As you and your dining date nestle close in Crêpe Cafe's cozy confines, you'll get to watch the crêpes get spun right in front of you. Though crêpes are traditionally a dessert, it's recommended that you start with the menu of dinner crêpes first. Whet your appetite with a bubbly-cheesed French onion soup before wrapping your reptilian tongue around entrees such as Heaven's Crêpe (Black Forest ham and swiss topped with homemade béchamel sauce and fresh asparagus, $12.95 for a regular) or the Island Girl (shrimp with fresh mango, spinach, roma tomatoes, avocado, and Swiss topped with a Caribbean lime and mushroom sauce, $15.95). Vegetarians won't have to huffily pick things out of their crêpe and then feed them to roaming restaurant dogs if they order the Westchester (avocado, swiss, caramelized onions, roma tomatoes, and spinach with sun-dried tomato coulis, $12.95 for a regular) or the house specialty, Mushroom Medley (assorted mushrooms sautéed in a white wine and garlic cream sauce wrapped in a buckwheat crêpe with gruyere cheese, $12.95).
Where to Sit: Ask for a table on the terrace, where patrons can look out on all the bustling activity of Pike Place Market.
When to Go: Try happy hour, which occurs from 4–6 p.m. Monday–Friday.
While You’re Waiting: Grab a seat at the long, wooden bar. Bartenders mix cocktails and pour 30 wines by the glass.
Press and Praise
Croque-monsieur: originated in French cafés, this pressed sandwich is filled with ham, gruyère, and béchamel. (A fried egg turns it into a croque-madame.)
Confit: a French term used to describe food that has been cooked in oil, syrup, or—in the case of some meat—its own fat, and then preserved.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Buy a vintage poster at Old Seattle Paperworks (1514 Pike Place).
After: Catch a surprising, tongue-in-cheek production at Theater Schmeater (2125 3rd Avenue).
When to Go
What to Wear: Although Frommer’s calls The Georgian “the most traditional and formal restaurant in the city,” the dress code is “smart casual,” meaning no jackets are required.
Inside Tip: Splurge on the five-course prix-fixe meal with handpicked wine pairings; it usually features fresh seafood and seasonal specialties.
Celeriac: a root vegetable that tastes similar to celery. It’s also known as turnip-rooted celery or knob celery.
Foie gras: the fatty liver from a goose or duck that's been force-fed. The liver is then marinated in a mixture of alcohols and seasonings, and is typically baked.
While Virginia Inn started as a bar, it's now more of a bistro, serving specialty cocktails, local beers and wines, and dishes made with Pacific Northwest ingredients. Washington beef comprises burgers, Alaskan halibut fills sandwiches, and Oregon shrimp mingles with veggies. Even the ice cream is local, hailing from Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream.
Art has been an important part of Virginia Inn since opening under the current management in 1981. It claims to be one of the area's first "artbars," featuring more than 300 artists on its walls over the years. So beloved is its art tradition that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer called it one of the two best places to show art in the city in the '80s.
The only reason Virginia Inn wasn’t considered an all-out dive bar was its historic status (it's been around in some form since 1903). That changed in 2008, however, when the space was renovated into what Seattle Met calls "a French-meets-Northwest bistro and bar that outclasses some of the best restaurants in the city." Frommer's also took notice of the menu, praising the spot for it’s “decent, inexpensive French food".
With Chloe Bistrot, French-born chef and owner Laurent Gabriel has transformed an unassuming storefront in Laurelhurst into an elegant eatery seemingly plucked straight from Paris. Inside, cherry-red upholstery, dark chestnut walls, and polished tabletops puts guests into a Parisian state of mind even before they glimpse the menu of classic French fare. Diners can begin with escargot in garlic and parsley butter before moving onto steamed mussels in a tomato, garlic, and fresh thyme broth. An extensive wine list, meanwhile, pulls together varietals culled from across the French countryside, while authentic desserts like tarte tatin rival those found in any French bakery or left carelessly on any French windowsill.