Seattle for One Day

Breakfast:

5 Points Cafe

5 Point Cafe is a divey 24 hour diner in downtown Seattle right near the EMP and the Space Needle. They promise to cheat tourists and drunks and their motto is “Don’t be a dick.” Do I need to tell you that their bartender serves the best bloody mary you’ve ever had when you’ve been up for 36 hours straight and perhaps you don’t remember all of those hours…? Not that I would know about that. But I do know that The Mess is the best crispy pile of potatoes, veggies, bacon and eggs that you could ever hope to have after a long night of mayhem. If you’re the kind of person that loves a good breakfast happy hour, you’ll love 5 Point Cafe .

But maybe you don’t like to drink your breakfast and you’d prefer some light and a view of the Capitol Hill neighborhood?

Glo's Cafe

Then try Glo’s. The walk is uphill, the space is tiny and you’ll wait for quite a while but the food is fresh, excellent and worth it. So, go to Glo’s, put your name in, sit outside to wait and bring a newspaper so you’re all current on the world’s affairs by the time you get to breakfast. There are many worse ways to spend a morning.

Lunch should probably be quick because you spent the morning seeing the Space Needle and the Chilhuly Glass Gardens

Space Needle, Seattle

(you did, right??) and you really need to see the Experience Music Project (EMP) before you leave town.

So, go for sushi.

Blue Sushi

Blue C Sushi has colored coded plates on a conveyor belt making it easy to order just as much sushi as you’ll actually enjoy and eat immediately. The crispy won tons with edamame dip are great and if you leave Seattle without trying wild salmon sashimi, I’d consider it a travesty. Order from the chefs if you want something special and this is the one place that I recommend visiting when it’s busy because the chefs are jamming, the fresh sushi is coming out steadily and there’s no waiting for anything. Just crack open a pair of chop sticks and dig in.

The afternoon is the EMP.

Experience Music Project

The intimate concert space full of couches where you can lounge and watch recorded live performances and interviews with musicians famous and infamous is worth the price of admission. And then there’s the rest of the Project. The installations change regularly but we saw great exhibits on Jimi Hendrix, the Grunge movement, the history of the leather jacket charting it’s course from airmen through bikers to musicians and the basement was completely taken over by sci fi monsters and the history of horror films. Ecelectic and interesting, the EMP is a don’t miss experience if you’re visiting Seattle.

And now dinner. If you’re doing classic Seattle, then go down to the wharf and eat at the Crab Pot.

The Crab Pot

Giant piles of seafood and tiny hammers with which to attack it. Roll up your sleeves, put on that cheesy plastic bib and eat your weight in fresh crab legs and boiled red potatoes. By the end of the night the napkins will surround you in massive heaps, covering all those chunks of corn you pushed to the side, and there won’t be an unsqueezed lemon anywhere to be found. Expect to hear “I can’t eat another thing” followed by “Is that the last shrimp?” at least once before the end of the evening.

If you want dinner without a plastic bib, go here:

How to Cook a Wolf

Inspired by M.F.K. Fisher’s book of the same name (fantastic, you should read it), chef Ethan Stowell designed How to Cook a Wolf‘s menu around fresh ingredients and simple preparation. He offers small plates, excellent pastas and an impressive Italian wine list. It’s a tiny place that’s good for an intimate dinner for a small group.

After dinner drinks at a speak easy? No problem.

Knee High Stocking Co.

You can find the Knee High Stocking Co. by way of a tiny sign near an otherwise unmarked door in a windowless building after you’ve made a reservation by texting the number on the website. The inside is all dark wood tables and shiny bottles of booze framed by beautiful murals, the drinks are inventive and they serve food late but it’s tiny small so don’t bring a big group.

Maybe the sun’s coming up when you leave Knee High? In that case, hit the 5 Point Cafe and order a bloody mary to sustain you as you stagger home. Tell the bartender to make it extra spicy.

Eating in Southern California

Start with breakfast in Huntington Beach at The Sugar Shack

The Sugar Shack

Sun, scrambled eggs and perfect crispy hash browns. Is there a more perfect breakfast? Take your time. Hang out. Have another cup of coffee and then wander down to the pier and watch the surfers catching waves. This is Southern California breakfast at its finest.

There are a couple choices for lunch starting with Sankai in Costa Mesa

San Kai

Yes it’s in a strip mall. I know. Go anyway because the fish is fresh and you can sit outside. Plus sushi is the prettiest food you’ll ever put in your mouth.

