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18th Birthday Dinner

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18th Birthday Dinner


We'll be in Seattle for a college tour when my daughter turns 18 and I'd love to have a memorable dinner. We're staying at the Maxwell Hotel, but we have a car. Right now I have a reservation at Toulouse, but I'm not sure if that's the right place. Any suggestions would be great. She's a fairly adventurous eater.

Also if you know of any fun evening activities. Her birthday is February 17th. Thanks

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1. Re: 18th Birthday Dinner

Toulouse Petit is lively, with good food, and close to your hotel. We have always enjoyed our meals there - as do my boys. It is also a good choice for breakfast/brunch too if you want to mix it up a bit and try something else for dinner. Do you have a budget or food preference?

For a memorable meal, I tend to enjoy something in/near the Pike Place market or perhaps with a view.

Edited: 08 December 2012, 18:22
Seattle, Washington
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2. Re: 18th Birthday Dinner


I'm thinking since you're from Victoria, you will have many of the same types of cuisines as here in Seattle (i.e., good sushi might not be the novelty to you that it might be for someone from the Southwest US). Adventurous sometimes means sushi for some.

So that leads me to think of experiences as much as cuisine types. One fun idea might be to take the elevator to the top of the Space Needle around 5:00, watch the sunset (sunset on Feb 17th, 2013 is at 5:30), you could either eat there (rotating restaurant at the top), or come back down and eat nearby (e.g., certainly Toulouse Petit is open every day, including Sundays...the 17th Feb). Generally the reviews of the Sky City restaurant at the top of the needle have been more favorable for brunch and mixed for dinner, so it might be best to come down and eat elsewhere until they can improve that.

Downtown for a newly minted in many ways adult (drinking here is still 21 and older) has a number of fun places. One that we have been enjoying consistently lately is Lecosho ....part way down the harbor steps, south of Pike Place Market.


A favorite of mine right in Pike Place is Maximilien, great view of the water and good french food. Maybe too $$?

Less expensive, but very popular with a younger set (pizza) near that (in Pike Place) is the Alibi Room...


I don't think you would go wrong with Toulouse...high ceilings, animated, young trendy crowd. I think their food is fine, but friends of mine like it (more than I do...for me it's "OK").

But these others downtown are also good, fun choices.


Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: 18th Birthday Dinner

In the Fremont neighborhood you might try The Whale Wins. It is a new restaurant by Renee Erickson who also owns the esteemed Boat House in Belltown and the nationally recognized Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard.

Right next door in the same building (the Fremont Collective) is Joule, the eagerly awaited relocation of Seif Cherchi and Rachel Yang's Pacific NW/Korean fusion restaurant. Yang and Cherchi also run the hot and nationally recognized NW/Asian streetfood restaurant Revel in Fremont.

Another recent and hot opening is Shanik by the chef of Vancouver's famous Vij's. Upscale modern Indian.

Depending on your budget and likes a couple contemporary Pacific NW restaurants that are very well regarded and have award winning chefs are Canlis, Lark, Sitka and Spruce and the Bookbindery. Altura and Spinasse are Italian but informed by local seasonal NW ingredients.

Altura is an intimate space and I had one of the best meals I have had in recent memory there. Lark is another of my absolute favorites.

I wonder if Canlis and Bookbindery will be a bit too formal or stodgy for your daughter's taste.

Tilth by Maria Hines in Wallingford is another good choice I think. Another nationally recognized and award winning chef she is one of the most aggressive chefs in town in sourcing organic. Terra Plata by Tamara Murphy is another excellent choice for consideration and I had a really great meal there over the summer.

In Ballard award winning chef Ethan Stowell runs the excellent Staple and Fancy Mercantile on the ground level of the renovated early 20th C. Kolstrand Mfg building on historic Ballard Ave. This backs up to the Walrus and the Carpenter which I mentioned above. Walrus and the Carpenter (along with Revel and Bastille in Ballard) are really my most regular haunts.

Bastille is absolutely a beautiful space and I find it one of the most consistently enjoyable places in town. I don't think Jason Stoneburner (formerly of Ethan Stowell's How to Cook a Wolf) gets enough recognition -- although that might change when his eponymous restaurant opens this coming year. It is classic French cafe cuisine. They are particularly strong in forcemeat, braised meats and sauces. This is not really relevant for your underage daughter but bar manager Erik Carlson is one of the top bartenders in town and they just picked up former Washington State sommelier of the year Kristen Young. I also find their front of the house staff overwhelmingly highly educated about the cuisine and wine. I have probably eaten at Bastille 100 times since they have opened a few years ago. In fact I was just there a few days ago.

