Changing Seattle: The upside is that there's always something to rediscover

The view of Elliott Bay from the deck of a Washington State ferry

A friend and I had a serious bout of spring fever the other day when the temps hit 70 on a sunny Tuesday. We cured it with an outing to Bainbridge Island via a 35-minute hop on the Washington State ferry. No need for a car here. Within walking distance of the ferry dock is the charming hamlet of Winslow and the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, filled with a changing collection of unique  works created by Northwest artists.

There's a lot of complaining going on about how "Seattle is changing,'' and not for the better, considering unending construction, soaring rents and big-box apartments displacing neighborhood businesses. If there's one upside to change, it's that there's always something to rediscover. The Bainbridge museum opened in June, 2013, anchoring a newly-revitalized business district filled with art galleries, bakeries, and shops selling Turkish imports and Argentine ice cream. Have you been to Pioneer Square lately? How about Interbay, the light industrial zone along Seattle's waterfront between Queen Anne and Magnolia?

A few years back, my husband and I made a New Year's resolution to take more "urban walks'' with the goal of rediscovering neighborhoods we once thought we knew well. We explored Sodo and Georgetown and Greenwood. We're overdue for a second or third walk through South Lake Union near The Seattle Times, where I worked for years, and the new complex downtown between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, and Lenora and Virginia Streets. We'll get to those. In the meantime, here are three others worth a second look.

Sail away on a state ferry 

Take a poor man's cruise to Bainbridge Island, once a timber and shipbuilding center, now a bedroom community on the Kitsap Peninsula. Walk on a Washington State ferry ($8.10 round-trip) at Seattle's Pier 52, then take a 10-minute stroll into Winslow.

Seattle foodies make the trip regularly to dine at a trio of destination restaurants. Joining Cafe Nola, and Hitchcock is Restaurant Marche, a Northwest- inspired bistro run by longtime chef and island resident Greg Atkinson. The Winslow Ale House is a new brewery and pub next to the museum, and the museum itself has a small cafe with a well-edited menu and pleasant outdoor seating. 

Stone sculptures at Winslow marina

Closer to the water is the Pegasus Coffee House, a brick and ivy-covered local hangout near the marina. Consult the menu written on pull-down sheets of butcher paper, then settle in next to the fireplace for a panini sandwich or homemade dessert. Before moving on, walk around back to the waterfront path, and notice the playful stone sculptures by Ethan Currier.

Pegasus Coffee House

Nearly 300 artists sell jewelry, pottery, paintings and sculptures at the non-profit Bainbridge Arts and Crafts, 151 Winslow Way E.  Sip your way around town at tasting rooms operated by local wineries, or hop a late-afternoon ferry for the art walk on the first Friday of the month. More than 40 food and craft vendors sell their wares at the Bainbridge Island Farmers' Market on Saturdays, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m., now through Dec. 17. Whatever you do, don't leave without trying a scoop of island-made dulce de leche ice cream from Argentine-owned Mora Iced Creamery, followed by a walk back to the ferry through Waterfront Park on Eagle Harbor.

Seattle's newest street car line is up and running

The new pioneers 

Lining the shelves at the London Plane in Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood are Moroccan and Mexican cookbooks, porcelain teapots and cans of Spanish tuna. Ceiling fans spin overhead as office workers chat over coffee and sourdough toast slathered with soft cheese and roasted cherries.

Across the street in city-owned Occidental Square, lines form at a food truck serving barbecue pork sandwiches to construction crews working on timber giant Weyerhaeuser's new headquarters. 

New tables at Occidental Park

While it seems a stretch to call Pioneer Square the "new Capitol Hill,'' as some promoters suggest, Seattle's oldest neighborhood has become the new address of choice for an eclectic mix of one-of-a-kind restaurants, cafes, bars and shops tucked into once-scruffy spaces. Best advice: Explore beyond what's familiar. Finding the newcomers takes some sleuthing in a neighborhood still dominated by sports venues, fast-food restaurants and dive bars.  

Anchored in what once the heart of Seattle's art gallery row, chef and restauranteur Matt Dillon's airy Bar Sajor, 323 Occidental Ave. S., draws a well-dressed crowd for seafood and roasted vegetables cooked in a wood-fired oven. Dillon's more casual London Plane,  300 Occidental S., and Little London Plane, a wine bar and housewares shop at 322 Occidental, anchor Occidental Plaza, a leafy, pedestrian mall next to the new First Hill Streetcar line. 

Just south of the square at 410 Occidental Ave. S. is the Taylor Shellfish Farms Oyster Bar with fresh seafood served outside on a pocket-sized deck or inside in a sleek space decorated with exposed brick and hardwood floors. Hidden underground at 88 Yesler Way is Kraken Congee where bowls of Southeast Asian porridge come spiked with sake cured salmon, wild mushrooms and duck confit.