But maybe tacos are more your thing? Then head south to Carlsbad and go to Cessy’s Taco Shop

Cessy's Taco Shop

The thing I love most about the Southwest and Southern Cali is that you can get better Mexican food off a red plastic tray in a glorified taco truck than you get in most sit down restaurants up north. Cessy’s has great tacos. Get lots of salsa and go to town on the fresh hot chips. Lunch. Bam!

How about dinner by the water on Harbor Island?

Island Prime - C Level

That’s macadamia nut encrusted baked brie from Island Prime – C Level. Yum. We had a table overlooking the water where we could see the boats sailing in the bay and at night you can see the San Diego city skyline. Island Prime serves classy food in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s classic California.

Stop at the Hotel del Coronado for drinks before you head home.

Hotel del Coronado

A historic landmark with 125 years of rich California beach history, Hotel del Coronado has beautifully landscaped grounds and a gorgeous bar so it’s worth a visit.

End your evening by watching the sun set over to the ocean. Because that’s why you came to California, right?

Pacific ocean

Chicago Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Chicago’s has a lot of great places to eat. Here are a few more.

Fat Elvis Waffles

Fat Elvis Waffles

I wrote a long post raving about my trip to Girl and the Goat a little over a year ago so of course I was going to check out Stephanie Izard’s new restaurant, Little Goat Diner. The fat Elvis waffles with bacon bits, banana slices and peanut butter foam are incredible. The smoked pork toffee milkshake was also incredible. Be prepared to wait for a table, however, because they don’t take reservations. And perhaps they should? It is Stephanie Izard and even though it’s just gussied up diner food, waiting an hour to get it takes the shine off the experience a bit. I really liked the airy open space of the restaurant and  the  inventive things she’s doing with the menu (tempura mashed potatoes? Oh yeah!) but for now I’d go back to Girl and the Goat because waiting an hour for that food seems much more reasonable.

Another breakfast option? Naturally.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Go to Carriage House and eat fried green tomatoes while sitting on the porch. Modern low country food in Chicago. Who knew?

Goatsnake Burger

Goatsnake Burger

A friend of mine wanted to go to Kuma’s Corner because Lady Gaga liked the burgers. Well, I’m with her because the burgers here are divine and the atmosphere is all rock and roll and edgy attitude. So, if you like your burgers with a side of Black Sabbath, go to Kuma’s Corner. It’ll be a wait but it’ll be worth it.

Or perhaps you’re a lady who lunches without dripping burger sauce down her arms? Then go to NoMI at the Park Hyatt for sushi.

Spicy Tuna Roll

Spicy Tuna Roll

Elegant lovely atmosphere, elegant lovely food and elegant lovely people. Plus a fantastic view of Miracle Mile and all the shopping you’ll want to do afterwards.

Seared Bay Scallops

Seared Bay Scallops

If you want classy classic Chicago for dinner, you really need to go to Blackbird. Paul Kahan is one of Chicago’s best chefs and his tasting menu at Blackbird is extensive and luxurious. Treat yourself. Have a 10 course meal and add wine pairings. You only live once and while you live, you should definitely eat at Blackbird.

After dinner, how about a glass of champagne and some live music?

Champagne

Champagne

How do you feel today? Are you radiant with a rich maturity or perhaps you’re refined, expensive and classic? Order your champagne to fit your mood, get a few late night nibbles and settle in for a relaxed evening at Pops.

Then take a wander through Millennium Park on your way home.

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline

Cheers to my favorite city!

Dinner at Om Modern Asian Kitchen

Appetizers included steamed lobster dumplings, which I liked but didn’t love. The wonton wrapper was a bit thick for the filling.

Om Modern Asian Kitchen

But this tuna poki salad was fantastic and included goat cheese and green apples.

Om Modern Asian Kitchen

Salmon sashimi is my favorite sushi option and I love the curved glass dish.

Om Modern Asian Kitchen

I also love any restaurant where I can order Aji.

Om Modern Asian Kitchen

I think this was our salmon skin roll…

Om Modern Asian Kitchen

I’m not sure why bananas foster is a common dessert option for Asian restaurants, but it is. This was a nice version of it.

