Our second day in Seattle, we woke up to a sunny, beautiful day minus the frigid winds from Saturday. Considering we are all consummate planners, it was a little strange that we didn’t have a plan for the day ahead. I did some lazy research on my phone and we settled on making our way to the Queen Anne and Fremont neighborhoods. We made a few wrong turns along the way, including hopping on the monorail which basically just deposits you at the Seattle Center. This is definitely a miss in my book unless you are planning on heading to the top of the Space Needle. Otherwise there is little to see and you will subsequently be relegated to walking along the busy street poking your head into a bunch of closed coffee shops.
We took a few pictures under the Space Needle but were soon faced with the demon that is caffeine withdrawal and forced to move on. We walked down Broad Street and cut over to 4th Street on our way to a breakfast joint called Bang Bang Cafe. Now, I had heard this area was a cool, bohemian area of town but I’ve got to say I just didn’t see it. I’m assuming I went the wrong direction or headed down the wrong street because the place was so quiet and desolate. That’s not to say it wasn’t beautiful and peaceful but I think we just missed the heart of the neighborhood? Suggestions appreciated for where to go on our next trip.
Bang Bang Cafe is a small restaurant that serves breakfast burritos and vegan macaroni and cheese, so I knew we were in the right place. I had a moment of panic when the guy at the counter said they served drip coffee that was, “some blend from Costco but it’s pretty good”. I admit I’m a bit of a coffee snob but that really doesn’t stop me in my moment of need. I’ve even been known to swill some Yuban at my parents’ house, but this is Seattle! Thankfully, he sensed my agitation and instructed me to order an espresso brewed from Seattle favorite Lighthouse Coffee. Truly it was one of the best cappuccinos I ever had so they were ahead in this review before we even ordered our food.
We decided to go with the original burrito, complete with eggs, potatoes and cheese and another with the addition of some green chilis. They were not the best breakfast burritos I have ever had, but both were delicious and filling. After breakfast and a run-in with a prosthelytizing Christian hellbent on saving our souls, we headed to a lookout point to capture some quintessential Seattle pictures.
We had heard that Queen Anne Park was an ideal to spot to take in the whole skyline, but I’m pretty sure we ended up somewhere completely different. We walked up a hill in a residential neighborhood and we able to get some good pictures, albeit with electrical wires criss crossing our vision. After our hike, we headed back down to catch the bus to Fremont. Our main destination there was a restaurant with rave reviews called Paseo.
In an effort to work up some hunger after our breakfast we strolled through the flea market and spent some very enjoyable time at Theo Chocolate. You must go to Theo the next time you are in Seattle to score some of their amazing, handmade chocolates and grab me a few bars of the Milk Chocolate, Sea Salt and Almond variety. Hands down, one of the best chocolate bars I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve had a lot) with its rich, milky chocolate, crunchy pockets of salty flakes and roasted almonds.
After doing a little shopping we were ready to tackle the hill that stood between us and the roasted pork sandwiches from Paseo. Unfortunately, it’s CLOSED on Sundays (and Mondays) and we were virtually inconsolable. At this point we were all hungry and to the point where nothing else sounded good. The point where you’ve been dreaming of a dish for days and then are forced to choose a second rate meal. We wandered aimlessly rejecting sushi, Thai and pub food before landing on an organic sandwich shop called Homegrown.
The food at Homegrown is some combination of fresh, sustainable and local with an emphasis on artisanal sandwiches with great flavor. We ordered the pork loin sandwich that had been rubbed in stumptown coffee and cayenne served with pickled red onion, apple butter, mixed greens and sage aioli served on wholegrain bread. We also tried the sandwich with a salad of roasted beets, horseradish, pickle, red onion, hazelnuts and arugula served on toasted wholegrain bread and a side of fries. We went with two Pacific Northwest beers, a Pike Pale Heirloom Amber and a Scuttlebutt Amber Ale.
Both sandwiches were good, although the pork was a little dry and tasted nowhere near as good as its description. The flavors were a little dull and I wanted more of everything on that sandwich. The beet sandwich had a really great savory flavor profile with the spice from the horseradish and crunch of the pickles and hazelnuts; great combination of winter flavors on bread that bit back. The fries were a little soggy but very tasty dusted with toasted fennel and herbs and served with sage aioli.
Both of the Amber ales were tasty, but neither really blew me away. The Scuttlebutt Amber Ale was rich and malty with a slight head and a bready aroma. It was rich in caramel malts with some citrus but is missing that resiny taste of balanced hops that I prefer. The Pike Pale Heirloom Amber Ale was a little better with more body and rich malty overtones and piney notes. It paired particularly well with the beet sandwich and offset the astringent character of the horseradish with tart apple notes and some hoppy character.
After lunch we headed over to Ballard on my friend’s advice who is a recent transplant to Seattle from the Bay Area and fiercely loves her new home. I instantly connected to this bustling neighborhood full of character. The streets are lined with cute shops, little boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. We ducked into a few stores and ambled along the wide avenues, ending with cupcakes at Cupcake Royale. Both cupcakes had a modest amount of frosting that provided just enough frosting to cake ratio, but they are skating a fine line. The carrot cake was rich and moist with a lightly sweetened cream cheese frosting and the vanilla coconut cake was a little dry with coconut buttercream that was a little too sweet. Overall, this is definitely the neighborhood I connected with the most and would plan on returning for the next visit.
I’m going to end Part 2 here as the next portion of our trip involves a (un)healthy amount of beer tasting. I plan on sipping some of my recently bottled Triple Belgian Ale while recounting our adventures. My theory is like homebrewing,writing beer reviews is better with a little hair of the dog.