Close to the Seattle Center, this Chinese vegan (and certified Kosher) restaurant has been in business for decades and serves amazing food that satisfies the appetite of carnivores and herbivores alike. Don't be fooled by the menu, which lists dishes under the categories of meat, poultry and seafood. Everything is made from vegetable protein products, but prepared in a traditional manner that makes it sometimes easy to mistake for meat. Only the fortune cookies contain eggs.
Ok, so it's a Seattle Institution and every tourist bus goes here, but it would be a crime not to visit this historic market.
America's oldest Farmer's Market hasn't lost any of its buzz, with an underground maze of mezzanines filled with weird and wacky shops, the overflowing blossoms of the Hmong flower market, and stalls laden with fresh fruit, vegetables and an international sweep of gourmet treats.
The entertaining fishmongers put on a good show, hurling fish over customer's heads, whilst street performers and musicians add to the chaos - look out for the kazoo and spoons player!
During the Spring and Fall harvests, the market hosts 'Organic Wednesdays', where you can scoop the best local produce for a cheap picnic.
You could spend hours browsing the stalls, but there are a few that really stand out - 'Read All ABout It' sells unusual newspapers and magazines from all over the world, Three Girls Bakery does the BEST garlic rosemary bread and peanut butter cookies in Seattle, and you can visit the very first Starbucks (quaint and nothing like the cookie-cutter chains across the country) for the original Tall Skinny Latte.
Between Pike and Virginia Street, from 1st-Western Avenue.
Seattle is a long city with many neighborhoods some of them barely mentioned in the tour guides and yet still full of local colour. Columbia City is my neighbourhood and if you visit on a Wednesday afternoon between May and October, you’ll encounter the farmer’s market which draws producers from both west and east of the Cascades as well as local performers and organizations.
You can eat here, joining dozens of families picnicking on the sloping park ground adjacent to this weekly festival. The Sicilian style restaurant ‘La Medusa’ serves a Wednesday dinner that has been cooked up using only produce purchased fresh that day from the stalls in the market (book ahead).
Within a short radius Columbia City has a pub (great local microbrews), a bookstore (Bookworm Exchange), a gallery, restaurants, a bakery (which serves coffee and treats), a cinema, as well as ethnic and independent shops that beg to be browsed.
If you are in town on the first Friday of the month then come along to ‘Beatwalk’ which starts kicking in around seven in the evening; many of the places described above are open until late, each with their own band, one five dollar payment gives you the freedom to wander from venue to venue people-watching and relaxing (you might even enjoy the music too).
It’s a lot of fun and not set up with tourists in mind, many of my neighbours arrange to meet up or just wander down knowing they will bump into friends. The 'south end' is the 'social end'.
If you have a car (or ride Metro 39) go down to Seward Park and walk the perimeter path that follows the lakeside around this peninsula, looking across towards the downtown skyscrapers, it is hard to imagine that you are in a major US city. Within Seward Park there is old growth with the biggest Douglas fir inside city limits, bald eagles nest here and one particular nest is easily viewed from the internal drive that goes up by the amphitheatre.
I have lived in Seattle since 1989 and I love the south end, it doesn’t get the ‘travel show’ attention of other more northerly neighbourhoods but it’s a quiet gem of an experience waiting to happen.
Head south down Rainier Avenue
This rough and ready Vietnamese take out and deli is cheap, friendly, and very good. I have the feeling that without crossing the Pacific this is as close as I am likely to get to Vietnamese street food. Please note: do not be put off by the plain unloved frontage; it is the food that counts.
Just east of 12th and Jackson on the edge of the International District.
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