March 2013

Find out which 15 boroughs we named as the best neighborhoods in Seattle. Plus, see how your 'hood ranked on our "Happiness Index." 

From this Issue

When my husband and I first bought our home, we felt somewhat banished in pre-cool Ballard. (This was 2001, and the sleepy Scandinavian burg was the most affordable neighborhood closest to Lower Queen Anne, where we’d been happily living in an apartment.) But then we stumbled upon Ballard Market and discovered that the humble-appearing grocery store is a foodie heaven.

The charms of Heather Earnhardt’s Wandering Goose are many: church pews for banquettes, lampshades made of flour sacks, poppies blooming royal red on the walls.

Dim lighting and a throbbing soundtrack aren’t exactly what you expect to find in a restaurant on a Magnolia side street, but at owner Kent Chappelle’s Tanglewood Supreme, which opened in October, the mood is refreshingly grown-up.

After Coastal Kitchen’s 20-year run as a beloved neighborhood staple, its owner, Jeremy Hardy, closed the old girl for a few months to give her a facelift, including, most noticeably, a new bar for cocktails; the original bar is now dedicated to oysters. There’s also new talent in the kitchen: Jason Jones, who once cooked at Poppy.

Forget leaning over the hedge, that’s so Home Improvement. Seattleites who want to borrow a rake, report a loose dog or just meet the family next door are turning to the Web as a substitute for—or a spur to—old-fashioned front-stoop chitchat.

Restaurants and stores have long relied on shared traffic to drive business. As counterintuitive as it may seem, several restaurants in a cluster tend to generate more business for everyone, rather than stealing customers from each other. Funny how that works.

WHERE: The Lightcatcher at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, for the exhibit Jim Olson: Art in Architecture (3/10–6/9; 250 Flora St.; 360.778.8930;

You’ve swung the West Coast swing, spiced up your salsa and topped off your tango—what’s next? Time to kiss up to kizomba.

Those little waving kitties have become ubiquitous good luck trinkets in Seattle shops—but what exactly do their upraised paws tell us?

The world’s largest-diameter tunnel boring machine (TBM) is travelling all the way from Osaka, Japan to dig the two-mile-long tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

I was lured to Burien by the incredible bang for my real estate buck, but what I fell in love with was the community’s no-nonsense, hardy attitude; the beautiful, secret stretches of Puget Sound waterfront; and a charming downtown strip that makes you feel like Marty McFly stepping out of his DeLorean into a Rockwellian past.

The more “come as you are” of Seattle’s two major super ’hoods (see also: Capitol Hill), this northwest Seattle area is a cool—but not too cool—burg where middle-aged parents can wear their Patagonia fleece and have their Ethan Stowell eateries, while singleton 20-somethings, with their chunky hipster glasses, cocktail-hop down Ballard Ave.

When reporter Leslie Helm (editor of Seattle mag’s sister publication, Seattle Business) began the process of adopting a Japanese baby in 1991, he had no idea that his quest to have children would lead to an intimate acquaintance with his forebears.

A short drive from Eatonville, Washington, dozens of certifiably adorable La Mancha and Nigerian dwarf goats browse on fir, thistle, blackberry brambles and salal—all watched over by a pair of llamas and Mount Rainier.

With ancient roots winding from the Iberian Peninsula through most of Latin America, these warm and gooey combinations of meat, cheese, veggies and/or fruit in a fried or baked dough pocket have long been favored by laborers, travelers and traders—and now Seattleites—for their tasty portability. 

A millworker’s discovery of shiny trace metals in the Sierra foothills set off the California Gold Rush in 1848. Within a year, the territory was crawling with wildcat gold miners known as forty-niners.

I like to use St. Patrick’s Day as my annual excuse to eat corned beef with abandon. I braise my own every year, with plenty of cabbage and extra pickle spice. But if that sounds like too much work, may I recommend the aptly named Mountain Sandwich from Delicatus.

In this age of Instagram and countless other image enhancers, spend some time celebrating the sheer power of black-and-white photography

Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows

Risky Business
This season is packed with strong leading women who take big chances. See for yourself, and decide if you’d rather follow their lead or learn from their mistakes.

While we wait (and wait) for spring to arrive, Seattleites head east for blue vistas and shimmering snowfields; plunging into all that mood-lifting whiteness on sleds, snowshoes, skis and, now, on so-called fat bicycles.

You could say Dan Kraus takes his extracurricular pursuits above and beyond. Roughly twice a week, the Everett-based arborist dons a harness and climbs way up—as high as 120 feet—in trees from SeaTac to Sultan, saving terrified cats that have far exceeded their comfort zone.

To walk the streets of South Lake Union (SLU) is to be bathed in the thrilling glimmer of new construction and the hum of global biotech and software engines, interspersed with echoes of its maritime past.

But does the neighborhood have a soul?

In this issue of Northwest Home, we turn our focus to storage-smart furnishings—including a hiding-something coffee table—that will help put houses of any size into stylish order.

In a city celebrated for its distinct enclaves steeped in neighborhood pride, it’s a tricky proposition selecting The Best. After all, choosing a place to live is an exercise in juggling priorities—affordability, schools, safety, housing, yards, amenities, walkability, views, accessibility—that change over an individual’s lifetime.

Newcomers to Seattle love the variety of neighborhoods. We’re a counterpane of livable places with modest and grand homes often tucked together in a green and pleasant landscape. It’s a residential smorgasbord of cultures, home styles and enclaves, from houseboats to high-rises, bungalows to classic boxes. But that excitement of choice wasn’t always there for everyone.

Arts and culture editor Brangien Davis picks the top shows coming to Seattle this spring. Get recommendations for shows, performances, readings and more, featuring rebooted classics, empowered leading ladies and inventive new takes on old favorites. Follow the links for detailed listings in each of the following categories:

It’s rumored that Danish poet and paper-cutting artist Hans Christian Andersen always kept a small pair of scissors on his person, just in case he was suddenly struck by the urge to snip out a scene.

Saying Joyce Carol Oates has a new novel out (Daddy Love, a riveting story of child abduction) is like saying a Kardashian made the cover of People magazine. She’s phenomenally prolific, but Oates also happens to be tremendously skilled at crafting compelling stories.

LA Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema

You could say Seattle is heading into a season of self-reflection. Come this spring, two new gigantic outdoor video screens positioned in prominent locations will project likenesses of our city—its weather, its landscape, its people and culture—via a stream of moving images.

Dateline: Paris, 1913. Russian composer Igor Stravinsky debuts his orchestral ballet The Rite of Spring (with choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky) to a packed and eagerly awaiting house at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.

Hey Marseilles
Lines We Trace
Sound: Charming alt-folk chamber pop
Of note: Album release party at Showbox at the Market (3/1)

A growing distilling scene like ours in Washington goes through a series of stages. First, everyone’s excited about what might become available. Next, the clear spirits show up, the gins and vodkas, followed by the darker numbers, the brandies, liqueurs and whiskeys. After that, though, the individual distilleries personalities really begin to shine.

“I’ve never thought of myself as an art collector before,” Frances McCue says, with excitement. A poet, McCue considers herself more of the literary type, having served as founding director (1996–2006) of the Richard Hugo House writing center and currently teaching writing and literature to undergraduates as writer-in-residence at University of Washington.

My neighborhood, Wedgwood, never tops any best-neighborhoods lists. And even as loyalty prompted me to make a case for it while we planned this story, I knew couldn’t offer convincing evidence that this modest northeast swath, developed as part of the post–World War II housing boom, has it all.