There is a Seattle beneath the surface that is just waiting to be discovered. It’s hidden, sometimes in plain sight, sometimes two flights up in the Market. It’s the best kept secrets, insider tips, secret menus and local favorites that make people love this city, even if you can never entirely know it.
We invited Northwest creator Rachael Jones and her wife Deanne Revel to share some of their favorite spots and insider tips with us. Tag along on their Seattle adventure and discover more at iknowaplace.org. Then be sure to share your own Seattle favorites by tagging #IKnowSeattle.
Flatstick Pub SLU
Flatstick Pub in South Lake Union is our favorite place to unwind with a Washington beer or Rachel’s Ginger Beer in one hand and a putter in the other. The indoor putt-putt course is a great spot for rainy days and we love it so much that we’re lifetime members. There’s also a duffleboard course and a unique menu of snacks such as dill pickle fries. During the day, you can bring kiddos for putt-putt, but after 7 p.m. the entire course and bar is 21 and up.
Fremont Vintage Mall
When we’re not working, we love to thrift—and you can find it all at Fremont Vintage Mall. This store is dense with rows and rows of packed shelves, so give yourself (and your parking meter) ample time to explore. One note: The aisles are pretty tight so if you have a bag that’s larger than a backpack, you’ll be asked to check it at the front counter.
Seattle is packed with great used bookstores, and while this isn’t the largest, Ophelia’s Books in Fremont is our favorite—most notably for the vibe. There’s a loft nook with comfy old chairs and a spiral staircase leading down to the mystery section in the basement.
SUP Lake Union
Paddleboarding on Lake Union has been a great outlet amid the pandemic and, in our opinion, it’s one of the best views of Seattle’s skyline. You can drop in at Lake Union Park, but we recommend the 14th Avenue NW Boat Ramp in Ballard. It’s quiet, there’s parking nearby, and it’s not as busy with other paddleboarders. The float down to the Fremont Bridge is easy. Plus, the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat is right beyond the bridge, adjacent to Gas Works Park.
Momiji in Capitol Hill is our happy place in Seattle. It’s where we come to celebrate birthdays, milestones, visit with friends in town, and where we had dinner the night we got engaged. The restaurant has a secret garden courtyard and the best sushi in town. Our favorite specialty rolls are Pine Street and Pretty in Pink, but we also recommend letting Chef Yoshi Eguchi surprise you with high-end omakase. Whatever you do, the pan-fried Halibut Cheeks are a must.
Mike’s Shave Ice
For perfectly fluffy, authentic Hawaiian and Taiwanese-style shave ice, you have to experience Mike’s Shave Ice. But there’s a secret: You have to follow Mike’s on social media for pop-up locations and pre-orders to find the shave ice truck. Rachael’s favorite is the Mango + Sago topped with coconut milk and mini boba pearls. And Deanne’s go-to is half lilikoi (passion fruit) and half guava smothered in a snow cap of sweetened condensed milk. But no matter what flavor you order, you have to add the homemade mochi.
Seattle has so many great options for boba, but our favorite is hands down Happy Lemon. The bubble tea chain has a new location in South Lake Union that we frequent (way too much) for the A4, which is Milk Tea with Oreo cream smeared all around the inside of the cup. It is total sugar heaven.
Lost Lake Cafe and Lounge
For brunch, we love Lost Lake Cafe. The hipster diner in Capitol Hill has subtle references to Twin Peaks—the bathroom is a mini Red Room!—and you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Deanne is a big fan of the BLT with veggie bacon and Rachael’s must-order: the classic eggs benedict. Don’t pass up on a Brass Monkey made with Rainier Beer or the new Cometkazi—it’s key lime pie in a glass.
Unicorn & Narwhal
Bar food doesn’t have the best reputation, but at Unicorn & Narwhal it’s just as good as the drinks. This circus themed, Capitol Hill bar is an explosion of candy-colored stripes and taxidermy sporting costume jewelry. For drinks, The Cereal Killer (made with Fruit Loops vodka) is a rite of passage, and the Unicorn Lager is a tasty, lightly hoppy treat. For bites, try the Narwal Balls, a basket of cheesy potato croquettes. And you have to try the Fruity Fried Ice Cream—it’s a scoop of strawberry covered in deep-fried Fruity Pebbles crust and glazed with Fruit Loops vodka.
When the weather is dreary, head to Navy Strength for a mini tropical vacation. This Belltown bar is part tiki, part yacht rock, and part Southeast Asian. The drinks are strong and not your typical fare as the menu rotates seasonally and bartenders like to explore with unique flavor profiles inspired by vacation destinations around the world. Our current favorite drink: Kokum Cashew Swizzle. This creamy, fruity concoction is inspired by India with toasted cashews, rum, spices and served in a funky ceramic mug.
The W brand is known for its tongue-in-cheek humor and it gets really cheeky at the W Seattle. The funky hotel has a theme inspired by Seattle’s music scene with larger-than-life album wallpaper, vinyl record serving platters, and a special music suite on the 25th floor that recording artists have used for launch parties. And there’s a lot to be inspired by at the W because the view from the “Wow Suites” perfectly frame Mount Rainier. For breakfast, W Seattle really did its homework on local Seattle brands. At its new Trace Market, there’s Forté coffee, Ellenos yogurt and a homemade Pop Tart with PNW berry preserves.
Hear directly from Rachael & Deanne!