Norelle Done


Seattle vending machines are in the process of going to bootcamp and getting more fit, due to consideration by the City Council on a new bill. We’ll get to that news in a moment, but first, we’d like to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day!

As a side note for our Belltown neighbors who are celebrating this day, our blog post on 6 Things to do in February has a little list of the restaurants that are doing prix-fixe menus. Additionally, the Inside Belltown blog over at the has another great list of Valentine’s events. In particular, that blog mentions some great singles events and anti-Valentine’s activities for those without a sweetheart or boycotting the holiday.

Back to what’s happening with vending machines. The Seattle City Council is looking at legislation that will stock vending machines with a healthier selection of snacks and foods. The standards for the snacks are set based on fat, sugar, sodium, and calories in the foods, as set by the County’s Healthy Vending Guidelines.

The new legislation, Council Bill 117710, requires that all vending machines stock food and beverages that are healthier based on those county Guidelines. Healthier snack options began being stocked in city vending machines back in 2010, and candy was removed from machines in 2011. This new bill will extend the city’s commitment to bringing healthier options to its employees and visitors.

According to the council’s sponsor of the legislation, councilmember Richard Conlin, “This is one way that we can support healthy and productive city employees … Healthy vending provides opportunities for city employees to consume more nutritious food and beverages while at work.”

Featured photo from Jewel Samad/Getty Images, AFP/Getty Image.



Experience mystery, allure, glamour, and Cirque de Soleil style with a masked ball this Saturday, Feb. 9.

You might have seen the posters around town, and in case you haven’t, we thought you should know about the Venice is Sinking carnival ball this Saturday! It’s the 6th annual Venice is Sinking: A Venetian Masked Carnivale Ball, where guests attend in costume (mask required) and enjoy a night of entertainment and enjoyment.

There’s something “new, sexy and alluring around every corner” with musicians, actors, trapeze artists, burlesque and belly dancers, jugglers, acrobats, contortionists and more. It’s going to be a Belltown event that’s not-to-be-missed!

Watch this video to get an idea for what’s in store:

So, purchase your tickets while you still can! Then on Saturday evening, don your Venetian mask and glamorous costume, and head to the Bell Harbor Conference Center for a great night! Formal attire is preferred, although semi-formal cocktail dress is suitable. Prizes will be awarded for the best male and female costumes, so we recommend you dress in your best Venetian getup and go all out!

Psst – there’s a deal going on at Gilt City for the ball (48% off!). Click here.

When: Saturday, February 9th from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
Where: Bell Harbor Conference Center – 2211 Alaskan Way, Seattle, 98121
Cost: $75 per person (21+ only) General Admission, $140 VIP (VIP includes early check-in (7:45), 3 drink tickets, heavy appetizers and dessert bar, VIP-only lounge & seating, VIP-only (no-host) bar, and Swag Bag.

Featured photo from Gilt City.

The parking lot on the corner of 1st Avenue and Vine street is getting developed into apartments! As reported Tuesday by the Daily Journal of Commerce, the Schuster Group is purchasing the property with the intent to develop it for a 12-story building that will contain 132 apartments.

Keeping with the style of the greenway on Vine Street, the Schuster Group plans to include a plaza on the corner of Western, as well as winding sidewalks toward the waterfront. An upper patio will provide excellent views of Elliott Bay.

To be located at 2521 Western Ave., the new apartment building will be called the Walton Lofts, and look to be a great addition to our Belltown real estate!

Featured concept photo credit to The Schuster Group

With the events and nightlife in Belltown, there’s always something going on! We thought we’d help you plan your social and experiential calendar for each month with a feature about what’s coming for our Belltown neighborhood in Seattle. Look for a similar feature in the last week of each month, presenting the events and happenings to come.

So here’s what’s coming in February for Belltown, Seattle:

  1. Feb. 1 through 28 – Local 360’s National Snack Month: Local 360 is curbing your cravings with snacks, all February long! Bacon Blue Cheese Fritters for $3, Bacon Potato Fritters with blue cheese mornay dipping sauce for $5. Get your snack on from open to close, daily, and all month long.
  2. Feb. Wednesdays – Boat Street Music Times: Every Wednesday night in February, visit the Boat Street Café for great food and free live music.
  3. Guest at a past Venice is Sinking event. Photo credit: Carnival Seattle's website.
    Guest at a past Venice is Sinking event. Photo credit: Carnival Seattle’s website.

    Feb. 9 – Venice is Sinking Carnival Ball: Masquerade – the mysterious and glamorous is about to be unleashed. Epiphany Events is putting on the 6th annual Venice is Sinking: A Venetian Masked Carnivale Ball on Sunday, Feb. 9th from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at the Bell Harbor Conference Center. Costumes are encouraged, masks are required, and there will be Cirque de Soleil styled music and entertainers for the whole night. Tickets are $75 per person, or $140 VIP per person. 21 years of age and older, only. Purchase tickets here.

