Cafes in Seattle combine the indulgence of ordering a tasty cup of coffee with passing some hours in a cozy, intimate atmosphere where locals gather for work, relaxation and conversation. Whether these venues display artwork by regional artisans, support local farms and sustainable practices by sourcing all of their ingredients locally or offer cafe menus with a twist (think Egyptian, Middle Eastern, Greek and more), these destinations prove wonderful places to meet others and to relax in a convivial atmosphere.
Throughout Seattle's downtown core and its dispersed neighborhoods–from Ballard and Fremont to Queen Anne and Capitol Hill–you'll find these inviting spaces sprinkled liberally. At such eateries, you can enjoy a sandwich, salad, sweet treats or, of course, heartier meals, too.
Whether you're looking for a quick bite, a hot drink, a good conversation or even a stiff cocktail, we've found places that will keep you wanting to take off your coat and stay awhile longer. While most places offer free Wi-Fi, several have no-phone policies that contribute to an even mellower vibe. Tote along a book, a journal or perhaps a friend. Enjoy!
14 Carrot Cafe
A breakfast haven for locals since the late '70s, this friendly, offbeat cafe in the Eastlake neighborhood is known far and wide for its great breakfasts. From traditional eggs-bacon-potatoes combos to more unusual dishes like tahini French toast and Greek omelets, the menu has all bases covered. Coffee cake and cinnamon rolls come freshly baked, and there four kinds of pancakes appear on the menu. Don't expect a fancy scene, because it's the type of place people frequent having just rolled out of bed. On Saturday mornings, 14 Carrot tends to stay quite packed, so expect a wait. Lunch is worth a try, too! (206-324-1442)
This charming spot on South Capitol Hill near Seattle University (open since 2007) offers full coffee service featuring Caffe Vita, house-made pastries, affordable French wines, a full bar open daily until 2 a.m., a newsstand of various magazines and newspapers and a menu of "casual Parisian cafe classics." Patrons feast on options from baguette sandwiches and French onion soup to cod filet, crispy duck leg and vegetarian Raclette. Weekends at Cafe Presse mean soccer matches featuring teams from America, Europe and around the globe in the bar up front. Cafe Presse is open every day from 7a.m. til 2 a.m. (206.709.7674)
Grand Central Bakery
A Portland and Seattle favorite, Grand Central is a locally-owned artisan bakery that lures loyal patrons with its fresh bread, buttery pastries, housemade soups and tasty sandwiches (from egg salad to BLTs with avocado), not to mention its notable coffee drinks. Since select Northwest grocers and restaurants also serve Grand Central bread every day, look for the bakery products at businesses and farmers markets around town, too. In Seattle, find these airy spaces in Eastlake, Pioneer Square and Burien, and settle in at patio tables on days when the weather cooperates. Grand Central Bakery also pleases the palate with its catering services. ((206) 957-9505)
The Essential Baking Company
These citywide cafe-bakeries offer fresh breads, pastries, crackers and desserts, made using "time-honored techniques and only the best organic and natural ingredients." Skilled artisans craft the cakes, croissants and loaves of bread that range from rustic white and whole grain to speciality options like challah, raisin and Irish soda bread. Cafe menus include breakfast sandwiches and omelets, soups, salads, sandwiches, crepes and pizzas. Dine at one of their cafes scattered in various zones around town, or pick up treats for a perfect picnic finale; think marionberry cheesecakes, peach hazelnut tarts, raspberry (or 12th Man!) whoopie pies, flavored croissants and more. ((206) 545-0444)
Chaco Canyon Cafe
These vibrant cafes in the U District and also West Seattle are set in a warm Southwestern decor; their mission is "to provide delicious organic sustenance for a wide variety of needs and individual tastes." The venue is proudly certified organic--and are 90-97% organic throughout the entire year. They feature a daily raw foods menu, composed of fresh organic produce, organic nuts, seeds, spices and oils the menu changes often and with the seasons. They also offer vegan sandwiches, several daily hot vegan soups, rice and quinoa bowls and a daily selection of vegan and wheat/gluten-free baked goods. Loyal customers also return for the "living juice," wheatgrass and smoothies. (206) 522-6966)
Flying Apron bakery celebrates good health by using gluten-free, vegan ingredients; whole grain wheat-free flours and non-hydrogenated oils. Diners can use alternative methods to sweeten items with such ingredients as agave, maple syrup and stevia. The best news? There's no guilt involved when sampling the cafe's goodies that range from salads and soups to gems both sweet (muffins, cupcakes, cookies) and savory (personal pizzas and shepherd's pie). Chefs get creative with the mock rye bread, tofu scrambles, pepper peanut quinoa, pesto tapinade pizza and delectable veggie lasagna. A few sidewalk tables give diners a nice outdoor dining option when the Seattle sun shines. ((206) 442-1115)
This quaint, if a tad noisy, little bake shop is a must for any sweet tooth gallivanting around the Ballard area. The lattes are hot and frothy, and any early morning appetite is appeased by goodies from ham and cheese-stuffed pastries to croissants and brioches, all of them fresh-made and tasty beyond belief. After receiving your morning jolt of joe, go ahead and grab yourself a little something to go–a slice of quiche Lorraine for lunch or a cinnamon-tinged Appenzell nut twist might do the trick. This spot is incredibly popular and, on its website, the website claims to be "possibly the best croissant bakery on the entire American continent." (206-789-1463)
This cafe-bakery has two locations--one in Ballard, one in Phinney Ridge--that includes items ranging from breakfast pastries and salads, soups and sandwiches to Japanese-fusion goods like green tea muffins, azuki croissants and black sesame cookies. The story of Fresh Flours began with a dream and two business partners, Keiji and Etsuko. Today, loyal fans stop into the inviting, bright space for gems like turkey chevre croissant sandwiches, quiches of the day, macarons (an exotic variety) and, of course, piping hot drinks. Both locations have outdoor patio tables, too. ((206) 706-3338)
Macrina Bakery & Café
Perk up your afternoon with a piping hot cup of organic coffee at Macrina. Happily, a wide variety of cakes, artisanal breads and pastries is available to accompany your java. You'll have trouble deciding between chocolate cranberry coffeecake glazed with chocolate ganache and a Morning Glory muffin, studded with pineapple, raisins, apple, coconut and walnuts. Consistently garnering accolades from local publications, the friendly establishment is perfect for a rendezvous with old friends or for a quiet hour with the morning paper. The ambience is soothing and friendly, and works by local artists often grace the walls of the popular cafe. (206-448-4032)
About Corinne Whiting
Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's backpacked around Australia, taught English in Argentina and explored (so far!) countries from Cambodia and Egypt to Turkey and China.
Corinne served as associate editor at Where magazine for five years; as a freelancer, she now writes for publications like National Geographic Traveler and Amtrak's OnTrak. Here in the lovely Northwest, she's attempting to debunk the rain myths, up her coffee and live music quotient and find her Zen near/on the water.
Read more about Corinne Whiting here.
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