Capitol Hill, Seattle – Like a Local

by Nick Hilden  |  Published September 7, 2015

Located in the heart of Seattle, the Capitol Hill neighborhood is where locals and tourists alike head when they want to drink, dance, and get weird.

Sunset from Broadway in Capitol Hill (Photo: Shannon Kringen via Flickr)

Sunset from Broadway in Capitol Hill (Photo: Shannon Kringen via Flickr)

In many cities, the neighborhood with the most gay bars often promises fun. Seattle is no different. Whatever your orientation may be, Capitol Hill proudly boasts some of the best food, art, shopping and dancing in Seattle.

During the week, Capitol Hill has a busy yet laid-back atmosphere. When the weekend comes, the Pine-Pike corridor becomes a wild chaos of drunk 20-somethings. The bars fill up and the traffic slows to a standstill as drivers wait for an endless stream of people to stop crossing the rainbow-painted crosswalks.

Capitol Hill has a lot to offer, whatever you’re looking for. Here are a few of the best spots.

Restaurants and Bars

Tucked on 11th between Pike and Pine, Vermillion Art Bar is a unique little spot. The front room is a brightly lit gallery featuring art and classic arcade games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Time Crisis. Continue on to the back room and you find a dimly lit bar with an old-school European vibe. Depending on the night, Vermillion hosts live music and DJs or shows classic French films.

People go to Sam’s Tavern primarily for two things – their massive burgers, and their bloody marys (which feature a burger as garnish, of course). Something that few people know is that Sam’s was actually the original Red Robin. Before the chain launched, it went under the name “Sam’s Red Robin.”

Supposedly Canon, a classy cocktail joint, offers the largest selection of booze in the western hemisphere. There may be no way of verifying that, but you are likely to have never, never, seen such an extensive list of spirits, even if you are accustomed to visiting well-stocked bars. Simply put, this is a cocktail-enthusiast’s paradise.

Chungee’s Drink and Eat is a great little out-of-the-way spot for either sitting on the porch and enjoying a drink with a few appetizers, or having a full meal of traditional Chinese dishes. And the owner Wen will go out of her way to make you want to come back again, and again, and again.

While it can be a bit trying due to the lines and crowds during the weekend, The Unicorn – along with its basement bar The Narwhale – is a great, strange spot. Decorated like a circus, the menu features a selection of creative corndogs, such as one that includes sriracha in the batter. Downstairs the bar Narwhale features karaoke on Mondays.

Just a fraction of the spiritis at Canon cocktail bar (Photo: Jan Mark Holzer via Flickr)

Just a fraction of the spiritis at Canon cocktail bar (Photo: Jan Mark Holzer via Flickr)


There are a number of Vivace locations scattered around Seattle, two of which are located within two blocks of each other on Cap Hill’s Broadway. One is a little sidewalk bar meant for a quick espresso on the go. Down the street you’ll find a more traditional roasting house, which features a soundproof room for people who want to read, work, or browse the internet.

Anyone who has visited France and misses the food will appreciate the authenticity of little French joint Café Presse. Featuring an array of traditional French dishes and desserts, this is a great place to impress a date.

A comfortable little spot for coffee and pastries, Porchlight Coffee & Records offers something rather unique besides refreshment – an extensive selection of new and used records.


Horizon Books is one of the great Seattle bookstores. It is a tiny place that has been around for 40 years, and its owner Don has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things relating to books and Seattle history.

No list of the best Capitol Hill establishments would be complete without mentioning Babeland. Simply put, Babeland is one of the classiest, comfortable sex-toy shops you’ll find anywhere. They offer virtually every intimate toy or device that you could want, plus a slew of informative workshops.

If you’re looking for weird accessories, rave gear, or a bizarre costume, Trendy Wendy on Broadway is a great stop. They have got a huge selection of strange stuff.

Music Venues

At the heart of the Capitol Hill music scene is Neumos, a not-too-big, not-too-small room that features a slew of primarily rock and indie acts both local and national. Neumos also features the smaller Moe Bar, which often hosts DJs and private parties.

The Chinese-themed Chop Suey has long stood as the home for many of Seattle’s greatest hip-hop shows. While the club also features rock acts, hip-hop is its primary focus.

The Americana for breakfast anyone? (Photo: Ron W via Flickr)

The Americana for breakfast anyone? (Photo: Ron W via Flickr)


Breakfast and brunch are a big deal on Capitol Hill, and there are plenty of great spots to break that fast:

Western themed and generally packed to the gills, Linda’s Tavern is a great greasy-spoon dive that provides everything you need to cure a hangover. I highly recommend the Buffalo Bloody Mary, which features a hunk of buffalo jerky as garnish.

Glo’s is tiny. Glo’s is delicious. Glo’s is regularly included in lists of the best breakfast in town. Go to Glo’s.

Americana is a cozy spot and a great place to get a straightforward breakfast with just a touch of frill thrown in. The food is delicious although names of dishes can be misleading; The Broadway for example is more your classic fry up breakfast. Great food either way.