Bordered by the sprawling Washington Park Arboretum to the north and Lake Washington to the east, Madison Valley is Seattle’s Parisian gem. Known for its distinctive upper-crust vibe, this walkable nabe, along East Madison between Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Lake Washington Boulevard, is now more accessible than exclusive, with fantastic new eateries and sweet shops for every budget. Already Mobile? Our Urban Safari is also on Google Maps.
EAT + DRINK
>> The corner of Madison Street and 28th Avenue East packs a mean culinary punch: Jae Ahrenf’s Chinoise reopened last year as JAE’S ASIAN BISTRO AND SUSHI (2801 E Madison St.; 206.323.0171; jaesasianbistroandsushi-seattle.com) with a more globally eclectic menu, with bites like Korean soon du boo tofu and seafood spicy soup ($9.95).
>> Across the street is LUC (2800 E Madison St.; 206.328.6645; thechefinthehat.com/luc), where the discerning presence of renowned “Chef in the Hat” Thierry Rautureau of neighboring Rover’s, is palpable. Try the house-made lamb sausage with braised cabbage and crostini ($13), along with a carafe of the namesake wine blend (from $10).
>> Kitty-corner is J’amy Owens’ BILL THE BUTCHER (2911 E Madison St.; 206.402.5079; billthebutcher.com), which prides itself on carrying meats that contain no herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics or steroids. Bill's charismatic butchers are currently beaming over Jerry Foster Farms Heritage’s juicy cuts from Rochester, Washington.
>> Tucked behind Bill the Butcher is Nohra Belaid’s French boulangerie, INES PATISSERIE (2909 E Madison St.; 206.915.7379), where she re-creates classic French sweet treats, such as dainty pistachio buttercream macaroons ($3) and open-faced croissants topped with lean ham and bubbling Gruyère cheese ($4.50).
>> Head down the corridor to Carolyn Ferguson’s second BELLE EPICUREAN (3109 E Madison St.; 206.262.9404; belleepicurean.com). Known for its award-winning “Belle’s Buns,” the new locale also has a retail section with boxed cake mix and house-made granola.
STROLL + SHOP
>> Located at the southern intersection of Arboretum Drive and Lake Washington Boulevard, THE GATEWAY TO CHILE GARDEN AT THE ARBORETUM (2300 Arboretum Drive E; 206.543.8800; depts.washington.edu/uwbg/gardens/wpa.shtml) opened last year as part of the three-pronged Parks and Green Spaces Levy Project “master plan.” The project restored the untamed Holmdahl Rockery, replacing thickset errant weeds with vibrant Chilean plants.
>> Turn your gaze to other natural gems a stone’s throw away at RIVER SONG JEWELRY (2816 E Madison St.; 206.829.9089; riversongjewelry.com). Opened in 2009, River Burke’s bijou storefront holds architectural pieces made with recycled gold, such as the stunning polished floating aquamarine necklace with keishi pearl detail ($286), handmade right here in Seattle.
>> For chic garb to go with your new neck bling, head next door to VIAN HUNTER (2814 E Madison St.; 206.860.5030; vianhunter.com), where owner Lisa Hunter carries her own vintage-inspired fashions, like the short-sleeved silk Sandrine dress ($225).
>> Next, head east on Madison to neighborhood classic CANOPY BLUE (3121 E Madison St.; 206.323.1115; canopyblue.com). Kieran Oaksmith’s selection of layering-friendly frocks by the likes of Diane von Furstenberg and Milly Ponte will make you think you’ve died and gone to East Hampton heaven.