10 Hottest Spots in Seattle Now
The sun's out in Seattle, and you know what that means! Leisurely lunches, a whole lot of artisanal coffee breaks and modern art fairs galore. Join in as JS contributor Rachel Gallaher shows us all the seaport city has to offer.
Photo by David Dosset for Bateau
La Marzocco + KEXP Headquarters
Arguably the coffee capital of the country, Seattle is known for its array of artisan roasters, creative brewing methods, and independent cafés. It’s a tough sell to stand out among the competition, but La Marzocco hits all the right notes. Set inside the new home of KEXP, Seattle's popular independent radio station, the café features a roasters-in-residence program showcasing both locally and globally sourced coffees that change every month, as well as an Espresso Lab where coffee enthusiasts can participate in home brewing classes.
Forget grab-n-go—Mr. West is all about slowing down to enjoy a long leisurely lunch On the eastern edge of downtown, the café-and-bar combo is the brainchild of the duo behind popular local wine bar Bottlehouse. Interiors have an updated midcentury vibe, crossing parquet flooring and modular lighting with Carrara marble and a market-style entryway selling magazines and other sundries. On the menu? Creative salads, sandwiches, and toasts (the avocado with curry, mustard seed, and lime is a must-try).
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Glass Box Gallery
At just shy of two years old, Glass Box Gallery isn't new, but it's finally coming into its own. Founded by artist Weston Jandacka, the gallery and project space is home to numerous exhibitions, pop-up shops, dinners, and installations. As a curator Jandacka is a champion of local artists, embracing experimental work often rife with social or political underpinnings (A recent exhibition from Seattle street artist No Touching Ground addressed Seattle's growing homelessness crisis and included live pigeons). Located off the beaten path in the International District, Glass Box is worth the trek; especially on exhibition opening nights when the artsy crowd, literati, and in-the-know Seattleites come out to play.
Bateau and Bar Melusine
Chef Renee Erickson has been making her mark on the Seattle culinary scene ever since she took over the Boat Street Café in 1998. Sixteen years later she’s opened multiple restaurants around the city, published a cookbook, and in May (after two consecutive nominations) took home the 2016 James Beard Best Chef Northwest award. The latest additions to Erickson’s growing stable of restaurants are Bateau (specializing in steak and oysters) and its neighbor, Bar Melusine with its French-inspired menu and crisp green-and-white décor. If that's not enough to get you in, the Seattle Times food critic Providence Cicero gave Bateau her first-ever four-star review.
Seattle Art Fair and Out of Sight
Last year Seattle experienced an arts awakening with two knockout attractions set to return to the city this August. Paul Allen’s Seattle Art Fair (August 4-7) will once again take over Century Link Field with a current count of 83 galleries set to participate including New York's Pace, Japanese collective Kaikai Kiki, and a heavy selection of Northwest galleries. While the international art aficionados flood the field, local artist/curator/mover-and-shaker Greg Lundgren is once again mounting Out of Sight just blocks away on the third floor of the historic King Street Station. Last year's curatorial team brought together 100 artists working in mediums ranging from painting and sculpture to Casey Curran's sheet of shiny gold triangles and mechanical parts that slowly undulated in a constant wave. Don't miss the opening night party – it sells out quick.
Ernest Loves Agnes
Not your average neighborhood pizza joint, Ernest Loves Agnes is a Capitol Hill design destination. Named after literary great Ernest Hemingway and his onetime love Agnes von Kurowsky (an American nurse he met in Milan during WWI), the space is narrow and cozy and the eating counter faced with Italian tile, while the Ernest Bar traffics in the masculine and moody with dark wood, lush green plants, and a cocktail menu serving the writer's own libation, Death in the Afternoon (Champagne and Absinth with a lemon twist). A flavorful menu with vegetable-heavy starters and crusty, chewy pizza keep locals coming back for more.
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Amid the rising towers and never-ending construction in tech-centric South Lake Union is the recently finished 400 Fairview. Although it appears like any other mixed-use development space, the street level retail complex is uniquely arranged like a mini European market hall with everything from coffee and flowers to Vancouver, B.C.-imported sandwich shop Meat & Bread. Stop in on the weekend and hit the brand new South Lake Union Saturday Market featuring dozens of local vendors and the city's largest outdoor food hall.
Tucked away on the back side of Pike Place Market, JarrBar is a study in minimalism, both in size and culinary offerings. The 470-square-foot jewel box of a space feels like a hideaway café on the shores of the Mediterranean. Simple white paint and a butcher block bar take design back to the basics, while the menu is inspired by the owners travels in Spain and Portugal. Having no kitchen is a bonus here; delicious plates of cured Spanish meats, freshly sliced Spanish cheese, and briny olives make the perfect accompaniment to wine from the Iberian Peninsula.
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Even if you’re not the outdoorsy type, a trip to Filson is an adventure in itself. Last year the 119-year-old outerwear company deepened its Seattle roots, opening a flagship store on the second floor of its headquarters-and-factory building in the city's industrial area. Housing FIlson staples (coats to keep you warm in the Alaskan wilderness, water-repellant canvas bags that will last a lifetime), the retail store is a blend of modern and rustic. High vaulted ceilings with exposed rafters play against concrete floors, while dark casework and reclaimed wood are a bold touch. Don't miss the 18.5-foot, hand-carved modern totem pole from local artist Aleph Geddis--the craftwork is a testament to the wild spirit of the Northwest.
There are hundreds of reasons to head down to the city’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, and most of them involve food. The must-try spot of the moment is Nirmal’s, a pan-Indian restaurant, where chef Nirmal Monteiro creates flavorful dishes, pulling culinary traditions from multiple regions of India, rotating through 10 varieties of dal, and offering creative five-dish thalis. The space may be minimal (a narrow exposed brick hall with simple lighting) but the flavors are anything but.