Low-key fun in West Seattle

Good food, cool shops, and a sandy beach make Seattle's laid-back cousin a great place to hang out
Molly Lori

They share the same area code, but Seattle and West Seattle are worlds apart. Think of West Seattle ― especially the strip of shops and restaurants on California Avenue near Alaska Street ― as Seattle's laid-back cousin, the one who always tries to hide while a group picture is being taken. Absent is the hustle and bustle of downtown Seattle, but West Seattle's got an energy all its own.

Info. From downtown Seattle, take I-5 south to the West Seattle Bridge exit and Fauntleroy Way S.W. Turn right on S.W. Alaska St. to California Ave. S.W. www.wsjunction.com or 206/935-0904.

SHOP

Capers Home. A furniture, gifts, and home accessories store where you can pick up anything from argyle-patterned ottomans to cookbooks from San Francisco's Boulevard restaurant. Open daily. 4521 California Ave. S.W.; 206/932-0371.

In Bloom Home & Garden. A garden store perfect for first-timers. "We sell a lot of plants that thrive on neglect," says the store's co-owner Bonita Corliss, who often recommends prayer plants. Open daily. 4437 California Ave. S.W.; 206/932-2588.

EAT

Easy Street Records & Cafe. Situated inside a record store, the quirky eatery has red vinyl booths and a hanging fridge door covered in stickers. At the coffee bar, old singles records from Johnny Cash and other crooners peek through the clear resin countertop. Breakfast and lunch daily. $. 4559 California Ave. S.W.; 206/938-3279.

The Matador West. Moody restaurant with artistic wood-and-ironwork touches, specializing in Tex-Mex cuisine and high-end tequilas. Try the blackened whitefish tacos or the ancho-chipotle baby back ribs. Lunch Sat-Sun, dinner daily. $$. 4546 California Ave. S.W.; 206/932-9988.

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