72 hours eating and drinking in Seattle

I wrote a quick email for a friend the other week regarding places to eat and drink in Seattle while they were here for a weekend.   I figured I might as well capture it on the blog for easier reference (and updating) in the future.

Updated 11/13

1) First night depending on when you get in — dinner around where you are staying (in this case downtown).   Matt’s in the Market or Aragona (http://www.seattlemet.com/eat-and-drink/nosh-pit/articles/jason-stratton-is-opening-a-spanish-restaurant-called-aragona-may-2013).   Maybe drink after dinner at Alibi Room.

2) Friday — walk around the market in the morning pre-tourists, breakfast at Cafe Campagne or Fonte or Macrina (a little farther walk).    If you didnt do Matt’s in the Market, do it for lunch on Friday.   Catfish sandwich is great.   Friday night do Capitol Hill.   Dinner at Spinasse (make a reservation) and pre or post-drink at Artusi next door (they have great non-alcoholic drinks).  Or dinner at Zoe and drink after at Cannon or Tavern Law

3) Sat night — Ballard.   Dinner at Walrus and Carpenter (although check menu because they are heavy on shellfish), Staple and Fancy, or for maybe Bastille.   Drink at Percy and Company and walk up Ballard Avenue and maybe jump into Tractor Tavern for some live music or another place.

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First trip to Austin – Memorial Day 2013

Given our love of music and food, Beth Ann and I had been talking about visiting Austin ever since we met, and unfortunately I had never made it down for SXSW.  So, when we saw that the Memorial Day weekend weather was going to be classic Seattle spring (read: rainy), we booked a last minute flight and hotel and went down for the long weekend.

Unfortunately when we got down there, we had brought the weather with us.   Our plane was met with the first rain in 60 days for Austin, and this was no ordinary rain.   It was a torrential downpour which forced the cab driver to go about 10 MPH….

We checked into the W Hotel in downtown, and we were upgraded to a River view suite which was an excellent surprise.    We then met one of Beth Ann’s friends and his wife at Swift’s Attic.   It was a fantastic place with great cocktails, funky décor, and great food.   From there we all decided to go see some live jazz at Elephant Room.  Elephant room is a cool, below ground jazz club with a good beer selection and wasn’t too crowded.

After a few beers there it was time to experience some Austin street food, and I finished the night with a Korean BBQ quesadilla at Chi’Lantro.   That was a treat and a perfect way to end the night — Caramelized kimchi, Bulgogi, cilantro, onion, Chi’Lantro salsa, magic sauce and sesame seeds.

The next day we woke up, and we headed immediately out on foot to the South Congress area to check out the area that was described by many as the coolest area of Austin.   We started with breakfast and bloody marys at South Congress Café which hit the spot – especially since we were able to somehow skip the 45 minute line (which seems to be the norm there).  We then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the area, checked out a cool men’s shop called Stag where they give you beer as you browse, and then had a refreshment break from the heat at the Hotel San Jose.   The hotel is famous for its Michelada, and although I was not a fan due to the salt and soy combo, Beth Ann thoroughly enjoyed it!   We headed back to the W with the plan to hit the pool for a little bit of relaxation, but we were in for a surprise as the pool was going nuts due to the Wet and Wild Memorial Day bash and packed with an upscale version of the Jersey Shore crew.   Not exactly the atmosphere we were looking for, but it definitely provided some great entertainment value.    That night we had dinner at La Condesa which serves really good Mexican food in a fun atmosphere followed by a post-dinner snack at Barley Swine which was a culinary delight despite being located in the middle of nowhere.   We then walked to the Rainey Street area and had a phenomenal bar-crawl experience starting with Lustre Pearl (best bar there) and then going to Clive, Lucille, and Mum.   Rainey Street is a fun and vibrant place and the story of its inception is a super interesting one and Lustre Pearl is a cannot miss gem that made us hearken back to our college experiences (3rd edition tiki-bar during the summer specifically for me).  It is a shame but not suprising given the rapid growth in that area that Lustre Pearl is being forced out by a new high-end residential complex.

