Local exploration, Uncategorized

the best 7 coffee shops in downtown Seattle

Seattle is known for its abundance of coffee houses. Whether you’re into small businesses, organic coffee or brand name giants, there’s something here for you.

So with such an embarrassment of riches, where is one to head for the best coffee experience in downtown Seattle?

Hint: it’s not Starbucks.

Here are some wonderful options for you to duck into if you find yourself in this coffee-obsessed part of the world.

ANCHORHEAD

This cozy little hideaway is tucked into the main floor of an office building next to Westlake Center. It’s always warm and clean, the coffee is delicious and their pastries and snacks are made in-house (gluten free granola with house-made almond milk, anyone?).

Best for: getting a spot of work done on your laptop, quiet conversation with a friend, refuge from a stormy day

Spotlight drink: whatever new thing they’ve got on the menu, whether it’s a seasonal pumpkin spiced drink or a pistachio matcha latte.

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WHEELHOUSE

Though it doesn’t look like much from the sidewalk, Wheelhouse boasts some delicious coffee. If you can make your way past the all the construction in this part of the South Lake Union area, this place is worth a stop.

Best for: chatting away, visiting on your lunch break, grabbing a coffee for your walk around South Lake Union

Spotlight drink: lattes on the weekends- one of the employees can make latte art shaped like a CAT and it is amazing.

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CAFE LADRO

This is the best cafe near the waterfront because tourists can’t find it. Do your local grocery shopping at the market and then duck away from the crowds into this gem around the corner on Pine.

Best for: working in silence, avoiding tourists, people watching

Spotlight drink: order a cappuccino- it will be served to you properly, in a small cup on a wooden tray with a tiny spoon and bite-sized sugar cookie. It will be delicious.

STORYVILLE 

However, if you’re okay with a crowd, sneak past the flower shops and bookstores at the entrance to Pike Place and head upstairs to Storyville. Avoid peak hours to ensure you get a seat in one of the couches by the window overlooking the water. Hang out long enough and you might get served a free slice of fresh chocolate cake, a wonderful ritual at this location.

Best for: views over the water, conversation with strangers, comfortable couches, real food- not just cafe snacks

Spotlight drink: a simple Americano with a few of their house-made salted caramels.

ESPRESSO VIVACE 

The closest coffee shop to REI, this bike-filled spot situated right between downtown and Capitol Hill serves great Italian coffee. They’ve even posted instructions on the counter so you know how to consume your espresso.

Best for: after-dinner espressos, working when your deadline is coming up, pretending you’re Italian, in-depth coffee knowledge

Spotlight drink: espresso, in a ceramic cup, drunk in two quick sips

UPTOWN ESPRESSO 

Whenever I’m in Belltown, I stop into this spacious cafe. In the summer the floor-to-ceiling windows become open doors, and in the winter you can stay warm and dry inside. They’re open late, serve delicious coffee, and have free Wi-Fi- always a plus.

Best for: late night cafe, delicious espresso drinks, feeling like you’re at home

Spotlight drink: the Generra, a mocha with orange zest. If you think oranges and coffee can’t go together… try this.

CAFÉ SUISSE

One of the only (maybe the only) true Swiss places downtown, the owners of this shop work the espresso machine, serve gluten-free pastries and croissants imported from Europe, and also run a European goods shop connected to the building. Don’t expect the quickest service from here- but go if you want to step out of Seattle for a minute.

Best for: gluten free pastries, kind baristas, laid-back vibes and European goods

Spotlight drink: authentic Swiss mocha

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***BONUS ROUND: Coffee AND Chocolate?!***

Kakaoanother South Lake Union spot, and Indi Chocolate, which recently moved from the underbelly of Pike Place into a new waterfront space, are two wonderful chocolate shops with espresso machines and seating. You can’t go wrong with either. You’re welcome.

Which one are you headed to next? 🙂

Local exploration, Uncategorized

Breakfast at The Edgewater

My grandmother and I are both early risers.

The other day we met up for breakfast and were rudely reminded that the rest of the world doesn’t get up as early as we do… none of the eateries we could think of were open until 11 or 11:30.

