce (is this still great?)
Drinks & Snacks: Canon for whisky and late-night bites, as we’re meeting someone here late ~11pm. Any practical tips I should know?

Friday, 12/25 Christmas Day - I know not much is open. Other than dinner, a little unsure on what to do
breakfast/brunch/lunch - open here…not sure what is available
visit: Olympic Sculpture Park
Dinner: Goldfinch Tavern, it’s open and it’s in the hotel, but menu looks not bad so I’m “cautiously optimistic,” for lack of a better term

Saturday, 12/26
Early Brunch: Bar Sajor
visit: Pike’s Place Market, shopping
Happy Hour Snack ~4:00pm open: The Walrus & Carpenter, Barnacle Bar next door. Is this the place for the best oysters? Pristine oysters are one of the goals for this trip.
Later Dinner: Altura I know this is a ways from Ballard, but we have several hours in between. Is there something along the lines of Altura’s food that’s a better option?

Sunday, 12/27 (Leave)
Breakfast: The London Plane. Looking for something relaxing, and the decor seems fitting here. Food sounds in line with what we’re generally looking for, too, but open to any suggestions on other places we might try.

Sometime during our stay:

  • Coffee: Slate, Analog. Where else has good coffee and decor - Anchored Ship, Milstead & Co?
  • Ice Cream: Molly Moon
  • Bars: Canon for whisky, Needle & Thread for cocktails (any practical tips for here?)

Any input would be much appreciated! Thanks.

For lunches, I would sub Il Corvo (a must!) in for Gnocchi Bar, and the Georgetown Hitchcock Deli in for Rainshadow.

Sitka and Spruce IS good, and quite representative of PNW cuisine. I like Bar Sajor less, and would only go there for lunch and not dinner, but is truly one of the most beautiful restaurant spaces I’ve seen in the past few years. There’s no need to hit London Plane - it’s a not-as-good version of something like Huckleberry in LA, and you don’t really need to go to 3 Matt Dillon restaurants. Instead, go to Le Pichet. Homemade terrines, charcuterie, classic executions of french neighborhood bistro dishes. It’s warm, homey, low-key and perfect.

Taylor Shellfish is right next door to Sitka, and absolutely worth a stop for unadorned oysters (there are also outposts in Queen Anne and Pioneer Square). (Mamnoon across the street is wonderful, too). If it’s sunny out, Westward, right on the lake, is your place for oysters and a glass of wine.

Christmas Day: Check out Jason Wilson’s Miller’s Guild. It’s quite good, and in a hotel, so it may be open. Otherwise, Goldfinch is probably fine. There’s a same, same-ness to all of Ethan Stowell’s restaurants, but they generally execute at a pretty high, if boring, level. (Anchovies and Olives, however, is the one that’s wonderful, and has some really delicious crudo preparations, kind of like Esca in its prime).

Walrus & the Carpenter is maybe my favorite restaurant in Seattle, and very much deserving of a full dinner. Don’t just limit yourself to oysters and snacks, make it one of your evening meals. So so great. But The Whale Wins is meh, so don’t bother. She’s opened/is opening 3 new places on Capitol Hill, so those might be worth checking out, although I haven’t yet been.

I used to prefer Spinasse over Altura, but haven’t been since Jason Stratton moved on, so can no longer vouch for it. RN74 is another favorite - the menu reads boring, but the execution is higher there than almost anything else in Seattle (which tends to be quite insular, and full of chefs who have never left to train elsewhere). I’d do that or Lark over Altura.

Canon: make a reservation, as they are a seated-only bar, and once they’re full, they’re full. Damn the Weather is also great for the same kind of well-made cocktails and bites-type deal (the food is better than at Canon, the cocktails are excellent, but, as you know, Canon really is focused on whisk(e)y).

Other cocktail bars to hit: Liberty, Rob Roy, Sun Liquor (THE BEST BAR, but the original on Summit NOT the distillery), E Smith Mercantile, Zig Zag (still), Capitol Cider (for, natch, cider), Rumba (sick rum selection, bar manned by the former owner of Vessel), Monday night half-priced mescal at Barrio (literally, every bottle in the place), and Herb & Bitter Public House. Tavern Law/Needle & Thread is past its prime, don’t bother.

Coffee. Milstead is my favorite, Analog, Slate and Victrola on the hill (peek into the Starbucks death star on the walk from Analog to Victrola) are good too.

Molly Moon’s is fine, nothing special. Haven’t been, but if you must have ice cream, then maybe Kurt Timmermeister’s new spot?

As for other stuff to do…well, Seattle’s strength is really the outdoors, You could walk around the Olympic sculpture park (or anywhere along the Sound, for that matter), go check out the Ballard locks, hit the aquarium or Science Center/Chihuly garden, depending on what’s on. Explore neighborhoods, Cap Hill, Fremont, Ballard, Pioneer Square. Go to the Arboretum and/or Discovery Park, take a ferry anywhere.

Let us know where you decide to go!

Thanks so much @helen_s! Really helpful. Ok I have a bit of revising to do. Thanks for your recs and I’ll be sure to report back.

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When your at Pike Place, there is a fab chowder place, at Post Alley across from the market area, Pike Place Chowder that is some of the best salmon chowder, chowder…craving it big time now!
Great Irish bar on the corner of Post Alley…love this area for eating and drinking.

There is a place inside of Pike that has a old school counter for oysters and good fish…forget the name.
The surly fish mongers that throw the fish, IMO, really look to almost hit the tourists or give them a good scare with those bad boys, so, heads up!

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@markambrose73 where did you end up eating? Hope you had a good trip!