72 Hours in Seattle

Hi, it’s Abby
. My mom asked me to write an introduction for this post about our last-minute trip to Seattle a few weeks ago. I was invited to play in a soccer tournament there and this one was different than most because there was only one game a day, which means there was plenty of down time to explore a city. (That is how I convinced my mom to go.)  We flew out the morning after my last final and stayed with her college roommate, Jenn for three nights and three days. Mom already told you that the culinary highlight of our trip was eating a Dutch Baby with backyard raspberries in Jenn’s kitchen nook, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t pound some pavement in search of great food around town. Here, Mom and I take turns giving you a run-down of our packed 72 hours.


1:00 [Jenny] I am forever in search of counter-service spots when I travel, especially for lunch, when you don’t want to spend an hour-plus lounging around while the sun shines on a brand new city that is calling for you. That’s why we dropped our bags at my friend Jenn’s house (in Ballard) at 12:45, then headed straight to The Fat Hen, a sweet, bright fast-casual spot that served avocado toasts, ricotta toasts, freshly squeezed juices, and good coffee. It killed us to forgo Frankie & Jo’s, the vegan ice cream shop sensation right across the street (they have multiple locations around the city) but we were saving room for dinner. FYI: Delancey — remember Delancey? — was right there, too. [Photo credit: Seattle Magazine]

2:30  [Abby] We walked from Fat Hen down 15th Street to Ballard Avenue, the main drag in Ballard, a neighborhood that reminded me of Brooklyn. There was a ton of stuff to do and a lot of fun shopping including a cool second-hand furniture store called Ballard Consignment, an aesthetically pleasing succulent store (I can’t remember the name, can someone help me?), and a trendy clothing place called Prism where my mom tried on a thousand dresses but ended up just buying my sister an iron-on patch for her jean jacket that said “Stay Wild Child.”

 [Abby] We met up with my mom’s friend Jenn, who got out of work early for us, and headed to Golden Gardens Park for a walk. It was so beautiful! I got a virgin pina colada at Miri’s, a new cafe right on the beach. Also, even though everyone says Seattle weather is not so great, look at our sky! It was like that for most of the time we were there. (Here’s a tip to future travelers: Go there in late June, early July.)

[Jenny] I think the only reason why I agreed to take Abby to Seattle was so I could try to snag a table at The Walrus and the Carpenter, the original Renee Erickson French-style raw bar in Ballard that opened almost ten years ago and that I tried to get into during my last visit, only to be turned away by the long wait every time. This time I wasn’t messing around. At the very un-glamourous hour of 5:30, I dragged Abby, Jenn, and Jenn’s 15-year-old daughter Stella to dine on fried oysters and small plates in their bright happy space. FYI: Erickson has opened a bunch of other places in Capitol Hill, including a steakhouse Bateau, another oyster bar with the greatest electric mint color scheme (Bar Melusine), and stuffed doughnut mecca General Porpoise, which, for Abby, might’ve been more of a reason to go to Seattle than her soccer tournament. (More on that below.)

7:30 After dinner, we walked back up Ballard Avenue to get ice cream at Salt & Straw, the Portland-based makers who have won over legions of fans with their artisanal concoctions…think Fresh Sheep’s Cheese and Strawberries or Oregon Wasabi and Raspberry Sorbet. But the line was too long, and even though it was still early, we were on East Coast time, so we headed home to bed. (For those of you interested, here’s an interview with Salt & Straw founder Tyler Malek on the always awesome Bon Appetit’s Foodcast.)


10:00 [Abby] I had a soccer game in Redmond (we won 4-0!) where the most exciting food moment of the morning was a pretzel that came with that fakey nacho cheese that is so delicious. We didn’t get to start exploring again until lunchtime and decided we wanted to spend the afternoon checking out Capitol Hill. First stop…

Rocket Taco for lunch, where we ate some of the best carnitas tacos I can remember.

It was Pride Month! We loved the rainbow crosswalks which made for especially good instagram posts. (That’s me with our friend Maylie. And this was at the intersection of East Pine and 10th Ave.)

