5 Great Seattle Spots to Eat, Drink and be Merry
What do travelers visiting Seattle imagine when they think of the Emerald City? The bustling crowds and layered vendors packed away within Pike Place Market, certainly; the iconic spire of the Space Needle adding immediate recognition to the city’s skyline; the superb coffee. But like all cities—urban islands, each with unique substance and rhythm—Seattle has more to offer: neighborhood treasures with rich histories nestled among the lush greenery of the Pacific Northwest’s largest and most populous city.
With companies from Amazon to Zillow headquartered here, Seattle is known for innovation in the dotcom, computer hardware, biotechnology, financial, architectural, retail and gaming industries, but the same pioneering attitude can be found fueling the city’s many eateries, boutiques and bars. Summit invites you to dip your feet in colder waters and come with us as we survey our first urban island outside of Hawai‘i.
We begin our tour in Seattle’s famous and eclectic Chinatown-International District at the HardWok Cafe, a hole-in-the-wall loved by foodies and locals fronting a popular Asian shopping plaza. The atmosphere is bright and clean with modern Taiwanese decor and the sound of K-Pop plays in the background. During the day, a packed lunchtime crowd keeps the cooks busy and, as evening approaches, one side of Seattle’s hidden nightlife ascends as boba tea fans and energetic groups of socialites arrive to grab a bite to eat before the soirée begins.
HardWok Cafe was originally opened as a strictly desserts café. Fortunately, co-owner Raitchell Chen expanded the menu and the eatery now serves many different Taiwanese dishes. For those with a penchant for spice, HardWok offers a traditional bowl of beef noodle soup powered by a kick of chili pepper that will have noses running and mouths watering. Or select from the wide array of refreshing fruit slushies and bubble teas, complete with your choice of toppings such as smooth pudding or soft grass jelly. But if you’re after the dish that put the café on the map, you’ll want to choose from the collection of delicious treasure toast boxes. Each of these decadent treats features a honeyed box made from warm toast and filled to the brim with a base of ice cream, fresh fruit, sundae-worthy syrups and a grand topping of Pocky sticks and delicate pirouettes.
Below the café, the Chinatown district extends toward the piers, making this stop a great place to take photos of the neighborhood shops and architecture that make this district special. On the right is Seattle’s Nihonmachi—or Japantown—where the most authentic and highly-rated ramen can be found behind the doors of Tsukushinbo’s on Main Street, neighboring several art galleries like the Brian Ohno Gallery and the ever-changing art space at the Panama Hotel. On the left, King Street hosts the Wing Luke Museum with its free lobby and gallery offering an in-depth look into the history of Seattle. Or continue straight down Jackson Street from HardWok and take a peek at gift store/art gallery hybrid Kobo on Higo for a unique omiyage—or souvenir—curated by the store’s owners. If you’re lucky, you might even see one of their artists-in-residence hard at work or catch one of the special events held in the gift shop’s gallery space.
HardWok Cafe // 1207 S Jackson St., Seattle // Tues.–Thurs., 11AM–9:30PM; Fri.–Sat., 11AM–10:30PM; Sun. 11AM–9:30PM // (206) 568-1688, hardwokcafeseattle.com
Central District Ice Cream Company
A rotating cast of sorbet and ice cream flavors takes center stage each month at Central District Ice Cream Company, which has not repeated a single flavor since its grand opening in December of 2016. Although a newcomer on the block, the CD Ice Cream Company’s owners are no strangers to the food biz. Darren and Kristine McGill have a reputation for opening stellar eateries, including their Portland success Happy Grillmore and Nate’s Chicken and Waffles, Seattle’s first chicken-and-waffles restaurant, built in partnership with National Basketball Association star Nate Robinson.
A sampling of CD Ice Cream Company flavors from the past could include a medley of classics upped with herbal ingredients, like their June 2017 flavor, chocolate lavender, as well as who-would’ve-thought flavors synthesized from savory dishes slow-churned into ice cream, like the daring coconut curry. The shop even features signature creations from local area bakers, such as the viral trendy magical unicorn macarons from Krystel’s Confections in the neighboring town of Tukwila. And just for good measure, the ice cream parlor features a whole wall of old school candy jars filled with sweet shop favorites.
But besides all the sweet flavors the CD Ice Cream Company has to offer, the shop is also a focal point for the community. Each first Thursday of the month, the parlor hosts an art walk featuring local artists’ works in the upstairs gallery space and music curations from local DJs, making for a fun night of culture and ice cream.
