Washington

Queen Anne, Seattle – Like a Local

by Jeff Rindskopf  |  Published April 5, 2016

Like so many growing tech-friendly cities around the nation, Seattle is a city in the midst of change. For a taste of the city’s old and new, Seattle’s historic uptown area Queen Anne retains the old-world charm of its many mansions atop the hill while boasting a lively collection of great spots to eat, drink, shop and play.

Looking south along Queen Anne Ave (Photo: Curtis Perry via Flickr)

Looking south along Queen Anne Ave (Photo: Curtis Perry via Flickr)

Visitors usually come to Queen Anne from downtown to see Seattle Center, a sprawling urban park containing several popular attractions, but the surrounding streets in the shadow of the Space Needle are filled with local color worth seeing for anyone who’d like a taste of the authentic Seattle within easy walking distance of some of the city’s biggest tourist draws. Here are some of the best spots to visit in Queen Anne.

Food

Lower Queen Anne, the part of the neighborhood just west of Seattle Center, is practically overflowing with worthy dining options that do their best to draw in tourists. However, the best eateries around here aren’t typically crowded with out-of-towners but rather locals who know that the best spots aren’t necessarily the fussiest or flashiest.

Such is the case for The Golden Olive (521 Queen Anne Ave N), a cheap Mediterranean spot tucked away amidst other busy eateries. Their menu is filled with Lebanese staples like falafel and lamb kabobs served with a generous helping of tasty sides and sauces like hummus and tabbouleh. The speedy service and fantastic flavors of the authentic cuisine make The Golden Olive an ideal spot for a simple but oh-so-satisfying lunch on the go.

While Golden Olive provides a good meal if not a dining experience, the nearby Peso’s Kitchen & Lounge (605 Queen Anne Ave N) offers both. Guests enter through heavy doors decorated with ornate copper patterns and find themselves in an atmosphere that is open and lively during all hours. Their extensive brunch and dinner menu features specialty Mexican-American-Cajun fusion dishes made with delectably prepared meats from land and sea, including prawn beignets, chorizo enchiladas, and an irresistible spicy cioppino. Don’t forget to enjoy a sangria on the side.

Directly across the street from Seattle Center lies the Triumph Bar (114 Republican St), an elegant wine bar whose food menu often threatens to outshine the wine itself. The menu is laden with creative tapas options that can serve as a simple bridge between meals or a full meal on their own. There’s lighter fare like the radicchio arugula salad or even their rotating selection of local and international cheese plates, as well as tempting portions of heavier specialties like the braised short rib or semolina fried oysters. And of course, there’s plenty of wine to wash it all down.

Crow (823 5th Ave N) is housed inside an aged brick façade that might surprise diners to discover such a well-decorated, inviting restaurant on the inside. The fancy-yet-homey décor and service matches the menu’s creatively Americanized takes on European delicacies. The individual menus feature just a few options, allowing the kitchen to focus their talents on a handful of near-perfect entrees and shared starters like the seared beef tenderloin served in a clammy tomato broth or the grilled octopus adorned with chickpeas, pistachios and salsa verde.

Manchego-stuffed grape leaves at Betty Restaurant and Bar (Photo: Chris Blakely via Twitter)

Manchego-stuffed grape leaves at Betty Restaurant and Bar (Photo: Chris Blakely via Twitter)

The same people who run the Crow pull off many of the same tricks at its sister restaurant in another part of Queen Anne, Betty Restaurant and Bar (1507 Queen Anne Ave N). This restaurant is an ideal place to try the latest seasonal specialties, all made from scratch. Perched near the top of Queen Anne hill, steps away from a fantastic view of the city skyline to the south, Betty has wood-accented interiors and further selections of trans-Atlantic specialties more reminiscent of northern European nations, ranging from the simple ribeye steak and frites to novel indulgences like the oven-roasted chicken or pepper-glazed pork belly served atop French lentils.

