The 2014 SCAA Event happens this week in Seattle, bringing with it tens of thousands of curious attendees and visitors from all over the world. Seattle is a great place to hold such an event! This city is hip, with plenty of fun places to eat and drink around town and no shortage of options within the immediate vicinity of the Washington State Convention Center. This facility and city host global conventions on the regular–one week it’s a bunch of coffee types taking over the back patio at Linda’s, the next it’s whole Slytherin houses of Harry Potter nerds here for Emerald City ComicCon. Easy come, easy go.
We’ve published mega Seattle guides in the past, including this comprehensive food and dining guide from 2013 and two different coffee guides: an expansive treatise from 2011 (once complimented by Mark Prince!), and an attendant update from 2012. We of course recommend Eater Seattle, Capitol Hill Seattle, and Seattle Met Magazine as food & drink resources throughout the weekend.
What Cafes Should I Definitely Not Miss?
It can be hard to juggle the event schedule at SCAA and make time for a cafe crawl, but you’re here for coffee, and so checking out a few cafes should definitely be on your itinerary. We strongly recommend you make time to check out the following fine cafes:
Stumptown Coffee (Pine St. location) — 616 East Pine Street — Stumptown’s most perfect cafe, in our humble opinion. Go late for sludgecore music; visit in the morning for top people watching. Sprudge.com was founded in this cafe on a late summer afternoon in 2009.
Milstead & Co. — 770 N 34th St — One of the best multi-roaster cafes in the United States, located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. Worth the drive/bus/Uber fare from downtown. Expect to see well-known coffee types in and out of here all weekend.
Vif Wine & Coffee — 4401 Fremont Ave. N — Walk up Fremont Ave from Milstead & Co. and enjoy some of the best coffee in the city at Vif, serving coffees by the Olympia Coffee Roasting Company. Great brunch offerings and baked goods, many lovely wines, and a charming atmosphere.
Caffe Ladro — 1800 Ninth Ave — The newest Caffe Ladro outpost is the chainlette’s most unconventional and beautiful space, but we won’t blame you if you want to duck into the bar at 801 Pine St, even closer to Conventionland.
Other cafes to consider include Victrola, Slate Coffee, Analog Coffee, Tougo Coffee, Neptune Coffee, Bauhaus, the Starbucks on E. Olive Way and Porchlight Coffee & Records. Plus many more! It’s Seattle!
Oh Lord, I Need To Eat
Ok, let’s get you some food. Here’s like half a dozen things within a 5-10 minute walk of the Convention Center.
Metropolitan Grill — 820 Second Avenue — Top drawer Happy Hour from 3pm-6pm, including specials on stuff like oysters, beef dip sandwiches, and other upscale bar foods. Serviceable selection of Scotch whisky, other spirits. Close, low key, old school and not a chain.
Cyber Dogs — 909 Pike St –Will a meal from Cyber Dog change your life? No. Is Cyber Dog physically the closest seller of foodstuffs near the Convention Center (if you don’t count the Subway built into the building)? Yes, it is. Plus it’s an internet cafe, so y’know, if you need to surf.
There are also multiple chains located close to the Convention Center, perfect for ironic dining, including outposts for The Cheesecake Factory (700 Pike St), Daily Grill (629 Pike St), Morton’s Steakhouse (1511 6th Ave), and P.F. Chang’s (400 Pine S). All of these places will serve you food.
Recommend Me Places To Eat That Don’t Suck
Maneki — 304 6th Avenue South — The oldest continually operated Japanese restaurant on the West Coast, Maneki has been open for 107 years and counting. Call and make a reservation, and if you’ve got a large party, they’ll set you up in a tatami room upon request. Wonderful homestyle Japanese food, reasonably priced sushi, and lovely service. We adore this place.
Din Tai Fung — 2621 NE 46th St — The newest location of Din Tai Fung, a cultishly revered global chain specializing in xiaolongbao soup dumplings. Their only North American location are in Washington and southern California. The dumplings are really, really good.
The Many Restaurants Of Matt Dillon — Bar Sajor was a James Beard semi-finalist, Sitka & Spruce helped redefine Seattle dining when it opened, The Corson Building remains one of Seattle’s best dining rooms, and The London Plane is like some kind of beautiful grocery store cafe dream. Dillon himself is a 2012 James Beard Award winner for the Northwest region.
The Restaurants Of Renee Erickson — Chef Renee Erickson is behind two of Seattle’s best restaurants. The Walrus And The Carpenter reached almost unimaginable levels of Seattle restaurant hype in the wake of Frank Bruno’s glowing review in the New York Times. Erickson’s second restaurant, The Whale Wins, has garnered similar accolades, though the overall vibe is much more relaxed than at Walrus. Both restaurants are wonderful.