Sunday was the day for our BBQ expedition, and as everyone had told us prior to the trip, we had to get it at Franklins.   That turned out to be more of a challenge than we thought since we arrived at 9:15am (1.45 hours before opening) and immediately learned that we had missed the cut for guaranteed BBQ.   It blew our minds but we quickly hatched plan B thanks to a newly published article of the “50 best BBQ joints in Texas”.   photoWe hoofed it through “up-and-coming” neighborhoods to the next on the list – John Mueller Meat Co.   And were we in for a treat!    The atmosphere was great, they had a live band playing, free Lone Star beer and Bloody Marys, and best of all they still had BBQ.  And some fine BBQ it was.   We sampled the brisket, pork shoulder, turkey, and pork rib and inspired me to step my meat smoking game up a notch.   Here is some of their handiwork:


Although we weren’t fortunate enough to eat Franklins BBQ, we also didn’t have to wait in very hot and VERY boring line for 4 hours!   We headed back to the pool where we let the food digest and prepared for the favorite meal of the trip – Uchi.

We live in Seattle and get great sushi there but Uchi is definitely one of the best if not the best Japanese food experience that I have ever had.   If anyone reading this is going to Austin, either Uchi or Uchiko are must visits.   Just make sure you have a reservation.   The sushi is imported each day from Japan and is very good but the hot and cold dishes were the standouts.    After a meal like that, we felt like the only way to chase it was with some great live music and the Continental Club didn’t disappoint.

When we woke up Monday, we still hadn’t had enough bbq so we hit up Lamberts for some great (albeit higher class/higher priced) bbq.   Then, in the airport we finished with a pulled pork sandwich from Salt Lick in the airport!   What a city and what a great place to take a long weekend vacation.   We will be back soon.

Other Resources:

A friend of mine put together a cheat sheet of his Austin favorites and recommendations which was super helpful in the planning.  I uploaded it and put it here:  Austin Spots.   Here is a good NY Time Travel article.

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An interesting Wired article — how they found Wired writer Evan Ratliff

In the latest Wired magazine, there was a fantastic article written by Evan Ratliff where he describes the process that he underwent to try to disappear for one month and hide from a series of electronic cyber-detectives.   Besides the gripping details of the manhunt, I was amazed by how much information people can find out about you online.
You can read the article here or in the December ’09 issue of Wired.
Posted in Computers and Internet | 2 Comments

Great TV show – Expedition Great White on National Geographic channel

Just saw this show on the National Geographic channel this morning.   It was called Expedition Great White and it detailed the work of a scientist who was tagging Great White sharks off the coast of Guadalupe Island (150 miles off the coast of Baja) in order to track and study their movements in the future.
The only problem… in order to tag them they need to get them safely on the boat and then release them safely back into the wild.    If you like sharks, science, or fishing, this show is for you!
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Cliff Lee – a phenomenal performance tonight

A few quick video snippets to show how calm under pressure he was tonight.   Just sick!

The casual catch

The behind the back catch


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One of the things that anyone who has ever blogged before knows is that it is like exercise…  once you stop it is hard to get started again.    I have had a ton of different things that I wanted to post, but the majority of them are longer entries and I haven’t had the time to sit down and write for an extended period of time.   I am going to make an extra effort over the next few weeks to write a few.

wiullamette_glasses As anyone who has read this blog before knows, I love wine and particularly Pacific Northwest wine.   Last year, Beth Ann and I organized a wine trip to Walla Walla and this year we wanted to do something different so we organized a trip to the Willamette Valley in Oregon.   Great Pinots in addition to a fantastic city – Portland – as home-base.   How could you go wrong?

It all started Friday afternoon.   After a quick 3 hour drive down to Portland, our first stop was a microbrew joint where we could warm up our taste buds with some of Oregon’s finest homebrews at Bailey’s Taproom.

hummerThe next morning we got up early and hit the road at around 9:30am in two 18 person white stretch hummers.    Is there any other way to transport 32 of your friends around to 6 Willamette wineries?    It was a beautiful bluebird day, and we started out at Argyle where we were set up at a few tables outside and proceeded to taste some nice white wines, a few different champagnes, and their Pinots.   It was a great start but I could tell that people were wondering if Willamette had the picturesque vineyards similar to Napa and Walla Walla.    Our next stop – Domaine Drouhin – was a good intro to the Willamette countryside.

domaine_drouhin       willamette_vines2

#2 on the wine trail was Domaine Drouhin and was it spectacular.   Not only were the views from the winery stunning, but the wine was tasty, and we were able to do our tasting in the bowels of the barrel room.    Among the 5-6 wines we tasted, my favorites were the 2005 Domaine Drouhin Laurene Pinot Noir and the Joseph Drouhin Puligny-Montrachet.   While they were clearly on the pricey side, I thought that they were worth the value and I ended up purchasing them both.