Bars & Entertainment

Many of the best eateries throughout Seattle manage to have a dual function as great bars as well, including many of the restaurants outlined above. Seattle’s foodie scene intermingles well with its low-key drinking culture, built around unfussy neighborhood bars, scattered throughout Queen Anne and elsewhere, where one can simply relax and enjoy a quality beer, a specialty cocktail and maybe the company of a new friend or two.

The wood-fire ovens at The Masonry (20 Roy St) are always spitting out individual pizzas with deliciously charred thin crusts, but the communal wooden tables are the perfect place to spend some time, even if you’ve already had your fill of food. Beyond side salads and pasta plates, as well as seasonal topping selections like prosciutto and fig or caramelized radicchio, The Masonry has a selection of craft beers (bottled and on tap) so extensive that it might overwhelm beer lovers as much as it excites them.

The Seattle skyline from Kerry Park atop Queen Anne hill (Photo: Jeffrey Rindskopf)

The Seattle skyline from Kerry Park atop Queen Anne hill (Photo: Jeffrey Rindskopf)

Nestled on the western edge of Queen Anne Hill beside the industrial Interbay neighborhood, Number 6 Cider (945 Elliott Ave W) serves up an impressive variety of their own fermented hard ciders infused with flavors as distinct and unexpected as coffee, black cherry, and honey ginger. The spacious cidery has wooden tables like slabs of redwood and a few board games. It functions like a sweeter, fruitier version of a craft brewery’s tap room, complete with flights of vibrant multi-colored beverages served in fancy glasses.

A little closer to the Center of things, you’ll find the modest Mecca Café (526 Queen Anne Ave N) marked by an art deco neon design that nods at the gritty retro vibe of the interior décor. The place is open 19 hours a day, functioning as an inspired combination of a breakfast-centric greasy spoon and a lovably unassuming dive bar. Enjoy draft beers and generous helpings of home-cooked egg plates, all for exceptionally low prices.

Just across the street one can find one of the city’s best theaters for challenging but always entertaining arthouse flicks, plus reruns of old classics. SIFF Cinema Uptown (511 Queen Anne Ave N) is the largest of the city’s three theaters, run by the folks behind the Seattle International Film Festival, featuring several screens showing big releases and rarities advertised on the marquee outside, while still retaining the vibe of an old school movie house. Best of all, the snack bar has specialized sweets, fresh baked goods, unusual popcorn seasonings like curry, and a few alcoholic beverages to keep you full and comfortable during any film screening.

Shops

The Space Needle looming over nearby businesses (Photo: Jeffrey Rindskopf)

The Space Needle looming over nearby businesses (Photo: Jeffrey Rindskopf)

While lower Queen Anne is the hotspot for most of the area’s most distinguished restaurants and bars, most of the neighborhood’s best shopping is concentrated further up the hill, clustered together between winding avenues of old mansions. These are the specialized hole-in-the-wall shops that keep locals and tourists coming back by offering something unique.

Four Winds Artful Living (1521 Queen Anne Ave N), for example, is more than a typical clothing boutique, but rather a collection of curated garments and accessories arranged across wooden tables and sold for reasonable prices that become even more reasonable whenever they hold one of their weekend sales. Check the sandwich board out front for the latest deals on their imported products, which tend to hail from or are often inspired by eastern, particularly Himalayan, cultural traditions.

Lined with paneled wood and marked with a sign that could be the logo for a publishing company, Queen Anne Book Company (1811 Queen Anne Ave N) is the neighborhood’s best-loved independent bookseller, appealing to literary Seattleites of all interests. The well-lit bookshelves inside make one want to browse for hours on end, and the patio out front is the perfect spot to lose yourself in a recent purchase and soak up the sun on one of the city’s rare sunny days.

To indulge or invest in another hobby, try stopping by the nearby Blue Highway Games (2203 Queen Anne Ave N), a plain space stocked with a wall-to-wall selection of puzzles, cards and board games. The regulars and the staff here know their stuff and are more than willing to guide neophytes to the board gaming world through some of their merchandise, or even to invite them to join or watch one of their game nights, complete with a selection of microbrews to liven up the play. It’s that sort of community that makes Blue Highway a little bit more than just a great hobby shop.

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