8 Secret Gems in Seattle
1. Humble Pie Off the beaten path, but so worth seeking out, Humble Pie serves pizza from a wood-fired oven and local beverages out of a…
1. Humble Pie
Off the beaten path, but so worth seeking out, Humble Pie serves pizza from a wood-fired oven and local beverages out of a retired shipping container in the International District.
Most of the seating is outside at picnic tables—you feel like you’re in someone’s backyard. A chicken coop provides the eggs topping some of the pies; a rooftop garden, the basil. Our favorite pizza is the apple and spiced walnut with bacon and Beecher’s cheese. $; 525 Rainier Ave. S.; humblepieseattle.com.
2. Hot Cakes
The menu at sweets wizard Autumn Martin’s Ballard dessert lounge is like an ode to Willy Wonka: signature desserts, baked to order; grilled chocolate sandwiches; even boozy milkshakes like smoked chocolate with Scotch. Martin, a former Theo chocolatier, has created a space that’s as inviting as the treats: brick-lined walls, reclaimed wood, and a two-seat bar. $$; 5427 Ballard Ave. N.W.; www.getyourhotcakes.com.
In a city known for its caffeine addiction, Elm Coffee Roasters aims to raise the bar. Owner Brendan Mullally returned to Seattle in 2013 after seven years with Joe Coffee in New York. He teamed up with Stumptown alum Drew Fitchette, who brings well-established relationships with farmers and, often, access to “micro lots” (a farm’s best coffee). The menu lists espresso drinks as well as housemade chai and hazelnut milk. $; 240 Second Ave S.; elmcoffeeroasters.com.
4. Marx Foods
What do you get when a continent-hopping, tech-loving food geek opens a grocery? Marx Foods, Justin Marx’s specialty-foods shop in lower Queen Anne. Inside the small store, exotic ingredients like hibiscus vinegar, dill pollen, and maple cream sit neatly on cherry shelves, across from a glass case filled with larded Mangalitsa bacon and other boutique meats. Not sure what to do with that kangaroo steak? QR codes throughout the store connect shoppers to Marx’s vast online resources, including video introductions to unusual ingredients like geoduck clams and fregola sarda (an Italian couscous), and recipes for how to use them at home. $$$; 144 Western Ave. W.; marxfoods.com.
Lower Queen Anne’s historic 1926 Uptown theater reopened in 2011 as the SIFF Cinema Uptown. Now owned by the Seattle International Film Festival, it has all the bells and whistles of a modern multiplex (digital projection, 3-D, better audio) but retains its art house spirit, with a mostly indie lineup and local brews like Elysian‘s Space Dust IPA at the popcorn stand. $$; 511 Queen Anne Ave. N.; siff.net.
The 103-year-old facility—divided into five sections or “display houses” (Bromeliad, Palm, Fern, Cactus, and Seasonal) and containing more than 1,200 species of plants—has a fully updated glazing system and steel earthquake reinforcement. Admire the beautiful new laminated safety glass as well as the impressively large specimens, such as the Cactus House’s 99-year-old jade plant. $; 1400 E. Galer St.; volunteerparkconservatory.org.
Muriel Foucher’s tiny culinary school and kitchen shop teaches French cooking without Le Cordon Bleu formality. Foucher keeps the pace relaxed, giving participants time to mingle while picking up the secrets to featherlight macarons or a perfect bouillabaisse. Class topics are an eclectic mix, ranging from microwave French cooking (she’s even written a book about it) to classics like tarte tatin. $$$; 816 E. Pike St.; pariseastside.com.
Just 1/2 mile from Ballard Avenue, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (or in local parlance, the Ballard Locks) are a landmark of Seattle maritime history. They’re also a fine place to watch boats being raised as they pass from Puget Sound to Lake Washington, or salmon as they migrate up the fish ladder to their spawning ground. $; 3015 54th St. N.W.; seattle.gov/tour/locks.htm.