Find a little wisdom and a lot of great Creole in the Central District

Seattle soul
Dan Lamont
Reverend Braxton enlightens at Mount Zion Baptist Church

If culture is food for the soul, then you’ll be happily sated in the Central District, just a 10-minute drive east of downtown Seattle.

Start a Sunday with a service from one of the city’s finest orators, Reverend Leslie D. Braxton of Mount Zion Baptist Church (1634 19th Ave.; or 206/322-6500). The 43-year-old pastor, with Hollywood good looks and a scorching intellect, challenges his flock with the help of a world-class choir. “Life is about relationships. It begins with the relationship with God, but it’s about relationships,” he says. “We live for people, we live for each other.”

Church starts at 7:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. and runs for about 1 1/2 hours, but heed the warning on the program: “These services are under the direction of the Holy Spirit, and are subject to change without notice.”

Afterward, step out for some soul food of a different order. La Louisiana Restaurant ($$; lunch Tue-Fri and Sun, dinner Tue-Sun; 2514 E. Cherry St.; 206/329-5007) serves authentic Cajun and Creole food ― you’ll long remember the creamy spiciness of the crayfish étouffée. Catfish Corner ($; lunch and dinner Mon-Sat; 2726 E. Cherry; or 206/323-4330) is the source for deep-fried fantasies served up by a warm and welcoming staff: Catfish, hush puppies, and collard greens with a kick hit the spot.

To alleviate any subsequent arterial guilt, take a jaunt down a pathway at nearby Mount Baker Park (2521 Lake Park Dr. S.; 206/684-4075). The park is a short drive to the southeast in Seattle’s leafy Mount Baker neighborhood, which borders the Central District. Several quiet paths sidle around the shore of Lake Washington, offering ample chance to burn off calories.

As the evening draws near, call to inquire about tickets at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center (104 17th Ave. S.; 206/684-4757), where this month you can catch a performance of A Chorus Line. Next month the center will host Seattle’s groundbreaking African American Film Festival (Apr 8-10). Or check in with the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas ( for entertaining and educational programs on African American issues ― true food for thought.

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