A Tourist's Guide to Downtown Seattle

This originated as an article that Terry Denbrook (past treasurer of PNW AES) created for another purpose. I rewrote parts and added to it. We used this for the Audio Engineering Society s Internet Audio Conference, which was held in Seattle in June 1997. Rick Chinn, PNW Webmaster


City streets are on a quasi-organized grid system. Streets run east-west and Avenues run north-south. Directional designators in addresses, as well as their placement in the address, are significant. The Avenue numbering system begins at the waterfront and ends near the Cascade Mountains. Numbered streets (as opposed to avenues) don't occur in Seattle until you travel north of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. East of Lake Washington is a grid of numbered streets and numbered avenues with a few named streets.


There are many fine stores downtown including Nordstrom's main store at 1501 5th. Another store headquarters in Seattle is REI: Recreational Equipment Inc., Their main store is just off the freeway downtown at 222 Yale Ave. N. If you are into camping, etc. this is a no-miss store. There are several Malls in the Seattle Area including Northgate Mall, which is said to have been the first enclosed mall in the country, located north of downtown on I 5: Southcenter Mall which is on the way to the airport, go left at the exit from I 5 instead of right: and Bellevue Square which is easily the most upscale one in the area, go east on either floating bridge and exit to Bellevue.


Hard Liquor in Washington can be bought by the drink in many restaurants, but by the bottle only at State Liquor Stores, There is one downtown at 710 Pike at 7th, it closes somewhat early (anti-wino measure). You can buy beer and wine at most grocery and convenience stores. You must be 21 to buy or consume alcoholic beverages of any kind in Washington State.

Dinning in Seattle

Seattle has many nationally rated restaurants...

In the general downtown area are:

The Flying Fish, and Shiro's are particularly close to the Belle Harbor Conference Center. So is Anthony's diner.

The El Gaucho, 2505 1st Avenue, Belltown. A STEAK house, with a cigar room. Steak is in capital letters because this is a serious, no-fooling you better LOVE meat kinda place. This is a place to see and be seen.

Outside downtown

Fast Food in Seattle

There are probably more Teriyaki places in Seattle than Hamburger Places. They're all over; just like espresso stands. For those of you who want to try The Seattle Hamburger there are two main local chains Dicks, their nearest location to downtown at 500 Queen Anne Ave. N. near Seattle Center, for the inexpensive burger. They have the best greasy french fries (made from fresh potatoes) if you like them greasy, also milkshakes made with real ice cream. Open until 2 am. A bit more upscale is Kidd Valley, also near Seattle Center at 531 Queen Anne Ave. N.

Seattle is not really a Hot Dog town but there is one chain with excellent hot dogs The Frankfurter with downtown area locations at 1525 4th downtown, 1023 Alaskan Way on the Waterfront, and in the Columbia Center.

A recent Seattle fast food outlet is Taco Del Mar, which specializes in seafood tacos (and non-fish tacos) locations at 1336 1st Ave at Union and 90 Yesler Way Pioneer Square (among others). It s a lot of food for not much dough. The old timer in Seattle fast food is Ivar's Fish Bar on Pier 54 in front of Ivar's Acres of Clams. It's been around for about sixty years, ever since its flounder Ivar Haglund found there was more money to be made selling fish and chips than showing off fish in an aquarium. Dine out on the pier in the company of the polite seagulls who will ask you to share.


Seafood is probably the food Seattle is best known for (next to coffee). Some of the best seafood restaurants are, in the downtown area:

Outside of the downtown area are some that may be worth the trip.

Regardless of where you choose to eat Salmon, one variety to watch for is the Copper River King which is said to be the best Pacific Salmon (I concur). It is only available for a few weeks in May and June. It is worth whatever the restaurant is charging. You can also buy them at the Pike Place market packed for shipment home.

Steaks & 24-hour

If you are looking for steaks:


Dessert, Computers and Coffee

For those of you who haven't had enough of computers, the Speakeasy Cafe at 2304 2nd has computers with internet access. Just upstairs from the Speakeasy is the 211 Club, Seattle's oldest pool and billiard hall

One area outside downtown that is worth a visit is Capitol Hill. A couple of reasons to go are Dilettane Chocolates at 416 Broadway East for some of the best desserts and chocolates in Seattle (The other place for chocolate is Fran's at 1300 E Pike) and Chang's Mongolian Grill at 1827 Broadway where you can get all you can eat for around $10. You pick your ingredients and then they quick grill them for you.

What Else?

Seattle is a diverse locale with much to offer. This list is only the tip-top of the iceberg. There's a lot more. The Yellow Pages lists many more restaurants, and there is a section organized by ethnicity.

If you want to catch some live music, we recommend that you locate one of the tabloid newspapers: The Stranger or the Weekly. Both have extensive listings of the local club scene.

There are two prime jazz clubs: Tula's  (Belltown) and Jazz Alley  (6th Avenue, just north of the Westin Hotel). A new club, the Triple Door,  located under the Wild Ginger restaurant (3rd & Union), has a range of different programming, including jazz.

* poulet du caotchouc is another way of saying Rubber Chicken.

Last modified 08/14/2014.