It’s official: I’ve lived in Seattle for a year. I arrived just in time for the bleakest winter on record—that’s over 44 inches of rain and only nine sunny days from October to March—and spent the first few months hunkering down, decorating my new apartment and DIYing well into the long night.
Then, spring sprung and I discovered that the tree just outside my living room window sprouted the most delightful pink blossoms. I took Clarabelle on long walks around the neighborhood, stopping to get cup after cup of that serious Seattle coffee. It warmed me before the weather ever did.
And then the record-breaking winter gave way to a record-breaking summer, and we got over 50 days of sun, sans a single drop of rain. I slurped Kumamoto oysters, drank beer on patios in Ballard and filled my apartment with a ridiculous amount of dahlias. I finally found a decent taco in this city.
The leaves are changing again, reverting to the way they were when I first moved here. But now I’ve taken stock of my new city and carefully collected a list of favorite places. I carry each of them with me like charms on a freshly wrought bracelet that jingle cheerily as I walk down Seneca Street.
Now I want to share them with you. Scroll down for snapshots and recommendations, or meet me at my favorite place to get a huckleberry-creme donut and I’ll give you a tour myself.
You’ve never known floral bounty until you’ve strolled past the flower stalls at Pike Place Market. Yes, it’s a tourist spot and yes, it’s always crowded. But truly giant, bespoke bouquets for $15 are always worth the trip.
After an episode of Mind of a Chef ignited my love for ramen about five years ago, I have an insatiable hunger for the stuff. This version is made with a spicy ox-tail broth and is utterly crave-worthy. The unagi bibimbop is a solid second-dish order.
This is the place for lazy mornings and late nights. Those in need of un petit déjeuner would be well advised to order a croque madame with a side of frites. You can order the same thing after 11pm, but once you’ve had a couple glasses of good French wine, the superb dessert menu starts looking real good.
fresh produce at
Capitol Hill Farmers’ Market
Like I said before, I really only ever head to Pike Place Market for flowers. For fresh produce, I walk a few blocks up Broadway so I can stock up on jewel-like berries and carrots plucked fresh from the earth.
the house taco at
God bless Tacos Chukis for providing this sometimes-homesick Texan with a glass of horchata and a plate full of tacos. Their signature offering comes topped with al pastor, cheese, guacamole and grilled pineapple.
the martini at
This teeny tiny bar with an inexplicable disco ball in the corner serves up my favorite drinks in Seattle. My go-to is the martini, which is garnished with a soy-soaked clove of garlic. Not for the faint of heart.
I can’t fly to Shanghai on my lunch break, but I can (and do) walk down the street to Din Tai Fung. Soup dumplings are a must, and I like to supplement them with an order of sticky rice with pork and sautéed string beans with garlic. An extra order of potstickers never hurt anyone either.
fresh donuts at
Home of the aforementioned huckleberry-cream donuts, General Porpoise is a darn-cute little cafe just down the street from my apartment. They close at 3pm and usually run out of the day’s donuts well before that, so don’t forget to set an alarm on Sudnays.
succulents and sundries at
This little shop stocks what should be an odd mix of succulents and beautiful goods, but somehow it works. It’s the perfect place to pick up a gift in a pinch, and it’s also perfect for whiling away those rainy weekend afternoons.
beer flights at
For the good weather there are picnic benches outside and a view of the water. For the bad weather, there are indoor tables in close proximity to free pretzels. And there’s always good beer.
I think of Store One as my second Seattle home. My office is only a couple of blocks away, so I love to pop over to check out the new wares on the floor, grab an Italian soda at the Ebar or try on a new perfume on my way through the beauty department.
There’s some seriously good Vietnamese food in Seattle, and I’m lucky that one such outpost is located a short walk from my place. I can’t seem to get this lemongrass beef vermicelli bowl out of my head, and I plan on going back to try each and every iteration.
[Insert overpriced toast joke here.]
But seriously though, the toast at Mr. West is no joke. I’m partial to the avocado version (they mix in mustard seeds and a dash of curry powder), but the smoked salmon toast is also on point. And if you visit during happy hour, be sure to sip a Prosecco cocktail or two.
iced pistachio matcha at
I always start the day with a latte, but around 3pm I’m hankering for a touch more caffeine. That’s when I head downstairs to grab an iced pistachio milk (made in house) matcha and a chocolate chip cookie.
indie films at
Seattle International Film Festival
Thanks to my dad, I scored a ticket to see Lady Macbeth at Siff Cinema Uptown (bonus: they serve wine and offer nutritional yeast for the popcorn). Next year I plan on buying my own pass for the Seattle International Film Festival.
hangtown fry at
The Wandering Goose
I love a good Southern breakfast. This particular dish boasts a potato hash, fried oysters and cured pork belly. The healthy dousing of hot sauce was my own addition. I plan on heading back for Fried Chicken Fridays in the very near future.
fancy stationery supplies at
Lucca Great Finds
Filled to the brim with taxidermied butterflies, fragrant toiletries and a tempting array of notebooks and pencils, this little Ballard shop is a favorite for absent-minded browsing.
stunning vistas at
A mere two and a half hours from Seattle lies Diablo Lake, one of the most stunning natural vistas I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Melting glacier water carries superfine silt into the lake, turning it this stunning shade of turquoise.
buttered up bitch at
The lines are long, but the biscuits are worth it. Just don’t show up hungry. I’m a purist so I tend to go with the simple butter-and-jam option, but the Smokin’ Hot Bitch (that’s a biscuit and gravy topped with a Louisiana hot link and jalepenos) sounds pretty darn good, too.
the communal table at
Sitka & Spruce
Slightly fancier than the last entry on this list, this local gem offers an oft-changing menu of locally sourced dishes. Have a drink first at the bar just across Melrose Market, then try to score a seat at the communal table—it’s basically located inside the kitchen.
My current favorite of all Ballard breweries, Stoup has a stellar selection of rotating taps, a big outdoor seating area and bartenders with great taste in books.
curtain call at
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Join The Pointe to get discounts on upcoming productions, and don’t forget to buy the reusable cup at the bar. That way you don’t have to chug your Champagne at intermission.
oysters and cocktails at
This Renee Erickson spot boasts delicious, French-inspired seafood dishes and a great cocktail list that can be easily suited to your tastes thanks to a stellar bar staff. Plus, the place is just so damn cute.