seattle neighborhood

Neighborhood Guide: Maple Leaf

We may be a bit biased on this post. We do live in Maple Leaf after all. We roam these streets and drink in these bars on the regular, so when we give a recommendation you know it is based on years of experiences. Our little neighborhood isn’t as bustling as some of the other big ones (Ballard, Fremont, etc.), but where we might be smaller, we have some mighty little businesses that make it a great place to come visit!

Maple Leaf Water Tower

Where to Eat

Cloud City Coffee

Nine times out of ten this is the coffee shop we head to in Maple Leaf. They have a wonderful selection for breakfast, lunch, and coffee and have a really genuine and kind feel the second you walk in the door. Also, they have Oatly for your lattes!

Cloud City Coffee

Blue Saucer CAFE 

Another coffee shop in the neighborhood that pulls us in every once in a while is Blue Saucer. And why do you ask? Their bagel sandwiches are To. Die. For. They also do great specials for their coffees. Plus it’s also a little quieter since this is a smaller cafe and some mornings you just can’t beat relaxing with a nice bagel while you do the crossword!

Cafe Javasti

We are lucky that we have so many great coffee shops in the area, and we definitely can’t leave out Cafe Javasti. They have the best selection of crepes you could ask for (sweet and savory!) while serving Olympia’s Batdorf & Bronson Coffee.

The Maple

This neighborhood pub has a great happy hour and is located in a great converted house, so what couldn’t be there to love? While we usually don’t go there for dinner, we love to hit it up for their brunch (mimosas anyone?) or happy hour (burrata + wine specials!). Bonus points for all the outdoor seating and cute garden you can access in the warmer months!

Rainy Art in Maple Leaf

Rainy Art in Maple Leaf

The Shambles

This is a relatively new spot to the neighborhood, but it immediately stole our hearts. They are a butcher, so they source incredible meats from local farmers and they also craft an awesome beer list from local craft breweries. We love getting their meat and cheese boards, sharing one of their amazing sandwiches and getting a side of the crushed potatoes with beers to top it all of. Boom.

Judy Fu's Snappy Dragon

This is probably Maple Leaf's biggest claim to fame. Judy Fu is famous in the city for her delicious dumplings and homemade noodles. This restaurant has won best Chinese in Western Washington by King5 like a million times. Get the dumplings and noodles, plus whatever else catches your eye on the menu - it's Chinese food at its best! The restaurant fills up fast on weeknights and weekends, so if you don't feel like waiting order it to go or for delivery and enjoy at home! 

Flying Squirrel Pizza 

This is our neighborhood pizza joint. Everyone has one, but we think ours is the best. Flying Squirrel has a few locations around Seattle and all of them are equally great, but we frequent this one the most. We always start with the castelvetrano olives and meatballs then move on to any of the pizzas. They source the best meats and veggies so really you can’t go wrong. Their pepperoni is classic, the pulled pork is something different and delicious, and their seasonal specials are always unique, too.

Kona Kitchen

This place is a beloved Hawaiian and Japanese restaurant (owned by film actor Yuji Okumoto!) and has a wonderful family feel. We highly recommend the Katsu Loco, which is a more delicious version of the Loco Moco made with fried rice and a panko breaded chicken thigh. And on the weekends there is karaoke because duh.

Where to Drink

Old 5th Avenue Tavern

The greatest dive bar in the history of dive bars (our blog, our opinion!). It has everything you could want…stiff drinks, cheap food, fun locals, pull tabs, pool, a jukebox, and you can find the owner, Tara, slinging drinks most nights. We love to come on Tuesday for their tacos (2 for $1) that are old school style with Old El Paso hard shells and ground beef like your Mom used to make. Spaghetti Wednesday is in stiff competition where you get a big plate of spaghetti and slices of garlic bread. Can’t.be.beat.

5th Avenue Tavern

Growler Guys

This spot has like 1 million beers. Ok, their website says 60, but we always feel a tad overwhelmed when trying to choose. For those of you who don’t suffer from decision anxiety this place will be beer heaven! They also have good beer food (pizza and wings, duh) and food trucks on site often. We also love keeping tabs on their events - they do a great job of having unique events to bring the community together.

