What is there hidden in downtown and on the outskirt's of Seattle
September 21, 2005 3:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm visiting Seattle for a week in October and am looking for off-the-path places to hang out: used bookstores, blues clubs, coffeehouses, esoterica and erotica. I also want to find a museum that has a large collection of Dale Chihuly pieces.

I can negotiate the Downtown area pretty well and know that there are more places in the outlying areas. I will be staying with a friend just north of U of W.
Cool independent bookshops would be premium, similar to those near Powell's in Portland, full of Codrescu, Anti-Bush texts and sexual comics. Also coffee houses that have spirit and good, cheap food hangouts.
posted by goalyeehah to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Elliot Bay Book Co. and Left Bank Books are two of my favorites, along with one in Fremont whose name escapes me at the moment. For 'rot comix, try Zanadu Comics on 3rd Ave.
Coffee: Zeitgeist, Cafe Lladro, B&O Expresso are a few, but you can't swing a dead cat in this town without finding good java.
Cheap Food: Dick's (heh), Blue Water Taco, Agua Verde, Yak's Chinese Deli or the bajillion Pho and Thai food joints.
Blues Clubs: hm...The Scarlet Tree, The Rainbow, Larry's (?)

If you can get to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma or the Pilchuck Glass School you can see all the Chihuly you can handle.
posted by black8 at 3:38 PM on September 21, 2005

Check out bauhaus. Grab an amazing mocha and hit up many cool alt-bookstores, record stores and design boutiques upstreet along Pine. There is also a really excellent two-story alt-and used bookstore just outside the Pike's Place Market (can't remember its name though).
posted by Rothko at 3:42 PM on September 21, 2005

Oh, yeah...check out this site, it might be quite helpful and don't forget to check out The Stranger or The Seattle Weekly.
posted by black8 at 3:56 PM on September 21, 2005

Across the lake, Bellevue Art Museum has a glass exhibition going on right now. Tacoma is where you're going to find the largest concentration of Chihuly glass, though - including the bridge, which is pretty amazing.
posted by milkrate at 4:50 PM on September 21, 2005

The Ballard area is pretty good for all things funky and unconventional.
posted by randomstriker at 5:09 PM on September 21, 2005

If you go to Ballard, save some time for Archie McPhee.
posted by Rothko at 5:12 PM on September 21, 2005

Best answer: North of the U district? The Ave is the obvious first place to look in that area. Somebody mentioned Zanadu on 3rd already, but my local branch is on 45th and Brooklyn. Thai Tom's is a good place for food, and for meeting locals (mostly college kids) as they stand outside the tiny restaurant waiting for a turn. There's Magus for books, and there's also a bookstore on the corner of 45th and University which I don't remember the name of. The University Bookstore itself is nothing to shake a stick at. You're also a bus ride from Fremont, which sounds like your scene. Try Lighthouse Roasters for coffee if you're there.

On the subject of coffee, the best places to just chill out seem to be on Capitol Hill: B&O Espresso (Belmont & Olive, off Broadway) and Bauhaus (On Pine). I asked about espresso beans in a previous thread, and was recommended Espresso Vivace, just off Broadway (On Denny), and I must admit that is damn, damn fine coffee.

I'm more protective of my favorite places to eat, but here's a couple that have served me well: The Rusty Pelican in Wallingford or The Salmon Bay Cafe in Ballard (for breakfasts .. Rusty Pelican has good coffee too), Pete's Pizza on Roosevelt for calzones, and Piecora's on Capital Hill for pizza. The Elysium on Cap Hill is a well-regarded bar. I'm not a fan of Dick's for burgers, but it's an institution. For Mexican, Mr. Villa on Lake City Way. On the same street there's also a place called The Breakfast Club that does good food, though the atmosphere may not be to your liking (A bit right-leaning). Hattie's Hat in Ballard is another local institution you might try for bar/restaurant fare.

For quirkiness: Archie McPhee's in Ballard (On Market) is an obligatory recommendation, but it's always fun to browse there.

Skip Pike Place Market, if you haven't been there and were considering. It's boring and full of crap, and there's not a lot of local color.