 [Abby] And of course, we had to hit Elliott Bay Books. My mom bought me a paperback copy of The Handmaid’s Tale — I’ve been watching the TV show and it’s very disturbing, but she said I’d like the book. (She wants me to tell you that for school I also had to read Hiroshima and Take the Cannoli)

 [Abby] Then the funniest thing happened. I had been looking forward to going to the iconic General Porpoise Doughnuts from the moment we booked our flights — we practically planned our entire Capitol Hill outing around it — but when we got there at 3:01, we tried to open the door and it was locked. It closed at 3:00! For about ten seconds we were all super disappointed but then, out of nowhere, an employee walks outside and asked “Does anyone want a dozen free doughnuts?” I guess they like everything to be fresh, so at the end of the day, they give away what hasn’t sold instead of selling them the next day. That might’ve been the highlight of the trip. And those doughnuts were some of the best I’ve ever had– the vanilla stuffed ones especially!!

 [Jenny] We hadn’t planned on it, but we decided to hit Pike Place Market (because: of course!) on our way home to Ballard from Capitol Hill. We bought fruit and a lovely flower arrangement for our lovely hosts, but for the most part we just walked up and down the long hallways and gaped at the offerings. Maybe the most amazing part was that I got a parking spot on Pike Place right in the middle of everything (across from the flagship Starbucks.) I kept looking at the spot and looking at the sign saying This is too good to be true (once a New Yorker always a New Yorker, I guess) but it was actually true. Over a month later, I’m still on a high from it.

 [Jenny] I know this is hard to believe, but we still had more to eat. I’ve written about this before, but the way Abby and I go about planning where we want to eat in a new city is completely different. I go to tried-and-true sources like Bon Appetit City Guides or Eater’s Heat Maps. She goes right to instagram, searches by locations, then studies the grid until a particularly inspiring pastry or bowl of ramen shows up. That is how she landed on Fremont Bowl where we went with Jenn’s family. Abby’s review: “Crazy good Japanese bowls, with fish, chicken teriyaki, and so much more. I’m not really a tofu fan, but according to my mom she had the best tofu she’d ever had in her life at this place. Fremont’s a fun area to walk around, too.” She’s totally right, the fried house-made tofu that our friend Maylie ordered was off-the-hook delicious. I was psyched because right next door was Book Larder, a store that specializes in cookbooks and community culinary events, but sadly they were closed for a private event. I guess that’s as good an excuse as any to return to Seattle in the very near future.


[Abby] Mom, Jenn, and Jenn’s husband, Ben went for an early run around Green Lake Park (about a 3-mile loop she says) then we all gorged on Jenn’s now legendary Dutch Babies and plotted the day. Ben pointed us in the direction of the giant Asian Market Uwajimaya which was awesome (Oh, before that, Mom stopped for another cup of coffee at Anchored Ship in Ballard) but we ended up eating around the corner at at Dough Zone due to some intense soup dumpling cravings, aka the best food in the world.  It’s a good thing my next soccer game wasn’t until 4:00 that afternoon. We pretty much rolled out of there. Those dumplings were amazing.

 [Abby] After my soccer game (lost 2-1) we drove to Mulkiteo and caught a ferry to Whidbey Island, about 25 miles north of Seattle across the Puget Sound, where Jenn and Ben have the sweetest cabin. The ferry was only about 25 minutes, but involved spectacular views of islands and huge mountains in the distance.

We only had about 12 hours to hang on Whidbey, but we got a good taste of it, snacking on their porch (above), chilling out by the campfire for an epic sunset; Ben grilled some local salmon and hot dogs for dinner. The house only had two bedrooms so my mom and I got to sleep in a tent listening to the crackling campfire. 

Side Note [Jenny] Those of you who follow me on instagram might remember this photo. Jenn and Ben were torturing themselves trying to decide what color to paint the cabin — they were going for a dark Scandinavian cottage look — so I conducted an insta poll asking which combo you all liked. Most of you were in favor of the navy/white palette, the third one down. Last week, she sent me this pic:

How beautiful is that?!?!?! They went with Sherwin Williams Inkwell for the house and Benjamin Moore Oxford White for the trim.