The Reservoir Tavern

Slightly more seedier and smelly than the Old 5th Tavern, this dive bar wins points for its location. It sits right across from the Maple Leaf Park meaning you can easily grab a drink after your Frisbee game. They also have a back patio and pool if you feel up for a bar game, but we highly recommend getting an order of fries, which they make with duck fat and shake with some sort of seasoning that takes them to the next level. Truly the best fries in town.

Things to Do

Maple Leaf Park 

Maple Leaf has an incredible park right smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood and you can’t miss it because it has a ginormous water tower with painted maple leaves right next to it. The park has a paved running track (about .5 mile = 1 lap), some pickleball courts and what is basically the coolest kids playground ever (it has a zipline!). When you visit on a clear day you can see views of downtown Seattle and also Mount Rainier.

Bead World

Okay, so maybe you need to be a jewelry maker to fully appreciate this shop, but even we get joy out of browsing all the cool beads here. They have too many types to count in every style you can possibly imagine. Need a Buddha head bead? They’ve got that. What about sparkly beads? Hundred to choose from. They even offer classes for jewelry making including basic bead stringing all the way up to 3D etching. Check out the full schedule here.

Reckless Video  

We saved the best for last here - Maple Leaf is home to one of the last of the dinosaurs - a real, live, video store. For such a tiny house, they have managed to convert it into a space that holds a crazy amount of movies! If you want to support a local business and have a walk down memory lane we definitely recommend heading to Reckless and hunting for a few videos to watch on a rainy night. Grab some Red Vines on your way out.

The best place to grab a movie in the city of Seattle!

The best place to grab a movie in the city of Seattle!


Alright - come visit us in Maple Leaf and let us know what you think!

10 Hidden Gems in the Green Lake Neighborhood

We had the pleasure of connecting with Sarah Lemmon who runs the Seattle Greenlaker, a great blog that shares all the neighborhood news of Green Lake. Since she is so familiar with the area, we asked her if she would write a follow-up to our Green Lake Neighborhood Guide, and she agreed! Keep reading to discover 10 hidden gems in Greenlake! 

Meet Sarah from the Seattle Greenlaker! 

Meet Sarah from the Seattle Greenlaker! 

For being one of the most popular parks in Seattle, Green Lake and its neighborhood still has several hidden gems that might surprise you. Hi, I’m Sarah from Seattle Greenlaker, and I’m excited to show you some of my favorite things about Green Lake, a place I call home and frequently blog about.

Earlier this summer you probably read the Rain or Shine Guide to Green Lake, which showcases some of the best things to do, eat, and experience around Green Lake. Here’s 10 Green Lake gems you might not know about:

You can do yoga in the middle of Green Lake

Yoga on the lake! Photo courtesy of SUP Yoga Seattle.

Yoga on the lake! Photo courtesy of SUP Yoga Seattle.

Throughout the summer months, SUP Yoga Seattle takes a small group of yogis of various levels and skills out onto the lake with only a paddle board, a tiny anchor, and their own courage. Often the yoga practice takes place on the north side of the lake and after dropping anchor (no seriously, tiny anchors hold the boards in place) the instructor talks you through your yoga practice. Yes, people do fall in occasionally. Yes, your board wobbles. But standing on a board in the middle of the lake gives your mind and body a renewed sense of concentrating just on your practice. Classes often start in May and finish for the season the end of September. Sign up for the classes online and meet at the Green Lake Boat House. 

Seattle’s only honky tonk bar is in Green Lake

Across the street from Green Lake Village, home to PCC Natural markets and some of the newest development in Green Lake is Little Red Hen, Seattle’s live country music honky tonk bar.

Free country dance lessons, courtesy of Mary Ann, occur three nights a week (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday at 8 p.m. if you are interested). Check their calendar for a complete line up of live country music, karaoke, and more.

Green Lake

Internationally renowned table tennis champions play here, and you can too

Green Lake breeds champions of this sport (And it truly is a sport, by the way). Green Lake has sent players across the world to compete in the International championship games. Several times a week, the Green Lake Community Center gym is transformed into a 16 table arena of the “pings and pongs" of back and forth play. Home to Green Lake Table Tennis Club but welcome to newbies, participants drive from all over the state - yes as far as Port Orchard.

