Like many of the nation’s growing tech-friendly cities, Seattle is a city in flux. To get a feel for the city’s changes, both old and new, Seattle’s historic uptown Queen Anne retains the old-world charm of its many mansions on the Hilltop, while also boasting a buzzing array of great places to eat, drink, and be merry.
Visitors usually come to Queen Anne from downtown to visit Seattle Center, a massive city park that contains several popular attractions, but the surrounding streets, in the shadow of the Space Needle, are full of local color and worth a visit for anyone who wants a taste of authentic Seattle, within walking distance of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. Here are some of the best places to visit in Queen Anne.
Lower Queen Anne, that part of the neighborhood west of Seattle Center, is almost overflowing with worthy dining options, doing its best to attract tourists. However, the best restaurants here aren’t usually packed with out-of-towners, but rather locals who know that the best places aren’t always the most elaborate or glitzy.
Such is the case with The Golden Olive (521 Queen Anne Ave N), a cheap Mediterranean restaurant tucked away among other busy restaurants. Their menu is filled with Lebanese staples like falafel and lamb kebabs, with plenty of tasty sides and sauces like hummus and tabbouleh. Fast service and the wonderful flavors of authentic food make The Golden Olive an ideal location for a simple, yet satisfying lunch on the go.
If it’s not a dining experience that The Golden Olive offers, nearby Peso’s Kitchen & Lounge (605 Queen Anne Ave N) offers both. Guests entering through heavy doors adorned with ornate bronze patterns will find themselves in an all-hours open, buzzing atmosphere. Their extensive brunch and dinner menu features Mexican-American-Indian fusion dishes made with delicious meats from the land and sea, including prawn beignets, enchiladas, and irresistibly spicy cioppino. Don’t forget to enjoy a glass of sangria.
Directly across the street from Seattle Center is Triumph Bar (114 Republican St), an elegant wine bar with a food menu that often has the potential to exceed the wine itself. The menu is full of creative tapas that can serve as a simple bridge between two meals, or as a full meal on their own. There are lighter fare like the radish and arugula salad, and even their rotating selection of local and international cheese plates, as well as tempting specialties like braised ribs or oysters sautéed in cereal. And, of course, there’s plenty of wine to wash it all down.
Crow (823 5th Ave N) is housed in an old brick building, and diners may be surprised to find such a beautifully decorated and inviting restaurant inside. The fancy, yet welcoming decor and service are matched by the creative Americanized European cuisine on the menu. The single menu has only a few options, allowing the talented kitchen to focus on a handful of near-perfect entrees and shared appetizers, such as the seared beef tenderloin served in a clam and tomato soup, or the grilled octopus garnished with chickpeas, pistachios and salsa.
The folks who run Crow have many of the same tricks up their sleeves at their sister restaurant Betty Restaurant and Bar (1507 Queen Anne Ave N), located in another part of Queen Anne. This restaurant is the perfect place to try the latest seasonal specialties, all of which are made from scratch. Located near the top of Queen Anne and just steps from the city skyline views to the south, Betty’s wood interior and more transatlantic specialties are reminiscent of the Nordic countries, from simple ribs and fries to novel indulgences like oven-roasted chicken or pork belly slathered in pepper sauce over French lentils.
Bar and Entertainment
Many of Seattle’s best restaurants can double as bars, including many of the ones described above. Seattle’s food scene meets low-key drinking culture around no-frills neighborhood bars scattered throughout Queen Anne and beyond, where people can simply relax and enjoy quality beer, specialty cocktails, and maybe make a new friend or two.
The wood-fired oven at The Masonry (20 Roy St) always spits out individual pizzas with a deliciously charred thin crust, but the communal wooden tables are the perfect place to spend some time, even if you’ve had your fill of food. In addition to side salads and pastas, and seasonal topping options like smoked ham and figs or caramelized radishes, The Masonry has a selection of craft beers (bottled and on tap) so extensive that it may overwhelm beer lovers because it’s exciting.
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.
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.