written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
PAX is upon us, this weekend will see droves of gaming enthusiasts, cosplayers, and the slightly overwhelmed parents of both demographics hit the Washington State Convention Centerwith one goal in mind; to see what’s new in the world of gaming. PAX Prime is the largest public gaming convention in the US, touting an attendance of about 85,000 every year… and with that, the local restaurants will see a huge influx of business, but with every convention here in Seattle, I generally see the same two spots filled to the brim with convention goers; Cheesecake Factory across the street and Blue C Sushi just half a block away. While the convenience is there, there are so many other places you can hit with better food and generally shorter wait times, why wait for an hour to get a table at the Factory when you can nab a table for 5 in less than 15 minutes elsewhere?
Before I started Lifted Geek, I was a heavy contributor on Yelp and was part of their Elite group of contributors. Now while those days are long past, I do manage to still know a thing or two about where to nosh on some primo grub. This article will be listing off a few places you can grab a meal that isn’t the Factory, over priced conveyer belt sushi, or mediocre burgers from an arcade.
RN74: French Cuisine with an Inspired Twist
Just a few blocks west of the convention center is RN74, from famed restaurateur Michael Mina, you won’t find a more robust and inspired happy hour menu. The prices are fantastic with food items no more than $7 and a decent happy hour drink selection. A few notable happy hour items that I love and can’t get enough of are the Grilled Steak Skewers and the Ahi Tuna Poppers, for those looking for a more French inspired snack, the Duck Fat Popcorn is divine.
RN74’s core menu is pretty pricy, so unless you can afford main entries in the $30 range, I wouldn’t suggest this as a convention dinner spot. But for a quick and dirty happy hour meal with fantastic cocktails and an incredibly knowledgable bar staff… make sure to at least hit this place once!
Six Arms… for the price of two
Just a few blocks up the hill is my favorite bar and grill type restaurant. Six Arms features a menu full of comfort food favorites plus tots! Zod dammit I love a good tot, and for the tot loving fat kid that lives inside me… this place is a must visit during any downtown Seattle convention. You can be sure to find your standard fare burgers and fries here, all reasonably priced with large portions. For those looking for a good dinner spot, you can’t go wrong with a place like Six Arms.
I mentioned the tots, and while some may prefer fries with their burger… I say “gimme a basket of tots good man!” The Cajun Tots are a definite add on item for any meal. You can even make a meal out of this app. As far as the burgers go, my personal go-to is the Captain Neon, a blue cheese and bacon burger with serious flavor. As far as the drinking goes, Six Arms features a robust beer selection with their own in house draft beers. I’m a big fan of a good cider, so I generally go for whatever their seasonal cider is at the moment.
Blue Acres is the place to be…
Not far from the convention center is one of the top ten restaurants in Seattle and one of my personal favorite seafood restaurants. Blueacre isn’t cheap, much like RN74 which was mentioned earlier; Blueacre’s core dinner menu sits around the $25+ range, but much like RN74 it features an amazing happy hour. A few favorites of mine include Oyster Shooters on the half-shell for $1.50 each with the Catfish Tacos serving themselves up as a substantial meal. While most what’s on RN74’s menu are more app sized, the happy hour selection at Blueacre feature plates which can create a substantial post con meal.
Like I said earlier, you can’t expect any cheap eats on the core menu, but trust me when I say that it’s worth it. If you can enjoy a weekend of Jimmy John’s for most of the con, at least one night out at Blueacre would be well worth the price. Make sure to also try the Dungeness Crab and Bay Shrimp Tater Tots, I can guaran-damn-tee those things will fly off the table, better get an order just for yourself.
Whatever Lola wants… Lola gets…
Famed Seattle restauranteur Tom Douglas has several haunts around the city, but when it comes to breakfast and brunch, you won’t find any better place than Lola on 4th. Featuring an inspired take on familiar breakfast classics, you can fill your belly with a truly substantial breakfast to keep your energy levels high while tackling the sights and sounds of the convention.
The Lola Breakfast is an absolute must, featuring your choice of sausage or bacon paired with garlic smashed potatoes and eggs cooked to order. This is your standard breakfast fare with a Lola twist. As for my personal favorites, you can’t go wrong with a stack of Buttermilk Pancakes or the Eggs Benedict, which if I do say so myself is the best eggs Benedict in the city. For those with a sweet tooth, I can’t stress it enough how imperative it is that you try the Made to Order Donuts, served up with a seasonal jam and fresh mascarpone… this… is… heavenly.
I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone this year’s PAX Prime. I know The Factory is right there across the street and the novelty of Blue C Sushi may be something you wanna experience at least once… but seriously guys, there’s some far better things to eat in this great city of ours. I urge you to check Yelp and explore, see if there is anything you can find that can be your new convention favorite. I’ve lived here most of my life and I still find myself wandering the city… on the hunt for delicious new experiences. Game on, eat well, and stay frosty.