Seattle's Hip 'Hoods

Retrofit Home in Capitol Hill 

As much as I love downtown Seattle during the holidays, I love our neighborhoods more. 

Frangelico-soaked French toast and a Bloody Mary at 6 a.m.? Follow the club crowd to Capitol Hill.

Art glass hand-blown on site? Find it in Pioneer Square.

A shot of sipping caramel? Bring it on in Ballard. 

The buzz about Seattle's "next hip 'hood'' shifts as young entrepreneurs, chefs and and artists look for the next piece of vacant real estate to try out a creative idea. 

If you're planning a weekend getaway in Seattle this holiday season, take time to get out of town - downtown, that is - and find out what's new.

Three suggestions from my recent story for the Portland Oregonian.


Once the center of Seattle's Scandinavian seafaring community, Ballard is the city's current "it'' neighborhood, with new restaurants, brew pubs and shops opening in spaces where there once were second-hand bookstores and working-class bars. Begin on NW Market Street, then detour onto Ballard Avenue, the heart of the historic district and its cache of 19th century architecture.  

Ballard's Monster Art and Clothing 

Coffee stop:

Watch the neighborhood wake-up at Bauhaus Coffee and Books, 2001 NW Market. Grab one of the vintage metal lawn chairs on the sidewalk, or join the laptop crowd inside for a gluten-free treat from the Flying Apron bakery. Drop by for happy hour between 6-8 p.m. when Twice Sold Tales, a used book shop in back, offers discounts.

Where to shop:

La Tienda Folk Art Gallery, 2050 NW Market, is celebrating 50 years in business this year. Look for jaw harps from the Philippines, hand-knitted wood scarves, hats and mittens from India, Peru and Bolivia; and paper mache dolls from Mexico. 
Many of the shops on and around Ballard Avenue sell one-of-a-kind items made by Northwest artists. 

Find fused-glass ornaments and earrings fashioned from vintage Kimono fabric at Venue, 5408 22nd Ave. NW. More than 35 Seattle and Portland-area artists support Monster Art and  Clothing, 5000 20th Ave. NW. Look for leather wrist cuffs, handmade cards and leg warmers made from recycled t-shirts. 

Stoneburner's Pizza bar

Where to eat

Warm up by the fireplace with a classic meat pie and a microwbrew at Kangaroo & Kiwi, 2026 NW Market, an Australian pub in the former Carnegie Library. Drop into  Stoneburner, 5214 Ballard Ave., for a flask of wine and a pizza topped with pickled goat horn peppers. Save room for molten chocolate cake in a jar and a chaser of sipping caramel - salted fresh cream with mezcal - at Hot Cakes, 5427 Ballard Ave.  

Getting there: Ballard is seven miles north of downtown. Take Metro bus No. 40 or the D line. 


Art galleries, sports bars, bookstores and vacant storefronts come and go in the historic neighborhood that was Seattle's original downtown. Lately, there seems to be more coming than going as a handful of new food purveyors fuel talk of a "new'' Pioneer Square. 
Explore the tree-lined pedestrianized portion of Occidental Avenue South between South Main and South Jackson, and shops and galleries along First Avenue South.

Pioneer Square's Caffe Umbria

Coffee stop: 

Seattle meets Milan at the elegant Caffe Umbria, 320 Occidental Ave. S. Pair your espresso with a lemon tart, and flip through a rack of art magazines before checking out the nearby galleries.

Where to shop:

Warm up and watch glassblowers at work in the hot shop at the Glasshouse Studio, 311 Occidental Ave. S., founded in 1972 at the beginning of the Northwest art glass movement. Forty artists turn out colorful pond floats, rolled lip vases and more.

Glass House floats

Fireworks Gallery, 210 First Ave. S., is the original location of a seven-store chain specializing in practical objects with a playful edge. Choose from whimsical wall clocks shaped like vintage mixers and coffee cups to kitschy night lights. 

Paper artist Taiko Suzuki

Paper artist and printmaker Taiko Suzuki CQ sells art jewelry, handmade collages and cards at Tai Designs in the Grand Central Arcade, 214 First Ave. S. 