  4. Feb. 10 – Tavolata’s Sunday Feast Northern Italy: Chef Brian Clevenger is continuing his monthly dinner series with a focus on Northern Italian cuisine for this prix-fixe dinner. The event is Feb. 10th at 6 p.m., and the cost is $65 per person. Call 206-838-8008 to reserve your seat.
  5. ComedyOfLoveFeb. 14 – Unexpected Productions’ Comedy of Love: Looking for a classic dinner-and-a-show for Valentine’s Day, with maybe a touch of hilarity? Unexpected Productions is doing their annual Comedy of Love improve show (it’s been a hit for 9 years) on Feb. 14th at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person, and can be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets. There is also a Facebook event for RSVP, if desired.
  6. Feb. 14 – Various Valentine’s Day Happenings: Events, prix-fixe menus, special deals, and more around Belltown.
    • El Gaucho’s Revel in Romance Package: Belltown is great for its nightlife scene, but it can also be a romantic spot to hold your Valentine’s Day celebrations. For the evening, El Gaucho has a “Revel in Romance” package for their Inn guests: starting at $399, stay for one night in their Belltown Jr. Suite with complimentary valet parking, a bottle of Champagne and rose petals, and a $75 dining credit toward your meal at El Gaucho in Belltown or AQUA by El Gaucho. Call 206-728-1133 or book online at
    • Baby, Baby, Baby! At The Palace Ballroom: Multi-course dinner, wine pairings, dancing, live music, and more! It’s a night to remember at the Palace Ballroom! The evening starts at 7 p.m., and tickets are $100 per person (before tax). Purchase yours here.
    • Tavolata’s Prix-Fixe Valentine’s Day Menu: All of Ethan Stowell’s restaurant creations will feature unique prix-fixe menus, and you can check out Tavolata’s here (scroll to the bottom). The cost is $75 per person for the five-course dinner. Make your reservations here.
    • Local 360’s Prix-Fixe Valentine’s Day Menu: The way to the heart is definitely the stomach … at least that’s how most folks feel. Reserve your Valentine’s Day dinner at Local 360 for a delicious prix-fixe menu, by calling 206-441-9360. Check out the menu here. The cost is $50 per person.

Look for a spotlight on a local Belltown restaurant once a month! It’s a new feature we’re planning to do on a monthly basis, so you can keep tabs on the great eateries, dining hotspots, and bars in our neighborhood. For our first highlight of a Belltown restaurant, the group over at El Gaucho participated in a little Q&A with us. Read on for the results:

Madison Park in Seattle: Is Belltown the flagship/first El Gaucho location?

El Gaucho's front door. This photo, and featured image, courtesy of El Gaucho.
El Gaucho’s front door. This photo, and featured image, courtesy of El Gaucho.

El Gaucho: El Gaucho Seattle is the flagship under owner Paul Mackay. The original El Gaucho was opened in 1953 and was run by Jim Ward. Paul Mackay worked his way up from server to Maître De at the original El Gaucho, which closed in 1985. In 1996, he opened the current El Gaucho Seattle location in a space and neighborhood that at that time had minimal restaurants.

MPS: Why did Paul Mackay choose Belltown for his restaurant?

EG: Mr. Mackay chose Belltown because he saw the vision and growth of the neighborhood. At that time in the mid-1990’s, he worked with Christine Keff to open Flying Fish on the corner of First and Bell (it’s now moved to South Lake Union). So he knew the area well and when the old Seaman’s Hall came up for lease, he jumped on the opportunity.

MPS: If you could describe what kind of place El Gaucho is, in one sentence, what would that be?

EG: El Gaucho is the Northwest’s steakhouse legacy focused on elegant, old-school, tableside service for people celebrating their lives.

Owner Paul Mackay shows off a flaming sword in this presentation. Photo credit Ilya Moshenskiy.
Owner Paul Mackay shows off a flaming sword in this presentation. Photo credit Ilya Moshenskiy.

MPS: Is there something special to El Gaucho that guests won’t find anywhere else?

EG: Beyond our tableside service and our one-of-a-kind 28-Day Dry-Aged Niman Ranch All-Natural Certified Angus Beef® brand Prime steaks grilled to perfection over charcoal, we believe that our attention to the guest is paramount. We truly revel in celebrating life with our guests and it is an honor to serve them.

MPS: Do your menus stay the same or change? Do you have any signature dishes that never go away?

EG: Our core menu stays the same, but we highlight seasonal offerings on our fresh sheets.

MPS: Is there something on the menu that’s a must-have?

EG: The great part about Gaucho is that depending on whom you ask, you will get a different answer on that question from each person. Our signature tableside Caesar Salad, any of our steaks and the Roasted Sweet Corn are common favorites.

MPS: If people are looking for a good Happy Hour, why should they choose El Gaucho’s?

EG: We don’t skimp on our quality for Happy Hour. It’s the same excellent products at an amazing value.

MPS: Does El Gaucho have any late night specialties for guests who are out in Belltown late?

EG: Banana Foster is a popular late night item … come in after a show or night out, it’s the perfect finale!

MPS: More than just food, El Gaucho seems to be about the process and performance of the food-preparation process. Can you share more about that and why it’s important?

EG: We love showing the theatrics of food preparation. From our open exhibition-style kitchen to the tableside service, when food is prepared fresh, it is always best. Like with our Caesar Salad, our guests constantly comment, “I had no idea that Caesar Salads could taste like this…”

MPS: Does El Gaucho do any events on a regular basis that guests should be aware of? Is there anything coming up soon?

EG: Our annual celebration of Washington Wine event, Legendary Swirl is Thursday, March 7. This event won the Washington State Wine Commission’s Best Event Featuring Washington Wine in 2012. For more information on this and other events, go to Thanks, El Gaucho!