I always tell people to visit the Arboretum when they come to Seattle—nobody does, but it's awesome anyway. Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill is another good park, if visiting parks is at all your thing.

Museums aren't my thing, so I can't give recommendations there. I can rattle off a couple of well-known ones just for posterity: The Burke Museum of Natural History on the UW campus (The Henry art museum is also there), the Pacific Science Center in Seattle Center is also sort of fun. I've never been to Roq La Rue downtown, but it's well-known. Also, I've always meant to go to the new Museum of Flight out by Boeing, but I've never been (however, my sentimental favorite best restaurant in Seattle is nearby).

I also would be potentially killed for not advising you to at least check out our new Central Library on 4th in Downtown. Even if just to check out the interior.

With some feedback, I may be able to give better recommendations. Either way, hope you have fun.
posted by Hildago at 5:32 PM on September 21, 2005 [1 favorite]

for erotic food, a fun place to stop by is the erotic bakery in Wallingford, just west (across the I-5) of the u-dist on 45th.

another seattle institution is beth's cafe on Aurora, next to Greenlake. 12 egg omelettes with all-you-can-eat hashbrowns, a true greasy spoon diner. open 24hrs!
posted by jpeacock at 5:58 PM on September 21, 2005

Seattle is saturated with the kind of places that you refer to as 'off-the-path,' which might explain why almost all of the places mentioned above are very well-known in and in fact literally on what you might call 'the path.'

For places that you would be a bit less likely to find without being pointed there, I recommend the Globe Cafe on Capitol Hill (it's either on 12th or 14th, I forget which), and Last Exit On Brooklyn coffee shop near the north end of the Ave (near Olympic Pizza, which is, or was, very good).
posted by bingo at 6:03 PM on September 21, 2005

Does anyone know what goes on in Seattle during New Year's Eve?
posted by skylar at 6:16 PM on September 21, 2005

I agree with most of what you posted Hidago, but I have to disagree on the Rusty Pelican (in Wallingford). I went there with my wife a couple of months ago and it was one of the blandest and least appealing meals I've had in a long time. Think rice cakes, unflavored rice cakes, and you'll be close.

For breakfast, I really like the Sunflour Cafe in Ravenna (3118 65th) north of the university area (so near where you'll be), friendly waitstaff and great food.

The Ballard area has some nice indy bookstores too, like Epilogue Books on Market.
posted by freshgroundpepper at 6:26 PM on September 21, 2005

Does anyone know what goes on in Seattle during New Year's Eve?

Yes. They used to shoot fireworks off of the top of the Space Needle but after 9/11 I'm not sure if they do anymore. There also used to be nutty parades that I'd go to/participate in.

The south part of Seattle is not as well-travelled and you can go to cool coffee shops in Columbia City [hop in the 7 bus going south you'll be there in a while], on the water in West Seattle [over the bridge on the 135, tasty bakery at SSCC which sells baklava for criminally cheap prices] or on Lake Washington in the Seward Park area. The Museum of Glass is really the place to look at ALL the glass, and there's a commuter train that goes down there and, I think, a bus.
posted by jessamyn at 6:39 PM on September 21, 2005

If I had only two meals in Seattle, I'd make sure they were at these places:

Wild Ginger, right across the street from Benaroya Hall downtown. Yes, it's hip and trendy. Yes, it's a well-known Seattle institution. And yes, it's as good as everyone says it is. The Seven Flavor Beef is ambrosia on a plate.

Paseo, on Fremont Ave. in Fremont. A tiny hole-in-the-wall that serves the best sandwiches on the planet. The pork sandwich (the single marinated pork cutlet, NOT the Midnight Cuban which is pulled pork)-- smothered in thick-cut marinated grilled onions, on a fabulously crusty yet chewy cuban roll, is nothing short of divine. They also have outstanding black beans. Paseo is rated a 9.8 on Citysearch. Nobody I've ever taken here has been disappointed, and many have told me they've later dreamed of that pork sandwich.

I second the recommendation for Thai Tom on University Way-- intensely fresh, flavorful food, cheap, and worth the wait.
posted by Zair TL at 6:55 PM on September 21, 2005

Ooh, wild ginger is pretty good. If you get a decent sized group (at least 4, I'd say), my favorite restaurant in seattle is Tango Tapas. However, it's not really cheap- it'd probably be around $20 a person easy, without drinks.