How About Some Iconic Seattle Stuff?
Oh, totally! We recommend you get your tourist on by checking out the following places (most of which are beloved by locals as well).
Dick’s Drive-In –Multiple locations — Dick’s burgers are really good. Their shakes are really, really good. The fries divide our editorial panel, with some considering them the truth, and some thinking them just all right. You can’t win ’em all.
Linda’s Tavern — 707 E. Pine — Seattle’s most perfect bar since 1994. Its back patio is the stuff of legend. Sprudge was invented at the Stumptown across the street, but developed through its infancy over $6 pitchers of Rainier at Linda’s. Tough to fuck with.
Athenian Inn — 1517 Pike Place — You should totally go visit Pike Place Market, and while you’re there, have a crappy espresso at the charming bar counter at the Athenian. This is where Tom Hanks and Rob Reiner talked about butts in Sleepless In Seattle. The view is incredible.
Taylor Shellfish — 1521 Melrose Ave — Fresh oysters! Whole cracked crab! Geoduck chowder! And much more. We’re collectively obsessed with Taylor Shellfish and have been known to make it our very first stop when visiting Seattle. 100% A+ Top Grade Super Recommended.
But Actually I Come To Seattle A Lot? Like For Work And Stuff? So How About Some New Places?
Eater Seattle’s most recent Heat Map recommends the likes of Roux (4201 Fremont Ave), Loulay Kitchen & Bar (600 Union St.), and Aragona (96 Union Street), and Tallulah’s (550 19th Ave), the latest from Linda’s owner Linda Derschang. We’re sure these places are all fun. We also think you would like Corretto, a brand new coffee + booze + food locale on E. Broadway, recently featured on Sprudge.
Take Me Somewhere Fancy, Daddy
Canlis — 2576 Aurora Ave N — Seattle’s fanciest restaurant since 1950. The bar is the secret here, with an incredible rare Scotch collection and great cocktails. If some wealthy global coffee hedge broker is paying, do a full dinner, but if you’re here on your own expense card, dessert and drinks at the bar are just fine.
Crush — 2319 E Madison St — Tasting menus, crudos, veal sweetbreads, and wagyu a-plenty at Chef Jason Wilson’s decidedly upscale Madison Park eatery. The chefs here are currently experimenting with Coffee Flour!
Alcohol Now Please
There are a lot of places to drink in Seattle! This could be its own whole list, but here are 5 recommendations that we think are fun. Yes, we could have chosen a lot more. Ask a local barista where he or she recommends if you need more suggestions.
Canon — 928 12th Ave — Self-proclaimed home to “the western hemisphere’s largest spirit collection”, and their list of bottles is indeed impressive. Some of this stuff is heroically, unflinchingly overpriced; some of these bottles you will never, ever see anywhere else. The truth at Canon lies somewhere in the middle.
The Unicorn — 1118 E Pike St — We’re recommending this place with reservations, because it’s a hipster meat market, frankly, and a lot of the people there are on drugs. All that to say, this is still (somehow) where much of young Capitol Hill goes to check and be checked, probably because of that old mantra about location, location, location. People have fun here! Not us, necessarily, but people!
The Hopvine Pub — 507 15th Ave — Another wonderfully unpretentious Seattle bar, focused on Pacific Northwest beers and good pub eats. You don’t need to be wearing a suit and tie to get in. This is a wonderful place to sample PNW beers while you’re in town.
How About Breakfast?
Juicebox Seattle (1517 12th ave) is really, really good for healthy breakfast stuff and delicious green smoothies. Highly recommended. On a slightly less healthy note, Glo’s Cafe (1621 East Olive Way) is a Capitol Hill institution that makes some of the best Eggs Benedict and coffee cake on the planet. Oddfellows (1525 10th Ave) is great any time of day, but really shines in the morning, with good coffee and heaps of breakfast options (plus mimosas). If you’re hunting for pastries, Cafe Besalu in Ballard (5909 24th Ave NW) is home to Seattle’s best pastries, full stop, but Fuji Bakery (526 S King St) is also definitely worth a stop for green tea Danish and Japanese-style thick, sweet pan breads.
Our most important advice of the weekend:
Have fun! And remember, you’re not here for a long time, you’re here for a good time. Call an Uber if you get a lil’ tipsy and have another on your buddies at Sprudge. You might see us around town, huntin’ a Buck with our buddies in between furious laptop clacking. Be sure to say hi–we don’t bite.