Central District Ice Cream Company // 2016 E Union St., Seattle // Tues.–Sun., 2–10PM // (206) 519-1529, cdicecream.com
Now located in the middle of Belltown at Pike Place Market’s new MarketFront expansion, Moorea Seal is a tucked-away gem featuring stationery, jewelry and gifts curated by the owner and namesake, Moorea. An aficionado of minimalism, Moorea is a longtime connoisseur of simple but modern artwork, the ethos behind which she brings to her own work as an illustrator and sculptor. At some point, she began making jewelry from the small fragments left over from her sculpting, which led to an Etsy shop and, finally, into the storefront Moorea Seal.
The shop’s goods and profits are directly influenced by Moorea’s values, as shown in the multiple charity funds for women, animals and children that the endeavor supports. Each maker/vendor who sells goods through the shop chooses between five or six rotating charity organizations to donate to, picking the one that resonates with them most. Moorea Seal’s merchandise also reflects what’s important to its founder, like metalwork hoop earrings featuring phrases like “Smash The Patriarchy,” or gemstone-shaped soaps promoting internal wellness.
Among the handmade jewelry and typography-bedecked stationery, shoppers will also find clothing, shoes and totes that represent a calming, minimalist aesthetic. Many of the bags are selected from local leatherwork shops that treat their cattle with respect, and the garments function as time capsule pieces, created from quality fabrics that are made to last. There are also plenty of gifts, like himmeli decorations and tarot cards for those attuned with their spiritual side.
Although Moorea Seal is now a part of MarketFront, die-hard fans needn’t worry: the shop still features its usual Champagne Friday happy hour at the new location.
Moorea Seal // 1012 1st Ave.., Seattle // Mon.–Thurs., 11AM–6PM; Fri.–Sat., 11AM–7PM; Sun., NOON–6PM // (206) 728-2523, mooreaseal.com
The verdant, rolling landscape that comprises the 52.4-acre Jefferson Park is just a 15 minute walk from the Beacon Hill light rail station. What was once a small park consisting of a community center, tennis courts and a modest playground was transformed into the sixth largest park in Seattle after the city covered up adjacent reservoirs and voters approved two subsequent levies for the park. Jefferson Park offers unparalleled views of the Duwamish River, the cityscape and the Olympic Mountains. The park’s Olmsted-inspired path system, flanked by the grandeur of the Pacific Northwest’s diverse flora (and sometimes fauna), offers a wonderful respite from city life along with opportunities to stay active and healthy.
Just below the park sits one of the most innovative features of the neighborhood: the groundbreaking Beacon Hill Food Forest, where neighbors can help one another to grow vegetables, legumes and other crops that provide affordable food for the surrounding community. Heading back to the Beacon Hill station, visitors will find a row of choice, local bars and, closer to the light rail, The Station, an aptly-named coffee shop known for its famous Mexican mocha, the Filipino Delite Bakery, with its delectable turon (a.k.a sweet banana eggrolls) and Fresh Flours, a Japanese café with a mean matcha latte and delicate French-inspired sweets.
Jefferson Park // 3801 Beacon Ave. S, Seattle // Open Daily, 4AM–11:30PM // (206) 684-4075, seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/jefferson-park
Owned by its namesake and founder, Bryan Jarr, JarrBar’s influence is distinctly Iberian, something Jarr picked up from his trips abroad to Spain and Portugal, and complimented by the maritime traditions of the Pacific Northwest. Situated within Pike Place Market next to the quirky boutique shop Ugly Baby and beneath the core of bustling book shops and souvenir vendors, JarrBar is a secret escape to the firey flavors of Iberia right in Seattle’s backstreets. The bar is intimate, with a minimalist theme of painted seafarer’s decor set against the blue accents of the bar’s woven chairs and picture frames. A neat row of eight stools sits parallel to the bar with only a few adjacent tables mere feet from the street-side opening.
As the co-author of In the Kitchen with the Pike Place Fish Guys, it is only fitting the Jarr’s bar would have an array of smoked king salmon rillettes, anchovy stuffed olives and tins of salty sardines. To accompany these savory tapas, JarrBar features a selection of Spanish wines and smartly-paired cocktails. But the main event sits at the end of the bar: a sleek stand for serving cured, Spanish meats on a platter, like JarrBar’s famed jamón Ibérico, or Iberian ham.
What makes JarrBar a truly must-try spot is the weekly events that make the bar a warm enclave for visitors and locals alike. Each Sunday is cinema night, and Tuesdays are for board games played throughout the night. Vinyl lovers are encouraged to bring their own records to play at the bar to add to the vintage atmosphere. JarrBar’s neighborly ambiance is what makes it such a treasure for Seattle’s happy hour-goers, and Jarr brings that ambience with him to Little Fish, his new restaurant at Pike Place’s MarketFront specializing in house-cured fish.
JarrBar // 1432 Western Ave, Seattle // Open Daily, 4PM–2AM // (206) 209-2239, jarrbar.com/