When I visited Seattle in March of 2007, I immediately fell in love with the city and knew that it was the right place for me. Five months later, I packed my most important possessions and moved across the country to begin graduate school in counseling-psychology. Eight years later, I’m still here. Here are a few of my favorite “off the beaten path” places to check out.
Matt’s at the Market: If you’re looking for a quintessential Pacific Northwest place to dine that’s in Pike Place Market, this is your spot. The food it what I call American trendy and it’s a pretty safe bet to order any of the seafood off the menu. Your palate will be satiated with deliciousness for either lunch or dinner. My favorite lunch item is the catfish sandwich and the rotating dinner menu has always been a great one. Bonus points if you get a seat by the window that overlooks the Pike Place Market sign.
The Corson Building: The only thing to say about this dining experience is that it’s quirky…and memorable. Make your reservations ahead of time for either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday and prepare for a multi-course, family style meal at large tables with other diners. Menus change weekly based on what the chef decides to prepare ahead of time. The restaurant is located south of downtown in the Georgetown neighborhood. If the weather is nice, you are invited to walk around the backyard. The restaurant is a historic building that was built by an Italian family who lived in it. Today, the building is situated under an overpass next to a railroad track and directly in line with the landing patterns for all commercial jets landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. I told you it was quirky and memorable. I’ve only been once in the seven years that I’ve lived in Seattle and I can’t wait to go back.
Joule: This hidden gem (no pun intended) is located in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. It’s a bit of a hike up to the north part of Seattle. If you can couple it with a walk through Gas Works Park, then you’ll hit two really great spots in Seattle. Joule has another restaurant that it shares in the same space, The Whale Wins. Both are unique, though Joule is my favorite of the two. Their menu focuses on a modern twist of Korean cuisine and the Sunday brunch is both interesting and tasty.
Canlis: Seattle’s only five star restaurant, this family owned business is located in a nook just off of Aurora Avenue overlooking Lake Union. The service is excellent, the food is worldclass, and the experience is truly once in a lifetime. If you aren’t able to dine in the main area, check out their daily happy hour. The dress code for the bar is a bit more relaxed than the dining room and the cocktails are rumored to be some of the best handcrafted concoctions in the city.
Milstead & Co.: I would be remiss in not sharing at least one coffee shop with you. To be honest, I’m not much of a coffee drinker, however I believe that Milstead in Fremont is truly one of the best in Seattle. Don’t believe me? In the September 2014 issue, Food & Wine named Milstead one of the best coffee shops in Seattle – as well as one of the snobbiest. However, the snobbery has more to do with the way in which they originate, store, and brew their coffee than it does with their amazing customer service. I once said that I like my baristas somewhere between coffee chain chirpy and hipster pretentious. Milstead is the place.
Watson Kennedy: This local home furnishings store is one of my favorites in Seattle. It’s a great stop for visitors since the shop is filled with sundry items that are easy to fit into a carry on suitcase. If you want design inspiration for your home, definitely stop by one of their two locations in downtown Seattle. He’s also an author of a lifestyle book, so be sure to pick up a signed copy before you head out.
Melrose Market: This collection of shops and cafes are trendy and quaint. Located just north of downtown on the edge of Capitol Hill, these open air booths feature quality handmade goods and unique items for both wardrobes and home. If you you like local goods and identify with the hipster scene, this is your place.
Luly Yang: Seattle is not known for being particularly fashion savvy. However, the city can boast that it has its own couture wedding dress designer. Her quality designs are modern, inspired, and exquisite. Her only shop is located in downtown Seattle next to the Fairmont. To be honest, I’ve actually never been in it…though the windows facing the streets are enough inspiration for me.
Uwajimaya: I absolutely love this Asian grocery retailer simply for its small house goods section. I find the best Japanese dish ware in the gift and home section. Connected to the store (and near the home goods section) you’ll find Kinokuniya Book Store. If you are a connoisseur of good pens, great journals and fine paper, this is your stop.
Twist: Located in Pacific Place in downtown Seattle, this jewelry store carries distinctive and well made items created by independent artists from all over the world. Check out Jamie Joseph’s rings – she’s a personal favorite of many Seattle women.
Nordstrom: If you’re a frequent shopper of name brand clothing or appreciate a well stocked department store, check out Nordstrom’s flagship building. With five floors of fashion and unbeatable customer service, it’s worth a peak if you’re in the market for a new bag or for the next on trend item. If you get back home and decide that you don’t like your purchase, their “no questions asked” return policy all but diminishes the risk of purchasing something you’ll later regret. The fifth floor is connected to Pacific Place which houses Tiffany’s, J.Crew, Kate Spade, Aveda, and Barney’s. Have fun getting out of there in a reasonable amount of time.
It’s worth noting here that while I do not shop many independent boutiques for clothes, I do find these two shops to be my favorite in Seattle: Horseshoe in Ballard and Queen Anne Dispatch in Upper Queen Anne.
Pacific Northwest Ballet: Located in Lower Queen Anne, the PNB is a world class ballet company right in our backyard. Check out their website to see if a performance is showing while you’re in town. It’s definitely worth the trip. Grab dinner up the street at Toulous Petite beforehand and visit Trip Advisor’s 2012 Traveler’s Choice Award and #5 Restaurant in the Nation.
Hall Spassov Gallery: This husband and wife duo have two galleries in the Seattle area: one in Bellevue and one just south of downtown Seattle in Pioneer Square. They keep well-curated exhibits and rotate artists monthly. It’s definitely worth visiting if you appreciate viewing or collecting art.
glassybaby: While the drive to glassybaby would be a bit out of the way from most of the usual tourist sites, this shop is one of my favorite in Seattle. They feature hand blown votive holders and glass drinking tumblers. This shop was born out of a three-time cancer survivor’s vision. Read her meaningful story here. After visiting her shop, walk down to Molly Moon’s ice cream and grab one of her creative homemade flavors. My favorite concoction is a shake mixed with melted chocolate ice cream (made from Seattle’s Theo chocolate) and another one of her zany flavors: balsamic strawberry or vegan coconut.