Insider tip: Don’t call it ping pong. Just trust us, they don’t like that. But go check this club out. You will have an immediate respect for the sport of table tennis.

Take a pottery class at the Green Lake Community Center

Green Lake Community Center offers pottery classes for all ages from parent and tot classes, teens or adult pottery wheel throwing and more. Classes change seasonally and range in price. For more information, go to the Green Lake Community Center’s website and search for their seasonal brochure of classes.

Find Green Lake’s hidden dog park

Woodland Park Off Leash. Photo by Scott Frostad

Woodland Park Off Leash. Photo by Scott Frostad

It’s likely no surprise that Green Lake is super dog-friendly. But did you know there is also an off leash dog park across the street from Green lake Park? The Woodland Park Off Leash area is a great place for running around with your dog. The one acre park has trails and is tucked between the Lower Woodland Tennis Courts and picnic shelters.

Check out the cutest dogs in Seattle as they parade around Green Lake every Halloween

Corgi Hawloween! Photo by Mike Lemmon

Corgi Hawloween! Photo by Mike Lemmon

While we are talking about dogs, there is one dog event you can’t miss, the annual Corgi Howloween. Every year the corgis march around Green Lake adorned in costumes from ninjas to hot dogs. You can hear the pitter pat (or shuffle shuffle) of the short legged canines as they use their little legs to march around the 2.8 miles of Green Lake path.

Insider tip: the best time to see the dogs is right before they take off for the march at the Green lake Small Craft Center amphitheater/bleachers. The owners often line them up and then they take off around the lake. But they are corgis not Greyhounds, so you can easily snap photos or ogle over their cuteness as they trot on by.

Catch Green Lake all aglow - but only three times a year

Because Green Lake Park Trail is not illuminated at night the crowds tend to dissipate at night. That is, except for three nights a year when honestly, you should be part of those crowds! So mark your calendar now for these special events: Pathway of Lights in December, Hiroshima to Hope in August, and Luminata in September.

Green Lake Pathway of Lights

Green Lake Pathway of Lights

Green Lake Pathway of Lights is one of my favorite times of year. Hundreds of luminaries are placed around the 2.8 mile Green Lake path along with carolers, apple cider, and hot cocoa stations and festive cheer. It’s also part of a huge canned food drive that every year receives loads of food for the homeless.

Lanterns on the lake at Hiroshima to Hope. Photo by Martha Brice.

Lanterns on the lake at Hiroshima to Hope. Photo by Martha Brice.

Hiroshima to Hope honors victims from Hiroshima and nuclear attacks. During the night among music and talks, nearly 2,000 paper lanterns are decorated and one by one lit and set into Green Lake to cast an honorary and mesmerizing glow. An incredibly powerful event that takes place August 6 every year.

Luminata celebrates the last day of summer and coming fall and is always celebrated on the September solstice. The first time we heard this event we had just moved to our house and heard a crazy, but joyous, cacophony of tubas and a mix of instruments coming from the park. We ran over to discover that it was also accompanied by lights and elaborate costumes. The Fremont Arts Council runs this every year.

Eat at Green Lake’s hidden taco truck

This may fall under the category of “you just have to trust us.” There’s a taco truck in Green Lake that has a cult following, but its in a hidden location. If you blink, you will miss it. It’s parked on the north side of the lake off of Aurora on the far end of the Shell station parking lot. Maybe not a huge selling point but El Naranjo has cheap and wonderful tacos, burritos, tortas, and my favorite the sopitos (an open faced taco made with asoft sopito corn shell with meat, cheese, lettuce and avocado inside). You can dine at one of the picnic tables, or do what we do and take it to the park or the wading pool in the summer months. 

Green Lake

Green Lake Loves Gyros (But Here’s The Best One)

You will find there are at least a dozen gyro places in a 2 mile radius around Green Lake. What gives, what's the best one? Our favorite has been in Green Lake since 2010. Mykonos Greek Grill has the tastiest and messiest gyros in town. And if you are extra hungry order their lemon soup. Their phone number is permanently in our phone for takeout orders. (Tell Siri to add their number immediately to your contacts (206) 523-8929).