After a bit of driving, we decided to head to Six Seven at The Edgewater, a hotel on Seattle’s famous waterfront.

The view from our table was stunning. Despite the fact that I grew up here and often run along routes with similar views, I was reminded of why we attract so many tourists up here in the Pacific Northwest.

Being situated in a pretty luxurious hotel, I expected Six Seven to be pretty nice. And wow, were we blown away.

From the service to the food, the coffee (Zoka) and presentation, we were pampered. Everything was beautifully done and DELICIOUS.

It was also great to be able to dine out at a nice place without worrying about my allergies- I had fruit and an avocado/bacon/caramelized onion omelette with basil and goat cheese, and it was phenomenal. I’d had to talk myself out of the (glutinous) pancake stack and didn’t regret it for a second.

Perhaps the best moment of the whole thing was this seagull who watched us for most of our meal, probably hoping we’d share.

What a beautiful place. Thanks to my grandmother for taking me out. 🙂

What’s your favorite local breakfast spot? Comment below!

Local exploration, Uncategorized

Bastille Day 2017

Bonjour!

In case you didn’t know, the day before yesterday was la fête de la Bastille! Bastille Day is the French Independence day, which falls on le quatorze de julliet every year, marking the day during the French Revolution when the Bastille was stormed in 1789.

When I went to Paris last summer I actually stayed in the area near where the Bastille used to stand- it’s strange knowing I walked in places where history was made!

Besides the history, for Francophile Seattlites like me, Bastille Day is really just an excuse to do something that makes us feel a little more français.

Seattle has a few good places to satisfy your craving for all things French…

I’m sure I’ve mentoioned La Parisienne before. Smack in the middle of Belltown, it’s surrounded by other coffee shops and eateries in a seriously gorgeous little neighborhood. There are tables outside next to leafy green trees, and the staff are kind and gregarious. Their pastries and sandwiches are délicieux as well.

Le Pichet is my favorite place in Seattle for a luxurious evening. They have absolutely amazing food, always serve you une assiette à pain et au beurre before you eat, and supply a few caramels with the check.

Le Panier is, admittedly, where all the tourists go, but the have the best tasting and best-priced pastries, macaroons and baguettes in town!

The Belle Epicurean on 4th ave downtown is another favorite because of it’s classic French feel, plus you can sit outside and people-watch on account of all the hotels and business offices nearby.

Out of all these wonderful options, it was to Cafe Campagne, a French restaurant tucked into Pike Place, that my boyfriend and I headed this Bastille Day, mainly because it would be easiest to get to after work. I was also intrigued by their promise of live music and burlesque…

It was a beautiful, sunny day for a celebration.

We were gifted with stunning blue swathes of sky, warm but not too-warm weather, and the mellowest of afternoon breezes.

La fête took place beginning inside the cafe and spilling out and over the patio, filling the alleyway with throngs of people. It did feel very French with all of us cramped into this little cobblestoned space.

As promised, we were treated to live music, a small group of older gentlemen playing string instruments. They played the type of music you’d expect to hear in a French film, and one song that I assume from the reaction of the crowd was the French national anthem.

I loved that everyone was dressed up- some people with an over the top costume with stripes and berets, some just influenced by the simplicity and classic timelessness of French style. Everyone, some ladies I waited in the bathroom line with pointed out, had beautiful shoes (except yours truly, who was wearing the same shoes pictured in the With Sparkling Eyes heading- parts of the soles are beginning to peel off, but I wore them in Paris!).

There was also, of course, French food. We headed inside the cafe and ordered some pain au fromage et confiture de tomate, vin rouge, et des macarons chocolat! 

As with any good French restaurant, the inside was low ceiling-ed and had seating around the edges of the room, encouraging interaction between patrons. Dusty bottles of red wine lined the shelves and the menu was written in French.

I’m addicted to chocolate macarons!

After sitting inside beside a guy shucking oysters and enjoying our little meal, we returned to alley in time to catch an accordionist before the burlesque show.

He looked the part, with that cigarette oh-so-casually dangling from his lips. After he had been paying a while, Shanghai Pearl, Seattle burlesque artist, came out and performed a cheeky little bit to some classic French songs.

