I know that MLA would be cheaper if I still lived in Seattle and could put you up in my basement, but since I moved away, you’ll have to settle for this list.

First off, where you’ll be: the Convention Center is downtown. Downtown is a nice enough place for mall shopping and chain restaurants, but you’re not allowed to judge Seattle on downtown. After dark, downtown doesn’t do Seattle justice.

Seattle is a city of neighborhoods. The neighborhoods that adjoin downtown are:

  • Pioneer Square (the old downtown) - Now has a lot of industry and good lunch spots, but no real reason to go there unless you have time for the Underground tour.)
  • Belltown - This is right next to Pike Place Market and along the waterfront. Some lovely restaurants, but likely to be pricier for both drinks and food. You may end up here, but if you can steer people in another direction, do.
  • International District - Could be a longish walk, but great for food. Samurai Noodle for ramen, Jade Garden for dim sum (long wait, but worth it), and lots of other great food. Uwajimaya is the Japanese grocery store; great place for cheap gifts and foods you might not find in Connecticut.
  • Capitol Hill - This is where my heart is. (On the way to Capitol Hill from Downtown is First Hill; they blend together.) First/Capitol Hill are the first residential neighborhoods in Seattle, and Capitol Hill is now combination college/hipster and gay neighborhood.

Two notes about Seattle:

  1. People in Seattle like their personal space, and can seem a little chilly. Don’t be offended.
  2. It’s not Pike’s Place. It’s a market on a street called Pike Place; hence, Pike Place Market. Drives the locals (aka me) nuts when you stick the extra apostrophe-s on there.

Now, places to know. Right up the hill from the Convention Center is the Pike-Pine corridor. If you go this direction instead of towards downtown, the food/drink options are much better (and likely cheaper).

Food and drinks within a 20 min walk:

  • For a reasonably priced Italian dinner, hit Ristorante Machiavelli. It can handle groups or be romantic, and you may need to wait a bit. But you can also sit and eat in the bar, and if you wait it out the food is wonderful and the house wine is pretty cheap.
  • For a cheap and awesome lunch, Marination Station is Hawaiian/Korean/Mexican. Used to be a food truck, but now it’s a little storefront above the QFC on Broadway. Delicious and cheap. It’s about a 20 minute walk from downtown.
  • For a few hours of downtime, head to Bauhaus. The coffee is not great, but the books and the exposed brick are cozy, and the people-watching is unbeatable. Plus they’re open late, so if you have stuff to work on and your hotel room is depressing, this is your spot.
  • For a close, hearty lunch, the Baguette Box is great. Everything on the menu is wonderful, and the vegetarian options are excellent.
  • For really good coffee, go up the Pike/Pine corridor to Victrola or Stumptown. Don’t order fancy Starbucks-named things; order a simple espresso drink (like a latte) or a drip coffee.