Craft cocktails and a gourmet bar menu draw an after-work crowd to Damn the Weather, 116 First Ave. S., for glasses of French cider and plates of chicken fat fries. Mimicking an old-time Idaho watering hole is the back bar at E. Smith Mercantile, 208 First. Ave. S. where it's standing-room only for its classic cocktails combined with house-made herbal infusions. The Estates Wine Room, 307 Occidental Ave. S., offers tastings from Washington's Double Canyon winery and Oregon's Archery Summit. For a close-up look at the small-batch coffee roasting process, sip a latte at Elm Coffee Roasters, 420 Second Ave. S.

Cone and Steiner General Store, 135 S. King St., provisions modern-day pioneers with everything from saddle soap to jelly beans and craft beers. Next door, Velouria, 145 S. King., sells women's bags, sweaters, scarves and jewelry made by independent producers in the United States and Canada.  The "Merc'' at E. Smith Mercantile stocks sturdy dry goods (drawstring bucket bags, denim jeans, Moscow Mule mugs) with a 21st century twist. And if by chance you're on your way to a wedding at Shotgun Ceremonies, 206 First Ave.S., you'll find a socially-conscious, last-minute gift at family-owned Tango Zulu, 110-112 First Ave. S., a shop stocked with fair-trade crafts and housewares made by artists locally and around the world. 

Interbay's  Citizen 6

Interbay chic 

Next door to the Downtown Dog Lounge and across the street from the Everest Mattress Factory, Batch 206 Distillery could be mistaken for just another warehouse in Seattle's industrial Interbay neighborhood. 

Blocky red letters painted on a blank wall reveal no clue to what's on the other side of an unmarked door. Fronting an 8,000-square-food distillery is a cozy tasting room decorated with comfy sofas, antique furniture and soft lighting. Behind a bar fashioned from pieces of reclaimed pipe, sales director Kent Johnson pours  thimbles of a golden-colored Old Tom gin. 

Next door over, the bartender at Holy Mountain Brewing Company fills growlers in a tap room with a view of rail cars parked on the tracks near Elliot Bay. A few blocks to the south, Citizen 6 bar manager Scott Rixe mixes cocktails for customers gathered in a cidery facing the Port of Seattle's grain terminal.

Attracted by low rents and favorable zoning, craft brewers, distillers, hard cider and wine makers are reimagining a half-mile stretch of Elliott Avenue West and 15th Avenue West, close to where the online travel company Expedia plans to relocate its Bellevue headquarters in 2019. 

Separated by railroad tracks from Myrtle Edwards Park and a scenic stretch of waterfront, these tasting and tap rooms are a  hidden secret for now. Best advice: Take advantage of the free parking, and get here before thousands of thirsty techies discover what's in their new backyard.

Start at Citizen 6, 945 Elliott W., home to a new restaurant inside the No. 6 Cider Co. taproom next door to the Six Spirits distilleryGrab a seat at one of the tables made from wood reclaimed from a century-old Sequoia tree. Order the Korean beef tacos, sweet potato fries or an asian pear salad, and sample a flight of hard ciders in flavors such as coffee and pomegranate. Bar manager Rixe loves coming up with new cider-based cocktails such as the "Train Jumper'' made with Tequila, agave, lime and No. 6 pineapple/jaleapeno cider. There's homemade ginger beer and Applejack rum, a riff on classic apple brandy made by Six Spirits with No. 6 aged honey-ginger cider.

Batch 206, operated by Jeff and Daleen Steichen, former owners of the Showbox music venues, offers free tours of its 8,000-square foot distillery and tastings of the bourbon whiskey, gin, vodka and apple, cherry and peach pie moonshine it produces on a steam-driven German-made still. Don't miss a sample of the house-made gin and whiskey pickles.

Holly Mountain Brewing offers sea salt and habanero chickpeas to go with a daily changing menu of seasonal beers.  Slide into one of the wooden booths or find a seat at the concrete communal table, check the chalkboard tap list, and try a few half-pours before deciding on a growler or bottle to take home. 

An Interbay old-timer is the Ward Johnson Winery, 1445 Elliott W., an urban winery featuring wines made from grapes grown in the Red Mountain area of Eastern Washington. The Johnson family moved the winery to Interbay from their basement in Queen Anne in 2004 "when nobody else was here," recalls Tammara Johnson.  
Ward Johnson produces 800 cases annually of reds and whites made in the winery in back of its small tasting room. 

Billing itself as Seattle's first craft distillery since Prohibition, Sound Spirits, 1630 15th Ave W., offers tours and tastings in a distillery Boeing engineer Steven Stone opened five years ago next  door to a mini-storage and furniture consignment shop. Whiskeys, gins and vodkas made from Washington grains are the stand-outs here as well as liqueurs including a liquid dark chocolate made with Theo's cacao nibs.