[spotlight series. samuel woolley]

[seattle soundtrack. window to the sky]


It was only brief, but gosh it was good. A very lovely, very sophisticated little town boasting many of our favorite things – friendly people, good food, good coffee, music, and deliciously beautiful nature. Situated on a pretty harbor, overlooking snowcapped mountains, this very green, very walkable city was a pleasure to visit. With only 24 hours (a quick trip over the border from Portland), we had just enough time to appreciate some of the goodness on offer, but also look forward to returning soon to dig a little deeper. Gastronomically speaking, it is clear to see that this is one of the hottest cities in the US for food – something the Pacific Northwest seems to generally excel at – where local, organic, and farm-fresh food is the norm, not the exception.

Here are some of our favorite finds…

To caffeinate.

Slate Coffee: we had the friendliest chats with expert barista, Kyle Oels, on the day we visited this tiny Ballard coffeehouse. Passionate about coffee and people, Kyle serves up friendly vibes, and an excellent brew, and as much (or as little) coffee chat as you like. Grab a seat at the bar, have a chat, and watch him do his thing.

Herkimer: come here for more excellent coffee, roasted in-house (three locations). Cuppings available by appointment.

Analog Coffee: serving Herkimer coffee, we love this cute space in Capitol Hill.

Milstead and Co: we entered this light and airy space on North 34th in Fremont, to the most warm and lovely welcome (ad the hugest smile) of the barista. The team at Milstead want nothing more than to serve excellent coffee, and to make their customers happy. They certainly succeed in this.

Streetbean Espresso: this coffee shop on 3rd avenue is worth visiting alone for the fact that it is a non-profit multi-roaster café that provides a platform for street kids and at-risk youth to get on their feet and learn valuable career skills by working in a specialty coffee environment.

To eat.

Arabica Lounge: check out his cute corner spot in Capitol Hill for breakfast. We can’t go past their “omelettes au fromage”. So thin, so French!, so delicious.

Ba Bar: lunch or dinner at this awesome Vietnamese spot is a must. Be prepared to queue, but be rewarded with amazingly crispy imperial rolls, banh mi, vermicelli noodle salads, and pho (order the beef).

Westward: head to this great spot on North Lake Union for dinner. A “water-inspired full service restaurant”, we recommend ordering (among other things) the Braised Anderson Ranch Lamb Shoulder (if meats your thing) with Herb & Onion Salad, Pomegranate, Tzaziki, and flatbread If meat’s your thing, we recommend sharing the lamb shoulder. You wont regret it.

Rain Shadow Meats: for lunch. Excellent locally sourced, meat-intensive sandwiches (try the roasted pork shoulder on sourdough), along with charcuterie plates as well.

Il Corvo: only open for lunch, get there around 2pm to try and nab a seat. This is the perfect pasta spot. Handmade pastas (famed for their pappardelle), we recommend trying the lasagna Bolognese.

The London Plane: is a bright and sunny café/boutique in the heart of Pioneer Square. Come here for a spectacularly delicious breakfast or lunch. Seasonal fresh soups, salads, sandwiches, cakes and more…it is not only the food here that will impress…the setting, the service and the well-curated little in-house store make this an even more worthy visit.

Whale Wins: for supper (we are still dreaming about their Roast Chicken). So fresh, so delicious. Watch as everything is prepared to order, on the open kitchen bench in front of you. Pop over to nearby Fremont Brewing for a drink, before or after dinner.

To drink.

Black Bottle: located just near the ACE in Belltown, this is a dark and cozy, dimly-it gastropub that serves small plates, great wines and cocktails.

Innkeeper Seattle: this little spot, a low-key friendly bar, is just down the road from Black Bottle. A simple space dishing up carribean-latino drinks (think rum punch) and small plates.

Fremont Brewing: grab a beer here while in Fremont. A good option before or after dinner at Whale Wins.

To shop.

E. Smith Mercantile: a lovely boutique for house­made perfumes, Imogene & Willie jeans, delicacies (coco­nut jam), and old-­fashioned can­dies (black licorice). At the back of the shop there is a tiny speakeasy­style bar that flaunts classic cocktails, as well as more creative concoc­tions made with horehound­ infused bourbon, fir­-tip vodka, and Byrrh.

To sleep.

ACE, and only the ACE. The original (opened in 1999), and in our mind, quite possibly the best. This is where the ACE Hotel’s roots lie. Its basic, but its perfect. Unfussy luxury. The feeling here is more of a home, not a hotel. Amiee, the general manager, was the first person we met, and was easily the most friendly and hospitable of all hotel front desk staff we have come across anywhere. Perfectly located in Belltown, a quick and easy walk into the center of town, this place is unpretentious and friendly. Rooms and services are minimal, but with plenty of the standard ACE touches that we are used to– exposed brick walls, Pendleton blankets, a well-curated minibar and shop, and exceptionally reasonable rates to match. Just make sure you request a room with a private bathroom, if that’s your thing. The Seattle outpost completed our quest to stay at all ACE properties within the US (and London), and although we read that some think it has lost a little of its luster…despite it being basic, we think its the best. It definitely hit the spot for us.

To do.

Melrose Markets: during the day. Cute for a wander (and you will find a Rain Shadow Meats here as well).

Pike Place Markets: a little too touristy for us, but still worth a look. The lower levels often get forgotten about (the market is four layers deep), so explore from top to bottom. We loved the Greek yoghurt shop on the corner. You will also find the original Starbucks there as well.

Ballard Farmers Markets: come here on Sundays. Have breakfast at Bastille, and wander around the Farmers Market, the boutiques, the little coffee bars and boîtes. A little slice of Paris perhaps, in Seattle.  

Visit Golden Gardens Park in Ballard: only 10 minutes from the center of the city, come to this beautiful timberland to be surrounded by towering evergreens, with views out over the Pugent Sound, and the snowcapped Olympic mountains. A perfect escape from the city, with walking trails and marshy beaches.

Yoga: we managed to squeeze in a couple of classes at Core Power, and found this not only an awesome workout, but also a super friendly vibe. Three locations around town.

/// And, with more time, we can’t wait to check out:

Orcas Island: “the emerald isle” of the nearby San Juans islands. We hear this is a green paradise – a “happy combination of stunning shoreline, the highest mountain in the islands and a handful of charming hamlets.”