Find the best dessert at JoDee’s Desserts 

One of the tastiest dessert spots in Green Lake caters to just about any diet. That’s right, JoDee’s Desserts can accommodate vegan, diabetic, gluten free, dairy free - you name it. My cheesecake hating husband says the chocolate cheesecake is one of the tastiest desserts he’d had in a long time - bonus points that you’d never know it’s vegan.

Thanks for letting me share my tips with you. To keep up to date on all things Green Lake be sure to check out Seattle Greenlaker.

Seattle Neighborhood Guide: Greenlake

Greenlake

Sitting about 10 minutes north of downtown Seattle is one of the best (and most popular) urban parks the city has: Greenlake. The lake and its surrounding 2.8 mile track provide a plethora of things to do year round. Now, most of our neighborhood guides tend to focus on places to eat and drink (because let's be honest, we really like to eat and drink), but we have to admit the dining around Greenlake is a little lack-luster. While we do mention a few choice spots, we go to this neighborhood mostly for all the fun activities the lake has to offer! It does get fairly crowded, but that just means the people (and dog) watching gets even better. You never know when you'll run into a Corgi meet-up (yes, they really happen), see someone unicycle by your picnic, or run into the family of turtles that live at the lake. In addition, there are always fun events to keep an eye out for, and we have mentioned our favorites below.

Thing to Do 

Boat rentals from the Boathouse

Boat rentals from the Boathouse

Greenlake Boathouse 

Open from around Memorial Day - Labor Day, the Boathouse has you covered for all your water rental needs. They offer everything from paddle boards, pedal boats, kayaks, and canoes (among other things). There is also a cafe that serves coffee and snacks for a picnic or to enjoy while laying in a water hammock (they rent those too). All rentals are first come, first serve.

Seattle Public Theater at the Bathhouse

The bathhouse is a cute little theater that bring together the community for year-round plays and musicals (check their calendar for events). 

Greenlake Pitch 'N Putt

Greenlake Pitch 'N Putt

Greenlake Pitch 'N Putt

 Let's say your golf game isn't strong, but you want something more challenging than mini-golf (oh who are we kidding, mini-golf is hard!), enter Greenlake Pitch 'N Putt, a perfect 3-par course on the lake for practicing your swing.

Wading Pool

We don't have kids, but if we did, we would take them to the wading pool at Greenlake because nothing is more fun than a pool when you're a kid and this one is pretty cool. It also happens to be conveniently located next to the playground equipment. Get that child an ice cream cone, and you're officially parent of the year. Score!

Hangin' around

Hangin' around

Exercise

The lake offers two paths for your running pleasure. The inner loop is 2.8 miles around while the outer loop is 3.2 miles. There are even running clubs you can join if you need inspiration. As you run, you will also come across some exercise equipment with bars and hoops where you can stop over and stretch, hang, flip, twirl and do whatever else it is you do on this stuff (see Kristina's uncoordinated-adult-ring-swinging in photo). 

Fishing at Greenlake

Fishing

We can not recommend eating any of the fish you catch at Greenlake (for real, we are very unclear about this...we are guessing no), however it IS stocked fully with trout, which makes it a great place for recreational fishing. There are lots of spots to fish along the lake, but we like the dock located close to the Aqua Theater. It makes us feel like we aren't in the city, and it's a great place to set up a chair, pop a cold beer, and wait for the fish to bite. It's a popular spot, so you'll most likely have to share or go early to set-up camp.

Geocaching

This fun, international, hide-and-seek game is HQ'd in Seattle, and Greenlake is definitely a popular spot for hiding these treasures. Download the app and go to town! It's a great way to walk around the lake with a destination in mind. Check out our post on Geocaching 101 if you don't know how to play.

Where to Eat

Bongos

Bongos

This Cuban and Caribbean restaurant is by far THE BEST place to eat at Greenlake. We love it for its laid-back outdoor seating (complete with sand, a tiki bar, and a fire pit -- you'll forget you're on Aurora Ave), delicious food, and colorful building. It's impossible to pick one dish on the menu to recommend as we love them all, but if you are forcing us, start with the The Desi... or Bucco chicken (sorry we can't pick just one, you'll understand once you go).

