March 2011

Best Neighborhoods

From this Issue

Adventurous eaters need not stray far from home for a unique meal. Just step outside. It’s springtime, and the eatin’ is easy.

The weather might not be making a terribly convincing show of spring just yet, but the local arts scene is abloom with vibrant events. Visualize: head-to-toe hairy soundsuits, nirvana for Nirvana fans and an extremely engaging stuffed goat (trust us). Plus new arts venues and locally crafted dance, theater, film, music and visual arts aplenty.

Seattle has long been a mecca for outdoorsy people and technical innovation, so it follows that some of the leading outdoor clothing and gear manufacturers in the world have set up shop here. Chances are good that many items in your gear closet were designed and possibly even manufactured within a few miles of home.

West Seattle Triangle
Bordered by Fauntleroy Way SW, 35th Avenue SW and SW Alaska Street

PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE: Well-groomed urban sophisticates

The Brigadoon of Seattle neighborhoods, Madrona has a habit of appearing and disappearing from our memory radar, but it never fails to charm with the quaint-village perfection of an MGM musical.

PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE: Arty singles and employed beatniks

Bike-riding, Berkeley-style globalistas

PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE: Indie traditionalists

PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE: Modern Family-style broods and kid-free yuppies

What happens when a mild, buttery Camembert and a strong, pungent Gorgonzola join forces? They create Cambozola, which makes a dip-tastic fondue. Pair’s version is accompanied by pear, apple and crostini pieces begging to be dunked. $9. Ravenna/U District, 5501 30th Ave. NE; 206.526.7655;

Madison Park, long marooned at the farthest reaches of E Madison Street with just ice cream, burgers and pub food to stave off its residents’ hunger pangs, is in the midst of a culinary rebirth.

As a psychology major in college, I studied expectations. How both low and high expectations can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. Part of my job as a restaurant critic is assessing what kind of potential a place has, and then judging whether it lives up to that potential.

PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE: Tech-savvy, young professionals

Neighborhoods are like family members. They all have distinct personalities. Some may evince a casually cool charm, while others have a decidedly dynamic vibe. The best offer up their own compelling mix of restaurants and retail, sundries and services, daytime and nighttime diversion options.

Seattle is a city rich with vibrant neighborhoods, but what we are especially in love with lately are micro-neighborhoods, those pockets of a few blocks here and there that pop up, sporting a cute shop, a tasty bakery, a new eatery and maybe a wine shop, making you swell with pride—and hope that the real estate values will be rising if it’s near your home.

If you took a history textbook, injected it with tiger adrenaline, dipped it in molten lava and encased it in armor, you still wouldn’t come close to the level of badass found in Seattle author Ben Thompson’s collections of essays.

STEP 1: Get out of the house

Harmoniously fusing Seattle’s love for cycling and its penchant for DIY undertakings, Scenic Drive E. Pike Factory (611 E Pike St.; 206.300.8799; is best described as a cycling paraphernalia workspace.

WHERE: Tofino, Vancouver Island, B.C., for the 25th Annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival (3/19–3/27;

Critics seem helplessly drawn to hyperbole when it comes to reviewing Nathan Myhrvold’s new encyclopedia of cooking, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking ($625;

WHY WE LOVE HER LOOK: When dance teacher Kuperman first fell in love with social dancing more than two decades ago, she quickly grew even more enamored of the period vintage clothing worn on the dance floor.

There’s really no better place to meet friends for brunch than at the Boat Street Cafe & Kitchen, which is tucked away on the far reaches of Belltown near the foot of Queen Anne Avenue North.

Woodward Canyon’s Rick Small. Leonetti Cellar’s Gary Figgins. Andrew Will’s Chris Camarda. These accomplished winemakers started small, making wine on the side in garages and basements, while keeping their day jobs.

Four hundred and fifty people cheered as Seattle businessman Steven Goldfarb, president of Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler, swiveled, spun and salsa-ed across the floor at Fremont Studios. Dressed in a form-fitting, sequined costume, Goldfarb was competing in Seattle Dances!, Plymouth Housing Group’s March 2010 fundraiser patterned after television’s popular Dancing with the Stars.

It’s a matchup that may seem as unlikely as, say, Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi, but both sides insist it’s a good fit: a collaborative study between Bastyr University and the University of Washington on how an extract from a mushroom common to forests around the world can help heal breast and prostate cancer patients.

Russell Dickerson III says junior high school and high school were the worst six years of his life. Many of us might say the same thing, but our reasons probably pale in comparison to his.

When Alexis Oltman, a Web developer from Tacoma, returned home from a four-month trip to Argentina in 2005, she not only brought back her very own Argentine chef boyfriend, Leandro Torres, she also managed to transport his drool-worthy baked empanada recipe to her West Coast kitchen.

Dan Cowan (owner of Tractor Tavern) and Patti Bellafato (previously of Saltoro) teamed up to take over the former Tiger Tail space in Ballard. In December, they opened The Blue Glass (704 NW 65th St.; 206.420.1631;, a casual but chic restaurant and bar named after a Picasso painting.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct has suffered a great many accusations during its hulking life: It’s an eyesore, it blocks views of the sound, it drops large cement chunks of itself onto sidewalks without notice and, most chillingly, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

There has been much debate in recent months about the proposal to allow giant, illuminated corporate signs atop some of Seattle’s skyscrapers. Proponents have argued that it’s no big deal. Seattle is a commercial center, so why hide it? Opponents have said the skyline is a precious resource, why tart it up with glowing logos against the backdrop of Mount Rainier?

At the warm, brine-scented Northwest Fisheries Science Laboratory (NFSL) in Montlake, soft-spoken biologist Paul McElhany and a team of scientists immerse geoduck larvae in a multitude of saltwater baths. The water, trucked in from Elliott Bay and another fisheries lab in Mukilteo, starts as the usual toe-numbing Puget Sound soup.