Depending on when you arrive at Old Town Bistro, you may think you've reached two completely different venues. During the week, chef David Ortiz and his staff serve up steaks, salads, and pastas. Prizing eclecticism over any particular type of cuisine, house specialties include fish and chips platters with house-cut fries and barbecue sandwiches loaded with pork shoulder that's been smoked for 24 hours.
On the weekend, the eatery transforms into a dance club with a thundering 10,000-watt sound system. Local DJs test the limits of eight house subwoofers, spinning tracks synched to videos on 10 flat screens. The sprawling dance floor keeps dancers in motion beneath a colorful swirl of disco lights as opposed to a colander taped on a spotlight
Even the more modest accommodations at W Seattle are deluxe. Pillow-top beds, goose-down comforters, WiFi, and bathrooms stocked with luxurious Bliss products make stays comfortable and relaxing. Guests who want a truly special stay can book the Extreme Wow suite. The 1,000-square-foot suite is located on the hotel's top floor with soaring city views, which gives guests a taste of what living in the Space Needle would be like, if the Space Needle had a jacuzzi.
While guests may come from faraway places, the food served at Trace, the W's acclaimed restaurant, doesn't. Executive Chef Steven Ariel cooks up Asian-inspired dishes with ingredients from local farms. You’ll find 100% organic produce from Willie Green's Organic Farm used in salads and locally caught seafood from Taylor Shellfish Farms in the bouillabaisse. The fresh food, served in Trace's renovated dining room, led to Food & Wine magazine naming it one of the Best Hotel Restaurants.
The first thing guests notice when walking into W Seattle is the colossal, three-story fireplace centered in the lobby. But this isn't some homespun relic. After a massive redesign (which netted the hotel a Restaurant and Bar Design Award in 2013), the architect designed a modern fireplace area that's welcoming—the space is dubbed the Living Room—while keeping to the W's modern aesthetic. In Trace, the designers took some structural columns that were once an awkward necessity and transformed them into sleek, geometric poles that frame the sushi station like curtains, drawing attention to the theatrical preparation. Elsewhere in the dining room, a mural pays homage to the duality of Seattle—a nature-lover's haven and a sci-tech mecca. One side of the mural appears to show jellyfish, but as you walk to the other side, a supersonic jet emerges from the picture.
Mai Thaiku, a relocated and reimaged incarnation of the now-closed Thaiku, boasts a new menu centered around the authentic Thai cuisine that Chef Anne Sawvalak grew up eating. This includes fresh salads built from green mango, wok-fried noodles with Chinese sausage or sliced pork, and curries simmered with fresh Thai basil or lime and cilantro. But fans of the old menu need not mourn: while The Seattle Times raved about the charred baby squid skewers, they also lauded the kitchen's willingness to prepare old Thaiku dishes when possible. To help toast favorites old and new, the restaurant also offers a cocktail list that infuses classic drinks with exotic ingredients. The potent concoctions include a martini made with black tea-infused vodka and an old fashioned made with the aphrodisiac yoshimbe, which is limited to one per customer or tired cupid.
Northwestern ingredients swim through Acquabar Bistro and Lounge's menu of homestyle American fare and seafood entrees, and fresh fruit and herbs infuse the bar's list of inventive cocktails. On weekdays, Acquabar's adjacent café specializes in casual lunches such as toasty grilled paninis and espresso with coffee beans from Caffe D'arte, and the restaurant's bistro and lounge invites dinner diners to luxuriate amid modern hardwood décor and feast on regional American entrees including Cajun catfish and po boys crafted from local oysters. Owner and experienced restaurateur David Leong, who was once profiled in Seattle Weekly, also attracts late-night revelers with live music, DJs, and sultry mermaid vocalists.
Hot-pink chairs, barstools, and booths cradle diners as they enjoy plates of Thai cuisine. The menu's fragrantly seasoned entrees borrow heavily from the recipes of Thailand, featuring various curries, fiery chili pastes, and housemade peanut sauce. Chinese staples include sweet-and-sour chicken, whose complementary flavors mirror the restaurant’s complex cocktails. Bartenders muddle jalapeños, infuse vodkas with blackberry and cantaloupe in-house, and periodically retreat to the back room to squeeze fresh milk from ripe coconuts.
As dinner parties cycle through, the modern setting begins to morph into a late-night lounge, which remains open until as late as 2 a.m. as DJs spin records and tap dance into the microphone.
Amid exposed-brick and wooden walls, barkeeps at The Living Room blend libations such as Templeton Rye and St. Germain with sodas, fruits, and foams. Chefs whip up light bites, cheese plates, and bocadillo sandwiches to sop up the signature cocktails.
The Living Room's rotating contemporary-art exhibitions add intrigue to the downstairs bar and the upstairs fireplace, where a retired FDR still delivers his fireside chats to anyone who will listen. In addition to hosting Sunday-night trivia, The Living Room makes good on its title as "a beacon of eclectic sonic delights," according to (The Stranger), with a roster of DJs and electronic musicians.