Guide to Uptown

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Ben’s brother is visiting us from Atlanta this week. It’s his first time in Seattle, and in preparation for his trip we’ve spent some time thinking over what Seattle spots to introduce him to. I’d hate for all the lists and itineraries of “Seattle favorites” we’ve made for ourselves and visitors over the past year and a half to go to waste, so I want to share some of that here on the blog — for my own reference as much as anything! 🙂

Ben and I spent our first year in Seattle living in an apartment in the Lower Queen Anne (aka Uptown) neighborhood of Seattle. Home of the Space Needle and Seattle Center, Uptown/LQA has plenty of fun tourist attractions that pretty much guarantee you’ll find yourself in this neighborhood while visiting the city. Here are a few suggestions of where to go when you’re ready for an afternoon coffee break or a meal in between sightseeing activities.

Coffee

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Caffe Ladro (600 Queen Anne Ave N)

Caffe Zingaro (127 Mercer St.): I like their monthly specials.

Uptown Espresso (525 Queen Anne Ave N): “Home of the Velvet Foam”…it’s supposed to be the best in Seattle. They have several locations throughout the city.

Citizen (706 Taylor Ave N): Great coffee shop vibe and has a good food menu for breakfast, lunch, or happy hour.

Food

Toulouse Petit (601 Queen Anne Ave N): I’m going to go ahead and say this is one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle, and if you need a memorable date make a reservation here. It doesn’t have the classic tourist feel, but is definitely a gem. They have “One of the Ten Best Happy Hours in the Nation”–I can personally vouch for happy hour breakfast and late night happy hour. Cajun cuisine.

Pesos (605 Queen Anne Ave N): Right next door to Toulouse Petit, run by the same people, and also delicious.

Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar (124 Republican St): A new spot that opened up underneath the apartment building where we used to live after we moved out, which is probably good so we don’t spend too much money on oysters! We went back to eat here before seeing a play at the Seattle Repertory Theater (which I also recommend if you have time for a play) and I tried my first oyster here. I was thankful that it turns out I like oysters because we have so much access to great seafood in Seattle. Eating a meal here is a fairly expensive treat, so if you want to taste local oysters and not spend tons of money visit during happy hour from 4-6 pm M-F. If you have lots of time during your trip, visit the Taylor Shellfish Farm Store along the beautiful Chuckanut Drive and you can have an oyster feast right by the water.

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Dick’s Drive-In (500 Queen Anne Ave N): Got kids? Want local fast food? Need a cheap, quick meal, or craving a milkshake? This is your place. Open 24 hours. If you are looking for the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis music video location, go to Capitol Hill.

Tin Lizzie Lounge (600 Queen Anne Ave N): A cozy and swanky spot for a break from the rain.

Athina Grill (528 Queen Anne Ave. N): For a good, quick Greek meal

The Seattle Center Armory: Food court with lots of options. I like Skillet Counter and Pie the best.

Other

SIFF Cinema (511 Queen Anne Ave N and Seattle Center): A really great local movie theater that shows a lot of indie films and documentaries. 2 theaters located in Uptown and Seattle Center.

Metropolitan Market (100 Mercer St.): This local grocery store has several locations; if you’re in the neighborhood and you need to grab some Seattle-related gifts to take home, their “Northwest Gifts” section is a great spot.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it will give you a few ideas of places to eat a meal or get some coffee. I’ve left boutiques and most other shopping off this list; when I’m exploring a new city with limited time I generally pick the food spots and tourist attractions first and then add shops if there’s time. (Though don’t get me wrong, I love a good local boutique.) Since the tourist attractions in Uptown/Seattle Center are obvious–Space Needle, Chihuly Museum, etc.–I’ve limited this guide to (mostly) food and coffee.

FYI—the Belltown neighborhood is nestled in between Uptown and Downtown, so anything on my guide to Belltown would be a good place to stop if you decide to walk from the Space Needle/Seattle Center to Pike Place Market. This walk is doable and especially nice on a sunny day. (In my experience these were the kind of tips I find especially helpful when trying to maximize time in a city—so there you go!)

Are you a Seattleite? Share your favorite LQA spots in the comments!

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Theo Chocolate Factory

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Recently I went to tour the Theo Chocolate Factory with a few friends. This has been on my “to-do” list for awhile, and it was great to finally get a group together and go. I definitely recommend it!

Theo Chocolate is completely melt-in-your-mouth delicious, plus all organic and fair trade. They also create really unique flavors. I loved shopping around at the store after the factory tour, picking out some confections to take home, and sampling chocolate bars. (We got plenty of samples on the tour as well, in case you are wondering!)

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Guide to Belltown

Ben and I both work in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, and until last week we lived near there too. Because of that we’ve had a chance to explore it a lot over the last year. As I was getting a tiny bit nostalgic about moving I thought it might be fun to share some spots we like.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it will give you a few ideas of places to eat at if you’re in the neighborhood. I’ve left shopping and parks off this list because I didn’t want it to get too long, so you’re on your own with that 🙂

Ace Hotel (2423 1st Ave.)

Bambino’s Pizzeria (401 Cedar St.): A big open oven for baking pizzas makes this spot an especially cozy place to eat on a rainy night.

Bedlam Coffee (2231 2nd Ave.): I wrote about Bedlam for Trouve Magazine.

Black Bottle (2600 1st Ave.): Once I got a peach/blueberry kettle tart here. It came out in a cast iron skillet and they gave me fresh cream to pour on top. Yum. Make a reservation for a weekend date.

