Tag Archives: Silverwater Cafe

Port Townsend: A Victorian Seaport Then and Now

Water Street in downtown Port Townsend

Sin flourished in the brothels along Water Street in the late 1800’s. Proper Victorian women and their children kept their distance from the bluff above. Banned from the downtown area, so they wouldn’t mix with the seamy women for hire, the wives and offspring of seafaring captains stayed in their mansions on the hill.

The division still exists today, but not for the same reasons. Geographically there’s still an uptown and downtown, but anyone is welcome to roam between the two.

Port Townsend is one of only three registered Victorian seaports in the United States, due to its preserved marine and architectural heritage. The town holds an annual Wooden Boat Festival (this year’s was the 34th) and prides itself on a number of fine dining restaurants that serve local seafood.

I just tried one of those restaurants in September – T’s Restaurant. They serve salmon, scallops, local Manila clams, prawns and more in addition to the chicken, steak, duck and pork chops. I highly recommend this family operation. Tim, the chef, wanted to be a chef since he was very young. He would serve his parents breakfast with a towel draped over his arm and then present them with the bill. I know I mentioned this restaurant before, but it bears repeating.

One of the historic buildings in downtown Port Townsend

Back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s – People who opened businesses in downtown made a fortune from the never-ending marine traffic. With their new found wealth settlers tried to recreate the look of New York City. Using lots of brick, tall windows and doors, exposed cast iron pillars and trapdoors inside some of the buildings they created a look unlike any other town in this state. Modern renovations have preserved that look in a grand way.

If you can, take time to enjoy a movie at the Rose Theatre, one of those beautifully restored buildings. The Rose opened in 1907 and moved to its current location on Taylor Street the next year. It is one of the most treasured features of Port Townsend’s National Historic District.

Besides the best, fresh popcorn and superb sound, every show is personally introduced by the Rose’s host.  (www.rosetheatre.com) It’s an experience you’ll not soon forget.

Close by is the Silverwater Café, another knock-your-socks-off culinary delight. I recommend the crab shooters – crab leg meat, crab bisque and Sambuca cream – not something you can order anywhere. It’s delicious as are all the seafood offerings and the beef, poultry and pasta. And it’s just steps away from the Rose Theatre.

Port Townsend for a Day or Three

An artisan latte from Undertown Coffee & Wine Bar

On a recent trip, Christina Pivarnik, the marketing director for the City of Port Townsend, showed three of us travel writers around and uncovered places I didn’t even know existed. Even though I’ve spent my entire life in Washington State, until recently I’ve not spent much time in Port Townsend. And it seems like every time I go there I find something new. It’s like uncovering treasures in your own backyard.

Secret Port Townsend

I seriously doubt that I would have ever found the Undertown Coffee & Wine Bar on my own. It’s, well, underground. When you discover the stairs to this coffee shop on Water Street, you’ll see the sign for it.

We walked through a tunnel underneath the street and sidewalk. Then you go through a tunnel until you find the door and while you’re enjoying the Stumptown Coffee they serve, you’ll forget that you’re below street level. The fresh pastries, baked on site in a small convection oven by the lady with a bow in here hair, are to die for.

The Clam Cannery lodging facility remains unmarked and inconspicuous when you drive by, but take a look at the rooms on their web site, www.clamcannery.com. Each suite offers an unobstructed view of Port Townsend Bay and they are pet-friendly. This is definitely a place I want to see from the inside.


I highly recommend T’s Restaurant, located on the waterfront. Tim, the chef, has worked at Spago’s and trained with Wolfgang Puck. T’s has been designated as a stop on the Olympic Culinary Loop.

Menu items include local Manila clams, a cheese plate featuring Mt. Townsend cheeses, fresh sea scallops, Black Angus Flat Iron Steak and my personal favorite, Ginger & Scallion Crusted Cape Cleare Wild King Salmon with artichoke hearts, roasted fennel and edamame succotash, garnished with a pomegranate port gastrique. My compliments to the chef.

Actually the food scene here gets rave reviews so the town prints a “Menu Guide” every year which you can pick up at the Visitor’s Center, 2437 East Sims Way or you can get the basics at www.ptguide.com/restaurants-and-dining.

My grandson recommends the crab shooters in Sambuca cream at Silverwater Café, 237 Taylor Street. For Italian fare, the locals like Lanza’s Ristorante, 1020 Lawrence Street.

For walking off some of those calories, request a room on the third floor of the Bishop Victoria Hotel – you’ll negotiate 44 fairly steep stairs getting to your room. An elevator is not an option. But the room décor as well as the common areas brings back the authentic Victorian era. The Bishop also allows dogs, gives you towels for them and has a stash of treats behind the desk.

For more information, visit:  www.ptguide.com or www.enjoypt.com.