Now that Will and I are living in San Francisco we have easy access to many cities and places a short drive or plane ride away. Seattle was our first long-weekend trip since moving here, and what a great long-weekend city it was.
I don’t normally write about our itinerary but for a trip away, especially a short break such as this one to Seattle, I thought I’d share my experience of what you can do in three days: Warning…it mainly revolves around food!
Day 1. Saturday
We stayed at The Palladium Kimpton Hotel, a 10-minute walk from the West Lake train station, which links directly to the airport, making it a very convenient location. We had never stayed at a Kimpton hotel before and were very impressed with this one – helpful friendly staff and a lovely super-comfortable room, which had an appealing industrial/modern design.
The hotel had these little extras, which made it a welcoming place:
- Pet friendly.
- Complementary wine between 5-6 pm every day and tea and coffee every morning.
- Water jugs and glasses in reception with berries and lime (so nice when back from a day of walking the city).
If you book in advance on booking.com you will get some very good deals.
We arrived at the market in the morning after a short 3-minute walk from our hotel. It is a good place to visit with food stalls, farmers’ markets and the original Starbucks, but it is rather touristy. After soaking up the atmosphere we walked 25 minutes to the Capitol Hill area, although you can take a bus.
This area was my favourite in Seattle with its lovely restaurants and cafes and streets buzzing with fun and excitement. These are the streets to wander around, zigzagging between Pine and Pike, starting at Melrose and ending at Belmont. Melrose Avenue in particular, is great, with a wonderful market.
We had our first pit stop at Victorola Coffee, with seats outside on the street, making it a perfect place to sit and soak in the area. Victorola served almond milk, soy and hemp milk, and even better, it had vegan and gluten-free cookies.
Lunch was on a divine roof terrace on a beautiful clear blue sunny day at Terra De Plata. The restaurant had a wide range of gluten-free options but not vegan, so I didn’t eat here, but Will had a delicious meal
I had my meal near the hotel at Veggie Grill, which was amazing. It is a healthy food, allergy friendly fast food joint. Don’t be put off by the plastic booth, drinks station atmosphere, as it’s all healthy – teas and juices, salads, power bowls, and clearly labelled dairy-free and gluten-free items – I was quite blown away. My salad and sweet potato fries were scrummy and satisfying. This is the perfect place for lunch or snacks when you’re busy being a tourist.
Back to Capitol Hill
For the evening we headed back to Capitol Hill a little further north of where we had our lunch. This area comes to life at night with lots of bars. We stopped in at a few before heading to Skillet Diner. As soon as we stepped inside we felt at home, as it has a relaxed vibe, comfortable layout, lovely lighting and table settings. Skillet is exactly my sort of place: chilled, intimate, lively and friendly, and reasonable.
The menu has many gluten-free items, but not dairy free or vegan, but Skillet was accommodating and more than happy to make substitutions for me. My meal was a generous portion of delicious kale salad with avocado and rockfish, a perfect balance of flavours and textures. Will had the burger of course, and copious amounts of fries, which he loved.
If you are looking for something a bit fancier, we spotted a place across the street, which looked appealing: Zoe Restaurant.
Day 2. Sunday
The day started with a 20-minute walk to the Space Needle to take some of the standard touristy photos. We walked a further 15 minutes to what was my favourite breakfast in Seattle, and one of my favourite cafes ever. I had read that vegan, gluten-free and soya-free pancakes were on the menu, so I was insanely excited to be able to eat pancakes. Rarely when we are on holiday do I get a good breakfast, as most of the time I take my oats with me and mix with hot water. As we walked into the cafe my eyes caught a glimpse of a table full of bowls of fruit, nuts, coconut flakes, which I discovered from the waitress I could have as much of these things as I wanted. Now I was bouncing off the walls with excitement.
My pancakes looked amazing, thick fluffy American style, which I was able to cover with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and coconut. I was intrigued about how they would taste as they were made with hemp milk, but they were good – perfection! I was then quiet (which is rare) for the next 30 minutes while I worked my way through these delicious light tasty pancakes (and 2 more helpings of fruit). In a place that I could not recommend more highly, this was a perfect start to the day.
Portage Bay Cafe had an American diner feel to it; lots of tables, very busy, but chilled. These cafes are also in a few other locations; this one was on Terry Avenue.
We walked 50 minutes around Lake Union to Fremont, but you can take the number 40 bus, or even better, hire bikes for the day.
