(Updated January 2017)
My first visit to Seattle was in the summer of 2014, when I was living just a ferry-ride away on the other side of the Puget Sound. Soon after, I moved to Seattle proper and spent a few months living in the heart of downtown. With plenty of time to explore the city and its many neighborhoods, I found my list of favorite places getting longer and longer.
One of the best things about Seattle is all of the amazing food, coffee, and nightlife. With craft breweries, independent roasters, and a general appreciation for all things fresh and local, there’s a reason this city is a destination for foodies and coffee enthusiasts from all over.
This is part 1 of 2 city guides to Seattle. This one is all about where to eat and drink, and it will direct you to some of my favorite coffee shops, restaurants, and bars throughout the city. Part 2 is all about the best things to do & places to see in Seattle.
Coffee is deeply ingrained into the culture of Seattle. Known as the home of Starbucks, most coffee-lovers dream of visiting this city. However, Starbucks is the last place you should visit for coffee while you’re here. There are so many amazing local roasters, producers, and cafes. Be sure to try as many as you can!
Bauhaus // 2001 NW Market Street
This coffee shop is quite iconic around Seattle. Formerly a neighborhood hang out with locations in Capitol Hill, Ballard, & Green Lake, it has gone through a lot of changes & upheaval in the last couple of years. However, the location in Ballard lives on!
Anchored Ship Coffee Bar // 5308 Ballard ave NW
This coffee shop in Ballard is downright tiny but it sure does have charm. The Lavender Chai is a must! This is a great little spot to pop into while in the neighborhood, but be prepared to wait in a line out the door if you’re visiting during the farmers market on Sundays.
Street Bean Espresso // 2711 3rd Ave
Located in the Belltown neighborhood, Street Bean Espresso is a spacious café in a quiet spot on 3rd Ave. It’s more than just your everyday coffee shop; it’s also a non-profit dedicated to training and employing “street-involved youth”. That means when you purchase a bag of their coffee, your money goes to helping someone get back into the workforce.
Cherry Street Coffee House // Multiple Locations
Cherry Street Coffee is a local company with 10 locations throughout Seattle, making it a convenient alternative to Starbucks while you’re in the city. Each store has a distinct décor, and the staff are all very friendly and helpful. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to spend a few hours working, or a place to grab a coffee on your way to the next stop, you’ll find what you need here.
Milstead & Co. // 900 N 34th St
Milstead & Co. is a real coffee-lovers coffee shop, for those that know–or want to know–everything. Located in the Fremont neighborhood, the large open space is a great place to meet with friends. They also have a mouth-watering selection of pastries for every mood. They are currently redeveloping the original location, and will call this temporary spot home for a couple of years.
Seattle is a total foodie city. People here love to eat, and they love to eat good. You’ll find all types of cuisines, including a lot of fusion. Seattle is also a great place for vegetarians and vegans–it’s fairly easy to find restaurants with plenty of meat-free options. These are some of my favorite restaurants, all with different types of cuisines. And all vege-friendly, of course.
Kastoori Grill // 94 Stewart St
Kastoori Grill a casual restaurant located in Pike Place Market. They serve delicious Indian food–rich, spicy curry and warm, crispy samosas. It’s in the heart of downtown and moderately priced.
Jhanjay Vegetarian Thai Cuisine // 2242 NW Market St
As the name suggests, Jhanjay offers up an all-vegetarian Thai menu. As a vegetarian, this place is like hitting the jackpot. But don’t be turned away if you eat meat–I promise you won’t miss it once you’ve tried some of the dishes here. There are also vegan and gluten-free options on the menu. Locations in Ballard & Wallingford.
Alibi Room // 85 Pike St
The Alibi Room is a dark and cozy pizza place in Post Alley (next to the famous gum wall in Pike Place Market). The atmosphere is part dive bar, part lounge. With interesting pizza combinations as well as the option to create your own pie, you might have a hard time deciding which one to get. *They have a great happy hour from 12-6 pm daily, when you can get a customizable “mini” pizza for less than $10. The White Bean Hummus is a great appetizer to start with.
The Other Coast Café // Multiple Locations
If you’re craving a sandwich, go to The Other Coast Café. There are locations in Capitol Hill, Ballard, and Queen Anne, so no matter where you’re staying, there’s one close by. A 7” sandwich will cost you $9-$11. There are a few vegetarian options for the non-meat eaters (me!).