E. Smith Mercantile, 208 First Ave. S., is a new-age general store selling penny candy from glass jars, and dispensing whiskey cocktails from a cozy back bar. 

Where to eat:

Peak through the windows to watch cooks slicing meats and  stoking a wood-fired oven at the new Bar Sajor, 323 Occidental Ave. S. 

Chef Matt Dillon CQ  lures a crowd of sophisticated diners with dishes such as salmon cured in Sitka spruce tips and roasted quail. Across the way is London Plane, 322 Occidental Ave. S., a Sajor sister ship serving seasonal salads, spreads and wine by the glass. 

The newcomers join two mainstays: Tiny Cafe Paloma, 93 Yesler Way, specializes in Turkish-style mezes made by chef/owner Sedat Uysal. CQ. Local office workers line up for homemade soups and pastries at the original location of the Grand Central Baking Co., 214 First Ave. S. 

Getting there: Walk, or take any southbound bus or Link Light Rail train through the downtown Seattle transit tunnel. Exit at Pioneer Square station.


Mostly a late-night destination known for its clubs and bars, this compact slice of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, just east of downtown, wakes up in the late afternoon when a string of new restaurants open for happy hour. Explore between Broadway and 12th Streets between East Pike and East Pine Streets.

Coffee stop:

Independent roaster, Caffe Vita, operates cafes in Portland, New York and Los Angeles, all supplied with beans roasted at its Capitol Hill plant at 1005 E. Pike St. Take a seat on the sidewalk or next to the sacks of beans inside the cozy storefront cafe. Learn about home-brewing methods at free Saturday classes.

Where to shop:

The Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., is thriving once again after relocating a few years ago from Pioneer Square. More open and airy than Powell's in Portland, the 40-year-old store carries more than 150,000 titles, and a well-edited gift section including jigsaw puzzles and cloisonnĂ© enamel pins made by an Alaskan artist. 

Locavore retailer NuBe Green, 921 E. Pine St., stocks gifts made from repurposed materials. Find fingerless cashmere mittens, glasses made from recycled beer bottles and wooden blocks, all made in the United States. 

Retrofit Home, 1103 E. Pike St. The oversized plastic orange chair outside is a clue this isn't your average neighborhood home-improvement store. Owned by two artists, Retrofit is stocked for the holidays with frosted snowmen cupcake molds, ornaments made from recycled newspapers and holiday cheer bottle covers.

Where to eat:

Oddfellows Cafe, 1525 10th Ave., calls itself the neighborhood's "living room'' for comfort food and classic cocktails served in a century-old building that also houses Molly Moon's Ice Cream, 917 E. Pine St. Try the honey-lavender. 

Hold off until 4 p.m., and you'll have your pick of bargain-priced happy-hours. There's Via Tribunale, 913 E. Pike St., for $5 Neapolitan pizzas, and Momiji, CQ 1522 12th Ave., for $5-$10 Japanese snacks.  

 A solid anytime option is the 24-hour Lost Lake Cafe, 1505 10th Ave. All-night partiers love the 6 a.m. - 9 a.m. happy-hour for $3.50 well drinks and $2.50-$5 breakfasts. Try the French toast soaked in Frangelico, Grand Marnier, Bailey’s and  Kahlua.

Getting there: The Pike/Pine Corridor is a mile east of downtown Seattle. It's an uphill walk, so better to take buses 2, 10, 11 or 49. 


Plan bus trips around town with King County Metro Transit. 

Lodging specials: 

Kimpton Hotels (Alexis, Monaco and Vintage Park) offer Amtrak passengers 15 percent off their best available rates. See Use the promotional code: RAILS.

Hotel Max is offering a holiday shopping package that includes a $100 gift certificate for Pacific Place mall in downtown Seattle, valet parking and a 2 p.m. check-out for $239 per night plus tax through January 20.

See Visit Seattle for other hotel specials and discounts, and for special holiday events. 

No comments:

Post a Comment