Dining in Seattle is much like the city itself, a cosmopolitan affair born from the fruits of the wilderness. The surrounding Puget Sound, with reserves from Alaska, is one large barrel of seafood, coupled with produce grown from many small local farms in Seattle, resulting in masterful and memorable dishes.
In addition to the traditional North-western cuisine such as wild salmon or Dungeness crab, there is a strong Asian influence borne out of the large Asian-American communities and Seattle's importance as a trade port on the Pacific Rim. This means that the food in Seattle is eclectic and caters to many tastes.
Restaurants are helped by great views of the sea and many quirky neighbourhoods, giving either quiet romance or fun and festivity to a meal. Some of the best areas for eating out in Seattle are the waterfront district near Pike's Place Market, a long line of fine dining along 1st and 2nd Ave and Capitol Hill. In general the Northwest's formality is a little toned down and most top restaurants don't require a jacket. Tipping is between 15 to 20 percent and most places require a reservation.
Shopping in Seattle is underrated. Famed for grunge music and Seattle coffee companies, this city also has excellent retail outlets. The prime spots include Downtown Seattle, Fremont, the International District, Pike Place and the University District.
Downtown Seattle is a square of several blocks with large outlets such as Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom and Gap. This is also the site of Westlake Center Plaza and Pacific Place, both large malls. The International District encompasses a vast area featuring numerous Asian shops, while Pike Place Market is a waterfront shopping area offering local produce, fresh fish and various restaurants.
There are many bargains to be found at the retro and vintage stores of the Fremont Market on Sundays, and districts such as Fremont, Ballard, Capitol Hill, Wallingford, and West Seattle, all of which have independently owned shops and specialty stores to entice shoppers. Tax refunds can be applied for by foreign visitors.
Though the city made a name for itself on the international music scene with its grunge explosion in the early 1990s, some of Seattle's best nightlife and entertainment has nothing to do with music. Among the ubiquitous live music clubs there are scores of local bars, Irish bars, dive bars, posh lounges, clubs, and trendy eateries to enjoy. After catching a sunset at the waterfront, Bell Street Pier, or Myrtle Edwards Park, travellers can head to Pioneer Square where bars, live music, and nightclubs prevail. The Belltown is also a popular spot for young and hip nightclubs, while in Capitol Hill the gay scene is always buzzing. Culture vultures should check out the Seattle Opera, which is ranked at the top of companies in the country, while the renowned Seattle Symphony is also worth checking out. The Seattle Repertory Fringe Theatre is great for the more avant-garde productions.