Given all my years plying Seattle and area streets and neighborhoods, I have made up my mind on what is the best of everything there is to offer to the discriminating consumer. I am a bit fussy and do demand value for my dollar so I guarantee you will be pleased by selecting any of my various suggestions. If I don't mention something that you yourself think is obvious, it doesn't mean I don't know about it, instead strongly implying I either don't like the establishment or it just isn't worth mentioning. While yes, opinionated, I also try to know what I am talking about, guiding you to the "best of" and not the worst of anything, for instance in the "best free view of Seattle" category I recommend the top of the Volunteer Park water tower located on the top of Capitol Hill. There is no better 360 degree view in the city and you don't have to pay a dime to see it. And while taking in the view, you can also read the permanent installation detailing how Seattle's great and wonderful park system was created. And you get exercise to boot, climbing those spiral stairs! Yes I know, huff & puff, ain't it ruff?
My favorite small park, Llandover Woods, is located at the NW corner of 3rd Avenue NW and NW 145th Street, adjacent to and just south of the Highlands gated community. This narrow strip of woods heading down a hill provides just enough unexpected solitude to help one forget that you are in the middle of an urban center. I also have a couple of favorite napping spots allowing me a few minutes of much needed "rest & recuperation."
Two other parks, both overlooking the Puget Sound, are worth mentioning, Discovery Park in Magnolia; and Carkeek Park in the Broadview neighborhood. Both are a bit wild and containing enough up and down twisting trails to get slightly lost in. Often at night I hear the resident coyotes at Carkeek yipping and howling, telling you that civilization will never totally win out over persistent Mother Nature. Check out the Apple Orchard trail on the south side of Carkeek, enjoying the creek as you descend toward the Sound.
I would be totally amiss if I didn't mention what perhaps is the crown jewel of the City of Seattle park system, Kubota Gardens located way down south in the greater Rainier Beach/Skyway neighborhoods. This somewhat hard to find park in located just off Renton South & 55the Avenue South. The official address is 9817 55th Avenue S. You will be pleased, I assure you, for taking the time to go there. And as you are nearby, drop by for a snack at the Redwing Cafe.
If you are in West Seattle, take the time to walk along the walkway above the beach at Lincoln Park. In the summer, take a dip in the public saltwater pool. The park is adjacent to the Vashon Ferry Terminal taking you to Vashon Island, a great place for a daylong excursion. Some nice beaches to walk on once there. The shopping district has some good cafes.
And after walking up and down at the Volunteer Park water tower, head over to the once free Volunteer Park Plant Conservatory, now charging a $4.00 adult admission fee. Regardless, it is one of the better "can't miss" destinations in Seattle. After taking in all the flowers, you might be inspired to proceed slightly north to the historical Lakeview Cemetery. Many go there to visit Bruce Lee's graveside. North of Lakeview is a Civil War cemetery. All worth your time and energy
As will you quickly notice, my preference is for Chinese and Asian cooking. Having first tasted my first Chinese food at Denver's Lotus Gardens in 1964, I have been hooked ever since. The first four joints listed is where I mostly eat out, interested in good, very digestible food along with quick service. When driving cab, I am usually in and out in 30-45 minutes, no time for argument, no time for delay.
Tai Tung is Seattle's oldest Chinese restaurant. I have eaten there over 5000 times and not counting since 1987. Since writing that book about their waiter, Milton Wan, I have become even closer to the ownership and staff. The food is good and basic Chinese food. Service is fast and competent. Say hello to owner Harry, he of the white apron standing behind the front counter. 655 S. King Street, Seattle, WA
Around the corner from Tai Tung is the Honey Court Seafood Restaurant, open late 7 days a week at 516 Maynard Avenue South. Great friendly staff. Often my choice is the seafood noodle soup. And also go there for their dim sum served for breakfast and lunch. Enjoy!
As I often find myself late in the north end, I have two mainstays, both located across the Seattle N.145th boundary line into Shoreline, WA. Yang's Noodle is a "real" Chinese restaurant tempting you with dishes you have never thought of. Their seafood noodle soup is great. And their steamed pot stickers are perhaps the best you will find anywhere short of the People's Republic of China. And yes, I have chowed down in China and Hong Kong too! 14725 Aurora Avenue North (Highway 99), Shoreline, WA.
Nara Chinese Restaurant, 15033 Aurora Ave. North, Shoreline, is open late to 2 AM. Lately I have been eating their House Seafood Noodle Soup. Request "no added" msg. Cheap and good which is what we need and want. And generally fast service too.
Across from Tai Tung is an old favorite, the Kau Kau BBQ, 656 South King Street, Seattle. Best barbecue pork in all of Seattle. Their soy sauce chicken is also good. They have a takeout window just inside the door.
If you are in the lower Queen Anne, check out the diner, the Mecca Cafe, open late and ready to serve you "old time Seattle" cooking, the way it used to be. Nothing fancy and the bar can be loud but who cares, old style is good style! and enjoy the booths and jukebox. 526 Queen Anne Avenue North, Seattle.
Also in the Queen Anne is the best Vietnamese soup in the entire Seattle area, Pho Viet Ahn Restaurant. Skip all of the others, their broth laced with msg. Not so at this place! 372 Roy Street, Seattle, WA.
If in the mood for Thai instead, cross over the street to Bahn Thai, open since 1984 at 409 Roy Street. One of the best of the too many Thai joints in Seattle. Choose the Bahn Thai and be happy you did.
East of Chinatown on South Jackson is the Moonlight Cafe, a Vietnamese joint featuring both outstanding regular and vegetarian menus. Was once a restaurant of first choice when I lived on Capitol Hill. 1919 South Jackson Street, Seattle, WA.
As mentioned, the Redwing Cafe is in the far south end, just off of Rainier Avenue South, at 9272 57th Avenue South. Great bakery along with breakfast items and coffee. Currently it is featuring homemade eggnog.
Pizza worth eating:
Soprano's, 7729 24th Avenue NW, in the Ballard/Crown Hill neighborhood. Seattle. Run by a family from Bulgaria.
Northlake Pizza, 660 NE Northlake, Seattle, WA. Big, thick pizzas. Go there when you are hungry. Old time Seattle at its pizza best.
Next week, part two. Want to know where to get your beard trimmed or where to wash your soiled socks? Stay tuned.