Om Modern Asian Kitchen

Om offers elegantly presented Asian fusion food. I’ve eaten a lot of sushi in the Tucson area and most of it is very good but served in a casual environment. I would go back to Om’s restaurant of “Zen urban chic” when I want something a little more upscale.

Go to Om because summer’s coming and cold fresh sushi takes the edge off of the heat.

Show not tell

Dinner for the second night in a row

Redundancy mediated by strange and wondrous statuary

Followed by drinks in a bar with well lit stemware

And a different bar with better graffiti

Who doesn’t want to be a punked out mermaid?

Just me?

Interesting…

Can I challenge you to find the bartender?

Or how about we play an arcade game circa 1987?

I made it to the second level for $.25. Jealous??

Nate isn’t. But he’s now enthroned in second place as NAT

So I dare you to unseat him.

On second thought, this is

So move along… move along…

Dinner and a movie

Had dinner with a couple of my favorite guys tonight under a gorgeous sky

I’m not tired of sushi yet

But I’ll change up the pictures

and give you a different view

or two…

After which we saw Priest, which had potential to be way better. It’s unfortunate because it has a couple of good actors and gorgeous bled out to pale post-apocalyptic landscapes with bad ass machinery and men in long dramatic black coats

as if the Matrix had a love child with Mad Max. The plot is reasonable, the beginning animated sequence is lovely and I do love the mash up of westerns with sci fi (I’m looking forward to Cowboys and Aliens. I admit it. Which has nothing to do with Daniel Craig. Nothing at all). But Priest has laughable dialogue and whoever scored it should be told – gently – that Subway is hiring. Hor-ren-dous.

So, don’t see Priest unless you can see it for $1.50 and it’s 100 degrees outside, in which case go see it but I’d recommend a cake pop to improve the experience:

Tucson AZ

I think they’re over there!

Sushi and Conversation

I’m in a weird place where I’ve decided to do something I don’t know how to do (write for a living) so I’m figuring it out as I do it. This probably isn’t weird, all things considered, because I don’t think anyone knows how to do this until they do it. And I’m also pretty sure that everyone does it differently, which makes advice and examples useful only in a limited way.

However, there are a few things that help and in that list I’d put “sushi dinners with my friends who are doing similarly difficult things” right at the top. Jules is in the endgame with her dissertation so we got together for a “lady date” tonight to catch up and problem solve together.

For your edification, here’s the dinner we had and our collected wisdom regarding our various projects.

1. Just get it down on paper – sometimes it’s less about quality and more about doing it. Sometimes the beginning part is going to suck anyway so you might as well get it out so you can get to the part that’s better. Sometimes you just have to do it so you have something to edit later.

2. If you are afraid it will suck, it’s better to get there faster so you have more time to deal with it – Jules and I discovered a mutual tendency to put things off for fear that they might be terrible once we’ve done them. I guess the thinking is that it’s better to think it will be terrible than to do it and know it is.  On a deadline, this is death. It’s much more efficient to get to the terrible part faster so you have the time to fix it or change it or deal with it. If you push it off and it is terrible, you might get stuck with it.

3. Small deadlines make work possible – a large looming deadline of finishing something is so daunting. Break it into small pieces. Daily pieces if possible. Filling the daily quota of work allows you to “rest completely when you rest.” See how I referenced the last dinner I had with Jules here? The practical practice of resting completely is something that we’ve both worked at ever since that dinner.

4. Find a diversion that doesn’t break the flow of work – this is very tricky. There are times when I need a couple days away from writing but I’ve discovered that I lose extra time because it can take me an extra day to get back into the swing of things. I’m still learning how far away from my writing I need to stray in order to be refreshed and how far is too far because it takes me too long to get back.

5. You won’t feel like it so don’t wait – no matter how I feel, I’ve discovered that if I pick up a pen and a piece of paper, the words will come. For sure. But if I wait until I feel like it, I get very little done because I have an infinite bag of distraction tricks. Occasionally you feel like it. Mostly you don’t. Do it anyway.

6. It you’ve ever done something hard and accomplished it, this thing is just like that thing – incredibly difficult things have similarities to them. They’re conquered by habit. You will spend a certain amount of time doing stuff that doesn’t seem to make any difference while you don’t seem to get any better.  But then one day you wake up and it’s easier. Writing is the same way for me. I know it’s hard now and will get easier later. It’s how difficult things work. The progress is glacial, but it is progress.

But mostly (and mainly) sushi helps. So does conversation.