Ballard continues to boom, with new restaurants, bars and shops still opening on a regular basis, a thriving art walk and farmers’ market, and, of course, the summer Seafood Fest (this year, July 10–11; seafoodfest.org), where the salmon booths pack ’em in like sardines.
All-star Farmers’ Market
The Ballard Farmers’ Market (Ballard Avenue NW between 20th Avenue NW and 22nd Avenue NW; 206.781.6776; fremontmarket.com/ballard) is known for everything from its 5-cent architecture consultations (by John Morefield) to its preponderance of dogs and baby strollers. But the goods are what bring people back again and again every Sunday throughout the year—especially in the summertime. For starters: fresh meat from Olsen Farms, Cape Cleare fish, breads from Tall Grass Bakery, Samish Bay cheese, goose eggs from Sea Breeze Farm, veggies from Full Circle Farm and Foraged & Found, Caveman bars and Billy’s Fourth of July tomatoes. Not to mention some obscurities rarely found on these shores: locally grown spices like saffron and paprika to expand your locavore options. In the summer, the bounty is off the hook, and local musicians from the old-time Americana trio The Tallboys to Chris Ballew of The Presidents of the United States of America have been known to take their turn busking along the bustling sidewalks.
While residents sometimes like to complain about the upscaling of once sleepy Ballard, it’s hard to grumble about the outdoors-ifying of the ’hood’s core shopping district. Where smoky fishermen’s pubs and dark-windowed Scandi bars once dominated the Ballard evening scene, a constellation of restaurants and bars with lively plein air patios now sparkles. The list of al fresco options is lengthy: Volterra (5411 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.789.5100; volterrarestaurant.com), Ocho (2325 NW Market St.; 206.784.0699; ochoballard.com), Hazlewood (2311 NW Market St.; 206.783.0478), La Carta de Oaxaca (5431 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.782.8722; lacartadeoaxaca.com), La Isla (2320 NW Market St.; 206.789.0516; laislaseattle.com) and Matador (2221 NW Market St.; 206.297.2855; matadorseattle.com), to name several. But we love Bastille Café & Bar’s (5307 Ballard Ave NW; 206.453.5014; bastilleseattle.com) expansive deck right on Ballard Avenue, with its très French wrought-iron detailing and ceiling fans—the perfect place for munching a fresh salad (picked from the restaurant’s rooftop garden) or downing a few sparkling French 75s. Those who prefer their patios American style can seek out the back deck at King’s Hardware (5225 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.782.0027; kingsballard.com), which offers a relaxed vibe, 100 percent organic burgers made with Oregon beef, irresistible sweet potato fries and a killer western exposure.
On any given summer day you can spy (or try) windsurfing, sailing, kiteboarding, paddle surfing, kayaking, beach volleyball and chilly saltwater swimming at Ballard’s landmark 87-acre waterfront Golden Gardens Park (seattle.gov/parks). South of Golden Gardens on Seaview Avenue, Surf Ballard (6300 Seaview Ave. NW; 206.726.7