10 Things I Miss About Seattle*

May 18, 2011

*Other than friends and family, which are the biggest thing.

So I’ve been back in San Francisco for 6 months, after living in Seattle for almost 11 years.

For the most part, SF is better — better climate, better food, better restaurants, better fashion, better beaches, prettier people. It’s a young city, kind of dirty, with vistas spectacular, hip, slow, and multiculti.

But still, there are some things about Seattle that can’t be duplicated. If you live there, give thanks. If you don’t, check them out the next time you’re in town.

Baguette Box. For some reason, I think of this gourmet Vietnamense baguette sandwich place whenever I’m working out. When i realize I can’t just drive over the hill to get there, I become sad.

Pike Place Market. Tourist trap, yes. But in the 9 months of the year when no tourists visit Seattle, it’s still there. It’s a real working market — the original farmer’s market. The Ferry Building? No comparison. The Stonestown Farmer’s Market? Please.

Seafood. Surely there’s a good cheap fish market in San Francisco, but I haven’t found it. So far, the only one I’ve come across was down in Half Moon Bay. It causes me physical pain when I see the weeks-old “salmon” that the grocery stores here sell for $25 a pound.

Oysters. I haven’t seen a fresh oyster on a single menu or in a single grocery store since I’ve been here.

Bakeries. There are a couple good ones here — Acme in Berkeley for bread, Ambrosia for French style brioche and croiassants. But Seattle punches way above its weight when it comes to bready goods — Le Panier in Pike Place, Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle, Macrina and Essential and Besalu — all world-class amazing.

The Purrs. If they had lived in New York in 2005 when their album “The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of” came out, they would be internationally famous. Start to finish, that record is better than anything that The Strokes or Interpol or any of those early 2000s New York bands ever did. It was always nice seeing them play. They don’t get down here much.

KEXP. I hate the radio, but if you’re stuck with it, 90.3 is really hard to beat. KFJC 89.5 in the South Bay is awesome, but you can’t hear it in SF. And they just shut down KUSF a few months ago.

Mount Rainier. The Golden Gate is incredible, as is the view from Twin Peaks. But there’s nothing quite like seeing that 14,000-foot ice cream cone on the edge of town. Hiking Burroughs Trail off Sunrise is still a peak lifetime experience.

The Stranger. Three out of every four issues were worthless. The other one was golden — witty, cutting, smart, hilarious. The SF Weekly and Bay Guardian are pathetic in comparison.

Summer. The 16-hour days, clear blue sky, and 70-degree zero-humidity is like paradise. It lasts from May through September, with occasional lapses into rain and other imperfections. All the hibernating Seattleites come out for three months solid of day-long barbecues and boating sessions and drinking on roof decks. In SF, summer is the time to get out of the city.