Kitanda

Located a little off the lake in the Greenlake Village, this is the only place up north we know of where you can get acai bowls. It's a Brazilian coffee shop that also offers special products from Brazil like chocolates and cheese. You can even get acai in bulk to take home.

The light filled space of Shelter

The light filled space of Shelter

Shelter

The food at Shelter is fine, but what we can't get over is the beautiful building with ceiling to floors windows and natural light. It's a beautiful space whether you are there on a sunny day or a rainy day. We recommend going for a cocktail and enjoying the lovely vibe. 

Urban Bakery

Every neighborhood needs a classic sandwich shop, and the Urban Bakery is it for Greenlake. It's your go-to place for coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and soups, and is a perfect place to stop in for lunch after walking the lake.

Zoe Yogurt

Hot days at the lake call for a sweet treat! We love all those yogurt places with the toppings bars because customizing your treat is the best. Zoe yogurt has a bunch of different yogurt flavors available (you can sample them all!) with a wide selection of candy and toppings to choose from. If you're more of a Menchie's fan, there is one of those too in Greenlake Village. Or, if you think yogurt is the worst, you can go classic Ben and Jerry's and stop in at their scoop shop. 

Teddy's Bigger Burgers

Teddy's Bigger Burgers

This burger shop is a Hawaiian based chain, which obviously makes it legit. The burgers are, in fact, bigger and they have a wide range of flavors such as the Volcano Burger (jalapenos, pepper jack, BBQ) or the Kaneohe Burger (garlic burger with bacon, cheddar, avocado). Not a beef eater? No worries! There is also chicken, fish, pork, and veggie options available.

Greenlake Bar & Grill

Green Lake Alehouse or Greenlake Bar & Grill

Neither of these places will blow your socks off, but they get the job done when you need an easy, no-fuss spot to grab food at the lake. Either place is a great spot to grab brunch or your standard pub food and both have a small, but well curated, local beer selection. 

Festivals & Events

Luminata (September)

The Fremont Arts Council (who put on our favorite Summer Solstice Parade) also do a festival to celebrate the Autumn Equinox. The celebration includes a parade around Greenlake complete with music and lighted lanterns. Lanterns are available for sale, and it's a wonderful way to say goodbye to the summer and start embracing the shorter days. 

Hiroshima to Hope (August)

This festival also includes lanterns, but this time they are lit and floated on the lake as a way to honor the victims of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and all victims of war. It's a beautiful, annual tradition with thousands of participants, music, and hope.

The Pathway of Lights ( Photo Source )

The Pathway of Lights (Photo Source)

Pathway of Lights (December)

A Christmas tradition! People come to light the pathway around the lake and share in holiday cheer with music, food, and warm drinks. Bring your own light and lantern to add to the ambiance. 

Greenlake Gobble & Mashed Potato Munch-off (November)

Sure, sure. The 5k around the lake is all fine and dandy. We understand the importance of working off your turkey dinner. BUT we really go for the mashed potato eating contest. You can buy raffle tickets for the opportunity to participate, and trust us, it's harder than it looks (we have known people who have participated), but the amusement is priceless! 

Donut Dash (April)

An annual 5k that ends with eating donuts? No further details needed. SIGN US UP.

Corgi Meet-up (every second Saturday)

Is there a dog cuter than a Corgi? We think not. We LOVE that there is a meet-up for these pups every month at the lake. If you own a Corgi, you should definitely go and participate, and if you're like us and don't, you just go to squeeze them! 

What do you love at Greenlake? It's such a vibrant urban park and there is so much to do! 

Seattle Neighborhood Guide: Tangletown

Tangletown

The Tangletown neighborhood, which is technically part of Wallingford but actually sits much closer to Green Lake, is a tiny neighborhood with a lot to offer. If you have ever tried to navigate the streets around Tangletown it will be fairly obvious how this part of town gets its name. The streets do not follow the standard "grid" pattern and instead are a messy bunch of sideways streets, dead ends, twists and turns. It once took us 30 minutes to find our way out and we actually live by the neighborhood. Okay, fine, maybe it wasn't 30 minutes but it definitely involved pulling over and using Google Maps just to figure out which way was north.

