Only Cuban sandwiches and media­noches save Miami from faring poorly in the sandwich comparison. Other than those signature sammies, we basically have La Sandwicherie and loads of Subway shops.

If I say the Seattle resident's palate is more sophisticated than that of the average Miamian, it's mostly because a local food critic there recently complained about those darn "ubiquitous foie gras torchons" all over town. The only dishes so ubiquitous in Miami are fried calamari and French onion soup.

Speaking of which, we have more French bistros and Italian restaurants. Otherwise, the breadth of dining options runs deeper up there. Heck, Tom Douglas — recent winner of the James Beard Award for the nation's outstanding restaurateur — alone owns places serving seafood (Seatown and Etta's), roasting meats (Palace Kitchen), Greek (Lola), rotisserie chicken and barbecue (Rub With Love Shack), German (Brave Horse Tavern), pizza (Serious Pie), and Tibetan dumplings (Ting Momo). There are numerous souvlaki joints, lots of Mexican food (and Mexican food trucks), Asian and pan-Asian of all stripes, gastropubs, at least three authentic Cajun places (we have none), Polish food at Dom Polski, and even a Budapest Bistro.

The International District (AKA Chinatown) tenders yet more affordable fare via places such as the wonderful Mike's Noodle Shop. Pho shops abound, as do a number of Korean-influenced venues (Marination Station, Ma'Ono, Katsu Burger, Revel). An advertisement touts an eatery as being "one of Seattle's best vegan restaurants." Any vegan restaurant that opens in Miami more or less automatically becomes the best.

There are many Starbucks, but also a slew of independent coffeehouses. Once again, the Cuban community bails us out to some extent via café cubano and all its variations; plus Panther Coffee, Alaska Coffee Roasting Co., and Eternity Coffee Roasters have in recent years jump-started the coffee scene here. Theo organic chocolate is produced in a local Seattle factory, and Top Pot Doughnuts proffers better doughnuts than you can buy in the Magic City — but if it makes you feel any better, they're not nearly as good as Dynamo Donuts in San Francisco.

The locavore movement is widespread, with virtually every name Seattle chef operating in at least semisustainable fashion. Radishes were in season, and every place we went offered them in raw form as an appetizer: The Walrus and the Carpenter, an urbane oyster bar, slathered some foie gras butter for the humble vegetable to luxuriate in; Sitka & Spruce, a restaurant helmed by chef Matt Dillon (2012 James Beard winner for best chef in the Northwest), presented radishes in cold cumin water with lime and sea salt (eggs and produce coming from its own Vashon Island farm). Few Miami chefs would put out a plate of raw farm-picked vegetables; only Michael Schwartz, Giancarla Bodoni, and Giorgio Rapicavoli come to mind (the last does so with Homestead carrots at his pop-up Eating House).

Seasonality extends to seafood. The famed Copper River salmon season was just starting, and salmon, in general, wasn't at its peak. Halibut was, so that's what restaurants were serving. Sitka & Spruce plated a juicily seared wedge of it with wild leeks cooked in yogurt and a side of lentil pilaf and lavash bread.

Seattle's best chefs aren't better than Miami's best chefs, but there are many more of them. And they're spread out over the city, not congregated in just a few areas. Every neighborhood seems to have a few chef-driven establishments of note. We have wide swaths of land, even whole cities in Dade, devoid of any serious dining options.

Miami isn't without its gastronomic strengths: Argentine parrilladas, multinational empanadas, arepas, Cuban sandwiches and Cuban coffee, lechón asada, bátidos, Colombian perros, Jamaican beef patties and goat stew, alfajores dripping with dulce de leche, Peruvian ceviche, and grilled or fried grouper sandwiches at Garcia's Seafood Market & Grill. We grow great tropical fruit, which puts us on par with Washington's apples, pears, cherries, and berries. Our local farms produce all manner of tasty produce, and our markets are stocked with avocados, yuca, plantains, and other distinctive regional vegetables.

Seattle's soil yields more elite eats, particularly wonderful wild mushrooms such as morels, boletes (porcinis), and truffles. Grapes thrive in Washington too — wineries and distilleries dot the land. Seattle likewise boasts a banquet's worth of local draft craft beers, such as Manny's Pale Ale from the Georgetown Brewing Company.

And so the needle swings back to the west — but this contrasting of cities isn't meant as a put-down of Miami. Our town's dining scene has grown as quickly as a resident could hope for. It's possible our populace's tastes are such that we'll never quite match the demand for quality goods found in other locales. But as long as the culinary curve continues upward, it's reasonable to expect some rise of our collective palate.

In the meantime, we can enjoy what we have, which is plenty — and a lot more than what we used to have. Food cities such as Seattle are great for not only visiting but also setting a bar to aim for. Like, say, an oyster bar in a waterside market.

By the way, did I mention our baseball stadium is much nicer than theirs?

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6 comments
LameSameMiami
LameSameMiami

Bayside sucks donkey nuts. They should (at least) have something similar to the New Orleans French Market where you can eat a variety of fresh seafood-oysters, etc.

sunshine
sunshine

Last few times I have been to Seattle I love to go to Pikes Market to eat at the small lunch counter inside. I always get the great fresh fish sandwich on homemade bread and made from scratch clam chower. The Market maybe "touristy" but it has the best selection of local fruits, veggies and home made local products. Wished we had somthing similar in Miami but after seeing Downtown Bayside or The Yellow Green Market in Hollywood there is no comparison both are primarliy international flea markets. I also wished Miami had donuts as yummy as Top Pots not sure if it's the way the store looks or smells but boy those are awesome. If you are planning to go in the summer I recommend going to the Squim Lavendar Festival most of the foods are made with lavendar and the smells are divine.

rebus1805
rebus1805

I spent a month in Seattle last summer and tried many restaurants. I agree with many of your points. The Vietnamese pho joints are great there, reasonably priced, large portions and very tasty. Very good dim sum in the International District. Chandler's Crabhouse on Lake Union had excellent food and a gorgeous waterfront view. Glo's on E. Olive had fabulous breakfasts, better than any in Miami. Great coffee scene with indies in most neighborhoods. By far the best coffee was at Fonte which is downtown. I have never tasted better.

I do disagree with some points. Nowhere to get good Jewish deli in Seattle. I love great bread and was not impressed at most places. IMHO Miami is just as good. Went twice to Sitka and Spruce. Very small portions and not memorable. Pike Place Market is great and we were very fortunate. It was Rainier cherry season at $2.99 a pound for the best cherries you will ever have.

I would give Seattle an edge but Miami is gaining fast. BTW we had one day of rain in July with temperatures in the 70's.

Rosey Grier
Rosey Grier

Temperatures in the 70's in July, huh?

 
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