Rain. Spaceneedle. Rain. Pike Place Market. Rain. Trees. Rain. Just a few of the things I think of when I think of Seattle, Washington. I haven’t visited Seattle since I was a kid, so when my cousin moved there, I thought it was about time I checked out the lush, green Emerald City again. My anticipated agenda included coffee, beer, eats, and tubing down the river in Leavenworth (more on that later).
Bird on a Wire: I started my first morning in Seattle by walking to local coffee spot Bird on a Wire Espresso in West Seattle (11). With a hipster name like that, I was expecting the modern sleek décor of reclaimed wood and steel with baristas who look like Hitler’s youth with handlebar mustaches. Instead, I found a cute neighborhood gem with great coffee, tchotchkes lining the walls, and friendly staff. I got a breakfast sandwich and a cappuccino, but I heard the chai and cold brew are popular. They also had a variety of pastries and breakfast bites so you don’t have to drink your coffee on an empty stomach. It’s a great spot for locals and it was perfect for me to leisurely start my day searching for my next munch stop.
The Original Bakery: Speaking of munchies, my second breakfast stop was The Original Bakery in South Seattle for doughnuts (4). My cousin said it had some of the best doughnuts in Seattle, so I could not resist getting any less than a half dozen. By the time I arrived in the late morning, a number of their bestsellers had sadly sold out. Luckily, staff was more than ready to point out other customer favorites. I was able to get a dozen, including an apple fritter, buttermilk donut, and blueberry cheese Danish.
Ballard Locks: Next stop was (12) Ballard Locks to meet up with friends and watch the fish climb the ladder to reach their spawning grounds. Ballard Locks is a complex of locks in Salmon Bay Seattle that allows boat traffic to move between the lakes and Puget Sound, which each have different water levels. They also prevent the sea water from mixing with the fresh water lakes, and maintain the water level of the lakes. To prevent migrating fish from getting caught up in the locks, they provide a fish ladder on the side to allow them to migrate up the river to spawn, most notably the salmon and steelhead trout (3). Nope, those are not aquariums. You can really watch the fish swim up the ladder.
Beer. One of the things I was looking forward to most during my trip was trying as many local craft brews as I could, since many of them are not sold outside the state. After Ballard Locks, my friends and I got a savory biscuit brunch from Morsel (16). We then stopped by Stoup Brewing in Ballard, which was started by a chemist and former biology teacher. I tried the gamut of styles available, including a tart saison, IPA, pale ale, Irish red, and porter (7). Next stop was Bevmo to pick up a variety of beers for the weekend in Leavenworth. I settled on Two Beers Brewing Co.’s Fresh Hop IPA, which was expectantly hoppy and flavorful, but also incredibly bright and refreshing.
Pasta: The Retail Pasta Studio (Il Corvo). I didn’t have time to get a bite at one of my friends’ favorite Italian spots in Seattle, but I stopped by their retail shop a few blocks away to get some freshly made pasta for the Leavenworth trip (6). They weren’t open yet when we dropped by just before lunch, but thankfully there was a coffee shop next door (8). It was worth the wait because they had my favorite pasta shape, campanelle (“little bells”), which are not so easy to find anymore. I ended up cooking a simple red sauce with a red pepper kick and a little anchovy for meatiness.
Pike Market / Seatown: Although I had everything packed for our weekend in Leavenworth, what’s a visit to Seattle without visiting Pike Market (5)? My cousin and I had lunch at the James Beard award-winning Tom Douglas’s Seatown Seabar and Rotisserie. They’re known for their seafood, so I went for the Crab BLT Sandwich (2). I may or may not have had one too many whiskey cocktails the night before at Canon, a whiskey bar touting the largest selection of American whiskey in the world. Suffice to say, this hit the spot.
Leavenworth: Friends told me a trip to Seattle necessitated getting out of the city and experiencing nature. My cousin planned a weekend trip to Bavarian-themed mountain town, Leavenworth, which is a couple hours outside of Seattle (1, 10). They had me at “Bavarian-themed.” Residents apparently were inspired by the Dutch-themed town,Solvang, in the 1970s and thought “OMG let’s give our own town a theme!” In order to stay committed to the them, every commercial sign is required to be sufficiently Bavarianish. Subway anybody? (9, 13, 14). We lounged around a rented cabin and spent one day tubing down a picturesque river. We appropriately finished our weekend with lunch at Munchen Haus, where I went a little nuts and ordered a brat, potato leek soup, a pretzel, and a beer.
Pier: I spent my last night in Seattle riding the Seattle Great Wheel, a giant Ferris wheel that was the tallest one on the west coast when it opened in 2012 on Pier 57, overlooking the city and Elliot Bay (15). Don’t worry if it’s raining – each passenger car is enclosed, allowing for great views all around no matter the weather. It was a fitting end to my trip to spend my last night in Seattle overlooking the city.
It was a short Seattle weekend, but that just means I can look forward to all the other food, coffee, and beer the city has to offer next time!