My Favorite Places in Seattle
Kubota is an incredible and unexpected oasis in the heart of south Seattle. It's about a 20 minute walk from our house, and we spent a long time getting lost looking for it the first time we went. We entered hoping it'd be worth the trouble, and it was as if we'd left this world. The noise of traffic falls away, and the garden is lush with green lawns, exotic trees, and blooms of every color, and it seemed too bright and vibrant to be real. It was like walking into a movie set where they had turned the hues and brightness just a little bit too high. I can't recommend finding your way to Kubota garden enough, especially in spring and summer.
The local theater of your dreams, Ark Lodge is located in Columbia City (aka the cutest neighborhood in south Seattle). With a grocery store across the street, a quickly rotating mix of indie and mainstream releases, and enough screens to show 4-5 movies at a time, we've loved going to Ark Lodge just about every weekend since we moved here. The staff is incredibly friendly, the seats are comfy, the retro ads from the 80's are hilarious, and the special events (we saw Back to the Future there in June) are so much fun! If you ever need to see a movie in Seattle, see it here!
I know Uwajimaya isn't exclusive to Seattle, but it's much more centrally located than the Uwajis in Beaverton, and at least from the inside seems bigger. Uwajimaya is a huge Japanese grocer, with all manner of exotic goods. It's the kind of place you could easily spend hours in finding new candies, comics, snacks, drinks, sushi, and miscellany from Japan and East Asia.
The Museum of Pop (formerly Experience Music Project) is the most underrated tourist attraction in Seattle. I'd never heard about or seen it before coming to the city, yet the building itself is the most insta-worthy and the museum itself is interesting and fun for everyone, no matter how old or "not into museums" you are. They have an interactive indie video game exhibit where you can play one of dozens of indie games. They have horror-movie and sci-fi exhibits where you can learn about the origins of your favorite characters and tropes. And they're special exhibits are always fun as well; recently they had a Marvel Comics exhibit that included original art, the evolution of comics, and life-sized figures to take pictures with. It's a bit expensive, but worth the price of admission.
It's a good thing I don't live closer to Ada's, or I'd be broke. Imagine a small, lovely bookstore dedicated mostly to technical manuals, non-fiction tomes, and books to satisfy your every curiosity. What I love about Ada's is how welcoming it is - like walking into your grandma's house and smelling freshly baked cookies, if your grandma was an insatiably curious engineer. It's a wonderfully unique space!
We went to Geraldine's one of the first weekends Eli was in Seattle (before I had even moved up), and immediately felt better about our impending move north. Geraldine's is the classic diner every town, city, and neighborhood in America needs. They have delicious, non-greasy, classic American breakfast and lunch food. Geraldine's is the perfect place for groups and family gatherings since they're bound to have something everyone will like, and have a great atmosphere (if you're not sure what to get, definitely go for the bacon, egg, and arugula sandwich and get it with avocado. It's my favorite sandwich in the world). Just be sure to get there early Saturdays and Sundays! Or else you might have to browse the adorable shops lining the street Geraldine's resides on while you wait for a table ;)
Right across the street from Geraldine's is Columbia City Bakery, the hands-down best bakery I've been to. They have classic and modern baked goods, from sourdoughs and baguettes to Gougeres (imagine if a croissant and a cheezit had a baby - you must get one) and Columbia Super Chip cookies (at least 80% chocolate chips by volume). I love the variety of their goods, the friendly community they've created around the bakery, and most of all the unbeatable quality! My go-to place for a pick-me-up, and the first place I'd recommend you go if you're in town.
Portage Bay Cafe is our 'fancy breakfast place'. Instead of going on about how much I like their food, I'll tell two interesting stories I have that are set at Portage Bay. The first is that Eli and I went there for Easter this year, and got to try a rabbit omelet. To some this may seem tame, but to us city-dwellers it was very exciting. Not to be cliche, but it honest to god tasted like chicken.
The other interesting story: every year we go to Bumbershoot, a music festival in Seattle. Last year Eli and I ordered our tickets separately, and Bumbershoot accidentally sent me two tickets instead of one! At first I thought I had ordered 2 instead of 1, and was bummed to have wasted the money. But it turned out we just got a free ticket! I sold it, and we took friends out to Portage Bay and gorged our selves on $130 of brunch food, and exorbitant amount for our frugal, college-age selves.
So...it may not be free, and they may not have rabbit when you go, but trust me it's a great place for brunch!