The 3rd stop was Sokol Blosser where we stopped for lunch and for some less expensive, everyday drinking wines.   I had pre-ordered sandwiches from Elephant’s Deli in Portland and they both hit the spot and perfectly complemented some seriously good value wines like the Meditrina red blend and the Evolution white blend.

After lunch, we were ready to step our game up a little bit and the next stop was a personal recommendation by my friend Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla.    Carlton Winemaker Studios was the place.   Greg recommended Carlton because they make quality wines, but also because of the principles on which the studio was founded.   From the website:

The idea behind The Carlton Winemakers Studio was to create a space where artisanal wine producers could come together under one roof and have access to a state-of-the-art, gravity-driven, efficient facility which would not only produce, but also promote their ultra-premium wines: all this without the extremely high up-front cost of building individual production facilities.

The winery is not in the hills and thus not extremely picturesque, but it had a cool little patio where we sat in the sun and enjoyed the lovely afternoon while tasting wines from 6 of the ten different wineries.   My personal favorites:  Hamacher 2007 “H” Pinot Noir, the Andrew Rich Vintner 2007 Rousanne, and the Carlton Winemakers Studio 2007 Malbec.

willamette_vinesBy this time, we were falling behind on the itinerary, but we still had two wineries left and I didn’t want to miss out on either of them.   Willakenzie was next so we boarded the Hummers and headed back into the hills.   People were definitely starting to feel the effects of all of the wine, but that didn’t stop them from buying a few bottles of the H “for the road”.    Looking back on it, it was clear that we didn’t know what we were in for because when we arrived at Willakenzie, we saw that the tasting menu was 9 different wines.  Each of them was fantastic and the views of the vineyards were gorgeous (see pic on the left).   It might have been the wine, but I left with a bunch of new purchases including:   Pinot Gris, Pierre Leon Pinot Noir, and the Kiana Pinot Noir.

medici_2The final winery was a special one for me because it is owned by the family of one of my brother’s best friends from college – Mike Medici.    His grandfather, Hal Medici, started Medici Vineyards in 1976, and it is one of the oldest vineyards in Willamette.   Wow, were we lucky.    Hal was there and he not only did he give us a personal tasting but he gave us a tour of his facilities where Medici’s winemaker – Peter Rosback – also makes Sineann, a Oregon cult wine.   Hearing his passion for wine, entrepreneurship, and family brought tears to everyones’ eyes, and we left feeling like some of the luckiest people to have gotten such an intimate glimpse into his life.   Plus, we tasted some amazing wine.   If you can get your hands on Medici and/or Sineann wines (they are hard to find), definitely pick some up and consider yourself lucky.

The ride home after the wine tour was a sight to behold.   Lots of people napping in preparation for a 5 course pre-fixe meal at Andina.   The food at Andina was delicious, filling, and for $60 per person very reasonable.    It was the perfect place for group dining, and it looked like it would have been just as good if not better with a smaller group as well.

image While some people went back to the hotel to pass out after dinner, I wanted to get the full Portland experience so we went to the Doug Fir and sat around a fantastic outdoor firepit and recapped the hilarious stories and events of the day.   Too much fun…

All in all, a great weekend of good wine, good food, and good friends.    The only issue is going to be finding a place to top it for next year’s wine trip!

For anyone planning a trip to Willamette, you can see our full itinerary  here (thanks to our insane trip planner/advisor Beth Ann) or by clicking on the SkyDrive image to the right.   Let me know if you have any questions though.


