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Seattle Cafés: Shareable Small Plates + Neighborhood Flair



Cafes in Seattle combine the indulgence of ordering a tasty cup of coffee while 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!


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A casual tearoom located in Seattle's historic Ballard district, Miro Tea provides an excellent foray into the world of authentic eastern tea for anyone who's looking for a nice hot brew. In addition to their tea, Miro also offers several savory dishes as well as desserts that perfectly complement their tea menu. With an excellent knowledgeable staff and a bold menu, it's no wonder Miro Tea receives rave reviews from locals and tourists alike. Gluten-free diners will be happy to learn that crepes can be made GF (for $1 extra); try ones filled with fresh spinach and goat cheese topped with Spanish Serrano ham and an over-easy fried egg or with fresh, market pears Brie, mixed greens, balsamic reduction, honey and walnuts.

Recommended for Cafés because: A casual tearoom located in Seattle's historic Ballard district, Miro Tea serves delicious hot brews as well as tasty and healthful food options.

Corinne's expert tip: If you're a tea buff, you'll love the variety of options here, like tea lattes served with almond, hemp, rice or soy milk.

Read more about Miro Tea →


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!

Recommended for Cafés because: 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.

Lesli's expert tip: Breakfast starts daily at 7 a.m. Roll up early on weekends, and avoid a wait!

Read more about 14 Carrot Cafe →


Cafe Presse


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.

Recommended for Cafés because: A piece of France comes to South Capitol Hill near Seattle University, thanks to the charming presence of Cafe Presse.

Lesli's expert tip: Futbol fans: this is a great weekend spot for watching global soccer matches!

Read more about Cafe Presse →


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Grand Central Bakery
Photo courtesy of 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 spots like 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.

Recommended for Cafés because: A Seattle favorite, Grand Central is a locally-owned artisan bakery that lures patrons with its fresh bread, buttery pastries, house-made soups and tasty sandwiches.

Lesli's expert tip: When any holiday rolls around, this is the place to find themed cookies, festive pies and other sweet treats!

Read more about Grand Central Bakery →


The Essential Baking Company
Photo courtesy of 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.

Recommended for Cafés because: The Essential Baking Company stocks citywide venues with fresh breads, pastries and desserts, made using "time-honored techniques and only the best organic and natural ingredients."

Lesli's expert tip: These cafes can be found in Wallingford, Madison and beyond. Stock up on your favorite bread with their eStore. (Boxes can fit up to six loaves, and all products come in stay-fresh packaging that keeps the bread fresh for months, without preservatives!)

Read more about The Essential Baking Company →




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.

Recommended for Cafés because: These vibrant cafes in the U District and West Seattle are set in warm Southwestern-inspired environments; the eateries serve organic food that's fresh and seasonal.

Corinne's expert tip: Sweeten the deal; try the GF carrot or espresso chocolate cupcakes.

Read more about Chaco Canyon Cafe →


Flying Apron
Photo courtesy of Flying Apron Bakery


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.

Recommended for Cafés because: The Flying Apron Bakery is Seattle's only 100 perfect gluten-free and vegan bakery. Enjoy delicious eats both savory and sweet.

Lesli's expert tip: Check out the day-old basket for discounted goodies!

Read more about Flying Apron →


Portage Bay Café
Photo courtesy of Portage Bay Cafe


At four bright and airy spaces around town, enjoy consistently delicious fare–as a bonus, the food is always "local, organic and sustainable." The menu boasts the tagline "eat like you give a damn" and an impressive list of local farms and producers that the restaurant's chefs proudly work with. Breakfast and brunch items include migas, an array of benedicts (from pork belly to Dungeness crab cake), gluten-free French toast (topped with unlimited fresh berries), goat cheese omeletets and Swedish pancakes. Tuck into a pitcher of refreshing mimosas, or savor Columbia Gorge fresh-squeezed juices (the berry-lemonade is a sure bet). These restaurants are ideal for large groups and families, and patios prove popular summer hangout spots at the 65th and SLU locations.

Recommended for Cafés because: At these bustling breakfast and lunch hubs, enjoy fresh and seasonal fare that's "local, organic and sustainable."

Corinne's expert tip: Find three other locations around town, including a bustling location near downtown in South Lake Union (by the Amazon HQ) and one located on the stretch between Ballard and Golden Gardens beach.

Read more about Portage Bay Café →


Fresh Flours
Photo courtesy of Fresh Flours


This cafe-bakery has four locations--West Seattle, Phinney Ridge, Beacon Hill and SLU--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. Enjoy outdoor patio tables, and check out rotating displays of artwork and photographs created by the city's local talents.

Recommended for Cafés because: At Fresh Flours, chefs mix traditional and Japanese flavors into a delightful menu that features treats both savory and sweet.

Lesli's expert tip: Enjoy outdoor patio tables at various locations. (Easily take the lightrail to the cafe's Beacon Hill outpost.)

Read more about Fresh Flours →




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.

Recommended for Cafés because: Macrina Bakery & Cafe delights with its coffee drinks, accompanied by a variety of freshly-baked cakes, artisanal breads and pastries. (Small meals are served, too.)

Corinne's expert tip: Check out the basket of discounted, day-old baked goods to take for the road!

Read more about Macrina Bakery & Café →


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Meet 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...  More About Corinne

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