Today’s post marks the inaugural installment of the Good. Food. Stories. Neighborhood Guides, brought to you by our far-flung contributors, who know exactly on which streets you’ll find the best grub and local atmosphere. Though she lives in Manhattan, event consultant Kerry Stewart is a West Coast gal at heart and her twin loves of film and strong coffee reflect her Northwestern upbringing. Here she shares her favorite spots in Seattle’s Capitol Hill.
Growing up in the suburbs of Seattle, getting to go “downtown” was always a big deal and was usually reserved for things like shopping at Nordstrom’s, getting my picture taken with Santa at the now-defunct Frederick & Nelson department store, and cultural outings like the Frye Art Museum or seeing a play at the ACT Theatre. When I got older, it meant going to Capitol Hill with my best friend, Stacy.
Her mom would drop us off at one end of Broadway and pick us up exactly two hours later at the other end, allowing just enough time to shop, stare at the punks with their dog chains, multi-colored mohawks and head-to-toe leather (maybe this is where my continual craving for a leather motorcycle jacket comes from), have some coffee, and drive home before dark.
Capitol Hill has been gentrified since those exciting days of the early ’90s, but still holds a place in my heart as the coolest neighborhood in Seattle. When I go home, I go up to Capitol Hill and get a little thrill, but now it’s from the great food (and from seeing those few remaining punks).
I seem to have a predilection for the burger joints of Capitol Hill, but there’s options both classy and classic along the main drag of Broadway:
Dick’s Drive-In (115 Broadway Avenue East, 206-323-1300) is a Seattle fast-food institution with four locations throughout the city, and serves ridiculously cheap, amazing burgers, fries and shakes. You must eat your hand-cut fries with tartar sauce (an additional five cents per tartar). The staffers unbelievably do all the calculations in their head, taxes and all. [Editor’s Note: This would have been my nightmare high school job.] My favorite combo is a special burger, fries with two tartars, and a chocolate shake. You can either eat in your car or at the few outdoor stands, and the people-watching is half the fun.
Deluxe Bar and Grill
The Deluxe Bar and Grill (625 Broadway Avenue East, 206-324-9697), at the opposite end of Broadway, serves the more refined burger palate. They have some great combos like the BOA Burger, peppered bacon, red onion, avocado with Swiss cheese but the Tillamook cheddar burger is my favorite, washed down with a pint of Redmond, Washington’s own Mac & Jack’s beer while sitting at the bar. And Wednesday is $4.99 burger day; how can you go wrong with that?
On the way to Deluxe, make sure to stop at the Espresso Vivace coffee stand (321 Broadway Avenue East), located next to the former Washington Mutual bank parking lot. My first memory of an artfully-done latte foam leaf is from Vivace, on a vanilla latte. And the company has been serving from Capitol Hill for 20 years, meaning I probably drank one of their first lattes before I was technically old enough to consume the strong stuff.
Coastal Kitchen (429 15th Avenue East, 206-322-1145?) is a new favorite brunch spot off Broadway, on 15th Ave. East—a solid strip of food and beverage hangouts that I only recently discovered. I love the Huevos Rancheros and the egg scrambles, especially the Sonora, a spicy chorizo sausage with jack cheese, sour cream and two kinds of salsas.
Down the street from Coastal Kitchen is Smith (332 15th Avenue East, 206-709-1900), Linda Derschang’s joint that serves classic pub food matched with a top-notch bar menu—and which also has some solid brunch options (I particularly enjoy the French Toast with Bourbon whipped cream). But if you do swing by during non-brunch hours, the Smith Burger with cheese rocks, and even if you hated Brussels sprouts as a kid, try them here with bacon and change your life!