Marco's Supperclub

International flavors rule at this cozy urban bistro, a Belltown constant since back when the neighborhood was better known for high-quality crack than high-quality cabernet. Here you'll find Thai curried mussels next to Spanish calamari; and Jamaican jerk chicken--a moist free-range bird encrusted in fiery seasonings--competing with a South Indian platter of dhal and mung beans. Albacore tuna is flanked by soy-wasabi, sesame, and miso sauces, but then Latin flourishes make appearances in halibut (with masa cakes and tomatillo-avocado salsa) and succulent sliced pork loin with flavorful, stewed Cuban black beans and a tart pool of orange mojo. $$ (2510 First Ave, 441-7801. (Also check out sister restaurant Lush Life, 2331 Second Ave, 441-9842.)

Bada Lounge

Belltown's über-fashionable singles hub, with décor straight out of Wallpaper and hordes of pretty girls in complicated shoes. Entrées are ambitious, confident, stylized, and deliberate. Even simple sashimi ($12) is dolled up with an aggressive ponzu sauce and wedges of avocado, and garnished with a fluffy tower of daikon wisps. Maine lobster ($22) is delicious, served with baby bok choy, fresh peas, and buttery shiitakes, the tender lobster flesh doused with a rich demi-glace. If overhearing lots of meat-market pickup lines doesn't depress you too much, stick around for foie gras and Niman Ranch organic pork chops. $$ (2230 First Ave, 374-8717.)


Kitchen badass Matt Costello has come and gone, but his sublime creations continue to elevate this hipster watering hole underneath the Ace Hotel. The versatile, modern menu offers soothing classics (matzo ball soup, handmade ravioli) alongside playful treats such as citrus-cured salmon and crepes filled with warm goat cheese; free-range buttermilk fried chicken with a sweet/sour apple slaw; fresh mussels wrapped in banana leaves and steamed with lime butter and hints of saffron; and duck salad with a fragrant orange-flower vinaigrette. Roll in for weekend breakfasts, too, and nurse that hangover with hearty omelets, scrambles, and corncakes. $$ (2421 First Ave, 441-1677.)

Oceanaire Seafood Room

What recession? This swanky 9,100-square-foot, 285-seat supper club flies in more than 30 varieties of fresh seafood daily from around the world, and boasts a glistening raw bar piled high with shellfish. But the opulent details don't matter--what matters is the fish. On any given night you can find Chilean sea bass, striped marlin, Kona Ridge moonfish, line-caught Australian swordfish, or fatty bluefin tuna (flawlessly seared, a gorgeous rosy pink) on the menu, in addition to old-school clubhouse traditions like Oysters Rockefeller, Clams Casino, and Dungeness Crab Louis. The lunchtime Cobb salad with fresh morsels of Maine lobster shines in its luxurious simplicity. $$$ (1700 Seventh Ave, 267-2277.)

Place Pigalle

Sitting patiently in the wings behind Pike Place Market's hollering fish throwers, Place Pigalle is a delicious secret--one of the most romantic joints in town since 1982, when owner Bill Frank took over this former fishermen's tavern. Service is graceful and confident; the wine list is extensive but unintimidating. Chef Kevin Leith produces his seasonal eclectic fare out of a teeny-tiny kitchen, offering interesting fish and game choices (duck, rabbit, and lamb, along with "Chicken Marathon" and an excellent bouillabaisse in saffron broth), elegant apps, and local produce. The surprisingly light goat-cheese-and-oyster-mushroom soufflé--which rises tall, puffy with pride--is not to be missed. $$$ (81 Pike St, 624-1756.)

Kosher Delight

KD offers, by far, one of the most best matzo ball soups in a non-kashrut town seriously lacking in decent Jewish comfort food. Their perfect broth is infused with chicken (skin on! yay!), minced herbs, carrots, and celery--silky and complex, with bold mushroom flavors resulting from lengthy simmering. Matzo balls practically dissolve on your tongue. Chopped liver ($5.95) and whitefish ($4.95) rival those of any Lower East Side deli, and old-school egg salad (served with enormous, addictive half-sours) and lox platters are available as well. Eat at the counter in this warm, tiny pocket of space, which looks out onto Déjà Vu's electronic billboard ("Girls! Girls! Girls!"). $ (1509 First Ave at Pike Place Market, 682-8140.)

Il Bistro

Continental and cosmopolitan without a trace of stuffiness, Il Bistro is nestled on the curve of a cobbled alley, a place with a sense of permanence and tradition. In a city obsessed with "fusion Northwest," a little deft Italian food based on good, simple ingredients provides welcome relief. Favorites include Insalata Spinaki laced with pancetta, candied walnuts, and gorgonzola dressed with citrus vinaigrette; black fettuccine with fresh local seafood; endive and crab salad; and taglierini tossed with an array of wild mushrooms. Late-night lasagna and antipasto also hit the spot, and the comfortable bar scene--get a bourbon or a grappa, they've got lots to choose from--is an intimate respite from the Belltown frat boys. $$ (93-A Pike St, 682-2154.)


Zoë is another one of Belltown's middle-uppers--chock full of pretty thirtysomething foodies drinking pretty cocktails in BCBG--but it delivers the goods. Chef Scott Staples' menu will indulge the tiny gourmand inside you, despite any Marxist sentiments you might harbor. Entrées look marvelous, and taste so: Staples thoughtfully offers seasonal crowd-pleasing trends (e.g., Argentinean beef, wintertime slow-braised meats) and embellishes familiar Northwest territory. Grilled wild salmon--properly medium-rare--artfully avoids cliché with roasted shallots and pale pink beets, layered with nutty French lentils and watercress. Don't forget the deep-like-a-river flourless chocolate cake, and ethereal sorbets ringed in fresh-baked spice cookies. $$$ (2137 Second Ave, 256-2060.)

Le Pichet

With its old tile and zinc bar, this dead-on authentic Parisian spot feels crowded and urban and rich--it's like you're in another city in a nostalgic time; an expatriate in your own town. Food comes in simple groupings: entrées, mixed plates, and specials, plus an ever-changing assortment of cheeses chalked out on the cheese board. The real gems are the ptés, smoked meats and fish, house-cured meats and air-dried sausages, and assorted charcuterie; and dinner offerings such as smoked pork chops, pan-seared duck breast, or moulins marinière with piping hot pommes frites never disappoint. If you get the brandade de morue--creamy salt cod, served with olives and grilled bread--with a cheap pitcher of red wine, it's all over: You'll swoon, you'll linger, and you'll join the young intellectuals at the bar, drinking brandy they probably can't afford, conversing about the death of God. $$ (1933 First Ave, 256-1499.)

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