At the top of this lake, crossing into Fremont was our next destination, the Flying Apron. This is a gluten-free, vegan bakery, which has such a range of yummy treats. Unfortunately, I can’t vouch for them because I was still full from my pancakes earlier.
We walked about 2 minutes from the bakery to the Fremont Sunday Flea Market. Although many of the things are junk and too bulky for a tourist, it is still a nice market to just wander through. There are food trucks here if you want a bite to eat, including a vegan ice-lolly stand.
From Fremont we walked along the Burke Gilman Trail for 40 minutes into Ballard. The trail part of the walk is beautiful but the last 10 minutes are not so inspiring, although if we had biked it would have been perfect. An alternative to stopping in Fremont is to stay on the number 40 bus, which takes you all the way to Ballard.
Ballard is a charming neighborhood in Seattle, with a variety of local shops and cafes. The farmers market on Sunday has live music and many vegan and gluten-free food stands.
Towards the end of the day we were peckish and stopped in at Patxi Pizza to have late lunch and watch the NBA Warriors basketball game at the restaurant.
I was still full from breakfast so I could only manage delicious Padron peppers, but I wish I were hungrier because Patxi has gluten-free, corn-free pizza and Daiya vegan cheese, which are rare to find. Luckily, I later discovered that Patxi is a chain with restaurants in San Francisco, so I will be trying them soon. The restaurant is light and spacious with a buzzy atmosphere industrial-type décor.
I was obviously not that full at Patxi because 30 minutes later I was scoffing down delicious dairy-free, gluten-free molten chocolate pudding with coconut dairy-free ice cream at this Cakery.
It was insanely good, and now official that I was having the best food day. The cafe itself is lovely inside with exposed brick walls, and a bar as well as tables. It is the perfect place for dessert.Our second day out ended with the door-to-door service of the number 40 bus taking us back to our hotel.
Another cafe in Ballard that we didn’t try was Miro Tea, which had an interesting menu with gluten-free items.
Capitol Hill (back again)
For dinner, we were heading back to Capitol Hill to a Vietnamese restaurant called Stateside. I love Vietnamese food and had my favourite Cha Ca La Vong – turmeric, white fish and rice noodles. The food was very good (a little small on portion size but totally delicious), with an open and airy layout. We did have a lovely evening, but it didn’t get my OTT praise that other places have received.
After dinner it was Starbucks, yes Starbucks, because Seattle is where it began, plus it has made a unique cafe called Starbucks Coffee Roastery. It is rather like a chocolate factory for coffee where you can watch the process from metal tubes bringing the beans to the machines, roasting and packing. It is very well designed with custom-made furniture.
Warning! It feels touristy during the day but after dinner it is a good place to go, as it is still busy but not manic. But the best thing for me is that in Seattle the branches now serve coconut milk so I can have a coconut milk chai latte.
Day 3. Monday
We walked to breakfast at London Plane (15 minutes away) via the public library, which is an interesting modern building, worth a walk by if you are in the area.
The breakfast was good, but not outstanding. There were gluten-free vegan options, such as granola with non-dairy milk. I opted for the soft-boiled eggs with dukkah, delicious but served cold, which I didn’t expect. The layout of London Plane is pantry-style and on the corner of a lovely square. For a light breakfast before taking a ferry it is a perfect location, but I wouldn’t necessarily head here if it weren’t nearby.
The ferry to Bainbridge Island is a 30-minute trip, which I would highly recommend. The views back over the city and towards the mountains and beaches are the best in Seattle. Boats don’t usually suit me as I get sea sick, but this one was smooth and one of the best ferry rides I’ve been on. The ferry has been well designed with large windows and several sundeck areas.
From the ferry we walked for 15 minutes beside anchored boats along the tranquil Waterfront Trail to our lunch spot at Harbor Public House. The decking area overlooks t
he water with the Seattle skyline in the background − blue sky, sunny, divine. On the food front I was very impressed by the menu, with vegan dishes and gluten free clearly labelled. I had salmon and sweet potato fries, which were delicious and exactly the pub food feeing I wanted, along with salads and vegetable bowls.
We had our afternoon sweet fix a 3-minute walk away along a little high street called Winslow Way. On the street you will find a few lovely cafes, some even selling gluten-free and vegan baked goods. We made a beeline to Mora’s Ice Creamery with its wide range of ice creams and several sorbets that are good for us dairy-free folk. I had tasty passion fruit sorbet, which I recommend.
After the 10-minute walk to the ferry we headed back to Seattle to catch our flight home, ending our very relaxing yummy food-filled long weekend.