Photography by Charity Burggraaf
In a town where, until recently, a Subaru Outback was the ultimate status symbol, the Ferraris roaring up to valet stations downtown signal a sea change. Today’s Emerald City bears little resemblance to the hotbed of grunge rock that turned the eyes (and ears) of the world its way in the 1990s. This is now the town that tech built, and it’s got the skyline bristling with construction cranes to prove it. Local record label Sub Pop has gone semi-mainstream with a retail outpost at the airport; in the shadow of new skyscrapers, a large population of young transplants roam the South Lake Union neighborhood, home to Amazon and countless tech startups; the Space Needle sports a new glass observation floor; and, in the Scandinavian neighborhood of Ballard, the Nordic Museum opened last spring in a soaring new space. The unbeatable Pacific Northwest surroundings remain, as do the glutton’s paradise food scene and the great Pike Place Market.
The waits are notorious for Edouardo Jordan’s Southern cooking at JuneBaby, winner of the 2018 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant, but larger parties can make reservations. Those who commit to the queue can now loiter next door at Jordan’s newest outing, the casual, 22-seat Lucinda Grain Bar, serving cocktails and bar snacks (as well as grain bowls and sandwiches).
As renowned for her cozy-cool decor as for her flawless food, local favorite Renee Erickson (of The Walrus and the Carpenter oyster bar fame) went Italian with her new Willmott’s Ghost, in downtown Seattle’s most head-turning structures, The Spheres: Amazon’s multistory mega-terrariums/offices. The restaurant’s green-and-pink palette and curved marble bar are equal parts Roman diner and #accidentallywesanderson.
The hottest drink ticket in town is also in The Spheres: Deep Dive, an underground cocktail spot with a dusky baroque vibe, a roster of classic cocktails and inventive nonalcoholic drinks, and the Seattle Dog – a riff on the local late-night snack, loaded with whipped cream cheese and salmon caviar.
Coffee is still king in a city where the sun is more of a bit player than a leading lady. La Marzocco Cafe, at the Seattle Center HQ of revered independent music station KEXP, serves coffee from a different specialty roaster each month. The venue functions as the radio station’s reception area, with windows into the DJ booth, frequent live shows and events, and an on-site Light in the Attic record store.
Local institution Elliott Bay Book Company, which moved from its historic Pioneer Square location to the hip Capitol Hill neighborhood nearly a decade ago, houses a bright café and comfortably creaky floors reminiscent of its former home.
Owner Ted Kennedy Watson has spent decades amassing inventory that might best be described as “fabulous French uncle.” Watson Kennedy Fine Home is pleasingly organized by color and bursting with high-end foodstuffs, glassware, candles, stationery, and just the right amount of vintage ephemera.
The 450-room Fairmont Olympic Hotel offers a classic stay and recently refurbished rooms. There’s afternoon tea at The Georgian, beehives on the roof, and a casual oyster bar.
The Four Seasons Hotel Seattle boasts one of the city’s only outdoor hotel pools. A refresh of the hotel’s 145 rooms, slated for April completion, will update the property’s look with a neutral palette and raw wood accents.
Loews Hotel 1000 has free-standing tubs in each of its 120 rooms and a First Avenue location for easy walks to Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market.
The 155-room Thompson Seattle, across the street from Pike Place Market, attracts a younger crowd to its rooftop Nest Bar with outdoor fire pits, DJ nights, and views over Elliott Bay to the Olympic Mountains.