UPDATE 11/2012

We have taken a few other trips to Willamette and here is another great itinerary that we put together for smaller groups of people:  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzB0oQXdtzXNWERieWIzTUxQajg/edit?usp=sharing

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Top 100 all-time lists of albums and music – from KEXP

imageAs part of the KEXP 2009 pledge drive, the KEXP team has created a set of top 100 lists based on feedback from listeners and they have been playing them in order over the last few days.    Only a radio station that is listener supported could do something like this and as a huge fan of music in general as well as “lists” of any kind, I was excited to see what the KEXP listeners would choose.   

While I don’t agree with all of the results, it is still a pretty amazing set of albums and songs.  If these lists don’t make you want to pump your stereo up, I don’t know what will…

They started with the Best Local Band list and the top 10 artists were:
10 – Jimi Hendrix
9 – The Sonics
8 – Decemberists
7 – Soundgarden
6 – Mudhoney
5 – Death Cab for Cutie
4 – Pearl Jam
3 – Fleet Foxes
2 – Modest Mouse
1 – Nirvana

Sadly, I didn’t know who the Sonics were (but I do now).

They then played the Top 100 Best Cover Songs and the top 10 songs were:
10 – Nirvana – The Man Who Sold the World by David Bowie
9 – Gary Jules – Mad World by Tears for Fears
8 – Cowboy Junkies – Sweet Jane by Lou Reed
7 – Devo – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones
6 – Iron & Wine – Such Great Heights by the Postal Service
5 – Dinosaur Jr – Just Like Heaven by The Cure
4 – Cloud Cult – Mr. Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan
3 – Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower by Bob Dylan
2 – Johnny Cash – Hurt by Nine Inch Nails
1 – Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen

When comparing the list to my music collection, I realized that I didn’t own a few of the songs (although I do now).   I linked those ones above.

And then my favorite list was The Best Debut Albums
10 – U2 – Boy
9 – Bon Iver – For Emma Forever Ago
8 – Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville
7 – Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
6 – REM – Murmur
5 – Stone Roses – Stone Roses
4 – Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin
3 – Jeff Buckley – Grace
2 – Pearl Jam – Ten
1 – Arcade Fire – Funeral

Of which I own (and love) all of the albums listed.

If you like the music above, you would love KEXP and luckily for you, you can listen to it streaming online from their website and they also offer a free download every day from their podcast.


Posted in Music | 18 Comments

Introducing my 2009 Fantasy Football team…

Tonight we held our annual fantasy football draft for a league that I participate in with my friends from college.    It is always a great way to catch up and talk football with friends that I unfortunately don’t get to see that often.

After doing some post-draft analysis, I’m feeling pretty good about my team and hoping that I can continue my winning streak (2nd place last year and 1st place two years ago).  The two things that I am not happy with though are:  1) No Eagles players – bummer because it is always fun cheering harder for one of your team’s players and 2) Drafting T.O. – it was a pure business decision.   I hate him personally but it is hard to hate his stats when he is on your team….   

What do you think?   Do you think anyone on my team is going to be a bust this year?

Matt Ryan – QB ATL
Jason Campbell – QB WAS
Chris Johnson –  RB TEN
Maurice Jones-Drew – RB JAC
Reggie Bush – RB NO
Felix Jones – RB DAL
Ray Rice – RB BAL
Anquan Boldin – WR ARI
Terrell Owens – WR BUF
Bernard Berrian – WR MIN
Percy Harvin – WR MIN
Jeremy Shockey – TE NO
Josh Brown – K STL
Seahawks – DEF

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Our Colombian Top 12 Favorite Things list – and other Colombia trip lists

Wow…  I have been trying to write this blog entry for the past 4 months but after spending 5 hours in the Atlanta airport this weekend, I finally got around to it.

In short, it is a set of lists that Beth Ann and I put together on the back of some napkins as we were sitting in the Bogota airport awaiting our flight back to Seattle.   At the time it was more of a fun recap/re-living of our Colombian experience for the two of us, but after looking back on it now while writing the blog entry, it brought a enormous smile to my face all over again!

