The Greenwood/Phinney Ridge neighborhood in Seattle is rich with great coffee shops, artisan ice cream, cafes, burger joints, neighborhood bars, antique stores -- even a Tibetan monastery. It is quite strollable, charming, and easy to get around. Next time you're in Seattle, it's time to venture away from downtown into some of the Northern neighborhoods, and this is as good a place to start as any. When traveling, there's such an inclination to start with the main tourist sites (The Space Needle, Carkeek Park, Discovery Park, The Ballard Locks) and those things are all wonderful. But much like San Francisco, Seattle is a city built around its neighborhoods. Not many folks live right smack downtown and the neighborhoods offer such rich history, lively cafes, libraries, zoos, and new small businesses. It's time to branch out, and Greenwood/Phinney (or Phinneywood as its often called) is the best place I can think of to start.
This local chain of chocolate shop/coffee bars opened in 2000 and now they have locations in Greenwood, Greenlake, Wallingford, and inside the Seattle Public Library. I've fallen pretty hard for Chocolati, largely because of their cream truffles (made with fresh cream and dark or milk chocolate and very little else) and European-style drinking chocolate. They sell their hot chocolate in bulk to take home, and do traditional espresso drinks and drip coffee as well. The Greenwood location just got their beer and wine license, so it's also a nice mellow spot to come in the evening and wind down with a glass of Cabernet. During the day, Chocolati is, hands down, the best place in Greenwood to get a little reading or studying done: there is ample table space, good light, and a warm wintery ambiance that lends itself well to settling in with a book from the library across the street.
To visit: Chocolati
8319 Greenwood Avenue North
Seattle, Washington 98103
Hours: Monday - Saturday: 7:30 am - 11:00 pm
Sunday: 9:00 am-11:00 pm
Phinney Market is the kind of place you wish would open in your neighborhood. They offer morning coffee, light pastries and egg sandwiches to begin the day and graduate to a cafe-style lunch menu, and a more substantial dinner service. The space is large and bright, with high ceilings, a long bar and a big communal table. On a typical day, there are Phinney Ridge moms and kids, young couples on dates, and neighborhood folks taking a reprieve from the demands of the day. And this is the place to do it--food wise, everything is solid.
The blue cheese burger served on a Macrina brioche bun is perfectly juicy with just the right amount of blue cheese and mushrooms, and the House Beef Chili served with sour cream and and a wedge of baguette is filling on the coldest of February afternoons.
And from 3-5 p.m. they offer Happy Hour prices on some of their most popular dishes, making something like the 1/4 pound burger a mere $4! With local roasters True North coffee and local beers like Hilliards and Iron Horse this is a place you not only want to support because the food is so darn good, but you feel good doing so, too.
To visit: Phinney Market
5918 Phinney Avenue N.
Seattle, WA 98103
Hours: Monday - Thursday: 7 am - 9 pm (Breakfast 7-11, Lunch 11-3, Happy hour 3-5, Dinner 5-9)
Friday: 7 am - 11 pm (Breakfast 7-11, Lunch 11-3, Happy hour 3-5, Dinner 5-10)
Saturday: 7 am - 11 pm (Brunch 8-2, Happy hour 2-4, Dinner 4-10)
Sunday: 7 am - 9 pm (Brunch 8-2, Happy hour 2-4, Dinner 4-9)
A la Mode Pie
There is a surprising lack of good pie in Seattle. I haven't quite figured out why seeing that there is certainly no lack of coffee shops and tea bars. But the pie landscape is certainly getting better ever since A la Mode Pie opened on Phinney Ridge. Previously an online delivery service, the demand became too great and owner Chris Porter decided to take the plunge and open a shop.
A la Mode offers at least 10-12 flavors of pie at any one time, with seasonal variations making an appearance on any given day. Customers can purchase pie by the slice, as well as whole 9" pies which are made-to-order using organic, locally-sourced fruits.
As an apple pie aficionado, I have to say that their Apple Pear Pie is quite good. It's made of sweet, tart Washington apples and organic D’Anjou pears with a little freshly grated ginger, and a dash of cinnamon. Where some apple pies tend towards a soggy bottom crust, A la Mode's apple pear pie has a crust that's perfectly crisp from the top down and a filling that's spiced just enough (not too much cinnamon and a slight hand with the ginger). The apples and pears remain slightly crisp, and the crust is buttery and flaky. This is a very fine slice of pie, indeed.
The slice of peanut butter pie was wonderful as well, although this one is really meant for sharing: rich, dense peanut butter filling topped with a light chocolate frosting sprinkled with chopped peanuts. It begs for a cup of coffee which they have plenty of along with comfortable seating, good people-watching, and even pints of Bluebird ice cream to take home with you.
To visit: A la Mode Pie
5821 Phinney Ave N (across from the Zoo)
Hours: 7am-7pm, daily
Herkimer Coffee says that their "purpose is to create a coffee experience of the highest possible quality." Within this mission, they sell wholesale and have two retail shops. The Greenwood shop is light and airy with a variety of espresso drinks and pastries (including Mighty O Donuts!). For anyone pondering Herkimer for wholesale, they offer individualized cuppings so the subtleties and nuances of each bean and roast can be experienced and understood. Their website offers excellent Home Brewing Tips and a nice Roaster's Blog that details the different flavor profiles of coffees they've recently brought in. While it does tend to be young kid/parent central here (not really the best place to read or study, especially on the weekends), I'm always struck with how affordable Herkimer is. Each espresso drink comes with 2 shots, so a small latte starts at just $2.68. This makes a traveling wallet or a local Seattle wallet very happy, indeed.
To visit: Herkimer Coffee
7320 Greenwood Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98103
Hours: Mon-Fri 6am-6pm; Sat-Sun 7am-6pm
On a cold February day, ice cream may seem like an unlikely choice. Unless, of course, you realize that if you waited for the perfect, hot ice cream day in Seattle it could be a long wait. And at Bluebird, you're met with uber-creamy, irresistible flavors including the CB Peanut Butter made with fresh roasted organic Valencia peanuts, Chocolate Pudding, or the Elysian Stout made from Dragon's Tooth Stout, brewed next door at The Elysian Brewery. Or perhaps a hand-crafted milkshake and a board game is more your style? Regardless, Bluebird uses all-natural dairy from local Washington and Oregon cows, and they're constantly experimenting with new, seasonal flavor combinations (forcing you to visit often). As if that weren't enough, there are rumors of a back patio and a beer license so they can start doing dessert floats in the summer. All good things.
To visit: Bluebird
7400 Greenwood Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98103
Hours: Daily 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Sunday - Thursday 12:00pm - 10:00pm
Friday & Saturday 12:00pm - 11:00pm