Techies & Tacos
A few years back, there was nothing but a few warehouses and random buildings between the Westin Hotel (the two round towers on 5th Avenue) and Lake Union. Then, Microsoft’s Paul Allen started a construction company called Vulcan, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos decided to locate his company there and – BOOM – an urban neighborhood sprouted up. Actually, it is a constant work in progress as you can see from the “(construction) crane forest.”
The easiest way to get a handle on this neighborhood and what it has to offer is to ride the Seattle Streetcar all the way to the end and then get off at a stop on the way back and explore. Board the SLUT just north of Westlake Center right across from the Westin. It will zoom you down Westlake Avenue past Whole Foods (aka “the cafeteria”) and into the heart of The Amazon. If you see 20 somethings wearing hoodies, backpacks, earbuds, and light blue ID cards (aka “the nerd herd” or “Amazonians”) you will know you are close.
The Seattle Streetcar goes through the middle of the Amazon campus (look for the big open book logo on one of the buildings) where they have a host of eateries including a trio of Tom Douglas restaurants: BraveHorse Tavern (think college frat house), Cuoco (Italian) on Terry Avenue, and Serious Pie & Biscuit (artsy fartsy pizza) on Westlake. Other wonderful food options include Portage Bay Cafe at Terry & Harrison (a great spot for brunch), Re:public Restaurant and Bar at Westlake & Republican (great foodie find for locally sourced food and craft cocktails), and, our favorite, Cactus on Terry for yummy southwestern food and outdoor dining (warning: Seattle food is not spicy at all– must be something about the number of us Pacific Northwest Scandinavians here, but the food is really tasty. If you want spicy food, you’ll have to find a Thai restaurant).
If you stay on the SLUT, it will take you down to Lake Union. There is a great park here, as well as The Center for Wooden Boats , where you can rent, view, or buy a boat. This end of the lake is also home to the Museum of History and Industry (“MOHAI”). MOHAI is well worth a visit (every first Thursday of the month is free entry). There are fabulous permanent exhibits about Seattle’s history and a great movie about the city. Plus, the building and its setting are lovely. It sits on the lakefront and the surrounding park is often host to various community events, so have a look at the schedule to see if any exciting festivals are going on while you’re in town, or just come to the park to relax, swim, or watch Kenmore Air’s seaplanes take off and land. Another fun option is to hop aboard an Argosy boat for a trip around the lake through the Montlake Cut and into Lake Washington to check out the floating homes, University of Washington stadium, and listen to fun and historical facts about the region. During the summer, check out the Ice Cream Cruise on the m/v Fremont Avenue.
If you are looking for a nice run or a (very) long walk, follow the sidewalk from MOHAI, around Lake Union (7 miles for the full loop) which will take you through Fremont and Eastlake or to the Seattle Center. Or, if you are the outdoorsy type, head east on Denny Way, take a left on Fairview and a right on John Street to the flagship REI store where you can ride a mountain bike over trails, climb a rock wall, stretch out in a tent, or try out new hiking boots.