Poquitos // 100 E Pike St
Poquitos is an amazing Mexican food restaurant in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The design and décor is phenomenal—the owner was precise about sourcing the right pieces and materials; or so our waiter told us, who was incredibly helpful. In fact, the entire staff had great service. The food was perfection, though pricey.
I spent quite a bit of my time in Seattle at various bars. Living at a hostel tends to lead to going out a lot, especially while entertaining guests and showing them around. I think it’s pretty safe to say I got a good taste of what’s out there, bar-wise. These are some of the best places to grab a drink.
The Upstairs // 2209 2nd Ave
The Upstairs is a small lounge above a tapas restaurant in Belltown. It looks like an old Victorian-style living room, with a sea of comfy couches where you can hang out and have a good drink. There’s also a huge projector screen on one of the walls, and a Nintendo set up for your enjoyment.
The Crocodile // 2200 2nd Ave (entrance on 2nd & Blanchard)
The Back Bar at the Crocodile, or “The Croc” as we call it, was my most-frequented bar. It was a hostel tradition to head there for weekly karaoke. It has a distinct dive bar feeling but I wouldn’t quite call it a dive bar. It’s a fun place to hang out and have a few drinks, and they have half-off pizzas after midnight. And did I mention the weekly karaoke? It’s definitely one of the best nights to go.
Unicorn & Narwhal // 1118 E Pike St
The Unicorn is a magical place, as one would assume by the name. It is a stand-out in the popular nightlife neighborhood of Capitol Hill. This huge, two-floor bar has a crazy carnival theme. Here you’ll find taxidermy animal heads on the wall, sugar-filled specialty cocktails (with names like “Unicorn Jizz” and “The Banana Hammock”), and arcade games. They also have fun carnival-inspired foods to go along with all those cocktails.
Cha Cha Lounge // 1013 E Pike St
To get to the Cha Cha Lounge, you have to walk into a place called Bimbos Cantina and walk downstairs. You’ll immediately notice all of the “Mexican” knick-knacks hanging from the ceiling, the grass-covered tiki bar, and the red glowing lights. They have pretty good happy hour specials, and Mexican small-plates to go with your drink.
The Comet Tavern // 922 E Pike St
Another Capitol Hill bar—it really is the most popular neighborhood for nightlife. Comet Tavern is a fun dive bar where you can get a beer, play pool, and eat free peanuts.
Don’t think I forgot about the dessert-lovers out there. If you get a sugar craving while in Seattle, whether you’re in the mood for ice cream, pastries or chocolate, one of these places will be sure to satisfy it.
Parfait Ice Cream // 2034 NW 56th St
Parfait is the cutest little ice cream shop in the Ballard neighborhood. White walls and hardwood surfaces keep the place simple & modern. They make everything from scratch and have an array of interesting ice cream flavors, like Earl Grey Tea and Milk Chocolate Chai. They also have vegan options!
Top Pot Doughnuts // Multiple Locations
A doughnut chain started in Capitol Hill, Top Pot is pretty well-known around Seattle. If you have a crazing for doughnuts, head to one of more than 10 locations throughout the city. I tend to go for a maple bar at any doughnut shop, and theirs did not disappoint.
Cupcake Royale // Multiple Locations
Cupcake Royale is another popular Seattle chain, which means you’re never that far from a delicious little cupcake. Just scroll through the flavors listed on their website and you’ll be convinced. They also do seasonal flavors, so there’s always something new to try. You can also get some ice cream or coffee with that cupcake.
Pike Place Bakery // Pike Place Market
Pike Place is filled with hundreds of shops, restaurants and vendors, including many options for something sweet. Go to the Pike Place Bakery and ogle the beautiful pastry case—something is sure to catch your eye, whether it’s a giant doughnut or a chocolate croissant.
Theo Chocolate // 3400 Phinney Ave N
Theo Chocolate creates their organic, fair-trade confections in a factory in Fremont. You can take a tour of the facility, or you can get some chocolate straight from their retail shop. You can also find their chocolate bars at Seattle-area supermarkets & shops.
This guide was created in 2015 and was subsequently updated in January of 2017
Read Next: A Guide to Seattle // What to Do & See
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