Seattle: Exploring the food scene

Seattle - Kerry ParkThose who know me know that I like Seattle. I had wanted to go there for the longest time, and my first visit a couple of years ago exceeded my expectations. So when my daughter Courtney landed an internship in the city for the summer, I immediately knew what I would be doing – visiting her!

I’ve made a couple of trips there recently, and it gets better each time. I’ve had more time to explore and search out those places that are hidden gems. Just like my first visit, I haven’t been disappointed in what I’ve found.

As luck would have it, I discovered over the last year that I’m a “foodie”. Don’t ask how. That’s a post for a different time. But being a foodie means I can get picky about where and what I eat. Fortunately, Seattle does not lack for good places. As part of my exploring, I’ve discovered that Seattle takes two particular food items very seriously – ice cream and coffee, which is fine by me. It just so happens these are two of my favorite indulgences. Give me good ice cream and good coffee, and I’m a happy camper. Give me both, and I’m in heaven.

If you’re heading to Seattle, here’s my go-to list of places to try out. If you live in the area, I’d love to hear your opinion and any recommendations you might have for my next visit.

Coffee in Seattle

Let’s start with coffee, because that’s what most people associate with Seattle.

  1. Sugar Bakery & Cafe
    What I found out during my most recent trip to Seattle is that the majority of the coffee shops serve primarily espresso drinks, which surprised me given the city’s coffee reputation. I like my coffee straight up, with the pour over being my favorite style. That brew style has a way of bringing out the unique flavors of the bean.

    It was a challenge finding coffee places that offered pour overs, let alone good ones. Fortunately, I stumbled upon the Sugar Bakery & Cafe, and it was the best pour over, and best cup of coffee, I had while in town. Their espresso drinks are also top shelf. Lisa had a mocha, and she said it was the best she had during our trip. I tasted it, and I agree. Oh, and did I mention their pastries and baked goods. Bottom line, the Sugar Bakery & Cafe has become my go-to for coffee when I’m in the city.

    Sugar Bakery has two locations in Seattle. I spent my time at the one in Lower Queen Anne. It’s a great location with a view of the Space Needle. It was a great place to settle in for a cup of coffee and a light snack, and it was very conducive to getting a little work down, too!

  2. La Marzocco Cafe
    La Marzocco may be best known for their coffee and espresso equipment, but they also know how to make a great cup of coffee. This was an easy find since we were staying pretty close to the Space Needle.

    In addition to the coffee, I also enjoyed the atmosphere and vibe of the place. It’s very spacious and open, and it shares the space with KEXP. It was very conducive to settling in, relaxing, and getting some work done.

    If I had one nit to pick with La Marzocco, it would be the price. It’s on the high side. No doubt, the coffee is good. But you’re going to pay a little extra for it. Just be prepared.

  3. Storyville
    StoryVille Cafe LatteOK, I’ve written about Storyville before, so I’m not going to belabor the point here. Let me just say that Storyville is a family favorite. I’m not a big fan of their coffee, which they only offer as a French Press, but their latte is among the best I’ve ever had.

    Perhaps more than anything, their Pike’s Place Market location is one of the best places to have a cup of coffee. The space is well done, and the view overlooking the market is amazing. I could easily spend an entire day just sitting there, sipping a latte, and watch the world pass by through the market.

  4. Cafe Allegro
    Calling Cafe Allegro off the beaten path doesn’t do the location justice. Even calling it off the beaten path is an understatement, a serious understatement. The address says it’s on University Way, which is the main street outside UW where all the college bars and restaurants are. We’ve must have walked up and down University Way for a good 20 minutes before we realized that the location was in the alley behind University Way. If you’re going to try out Cafe Allegro, read this next part carefully, and I mean very carefully. Enter the alley from the bottom of the hill on 42nd street. We dropped in from the top side, and let’s just say it wasn’t a pleasant experience, to put in mildly. We saw a part of the city that isn’t listed in the official Chamber of Commerce tour.

    Cafe Allegro - Seattle

    If you find you’re way there, you’ll be rewarded. The baristas are friendly and helpful, the atmosphere is vintage Seattle coffee shop, and the coffee is great. I had an outstanding cold brew, and the girls enjoyed their lattes.

To be fair, there are lots of great coffee places around the city, these were just the ones that I happened to find in my most recent visit. Again, I’m open to suggestions of other places I need to check out on my next visit. Just drop a note in the comments!

Ice cream in Seattle

Ok, let’s get to the good stuff – ice cream!

  1. Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
    Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream - Lower Queen AnneAt dinner our first night, I told our waiter we were passing up dessert to try out Molly Moon’s. He didn’t argue. In fact, he told us which server to ask for when we went there.

    That was clue #1 that Molly Moon’s was good. Clue #2 was the line out the door when we showed up. And Clue #3 was tasting it. Molly Moon’s is an ice cream lover’s dream.

    Do they have the classics? Check. Interesting, creative flavors? Check. Special ice cream creations? Check. Creamy, mouth-watering, delicious ice cream? Double, wait, triple-check.

    Even if you aren’t serious about ice cream, go to Molly Moon’s the next time you’re in Seattle. It needs to be at the top of your list of ice cream shops to check out. I knew we went to the right place when I told a local we went there, and all they could do was smile and nod in agreement.

    They have multiple locations across the city. We went to the location in Lower Queen Anne (more than once I might add), but I’m sure every location is worth it.

  2. Salt & Straw
    Salt & Straw - BallardClose behind Molly Moon’s is Salt & Straw. If you’ve heard of it before, it’s because they have locations in the major cities along the west coast – Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

    What makes Salt & Straw special is not just the quality of their ice cream, but that they’re not afraid to experiment. Sure, they have the standard flavors, but they will also have flavors like Cheese and Peppercorn and Honey Lavender. On our first visit there, there was a flavor that incorporated beets. If it was just the unique flavors, I wouldn’t be all that impressed. It’s that they have unique flavors, the unique flavors are interesting, and they’re good.

    We’ve been to the Ballard location a couple of times, and it’s been crowded each time we went. Expect to wait 15-20 minutes during the summer. Be patient, it’s worth it.

  3. MORA Iced Creamery
    MORA is another place that can be considered off the beaten path. How far off the beaten path you ask? You have to take the ferry to Bainbridge Island to get there.

    MORA is more of your standard fare ice cream, but it’s much better than what you’ll get at your local Baskin-Robbins. If you happen to take the ferry to Bainbridge Island while you’re in Seattle, be sure to swing by MORA’s. It’ll be a tasty treat before you make the trek back. And by the way, at just over $8 for a round-trip ticket across Puget Sound to the Island, it’s at the top of my list as one of the best things you can do while you’re in Seattle.

    Seattle at night

  4. Hello Robin
    Hello Robin - SeattleOk, I’m going to cheat a bit here. Hello Robin isn’t really an ice cream shop. They’re a cookie shop, and they’re cookies are AMAZING! They bake them fresh on the premises, and right in front of you. There’s nothing like getting warm, tasty chocolate chip cookies right out of the oven.

    Best of all, they take their cookies and make them into ice cream sandwiches using…, that’s right, you guessed it – Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream!!!!!!! You get to choose your cookies and the ice cream you want for your sandwich. You can even choose a different top and bottom cookie for your sandwich if you can’t make up your mind.

    I’m not the biggest cookie fan, but Hello Robin is the real deal. And when you pair it with Molly Moon’s, you get the best of both worlds, all in one location.

And now it’s your turn. Let me know your favorite coffee and ice cream places in Seattle so I can be sure to try them out on my next visit.