 

Finally, we headed home, but first stopped for a cup of coffee (I’d gotten up for work at 5am and was beginning to feel it).

But isn’t that a pretty French way to end an evening?

Local exploration, Uncategorized

The Lupine Lady

When I was young, my grandparents read to me. 

I recall certain stories time and again in the nuances of their voices, the personas they would take on for each new character. I had to ask my grandfather what he meant when Brer Rabbit threatened to give the Tar Baby “a lickin'” in one of Uncle Remus’ stories, but never tired of the racous Southern accent he only aqcuired during those bedtime readings.

My grandmother read gentler stories to me, Blueberries for Sal and old folktales- I remember a story about a girl who rode wild horses, another about a Chinese woman who followed a rice dumpling into great caverns beneath the earth.

Most of all, I remember a story that I always referred to as “the lupine lady”, though it’s actual title is “Miss Rumphius.”

Miss Alice Rumphius, the star of this tale, grew up wanting to be like her grandfather, travelling the world and living by the sea. Her grandfather told her she should do just that, as long as she remembered to do one other thing.


She must find a way to make the world more beautiful.

 

She ends up doing as she desires, travelling and exploring the world, until she hurts her back and finds a home by the sea. She grows ill and is stuck inside, but her mood is brightened by the lupines she sees from her window. When she heals she spreads lupine seeds around the countryside and watches them grow over the years for the enjoyment of all, delighting in fulfilling her grandfather’s wish.

 

I remember wandering around tossing my very own lupine seeds throughout my childhood, enchanted by the idea of them popping up all over the place as soon as I looked away. It became common in my family to point out lupines every time we saw them on a walk, or peering from car windows on a road trip.

As a child, though, I missed the greater meaning of the story- that we should all make it a point to give the world something beautiful. To leave a legacy that isn’t related to money or fame, just something that makes this world more pleasant to live in.

It doesn’t have to be something great. It doesn’t have to be something powerful or expensive.

It just has to be something beautiful, and it can be as simple as a handful of lupines.

 

Thank you so much to Lilly of Colibri Blooms, who invited me to a prance around in a massive field of lupines with one of her devastatingly beautiful bouquets, and Seattle Urban Farm Company‘s Hilary Dahl, who was the photographer for our impromptu lupine-filled morning. Check out Lilly’s Instagram @colibri.blooms for more breathtaking flower arrangements and @seatleurbanfarmco for more of Hilary’s photography.

How will you make the world more beautiful?

Local exploration, Uncategorized

An Afternoon at Woodland Park’s Rose Garden

Woodland Park’s Rose Garden is one of Seattle’s best hidden gems.

Perhaps because Portland’s much larger rose garden is the real draw for floral enthusiasts, this small plot of land next to the Woodland Park Zoo is always quiet and often sparsely populated.

Tourists in Hawaiian shirts with loud voices and selfie sticks tend to stay away, creating the perfect secluded spot for a relaxing weekend retreat.

 

The garden is arranged beautifully, in a manner that reminds me of Le Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. There’s a small fountain in the middle with a walkway around it, circled by styled shrubbery and with paths leading off around the roses. You can sit in a gazebo, underneath some rose-covered trellises or on one of plenty of benches in the shade.

In an effort to soak up the late afternoon sun, my boyfriend and I spread out a blanket on the grass surrounded by bushes of flowers. We’d stopped at PCC beforehand and brought with us a spread of treats: strawberries, figs, smoked ham and jalepeno crackers, baby carrots, snap peas, and a bar of my favorite Dick & Taylor chocolate.

We relaxed enjoying the scent of trees and flowers, him playing guitar and me reading. It really is astonishing how quiet and serene this little garden is, considering it’s proximity to a zoo and several high-traffic roads. While we were there a handful of children passed us, playing hide and seek or riding bikes, and another group of people appeared to be meditating in the opposite corner of the garden. I was surprised not to see more people out enjoying the beauty of the late afternoon, the luxury of sunshine in Seattle and the absolute tranquility of the park.