I wanted to mention that I stopped into W&TC on December 5th for a quick Repeal Day cocktail a few happy hour oysters and a couple small plates. They had a really amazing duck lardo plate and a mousse of sea urchin with gelee and roe. It was like an uber rich foie gras of the sea. Crazy. It was much much less crowded then it has been. I was not going as often for awhile because there were always crowds ... even midweeks and even at 4pm when the doors open for happy hour and dinner. Apparently that is dropping off a bit now that we are getting to winter.

I think your daughter would really enjoy eating in the one of the neighborhoods as well. Fremont, Ballard and Capitol Hill would all be appealing to walk around in connection with the trip out for the dinner.


PS You should know that Walrus and the Carpenter, Whale Wins and Revel do not take reservations. Revel does but only for groups of 6+ as I recall. At Walrus and the Carpenter (and I assume this is also the case at WW) they will take your cell phone when you show up and put you on a list and call you when your table is ready.

Capitol Hill






Queen Anne


Queen Anne/Fremont










South Lake Union




Hope that helps


Issaquah, Washington
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4. Re: 18th Birthday Dinner

I like Tolouse Petit but whenever I go it seems as if it's full of 20 something urban professionals and it's not what I would consider a place for a memorable dinner for an 18 year old. You have had lots of suggestions but many seem more appropriate for adults. You didn't mention a price range but some of the suggested restaurants are quite pricy.

I often take my nieces and nephew out in Seattle when they visit. They range in age from 17-26 so I have had experience with visitors of all ages. Top of their list is the Space Needle, expensive for dinner, less so for lunch on weekdays. The food is decent but the view and service are incredible. They love places like Lunchbox Laboratory, Boka at the Hotel 1000, Steelhead Diner, Etta's, Palace Kitchen. Those are good restaurants with a lively vibe, good food and good service but they won't break the bank. The Lunchbox Laboratory is wild and fun and high priced for hamburgers and milkshakes, but not fancy.

I've also been to some birthday celebrations at Buca di Beppo. It's not expensive but it's lively and quite fun. The food is fine. How many in your party? I had a really fun birthday at the kitchen table (which seats 6-8) and it is actually in the kitchen. It's not far from your hotel. I know that saying the food is fine is not exactly a ringing endorsement but I always have a good time and it's quirky and a little bit crazy. It is a chain but don't let that put you off.

Your hotel is right by Teatro ZinZanni. It's expensive but it's a dinner theater experience. I sat at a table with a family and the teenager seemed to enjoy it but it would depend on the show. It's hard to explain the shows. They change but are wildly entertaining. I think it would depend on your daughter's tastes.


Vancouver, Canada
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5. Re: 18th Birthday Dinner

Place Pigalle is my Fav in Pike Place...


Also the Pink Door is very cool and your daughter would likely enjoy the "vibe" there.


western WA
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6. Re: 18th Birthday Dinner

I think going with the idea of experiences will make it memorable. Generally people of that age don't have super high standards when it comes to food, and would rather do something fun.

I like the Space Needle, Teattro Zinzanni and a place with a view inside the market. Another idea would be an Argosy dinner cruise. A place my kids loved at that age was Marrakesh. If you go on the weekends there is a belly dancer. Sounds odd for an 18 year old girl, but mine loved it. The dancer is pretty good and more fun than ooh-la-la sexy. The room looks like a big tent inside, and you can sit on cushions.

Up in the U District/Fremont, Ivar's Salmon House has a great view. Be sure to request a window table on the Lake Union side when you make reservations (there are windows that face the side of the property instead of the water).

You are close to Valentine's Day, when prices are high and reservations are necessary. Beware!

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7. Re: 18th Birthday Dinner

Another vote for The Pink Door! :)

Seattle, Washington
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8. Re: 18th Birthday Dinner

The weather in the middle of February is likely to be a bit dismal, so I might suggest a tiny, hole-in-the-wall Greek place not far at all from the Maxwell, Panos Kleftiko. It's intimate (cozy, cramped, your choice) but tons of fun, especially if the impromptu bouzouki band turns up. Maybe not the best Greek food in the world (but we've never had a bad meal there) but it's a lot of fun and a real antidote to a rainy February night. http://www.panoskleftiko.com

Newberg, Oregon
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9. Re: 18th Birthday Dinner

We've had a couple of excellent meals at the Space needle's restaurant in th past 2 years. The elevator ride is free when you dine there, so that's an $18 per person savings to start.

If you want to make it a grand occasion, I'd suggest the elegant Georgian dining room in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. We've enjoyed many meals there since it reopened in the early '80s. Our two teens, just out of high school back then, had a great time dressing up and showing off their fine dining manners when we took them there.

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10. Re: 18th Birthday Dinner

These are great suggestions. Thank you! I'm researching them. Since an 18th birthday is special, we don't mind the cost, but the food and vibe should be really great.