Redmond, WA is not the first place Seattleites think of when they want to check out a nearby city. We’re more likely to head to Vancouver or Portland, eschewing the smaller cities in favor of places with hipster coffee shops and organic grocery stores. Around here, Redmond is pretty much known for two things- Microsoft and Marymoor Park.
By chance I ended up there this weekend and discovered a pleasant little niche of the Pacific Northwest.
The reason I was in Redmond at all was an envelope containing tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia at Marymoor Park.
Marymoor is a massive greenspace filled with meadows, sports fields, bike paths and a well-known velodrome, beaches, a dog park and more. It’s home to numerous outdoor concerts and events every summer, largely because of its ability to host so many people. It’s a nice place- not super exciting, but a good way to get out in nature while not straying too far from the city.
I’m the type of person who always wants to be everywhere waaay early, just in case, so I headed over to Redmond several hours before the start of the show. I planned on just wandering around a bit, maybe grabbing a bite to eat or exploring the park. The plan was essentially no plan- and aren’t those often the best?
45 minutes after leaving my apartment, I got off the bus across the street from Victor’s Celtic Coffee. On the outside, it looked like a little hole in the wall, with some gorgeous outdoor wall paintings.
Inside, though, was a whole other story. The place was huge and well lit, stuffed with people. A sign was hung up next to their in-house roasting room that read “no wifi- talk to each other! pretend it’s 1995!”
I was delighted with the find before I even noticed the menu, which confused me for a moment.
“Wait… Banana Split? Almond Roca Mocha? These are coffees? How do they even get banana in the coffee?” Victor’s serves all your usual espresso drinks and pastries, but the highlight of the menu is definitely their unique creations, with fun names like “Zebra Mocha”, all topped with chocolate whipped cream.
I loved the fact that there were signs posted all over about no laptop use on weekends and no business meetings- so many lovely coffee shops in Seattle have been overtaken by that ALL WORK ALL THE TIME vibe of the tech industry that it was refreshing to be somewhere unapologetically pronouncing that they weren’t into it. Later I went on Yelp and unfortunately, it seems like a lot of people can’t deal to be parted from their laptops for an hour and are leaving negative reviews. Don’t listen to them! If you need your barista to suck up to you and craft your grande sugar free triple shot mocha with 3 pumps of hazelnut syrup, extra hot, go to a big coffee chain. If you want an authentic coffee shop, go here.
Feed Co. Burgers was adjacent to the coffee shop. It was a bit of a contrast from the old-school vibe of the building I’d just left. As in Seattle, the trend with new eateries revolves around minimalist design, stark lettering on a typically contrasting background, and imagery to evoke days of primal eating (in this case, a butcher’s outline of a cow in white paint against a black wall- I can think of two places in Seattle already that have an almost identical mark on their property).
Luckily, it seems as though the health trends of Seattle (and I suppose, the PNW in general) are seeping into nearby cities. I remember days when, if you weren’t in a big city, good luck finding anything to supplement an alternative diet. But here I was facing a menu offering gluten free buns, antibiotic and hormone free meat, and sweet potato fries.
I haven’t had a good gluten free burger in years. These guys did an excellent job of making up for lost time and crafted an absolutely amazing, guilt free meal for me.
In the Redmond town center area there’s also a Flying Apron (gluten free and vegan bakery also located in Fremont) and a Whole Foods, both places I, being gluten-free and aiming for health, can eat. We also passed a Super Jock n Jill, a Seattle based running store I absolutely LOVE.
So many bikers whizzed by as I ambled along… Redmond is known for being incredibly biker friendly. This little green trail is called the Sammamish River Trail and it took me along (what else?) the Sammamish river until I arrived at the park.
I didn’t take many pictures of the Cirque du Soleil show- too busy watching- but that’s not the point of this post. I was truly surprised by what Redmond has to offer, and wanted to share the experience of that discovery.
I’m still not a suburbs person- I prefer either the grind of the city or the peace of the countryside. I find the in-between somewhat unsettling. But Redmond exceeded my expectations, and it was great to get out of my usual routine and go exploring. Of course! It always is. 🙂