Here goes:

Our Colombian Top 12 List (in no particular order)

  1. The itinerary that Beth Ann and Torri created – it couldn’t have been more perfect.   Leave me a comment if you want a copy of it. 
  2. The Colombian people – enough said.  They were fantastic, accommodating, gracious, and most of all fun!
  3. Having two friends living locally and “looking out for us” – this included our own personal drivers, our own VIP boat tour, meeting the Colombia equivalent of Mario Batalli, among many other things
  4. The Charleston hotel group – the quality and price of the hotels and importantly their appreciation of the history of each building during the renovation.   In Bogota we stayed at Casa Medina and in Cartagena, we stayed at the Hotel Santa Theresa.
  5. The insanity of Andres Carne de Res in Bogota – words can’t do it justice but it is a must-do if you go to Colombia
  6. The amazing variety of previously unknown fruits and jugos naturales with names like Maracuya, Guanabana, Lulo, and others 
  7. Tayrona and the EcoHabs huts in particular – they were simple thatched huts but with amenities and views that were other-worldly.
  8. Our VIP boat trip to Islas Rosario off Cartagena – four people on a 50- foot power cruiser with a captain and first mate???  Seriously?
  9. The turquoise blue water at Islas Rosario – the picture speaks for itself
  10. Cartagena sunset on the last night of our trip and the colors of the Cartagena buildings during the day 
  11. Walking on top of the fortress walls surrounding Cartagena
  12. Vitrola restaurant in Cartagena – one of my favorite dining experiences in the last few years

Random other things that were great about Colombia overall

  • Safety Checkpoints – everyone was so concerned about our safety when we were planning the trip.   It wasn’t even an issue once.   I felt as safe/safer in Colombia than in any other 3rd world country I had been to
  • Local beer – they have a good variety of local beer options to choose from if you like your beer watered down like i do….   BONUS!   Favorite was Club Colombia by far.
  • Pancakes – seems like a strange thing to include on the list, but every place we went they served pancakes (breakfast is huge in Colombia culture) and they were fantastic.
  • Cheap and plentiful taxis – The taxis were insanely abundant in Colombia and they were dirt cheap.  

Things that could be improved about Colombia

  • T-shirt selection – most countries have a set of “traveller shirts” like the local beer shirts, etc…   Colombia had the most limited selection that I have seen in any country and I was even actively searching them out.
  • Streetfood – Usually streetfood is my primary source of sustenance when travelling.  In SouthEast Asia, I think I went a few weeks eating only streetfood in Thailand and Vietnam.    In contrast, in Colombia I can count on one hand the number of times that I found good streetfood.  Bummer.
  • Spicy Food – We definitely had some fantastic meals in Colombia.   However, we didn’t find any food that had great local spice/kick to it.    We ended up buying hot sauce and carrying it around with us so that we could add it to the food.
  • Condiments – they just don’t seem to get the need for condiments in Colombia.   Even basics like ketchup were rarely found…   Given the overall bland nature of the food, this was really surprising to us.
  • Pace of service – Slow service is always expected (and mostly cherished) when travelling abroad but Colombia was seriously on a time of its own unlike any other country I have been to.   In some places they were trying to rush us through our meals by taking half-finished plates and drinks away and in other places it took two hours just to get something like chicken and rice.
  • The Decameron hotel group – we stayed here by mistake one night and it was the worst decision we made all trip…   It was expensive, poorly located, overrun with tourists, and facilities were not great.   We would have rather stayed at a $2/night hostel than this place for $125/night.   Avoid at all costs…

For our next visit to Colombia

  • A little more strenuous activity – we did a lot of beach combing, beach sitting, and walking around Cartagena and Bogota
  • Visit the Castillo in Cartagena
  • Check out the Hotel Agua Baru on the islands
  • More dancing (salsa and other types)
  • Hike to Ciudad Perdida (maybe…)
  • Hike to Pueblito
  • Scuba diving in Santa Marta
  • Visit Medellin
  • Visit the area between Bogota and Cali


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Great Father’s Day story about DeSean Jackson and his father

I saw this story yesterday on the NFL network and thought it was a great story about DeSean Jackson’s road to the NFL and the role that his father (who passed away in May) played in it.

Desean seems like a classy guy, and I am happy that he plays for the Philadelphia Eagles!



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