Despite the streets, there are plenty of reasons to head over to Tangletown and check out this cute neighborhood. Here are our recommendations for your visit.

Diggity Dog Hot Dog & Sausage Co.

Diggity Dog Hot Dog & Sausage Co.

Mmmmm...hot dogs. Is there a better lunch than a hot dog? Diggity Dog is a legit spot equipped with top notch meat and a variety of choices. They have everything from your standard all-beef kosher to chicken sausages to specialties such as the "Hot Mess," which features cream cheese, bacon, tomatoes, onion straws, and spicy mayo. Are you a Seattle purist and just want your dog with cream cheese? They have that too.

Diggity Dog
Elysian Brewing Co.

Elysian Brewing has several locations in Seattle and the one in Tangletown is definitely the sleepiest. But a quiet brewery is good for a few things. Quick, attentive service and your choice for seating! Beyond the quiet nature, it's a spot that has all the Elysian beers we love on tap. Our favorite is the Space Dust IPA and Superfuzz Blood Orange Ale. 

Mkt.

Mkt.

Ethan Stowell is a Seattle god in our opinion. We are big fans of his restaurants and we feel so fortunate that he has graced north Seattle with a spot. Fun fact: Mkt. stands for Meridian (the traditional name of the neighborhood), Keystone (the name of the building the restaurant is in) and Tangletown (the current neighborhood name). The restaurant is tiny (and popular) and serves up a menu of fish, meat, pasta, and vegetables all of the quality you are used to from this Seattle chef. It's a perfect date night spot.

Mighty-O Donuts

Mighty-O Donuts

Mighty-O is the only vegan donut shop in the city, and we love this place because they have fun flavors (try chocolate peanut butter or french toast!) and because of their ingredients, manage to be not quite so sweet as your standard donut (which means we can eat more). The fact that they use sustainable and organic products and work hard to create zero waste means you can totally have more than one and not feel guilty. 

Hiroki

Hiroki

Hiroki is a tiny Japanese bakery that basically can do nothing wrong. They have unique savory and sweet pastries with an international flare. We recommend the green tea matcha tiramisu and the orange cinnamon roll, which has the perfect balance of citrus notes and icing without being too sweet.

Leny's Place

Leny's Place

Every neighborhood needs a no-fuss dive bar, and Leny's has you covered. They claim to have the best hamburger in Seattle, and while we probably have to disagree, it IS a really good burger. It's the place to go to watch a game, cure a hangover, get a stiff drink, munch on some tater tots, or simply hide away in a dark corner. They have trivia on Tuesday nights, video games, and pool. Everything you want in a classic dive.

Himalayan Sherpa House

Himalayan Sherpa House

Stuffed naan bread. We repeat, stuffed naan bread. If there is one reason to go to the Sherpa House, this is it! Have you ever even heard of such a thing? The cheese, garlic, and onion stuffed bread does not disappoint, and we could happily order a second round and make that our meal. Of course, then you would be missing out on the momos (Tibetan dumplings), which are spicy and delicious.

Himalayan Sherpa House
Bergundian

This is a go-to spot for pretty much any of your dining needs. Brunch, lunch, dinner or happy hour, they have what you need. Rotating drinks, chicken and waffles, poutine, Wagyu burger, shrimp po'boy...do we need to go on? Did we mention the portions are large to boot? See you there.

Zoka Coffee

Zoka Coffee

This lovely coffee shop only sells coffee that has direct trade with the family of growers that sell high-quality crops. You can find coffees here from all over the world and feel good about drinking them too! They also only sell coffee that scores above an 85 on the coffee scoring scale. We don't understand exactly how that works, but apparently that means it's reeeeeeeeally good. This place gets mega crowded on the weekends (and it's a large space, so that's saying something!), so try and get there early if you want to grab a seat. Otherwise take your coffee to go along with a Mighty-O Donut (see above) and head down to the lake.

Kisaku Sushi

Chef Nakano has been working as a chef for the last 15 years and takes a lot of pride in his neighborhood sushi joint. This straight-forward spot has all of the standards that you know and love as well as chef specials such as spicy oysters, tofu dengaku, and seasonal delicacies. If sushi isn't your thing, they also serve a wide selection of yakisoba dishes.