Fish and Chips from Ivar's Acres of Clams:
"Essential" does not always mean great. Sometimes it doesn't even have to mean good. Essential merely means that one's experience of Seattle would not be complete--one's image of the city, at any point in time, wouldn't be whole without having tried a certain something...A certain something like the fish and chips from Ivar's Acres of Clams, for example. And while actually sitting down and eating the dining room at Ivar's is one thing (and an experience in itself), what we're concerned with here is a fast pickup from the attached seafood bar and a basket of fish and fries eaten out in the sun in one of the most densely touristy stretches of the Seattle waterfront.
Ivar's has been serving from this location (or close to it) for longer than most people reading this have been alive. It has been a fixture, and is a venerable piece of Seattle's foodie history. What's more, while not my favorite fish and chips in town, I am enamored enough with the notion of a walk-up fish bar--where anyone with a couple bucks and a high tolerance for grease can get served fast and fed walking--that I've found myself drawn back there more than once simply for the convenience.
And you know what? I'm never the only person waiting for a fish fix. Locals and travelers alike still flock to Ivar's, mostly because it is a known quantity. There are no illusions here, no question about what you'll get for your money: a basket of fish, fried in a heavy batter, a fistful of fries, and a connection back to the way people have been eating in the city of Seattle for 70-odd years.