Seattle is full of beautiful, quirky, begging-to-be-explored neighborhoods, and I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t spent quality time in half of them. The dread of driving and finding parking has always been a big deterrent (bad excuse, I know). Well, all that changes now! I’m going to be a tourist in my own city – outside of the typical tourist areas. That means exploring the shops, restaurants and landmarks in a new neighborhood each month in a new series called “An Afternoon In…” I’ll tell you how I got there and what I discovered when I arrived. The best part, it doesn’t require a big day trip or any planning, just a couple hours of free time.
Queen Anne is right next door to South Lake Union where I live. It’s also one of the oldest and most scenic neighborhoods in Seattle with plenty of parks, restaurants and shops to get lost in. I spent my afternoon wandering along Queen Anne Ave. N at the top of the hill. It’s an easy drive from my place. (I’m easing in to this adventure!) The main street and side streets are lined with plentiful parking spaces, but most are angled, so get ready back in. I found a space easily on a Tuesday afternoon. It might be more difficult during prime hours.
1. My afternoon was caffeinated courtesy of Le Reve French Bakery, which sits in the middle of the strip. This quaint cafe appears to be a house that was converted into a bakery. Yes, I want to live here. I’ll take the closet space!
Le Reve is french for “The Dream” and I’m still dreaming about the decadent pastry display that greets you through the front door. Jeweled cakes, twice baked almond croissants, and beautifully decorated seasonal pumpkin tarts are just a few of the treasures to choose from.
I treated myself to a cappuccino and a spinach & feta croissant. They also have Breakfast and Lunch Menus featuring freshly made quiche, sandwiches, crepes and other French favorites.
2. Next door, I found my new favorite locally owned, independent book store in Seattle, Queen Anne Book Company. I probably spent 45 minutes browsing in here. I love that the staff leaves little notes all around the shop with descriptions of the books and recommendations. It got me interested in books that I never would have bothered to lay a finger on! It’s worth the trip to support this local store. Now I just have to carve out some time to dig in to my fall book list!
3. Kitty corner to the book shop is El Diablo Coffee. If French fare isn’t your thing, try out this Cuban-style cafe and coffee bar. The coffee menu includes Cubanos, Cafe Con Leches, and Mexican Mochas. The food looks amazing, too. Empanadas, Cuban sandwiches and pulled pork burritos… my stomach isn’t big enough!
4. Shiny things always catch my eye: diamonds, gold earrings… and rows of big, silver drums filled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar! I couldn’t resist peeking my nose into the Queen Anne Olive Oil Company. I am one of those people who live for olive oil tastings almost as much as wine tastings… almost. This Queen Anne shop has a multitude of flavors to try until you find the one that speaks to your taste buds… and the evening’s dinner menu. Black Truffle, Blood Orange, Lemon, Garlic, Red Cayenne Chile… it might be hard to choose just one!