It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

 To me, anywhere you can spend an afternoon with your shoes off, toes dirtied from frolicking between flowerbeds, shoulders tanned from laying in the sun with a good book (in this case, Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth) and lips sticky with summer-ripe strawberries is a place worth adventuring to. When you live in a city it’s all the more crucial that you seek out these moments to connect with nature, to relax from the rushed, hectic pace of the workweek.

This week, find your oasis. Spend time outside. Get your feet dirty.

 

Breathe.

 

Local exploration, Uncategorized

A Visual Tour of Fremont’s Sunday Market

Whenever my long runs are on a Sunday, I always end up going past the Fremont Sunday Market. Every single time I wish I could stop and walk around, but I’m either constrained by time or so sore that I know I wouldn’t be able to run again if I stopped.

By happy chance, I happened to be free most of Sunday this week and too injured to run long (that’s another, less exciting story).

Landon (my boyfriend) and I bused the three miles from my apartment to Fremont on Easter morning, which we normally would have run or walked but… again, I’m injured. Ugh.

We crossed the bridge and hopped off the bus right after, into one of my favorite areas in the city- the edge of Fremont. It’s a very serene area, lined by verdant pathways and stuffed with fun shops and eateries. I love stopping for samples at the Theo Chocolate factory, grabbing hot chili from the lunch bar at PCC, or snacking on something I can be sure I’m not allergic to at Flying Apron, a gluten free and vegan bakery.

Notice all of my favorite things here are food related…

But there’s more than just food! The Burke-Gilman trail runs along the water, connecting you to the path that circles Lake Union, and it offers a stunning view of sparkling water and verdant greenery. On one side you can run to Gasworks Park and look across the water at the city, and on the other you can follow the trail all the way to the Ballard Locks.

I’m getting off track here. What were we talking about? The Fremont Sunday Market!

Despite my frequent trips to the area, I hadn’t been to the market since maybe last summer, and didn’t quite remember what to expect. After a quick detour to Dusty Strings for Landon…

We were welcomed to the market by a table selling all sort of crystals and fossilized shells! This was such a delight. Though in what is a very New-Age-y part of Seattle, I wasn’t too surprised. Landon bought me a beautiful hunk of rich purple amethyst, which is supposed to be good for creativity.

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After I pulled myself away from the tables of crystals, we meandered through the rest of the market. I was expecting more vegetables, actually, but it’s more of a craft fair than a farmer’s market (I think the correct term is flea market). We saw people selling clothes, lamps, shoes, artwork, tools, furniture, designed-to-order T-shirts, cookware, handmade mugs… The list was endless!

There were also a ton of food vendors and food trucks, because of course. This is Seattle.

One woman was selling succulents, and although I see these every day at work I couldn’t help but be drawn to her unique potting methods. It looked as though she had basically gone to Goodwill and picked out every container she could find, then arranged beautiful collections of plants and stones inside! They were so creative, deliciously lovely in a quirky way.

She’d also planted a bunch of mini ones in wine corks, which I also thought was a fabulous idea

My favorite was this little guy exploding out of what was once a milk steaming jug, which I ended up taking home and is now sitting on my desk in a sheaf of sunlight as I type.

Now that spring is finally here, there were a million flowers bursting out from under one tent- mostly tulips but some other varieties as well. Right next to them was this tiny table covered with candles. but not just any candles…

Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, these candles were made from hot wax poured into vintage tea cups!

It seems Fremont and I might share an affection for things placed in unusual containers.

In addition to the length of street we walked down, there’s a whole giant vintage/antique garage sale thing that happens in a parking garage off the side of the street. We only popped in for a second, but there was such an array of items! Ornate, gilded antique mirrors; records; your grandpa’s unfortunate mustard sweater in 20 different styles; great deals on Smartwool socks- unfortunately they’d already sold out of the small women’s running socks… There were paintings and light bulbs and wacky shoes, handbags and more crystals/fossilized things, jewelry and bizarre hats, old wardrobes and goodness-knows what else.

Overall, it was exactly as one would expect a market in Fremont to be. Wonderful, weird, artistic and tons of fun!