Cinerama (2100 4th Ave.): It doesn’t look special on the outside but inside they have twinkly star-lights in the ceiling and other nice features that make watching a movie here fun.

Five Point (415 Cedar St.): A 24-hour cafe with diner food. Whether you’re getting breakfast or a burger, Five Point is always an entertaining experience.

Frontier BBQ (2203 1st Ave)

Local 360 (1st & Bell): All ingredients come from a 360 degree radius around the restaurant location. We love how affordable it is here; you can have a fancy date night with local gourmet food without spending too much. Make a reservation!

Macrina Bakery (2408 1st Ave): I blogged about Macrina as part of my Sweet Seattle series.

Mama’s Mexican Kitchen (2234 2nd Ave) 

Rob Roy (2332 2nd Ave)  

Shiros (2401 2nd Ave): Sushi. The best sushi. Have you seen the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi (streaming on Netflix)? Shiro trained with Jiro.

Street Bean (2702 3rd Ave): Good coffee with a good mission.

Tilikum Place (407 Cedar St): I especially like eating lunch here.

I’m sure as soon as I publish this guide I’ll think of more places I should have included, so I repeat that this isn’t exhaustive! Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite Belltown spots.

I’ll miss frequenting these Belltown spots on the evenings and weekends but we are already enjoying our new neighborhood  so I think I’ll be ok 🙂 Stay tuned for a guide to Uptown (aka Lower Queen Anne), the neighborhood we just moved from!

Riding the Ferry

When Ben’s brother was visiting (see the first post about that here) we went on a morning ferry ride. I am always up for an excuse to take a ferry ride, and it’s a fun and cheap activity for anyone visiting Seattle. This ride was from Seattle to Bainbridge Island on a typical gray morning.

Great city views + an opportunity to capture memories. Cue the camera.

Morning Ferry Ride

When my dad came to visit we went on a morning ferry ride from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. The city was just waking up and partially covered in fog. Morning and sunset are the two best times for ferry rides!

^see the Space Needle rising out of the fog?^

^Ben and my dad^

After arriving in Bainbridge we ate breakfast at the Streamliner Diner, missed the ferry we wanted to take home by about 30 seconds, and then were forced to explore the shops along the cute main street while waiting for the next ferry back 🙂 I found an art/handmade goods boutique called Danger that I’d love to visit again, and discovered that Bainbridge Island has a first Friday art walk and many of the shops stay open late, so I definitely need to put that on my calendar.

Have you ever ridden a ferry? Before moving to Seattle I guess the last time I rode one was on a trip to NYC. It’s one of my favorite things to do here and I definitely recommend it for visitors!

Vashon Island

On Saturday, we said “let’s have a mini adventure” …in so many words. After tossing around some ideas, we found ourselves on Vashon Island. It was a quaint and peaceful spot, 10 minutes by ferry outside the city. The charming postcard-perfect lighthouse is at Point Robinson Park.

^lighthouse keeper’s residence. how does one land such a gig?^

We picked up some coffee at the Coffee Roasterie, which I recommend if you’re in the neighborhood!

Even though Vashon Island is really close to Seattle, Ben and I both commented on how far away we felt there. That’s one of the things we love about this place: Seattle is surrounded by national land and sleepy little towns; you can get away from the city so fast if you want a little getaway.

After exploring the island for the afternoon we were back home in no time, eating leftovers and watching a movie.

^from the ferry deck. photos like this make me want to paint again^

^riding in the car on the ferry home^

Seattle from Above

Views of this beautiful city, through the observation windows of the Columbia Center building. I loved seeing all the neighborhoods from above like they were from the opening scene of Mr. Rogers. Ben and I had a good time just looking around at everything—identifying buildings and watching boats, planes, and helicopters go by. Plus the day we went it was hot and sunny so we enjoyed being in the air conditioning for a little bit 🙂

By day the skyscraper looms in the smoke and sun and has a soul./Prairie and valley, streets of the city, pour people into it and they mingle among its twenty floors and are poured out again back to the streets, prairies and valleys./It is the men and women, boys and girls so poured in and out all day that give the building a soul of dreams and thoughts and memories.

from Skyscraper, by Carl Sandburg

We Rode Ferries All Day

On the Saturday before Easter the sun was shining and the weather was warm all day. Now it’s cold and rainy again, though we’ve seen a few peeks of sunshine and plenty of pretty spring flowers are blooming, so it’s not all bad. But seriously, remember that weekend of sunshine?? Sigh. 

Today I’m home sick and as I said, it’s grey outside. If I was feeling better I would be in the car right now with friends driving to a cabin at Mt. Rainier to build a fire, play games, eat, and snowshoe. So being sick today makes me feel like a first-grader missing out on a school field trip, but without my mom around to make chicken soup, turn on movies, and bring me medicine at all the proper times. Now I’m a responsible adult who has been blowing my nose with toilet paper because I don’t even keep tissues in the house…what I wouldn’t give for a soft tissue with lotion right now. Bleh.

So to re-focus on happy weekends I bring some sunshine here to the blog. That sunny Saturday in March seemed like a good day for some ferry rides. Seattle-Bremerton is the longest ride from Seattle, about an hour, so we got on that boat, ate lunch in Bremerton, and then took a small foot-ferry to Port Orchard.

Port Orchard was super quaint. So much so that we couldn’t even find a coffee shop (what?!!!!). We wondered into a few antique stores, but it was mostly the boat ride over and back that made it worth a visit to us.

We spent all day riding ferries without any real destinations, soaking up the sun, and walking to and from the port. That sure was fun. …now back to blowing my nose :/