8:30 [Abby] We had an early afternoon plane to catch, so didn’t have a ton of time to explore, but we did manage to squeeze in a walk on the beach and a quick trip to Langley, where we ate eggs and cinnamon rolls at Useless Bay Coffee, then took a walk to a dramatic sandbar called Seawall Park. The town was so charming! From there was a convenient shuttle from Whidbey to the Seattle Airport, and we were on our way home.

Boy you fed us well, Seattle. We miss you so much!

Related: 36 Hours in Austin; 36 Hours in Portland, Maine; 48 Hours in Montreal.

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I love the mother/daughter reports! So sweet.

Dying to know – did Walrus and the Carpenter live up to your hopes???


Loved it! The Gold Standard for oysters/raw bars for me is still Eventide in Portland Maine, so it fell short of that, but only by a little. Now of course I’m dying to go to all her Capitol Hill places.


We were just in Seattle the weekend before you! Salt & Straw insider tip (from friends): Skip the line and go inside and purchase a pint (or several) from the freezer. Also the NE location has a much shorter line. We went to both in 3 days 🙂


This is the best thing to come over my feed today. We just booked tickets for Seattle! We’re staying in Queen Anne and my husband works in Bellevue. The kids are finally old enough to be really involved in planning AND have decent taste in food. Putting that tofu place on our list!


So exciting to read about the places I go regularly from visitor’s prospective! I love your blog!

Courtney Engel

Love how this is written. I’m between your ages, so my travel style is somewhere in the middle. Loved it. and I’ll definitely reference this when I go to Seattle!


Wow, you really packed it in for three days! If you can leave Seattle stuffed with raw seafood and shellfish…well, it is LIFE. Still chuckling about finding that parking place in the midst of the Market…in summer. Come late September and it wouldn’t be out of the question. Also, those free donuts!

Kelly Mitchell

Long time reader Jenny….well you can teach an old dog. I’ve lived in Seattle for all but about a dozen years in my life. You really made the most of your few days here. I’ve now got quite a few new places to get to in my home town on your’s and Abby’s recommendations. Oh and your friends cabin? We have a house right below them on the island. I’ll have to take a look at their new paint job next time I’m up there, it looks amazing!


Epic. Love all of it. Thanks for sharing. I’m in the thick of toddler mode with our daughter, and I swear I do love it and I am appreciating all of it – but it is really good to hear about how life is when you have smart and discerning older kids. Hope I can walk in your footsteps. Thanks for the inspiration!


What a great post! I enjoy the variety that the two perspectives provides. Abby, what is important to you came across crystal clear…and I love that!

Kimberly Mann

Your travel commentary is always so satisfying. To add Abby to the mix is off the hook. You must be so proud, Thank you!


I used to live in Seattle, and summer is the best kept secret there. It is in the mid 70’s, barely rains, and is never humid July-September. The rain reputation always overshadows the summer sunshine, but I think Seattle-ites want to keep it that way. You hit up some great spots, and a few I definitely want to try on my next visit!!

Denis Mountain

Wow, It seems like you have a really wonderful journey. I have also been Miri’s and really liked it as its sewn cafe menu covers offers my favorite dishes.     


Wow. We recently moved from Seattle (I spent 12 years there, worked in Pike Place at a French bakery for 10 years-where I met my husband) and this made me homesick for the city that I best identify with. Even though we moved a year ago, it filled me with such pride that you enjoyed it so much. So happy you had a wonderful time!!

Liza McArdle

When you described yours and Abby’s differing styles for choosing restaurants while traveling, I thought I should absolutely tell you that I come to your blog to pick my restaurants (along with Bon App, Eater, NYT 36 hours, etc.) I’ve used your Austin guide , which led me to Sway Thai–thanks!-and also, in particular, your Portland guide. Hello, Eventide!) Also, heck yes I remember Delancey. Great book and the restaurant is on my list as well.

Greg H

What a great blog. I have been to Seattle a number of times and have never heard of some of these places. I guess I will be checking them out the next time I’m there.