Here are my PAX 2012 tips for out-of-towners, since I found myself giving them verbally to many people. Hope they’re useful! Stay sane, well hydrated and fed, and above all enjoy your PAX experience. And wash your damn hands!
• Noc Noc (Goth-ish bar) for drinks. Try the chili; surprisingly edible.
• Cupcake Royale for sweets. If you’re stuck just go with salted caramel like everyone else; popular for a reason.
• City Target for a weirdly NYC-like shopping experience.
• The crêpes in front of the con are way better than Subway and the line is always shorter, silly. Branch out!
• Food at the Internet-eschewing gyro place on Pine between 1st and 2nd is totally solid and cheap, but runs spicy.
• Market Grill for a grilled halibut sandwich. Ask the Chukar Cherries people if you can’t find it. Worth the $15; skip the chowder.
• Le Pichet and the Virginia Inn are yummy, low-key, and less overloaded than closer places. Don’t be a wuss because of the Frenchy menu; it’s delish.
• If you want the market guys to throw a fish, it helps to buy one. Chat up a local who will take it off your hands for a discounted price.
• Pink Gorilla and Kinokuniya in the ID are kind of (y)our mothership. Don’t take photos of merch. While there, hit Beard Papa and/or Samurai Noodle. Worth the cramped conditions.
• Local 360 for fancy foodie fare. Try the rabbit anything.
• Gamma Ray Games in Capitol Hill wants & deserves your business.
• Shorty’s has legit pinball machines, rad hot dogs, and grown-ass drinks.
• If you have a car, get thee to a Full Tilt Arcade—pinball, beer and local ice cream. Multiple non-downtown locations.
• Homegrown makes the best goddamn sandwiches you’ll ever eat (and I don’t even *like* sandwiches). Skip the soup.
• Card Kingdom is like it sounds; heaven for tabletop geeks.
• Brouer’s is another Goth-vibed joint with a mind-blowing beer section. Daytime darkness, too, if you’re into that. Close to The Troll by car so you might as well drive past it.
• If you wanna drop some dough on a really amazing meal, try to visit Canlis. Get the prawns (non-cocktail) appetizer.
REALLY NOT CLOSE
• If you’re doing any scenic WA drives anyway, make your way to Bandy’s Troll Haven. Worth the minor detour, and you needn’t even exit your vehicle. No spoilers!
• Restroom best bets near PAX are Macy’s, Nordstrom and Pacific Place.
• Pay phones still exist in the bus tunnel underneath Macy’s and in the lobbies of hotels. You might just need them when the networks predictably crash and you can’t call or text anyone. Figure out how to dial in to your voicemail remotely and get quarters.
• Don’t get peed on by the freak tenants in the apartments on the SE corner of 2nd & Pine. For reals, look up & think fast.
• Wash your hands. Seek the free Purel swag on day 1 and use it often. There’s a Walgreens and Bartell’s and Target and more all within a couple blocks if you lose it or run out. Down with crowdsourcing plagues!
• Fox Sports Bar, Taproom and Cheesecake Factory all have cold cold AC. Said AC is the only real reason to patronize these establishments. Better yet, make friends with someone who works for a downtown dev studio and go cool off there. (Works best on Friday when normal office facilities are on.)
• Stay away from Pioneer Square itself. Just… you don’t need that. Belltown should be explored for overpriced fancy food/drinks, but not for nightlife. These two neighborhoods are not for us geeks, trust me.
• Look both ways, dummy. Cross when it says to or when it’s for real clear, INCLUDING CYCLISTS. They will cut you. Use your signal. Walk on the right. Don’t sidewalk or car text. Wait for everyone to exit the elevator/bus/streetcar before you enter. Everyone here does all that shit wrong all of the time, of course, but there’s an assload more people in town right now so please aim to be smart and courteous.
• You unlock a Seattle achievement if you sneak into the ladies’ room of the Columbia Tower Club (75th floor, members only, no spoilers for the tourists plz).