Hidalgo already mentioned Espresso Vivace. Just sayin'- don't miss it. I'll also second his mention of Elysium brewery on 13th & Pike; it's also quite good, my favorite there is the "Arch Wit" beer. Yum! And while it's gotten rather played out, the Bleu Bistro on broadway still has a certain charm. Not as much as when that truly astoundingly beautiful waitress, Lakshmi, worked there (sigh) but the tucked away atmosphere is alluring.
posted by hincandenza at 8:48 PM on September 21, 2005

a bookstore on the corner of 45th and University...

It's Twice Sold Tales. If you can stand the litter box stench, well even if you can I don't think it's worth it.

If Thai Tom is too crowded then Thaiger Room a few blocks south on the other side of the street is also pretty good. Check out Bigtime across the street and a little further south for good beer. It's Seattle's oldest brewpub. The food is just okay.

The University Bookstore is pretty good, but Elliott Bay is definitely the one to visit. That's the only place that's ever had Jeff Noon's books.

As for museums, the Henry Art Gallery at the UW is good. Also check out the Frye Museum. It's free.

I'll, what, fourth? Archie McPhee's especially since it will be close to Halloween.
posted by sevenless at 9:06 PM on September 21, 2005

Second the Museuem of Glass in Tacoma. Tacoma is...a hideous city, but the waterfront area is turning itself around. There are a bunch of restaurants, a few bookstores, a UW satellite campus, and a couple other museums in addition to the Glass one. You can take the Sounder train down fairly cheap, and there is a (normally worthless) light rail that can take you to museum and waterfront. Check out the Freighthouse Square shops near the Tacoma Dome too. You can also try to buy some meth and get shot on Hilltop, if that's your game...
posted by MostHolyPorcine at 11:24 PM on September 21, 2005

Archie McPhee's is a must do.

Not sure about Chihuly stuff (I can't stand his work, honestly, so I tend to avoid it -- sorry; it sounds like everyone else has you set with the Museum of Glass anyway, which I've been thinking about checking out anyway), but I dig the Henry Art Gallery (on the UW campus), so I'd recommend checking that out; I don't remember what the current exhibit is, though, but in the past they've had Superflat and an exhibit by David Byrne.

My favorite record store in this city is Everyday Music on Broadway. They're not good if you're looking for something in particular (well, I don't necessarily have good luck for that), but if you just want to browse, they will have insane amounts of things, often rare-ish things. Decent prices, too.

Also, everyone recommends the Museum of Industry, too. And there's always the Seattle Center if a little touristy.

Getting the Stranger is a seconded idea, too (though you can safely pass up the Seattle Weekly).

Also: If you're a movie geek, Scarecrow is a MUST SEE. Oh my GOD. Even if you don't rent anything, it's just mind-blowingly fun to go and see EVERYTHING they have. It's fun to think of the most obscure films you can think of and see if you can basically Stump The Racks. (Be sure to check out the Psychotronic room!)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 11:25 PM on September 21, 2005

Based on a recent trip out, I would recommend checking out Victrola Coffee for uh, coffee and desserts, and Red Line for darn tasty sandwiches and more dessert. Both located in Capitol Hill.
posted by shinyj at 7:16 AM on September 22, 2005

Definitely second the Red Line recommendation. It's only about a year old, so it's not really an institution yet, but they have nailed the friendly neighborhood cafe vibe to a T. Good food, clean, sunny, cozy, personable.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:55 AM on September 22, 2005

I should also mention that I know the owners of the Red Line, but would still heartily recommend their food whether I did or not. Hopefully, once they get their wood-fired pizza going in December, I will be able to return for a tasty visit.

p.s. Mars - thank you for the Red Line support, I know Derek would appreciate it!
posted by shinyj at 10:55 AM on September 22, 2005

If you are over by Seattle Center, I think that it is worth walking a few blocks to eat at Caffe Minnie's.

Does anyone know what goes on in Seattle during New Year's Eve?

They still do the Space Needle fireworks show at Seattle Center.
posted by monopas at 1:22 PM on September 22, 2005

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