Brunch club resurrected


[Little preface: I found this post hiding in my drafts. Why didn’t I publish it? I have no idea. But even though it’s a year old, it remains true. I still love brunch, and Brunch Club will be a thing! Now, enough meta-posting; onto the real thing!]

It seems to be a theme with me, but whenever it gets nice out I feel inspired to update. Lately something happened of note: I was asked by two friends on separate occasions for brunch recommendations. Shocking! (Okay, not at all shocking. Not even particularly remarkable.) So I went about compiling a list of brunch options for said friends and as I probably should have predicted, I went a little overboard what with the details and number of suggestions. Thankfully my friends did not reply with TL;DR. Anyway, the point of this whole non-story is to say that it occurred to me while writing these ridiculous brunch emails that I should absolutely have a brunch post! Likely this will be a series of posts because the number of restaurants I can write about, combined with my verbose enthusiasm would lead to one ungodly long entry. For all of our sakes I will avoid that.

In that vein, here is the inaugural post in a little series I’m going to call Brunch Club. Inspired in part by an actual occasional brunch club with two good friends that has introduced me to several of my favorite brunch spots.

Who’s hungry?

A perfect NY breakfast.

A perfect NY breakfast.


Okay, let’s start with a neighborhood standard.

Hattie’s Hat
Let me tell you something. Hattie’s is a great place to come when you need a hangover brunch. It’s a kind of dark (without feeling dirty or gross), you don’t feel like you need to impress anyone, and they serve the kind of perfect brunch faves that will sop up all of the weird acid-alcohol heinousness going on in your body.

Hattie's entrance


Recommendation 1: Aunt Harriet’s Country Breakfast. Seriously, this is effing delicious. Biscuits and gravy + two eggs + hash browns + sausage/bacon. You absolutely have to get over the heart attack-inducing factor of this breakfast to enjoy, but sometimes you it’s worth it.

Recommendation 2: Chang’s Migas. I am a sucker for all things mexican or tex-mex, and this totally hits the spot. Eggs loaded up with lots of veggies and cheese, served with black beans on the side. This is obviously not a light breakfast, but as the name implies, brunch is meant to do the duty of two meals and this will do just that!

Go to Hattie’s on a Sunday and you can walk off all of this awesomeness by strolling the Ballard Farmer’s Market!


Ah, the bounty of farmers market season!

A true rite of passage into springtime is upon us: the beginning of farmers’ market season! Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty (PLENTY!) of markets in Seattle that go year-round, but springtime brings us the right feel for the market. Wandering leisurely imagining all the delicious things you could make with the fresh veggies, drooling over that vanilla lavender scone, scoping out an amazing locally-made cheese, and generally enjoying the musicians busking and people watching as the sun shines upon you. Not to mention, we can finally move on from those root vegetables! (I actually don’t have anything against root vegetables.) The point is that farmers markets just feel right in the spring. And although the products can be a bit pricey if you do all of your shopping there, wandering the market to get inspired, see the sights, and eat some free samples is a perfect way to enjoy it.

As I always seem inclined to do, below you’ll find a little list of some of my favorite markets in the Seattle area:

The mother of all markets: Pike’s Place Market

The famous view of the entrance to the market! (Picture courtesy of Pike's Place)

The famous view of the entrance to the market! (Picture courtesy of Pike’s Place)

Pike’s Place is the most famous of all Seattle markets. They boast being open 19 1/2 hours a day, 362 days a year. There are all sorts of crafts, foods, flowers, and restaurants to wander through, and on clear days it gives you one heck of an incredible view of the Olympic Mountains! There are many levels of shops in the market, and as you go farther into the market,  you’re  transported into new worlds of knick-knacks and collectables. Right at the entrance are the famous fishmongers. They really do throw the fish! You’ll also find the very first Starbucks right nearby if that’s your style. Another famous (perhaps, notorious) landmark is the gum wall (I’ll let you find that one for yourselves!). Also, it’s worth noting that the areas surrounding Seattle are famous for producing incredibly beautiful flowers, and amazing bouquets can be purchased at Pike’s for $5 or $10 dollars.

A Pike's bouquet I couldn't help but treat myself to!

A Pike’s bouquet I couldn’t help but treat myself to!

Find it downtown. On Pike St (not a coincidence, of course), right on the water.

My local market: The Ballard Farmers Market
I’m a little biased in favor of this market. It’s not so big as to be overwhelming or overcrowded, but just the right size to host a great number of vendors and entertainment. The Ballard Market is known for its musicians as well as its food! There are buskers (people who play music on the street) there regularly, often playing bluegrass and folk, providing the perfect soundtrack for wandering through the heart of Ballard.

The market closes off the main drag (Ballard Ave.) to cars so pedestrians have the run of the place!

The market closes off the main drag (Ballard Ave.) to cars so pedestrians have the run of the place! (Picture courtesy of Ballard Farmer’s Market)

The market runs year-round on Sundays from 10-3p. There are plenty of free samples and friendliness to be had here, and some great brunch spots if you work up an appetite (try Hattie’s Hat, Senor Moose, or Salmon Bay Cafe). Another sweet (literally) highlight: the mini donuts at the north end of the market. For $3/a half dozen, you don’t end up with too much guilt and it’s easy on the wallet. (And of course it’s insanely tasty!)

Find it in downtown Ballard (on Ballard Ave.), right off the 40, 44, and near the 15 bus lines (among others).

The Fremont Market is like the eclectic aunt of markets. It’s been a mainstay of the Seattle scene since 1990, and is equal parts flea and farmers’ market.

