Chefs Shine at Culinary Outposts near KeyArena at Seattle Center



In Seattle, KeyArena at Seattle Center serves as a hub of activity (think concerts, sporting events plus annual festivals of music, food and culture). In fact, some say that if you visit only one spot in Seattle, the Seattle Center should top your list. Here visitors find 74 acres of parks, sculptures, fountains, cultural venues, restaurants and entertainment for all ages.

This venue, the site of the Seattle World's Fair in 1962 (also known as Century 21 Exhibition), features an exciting, eclectic mix of 1960s 'futuristic' structures next to public art objects such as a Native American Totem pole, Modernist art mural, gigantesque Calder abstract Eagle sculpture and extreme architecture by renowned Frank Gehry. In warmer months, music lovers flock here for alfresco concerts (and the much-anticipated Bumbershoot Festival)under the Space Needle, which is a popular attraction any time of year. An on-site food court offers casual, quick eats, too.

After a long day of getting one's fix of art, music, sports and culture, however, folks leave here hungry. Luckily for foodies of all degrees, countless dining options exist in the streets and neighborhoods surrounding Seattle Center. While Lower Queen Anne offers several options, some of the city's most popular eateries can be found in the nearby Belltown and downtown zones. Culinary stars like Tom Douglas have established many downtown outposts (like Lola, for example), meaning good eating is never hard to find.



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Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge


 

Toulouse Petit Kitchen and Lounge has been earning accolades since it opened. The ornate and filigreed interior of the space is just the beginning of a dining experience built on the food, style and attitude of New Orleans' French Quarter. Offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night dining, the restaurant has a voluminous menu encompassing Italian, Spanish and French-countryside and coastal-Mediterranean cuisine, along with a full slate of affordable American-style Prime steakhouse selections, traditional Northwest seafood and a multitude of house-made charcuterie and small-plate offerings. And as you might expect from a spot that takes its cues from the French Quarter, Toulouse is renowned for its happy hour, including the one timed perfectly for a leisurely and extended brunch.


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Waterfront


 

Funky and hip, this Italian eatery features rustic food and boasts live entertainment in the adjacent lounge. The interior has a certain bohemian charm, but the best area to dine is on the rooftop deck, which affords a magnificent view of Puget Sound. To start a meal, begin with bruschetta or the antipasto plate of savory morsels. Entrees, then, include Tuscan grilled chicken, gnocchi with wild mushrooms, roasted pork loin, and Muscovy duck. You'll find, in fact, a range of pastas and, also, a daily risotto special that's usually a great bet! Comforting desserts include such fare as bread pudding and apple crisp.


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Shiro's Sushi


 

The straightforward decor at this popular restaurant allows taste buds to focus on the culinary adventure. Among the loyal patrons, you'll find sports celebrities, business people and local sushi-lovers. The first "edomae" restaurant in Seattle, Shiro's serves miso soup, seaweed salad, poke and a vast variety of sushi delights to please every palate. In its original translation, Edomae � "Edo", the old name for Tokyo, and "Mae", meaning front, referred to the fish caught in Tokyo Bay. Today the meaning refers to the traditional Tokyo way of preparing sushi ,but using fish from regional waters. Shiro's Tasting Menu includes an appetizer, sashimi, entrees, sushi, soup and dessert.


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Downtown
mbar
Photo courtesy of Mbar


 

Looking for a hot, happening venue from which to take in some of Seattle's most breathtaking views? mbar, a socially-driven bar and restaurant, wows guests with its dazzling location, providing an elevated oasis above all the South Lake Union action. Guests choose between Intimate indoor spaces and incredible rooftop dining options that provide sweeping views that simply can't be beat. Chef Jason Stratton and hist talented team send out dishes that range from skirt steak with capers and grilled ribeye to grilled trout with avocado, sumac, labneh and fenugreek. Fresh vegetables like roasted Whidbey Island broccoli and roasted young carrots with medjool dates accompany main dishes, while delightfully creative cocktails enhance every meal. Reservations are highly recommended.


