Best Neighborhoods: Rainier Avenue South, Columbia City
PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE:
Bike-riding, Berkeley-style globalistas
If Mayberry had an urban soul, it might look like Columbia City. The high charm quotient comes from the old-style street clock and painted benches, plus cute flower shop KC’s Flowers, all-day breakfast hangout Geraldine’s Counter, butcher shop Bob’s Quality Meats, multiple-screen movie house Columbia City Cinema and a rail station a couple of blocks away (albeit tarted up with light-rail technology and two giant public-art magnifying glasses). Its urban edge resides in offerings like the Columbia City Gallery, Columbia City Farmers’ Market (late April to October) and ethnic restaurants, from Island Soul Caribbean Cuisine to the Thai spot Spice Room.
EAT/DRINK: Head to La Medusa, meanwhile, for classic Sicilian specialties (salt cod fritters) and event menus that entice. At Columbia City Ale House, lip-smacking sandwiches—steak, tuna melt, blackened salmon—meet thirst-quenching brews, while Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria makes thin-crust pies in a family-friendly setting. There’s much to admire at Columbia City Bakery, where bread baker extraordinaire Evan Andres also creates splendid cakes and pastries. (Especially delectable is the nicely chilled Tres Leche coconut pastry). Empire Espresso Bar has good java and Mighty-O Donuts—and $5 waffles on the weekends. Should you feel guilty about indulging at Full Tilt Ice Cream (pictured), cone-based calories can be worked off at one of the 25-cent pinball machines. You know a local watering hole like Lottie’s Lounge has heart when it hosts a Bloody Mary brunch (including a hangover Monday service) with alcohol-absorbing Mexican chilaquiles and Chardonnay eggs Benedict. Heading to Columbia City Theater for some live music? Stop in for creative concoctions and Southern-style food at The Bourbon Bar, its new in-house restaurant/watering hole. From the owner of Queen Anne’s popular Chinoise Cafe comes prettily executed sushi plus Spam-fried rice and complimentary edamame at Wabi-Sabi Sushi Bar & Restaurant.
SHOP: For affordable bikes, repairs ($25 tune-ups) and free fix-it classes for children, pedal over to Bike Works. At Retroactive Kids, youngsters will be absorbed by the classic toys and parents will love the adorable duds. Visit Andaluz for cool clothes, gifts and accessories, including fetching fedoras, locally designed jewelry and Kitten Camaro wallets. Gather Consignment provides a boutique-style setting for contemporary women’s clothing and home décor.
SERVICES: If you’re inclined to stay in Columbia City for a prolonged visit, The Shirley Marvin Hotel can put you up in a vintage, newly refurbished extended-stay suite.
>>Andaluz (4908 Rainier Ave. S; 206.760.1900; andaluzseattle.com)
>> Bike Works (3709 S Ferdinand St.; 206.725.9408; bikeworks.org)
>> Bob’s Quality Meats (4861 Rainier Ave. S; 206.725.1221)
>> The Bourbon Bar (4916 Rainier Ave. S; 206.420.8285; columbiacitytheater.com)
>> Columbia City Ale House (4914 Rainier Ave. S; 206.723.5123; seattlealehouses.com/ColumbiaCity/)
>> Columbia City Bakery (4865 Rainier Ave. S; 206.723.6023; columbiacitybakery.com)
>> Columbia City Cinema (4816 Rainier Ave. S; 206.721.3156; columbiacitycinema.com)
>> Columbia City Gallery (4864 Rainier Ave. S; 206.760.9843; columbiacitygallery.com)
>> Columbia City Theater (4916 Rainier Ave. S; 206.722.3009; columbiacitytheater.com)
>> Empire Espresso Bar (3829 S Edmunds St.; 206.659.0588; empireespressobar.blogspot.com)
>> Full Tilt Ice Cream (5041 Rainier Ave. S; 206.226.2740; fulltilticecream.com)
>> Gather Consignment (4863 Rainier Ave. S; 206.760.0674; gatherconsignment.com)
>> Geraldine’s Counter (4872 Rainier Ave. S; 206.723.2080; geraldinescounter.com)
>> Island Soul Caribbean Cuisine (4869 Rainier Ave. S; 206.329.1202; islandsoulrestaurant.net)
>> KC’s Flowers (4873 Rainier Ave. S; 206.722.2200; kcsflowers.com)
>> La Medusa (4857 Rainier Ave. S; 206.723.2192; lamedusarestaurant.com)
>> Lottie’s Lounge (4900 Rainier Ave. S; 206.725.0519; lottieslounge.com)
>> Retroactive Kids (4859 Rainier Ave. S; 206.932.3154; retroactivekids.com)
>> The Shirley Marvin Hotel (3815 S Edmunds St.; 206.922.3656; shirleymarvin.com)
>> Spice Room (4909 Rainier Ave. S; 206.725.7090; spiceroomseattle.com)
>> Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria (4918 Rainier Ave. S; 206.721.3501; tuttabella.com)
>> Wabi-Sabi Sushi Bar & Restaurant (4909 Rainier Ave. S; 206.721.0212; wabisabicolumbiacity.com)