Capitol Hill’s Shopping, Dining and Nightlife
Known for its LGBT movements as much as its thriving music scene, Capitol Hill is as original as it gets. Although the rainbow-painted streets, booming nightclubs and quirky characters often get the majority of the attention, there’s much more to be enjoyed in this quintessential Seattle district. A growing group of artists, chefs and other aspiring creatives separates this unconventional neighborhood from its tech-heavy counterparts. Award-winning restaurants, inventive new shops and a musically-engrained culture are just a few reasons Capitol Hill has largely remained one of Seattle’s most beloved neighborhoods.
Shopping and Dining
Capitol Hill is not the place to look for something, but the place to stay and wander. A great place to start your exploration is at Melrose Market — an indoor food and retail market hidden inside an old automotive building. Home to eclectic shops and tasty restaurateurs such as Terra Plata and Sitka & Spruce, your senses are sure to be busy. Another great starting point is Chophouse Row — a pedestrian alleyway with a courtyard of local retailers and restaurants (pictured above). Worth visiting solely for the unique aesthetic alone, Chophouse Row also is home to a few quality restaurants and bars, such as Marmite and Bar Ferdinand.
A visit to Capitol Hill is never complete without a stop at the Starbucks Roastery. Much more engaging than the original Starbucks, the hillside roastery is not only one of the largest Starbucks stores in the world, but is home to an abundance of food and retail items that you can’t find in most stores. If you’re on the lookout for a pastry fix, however, a stop at Bakery Nouveau for a twice-baked almond croissant is a must.
Foodies who want to take advantage of the neighborhood’s diverse fare are likely to be overwhelmed by their options. Mamnoon is a great pick for Middle Eastern cuisine while Betsutenjin serves up some of the best ramen in the city. Smith and Oddfellows are necessary stops for those who want to experience a quintessential Seattle brunch, accompanied by top-notch cocktails. Not to mention Oddfellows is right next door to The Elliott Bay Book Company — one of the largest independent bookstores in the country, with a selection of more than 150 thousand titles.
Art and Urban Greenery
If you need a taste of greenery in the midst of the city, you’re not alone. Venture to Capitol Hill’s historic Volunteer Park and roam 48 acres of paths lined with dahlias and cherry blossom trees. Visitors can head to the Volunteer Park Conservatory to view and learn about plant species from around the globe or make their way to the Art-Deco inspired Seattle Asian Art Museum when it reopens in this fall.
If you find yourself in the north edge of town, Interlaken Park is a 51-acre, densely wooded area that is great for hikers, bikers and joggers alike. Most famous, however, is the Washington Park Arboretum — an urban green space with more than 230 acres of winding pathways and unique plant species. At the south end of the Arboretum, you can find the Seattle Japanese Garden — one of the most highly regarded of its kind. Whether you take a tour or roam quietly, the varied natural elements and understated beauty are a great way to drown out the noise of the big city.
Nirvana and Pearl Jam junkies are sure to find their musical bliss in a number of Seattle neighborhoods, but Capitol Hill has a special place in the hearts of many. Looking for vinyl? Record Shops such as Spin Cycle and Everyday Music are known for their diverse collections while Porchlight Coffee and Records is a trendy Seattle alternative that lets you have a beer or cappuccino on the side.
If you’re looking to combine your love for music with Capitol Hill’s famous nightlife, Neumos Chop Suey and Barboza are good places to start. For a more laid-back vibe, Highline Bar offers live music in a much more relaxed setting. Those visiting during the summer are in for a special treat, as the three-day Capitol Hill Block Party takes place each July, featuring a number of rising musical talents.
If the music scene isn’t really what you came for or you prefer a more refined atmosphere, check out some of Capitol Hill’s hidden speakeasies. Accessible only from a bank vault inside Tavern & Law, Needle & Thread doesn’t have a menu and specializes in making original drinks for each visitor. Another great option is Knee High Stocking Co. Although it is by reservation-only, its dim-lit setting and prohibition-style drinks make it ideal for a date night or small group of friends.
–Written by Maggy Lehmicke