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Palace Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Palace Kitchen


 

Owned by football player-turned-restauranteur Tom Douglas (who reigns over a culinary empire of sorts in this city), this hip downtown dandy is a favorite of everybody from the happy hour crowd to night owl diners. Entrees include pan-roasted quail, sheep's milk ricotta ravioli, and Sara Joe's organic pork loin, served with sauteed greens and mustard fruits. If you're so inclined, opt for something straight off of Douglas's famous apple wood grill menu; you can't go wrong with the Copper River sockeye salmon, Idaho trout or rib-eye steak, served with Walla Walla onion. Reservations accepted for parties of six or more.


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Belltown

 

As the name suggests, this cozy Belltown outpost is a sustainable restaurant and food producer that fiercely promotes local sourcing. At this popular eatery based in the heart of downtown (at the corner of 1st and Bell), chefs make beautiful, flavorful dishes with fresh and seasonal ingredients, the majority of which come from within a 360-mile radius of Seattle. Restaurant staff members say, "We believe that local produce, meat and grains are more than mere vehicles for nutrients, but vital parts of the intricate system that supports our environment and the good folks who live here." Start with the deviled eggs, PB&J bon bons or a delectable beet salad, before tucking into heartier dishes like braised rabbit leg and vegetable ragout, smoked pork shank or heirloom farro with sugar pumpkin, mascarpone and mushrooms.


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Cactus


 

If zesty food, full-flavored and rich, constantly tempts you, Cactus (in neighboring South Lake Union) stands poised to satisfy the craving. You should be prepared to wait a bit when you go, especially during the week at lunchtime when the Amazon employees descend, but the food is worth it! Offerings are consistently good and inventive. The menu is full of well-prepared delights, such as carnitas, tamales, fajitas and pork steak adobo. You'll also find a great selection of tapas items, which could satiate your appetite on their own. The festive atmosphere adds to the good mood, and the staff is helpful and friendly too. While you wait, try a mojito!


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Sophisticated yet unpretentious, this popular destination in downtown Seattle envelops diners with soft jazz and rich, muted surroundings. Asian inspiration and fresh ingredients from the Northwest collaborate on a menu where everything sounds tempting. The restaurant's signature goat cheese, which figures into several dishes, is made on-site. Also look for Thai wood-smoked duck salad, crostini with white Spanish anchovies and olives, Asian shrimp dumplings, salmon and crab cakes. Save room after the meal; you'll also find a range of fabulous desserts, including pear tart with dark caramel and white chocolate coconut cream pie. Dahlia also offers an impressive wine list.


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Tavolata (Belltown)
Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Smith


 

In Belltown, Ethan Stowell has done it once again by wowing diners at his Italian gem Tavolta. Here, pasta reigns--from rigatoni to casarecce, conchiglie to linguini. A restaurant whose name means "to gather around a table," Tavol?ta is an ideal space for large parties and private events. Monthly Sunday Feast dinners mean four-course family meals served at the communal table (that seats up to 26 diners), perfectly embodying the venue's philosophy. Enjoy nightly happy hours (from 5 to 7 p.m.) as well as dishes like brushcetta and salumi boards to start, rigatoni and potato gnocchi for pasta options, salmon and beef short ribs as entrees and grilled carrots as a side.


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Downtown
Lola
Photo courtesy of Lola


 

This upscale dining room downtown serves inventive Greek cuisine. Making an excellent starter, pita bread is served with your choice of spread, like roasted sweet red pepper, barrel-aged minty feta or skordalia. Meze, such as grilled octopus and dolmades with rice, and a variety of kabobs appear on the menu, too. Lola doesn't skimp on main courses either; offerings may include a tagine of stuffed artichokes, avgolemono and saffron couscous or a whole fish with pickled green garlic and herbs. Happy hour happens Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.; find specials on beer, cocktails and snacks like Penn Cove oysters.


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Meet Corinne Whiting

Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's...  More About Corinne

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