From kitsch to treasure! (Courtesy of the Fremont Sunday Market)

Kitsch or treasure? It’s all in the eye of the beholder. (Courtesy of the Fremont Sunday Market)

The Fremont market runs year-round from 10a-4p on Sundays, right by the canal in downtown Fremont. On sunny days, the views of the canal and the entrance to Lake Union under the Aurora Bridge are pure magic. Plenty of great restaurants and cafes line the nearby streets, perfect for recharging after wandering through the sizable market (up to 150 vendors each Sunday!).

Simply idyllic. View of Lake Union from the Burke Gilman bike trail near the Fremont Market. (Picture courtesy of Matt McGrath)

Simply idyllic. View of Lake Union from the Burke Gilman bike trail near the Fremont Market. (Picture courtesy of Matt McGrath)


There are plenty of other fantastic markets  in the Seattle area (the University District has a great one on Saturdays, the Broadway market in Capitol Hill on Sundays…), the list could go on. I maintain that farmers’ markets are not just a way to get high quality, organic, local (etc. etc.) food. They give you a window into the vibrant culture in Seattle: live music, people watching, products that Seattleites are proud of…. Plus, what a great opportunity to explore new neighborhoods and eat all kinds of delicious free samples (seriously, I sample that Mt. Townsend Creamery Seastack cheese every single time). Yum!

A quick romp in the park(s)! [pt. 1]

This past weekend Seattle chose to remind us how resplendent it can be when the weather cooperates. It seemed as if everyone came out of the woodwork as if emerging from hibernation, and came out to revel in the sun. In honor of such things I thought a post on a few of my favorite of Seattle’s many wonderful parks was apropos! Thus, in that vein and in no particular order, a brief primer on some of Seattle’s best outdoor spaces (part 1!):

1. Golden Gardens
As a Ballard resident I’m a little biased in favor of Golden Gardens (and no. 2, The Locks) as they’re especially nearby, but this park is a gem no matter where you live. Located on the Puget Sound in the northwest of Seattle, Golden Gardens is the perfect place to enjoy phenomenal views of both the Olympic mountains and the sound. I could use many flowery adjectives but I think a picture (or a few) will likely do the job better. (And yes, these pictures are instagrammed but it was only in an attempt to capture how gosh darn beautiful the moments actually were. I swear.)


Specialties: beaches, mountain views, bonfire pits, volleyball nets, lots of cool trails in the adjacent hillside, located on a bike path, plenty of giant logs for perfect lounging, nearby paddle-boarding, & sunsets like so:


Neighborhood: Ballard.

Get there…
…On the bus! There are a few routes that get you pretty close, or allow you to transfer to get all the way there: the 40 and 15 from downtown, the 44 from the University District, and others.
…On bicycle! There are bike lanes and bike paths all through Seattle, including one that goes all the way to Golden Gardens.
…By car! If you have a car you may have to fight for a spot on the loveliest of days, but there are multiple large parking lots, so don’t despair too much.

2. The (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks
Also located in Ballard are the Locks. Now, you may not instinctively think that watching boats traverse from the lake to the sound would be all that exciting, but you would be pretty wrong. It’s really cool! Firstly, the mechanics of raising and lowering giant boats in giant-er volumes of water makes this scientist’s heart swell. Secondly, there are all sorts of other non-boat-related things to do. There is a lovely botanical garden, a cool salmon ladder, and I can personally vouch that it has some great frisbee space. Also, if you’re in a nerdier mood, they have benches-a-plenty which are perfect for an outdoor board game. Yes, I speak from personal experience.


Specialties: boats, awesome mechanics, perfect frisbee fields, botanical gardens, flowering trees, many cute dogs (on leashes), a fish ladder, proximity to some pretty good eats in the heart of Ballard (especially Red Mill burgers and milkshakes! yum.)


(The water level on the two sides of the locks! So cool!)

Neighborhood: Ballard.

Get there…
…By bus! The 40, 44, 15, and others get within walking distance.
…By bike! On the same paved bike trail as golden gardens (the Burke-Gilman)
…By car. There is a parking lot with a rather minimal fee (but free on Sundays!)

3. Volunteer Park
One of the coolest parks in Seattle, in my personal opinion, sits right in the heart of Capitol Hill, which is a wonderfully vibrant, urban-feeling neighborhood east of downtown. One of the first times I came to Seattle a friend took me to Volunteer Park and I was so impressed by how verdant it seemed  even in the middle of winter (mind you, I was coming from a brutal east coast blizzard, but still). In addition to great green space, it has a water tower that affords spectacular views of downtown and the space needle when the weather is clear. It was a particularly blustery day in November when this picture was taken, but seeing the Space Needle over all those trees was awesome.


Another great aspect of Volunteer Park: a great conservatory! The sheer number of varieties of flowers, plants, cacti, and trees they have is impressive. A personal favorite includes a cactus that looks as if it had recently been a scratching post for a sheep.


Specialties: watertower with great views (and acoustics!), a conservatory with furry cacti, lush green space in the middle of the city, the Seattle Asian Art Museum (free on first Thursdays of the month!), a great reservoir, a great nearby cafe.

Neighborhood: Capitol Hill.

Get there…
…by bus! The 43 & 49 (from either downtown or the University District), and the 10 from downtown all take you right there.
…by bike! Once you’re on the hill it’s quite bikeable, but beware of seemingly short distances with steep inclines in this area.
…by foot? Depending on where you’re coming from, this one may be within walking distance.
…by car. There is street parking in and around the park, but it’s likely hard to come by on truly beautiful weekend days.

I know it’s hard to believe there could be even more, but we’re only halfway through my little list of Seattle’s best parks! Stay tuned for part 2…