NFT Seattle Pioneer Square / SoDo

Pioneer Square / SoDo

Essentials
As the city's oldest neighborhood, there's a mystique about Pioneer Square, the nation's original "Skid Road" where the early settlers toiled through harsh conditions. Today, Pioneer Square entertains a tenuous mix of tourists, art galleries, and frat bars around its community living room, Occidental Square. Start your day at Grand Central Bakery for homemade pastries.

Sundries/Entertainment
It has old-fashioned charm in spades, even if it's hidden under the grimy veil of homelessness, petty crime, and drunken revelers. It's also a refuge for men's men seeking cheap booze and thrills at bars like Central Saloon, while Mariners and Seahawks fans crowd into Triangle Pub. Meanwhile, Matt Dillon classes things up at See more.

>Bar Sajor and foodies flock to Salumi to indulge in heavenly pork products. Rain Shadow Meats Squared is the quintessential Northwest meat emporium with a deli so that you don't have to wait till you get home to chow down.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Vinyl Ain't Final

By Gawel Feliga
Gawel Feliga knows a thing or two about scoring crack but that doesn't mean he was prepared for the multifarious record stores of Seattle. A green, wide-eyed street urchin the day he entered the unending aisles of 45s, turntables and 99 cent CDs, he left those life-changing places a grown fatigued man with a taste for cigarillos and long, weary stares. Gawel had anticipated recreational drug use, but he never expected to be moved by the music.

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On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Qwest Field
Scarves up Seattle. We have a new game in town that draws sell out crowds, comes with its own marching band, and showers the supporters in confetti. No, it isn't drag queen softball. I'm talking about soccer and the Sounders, our new MLS team. The unbelievable atmosphere created by the fans and the fast paced nature of the game is what sets the Sounders apart from the snoozefest of Seattle's other pro sports teams. We've caught footie fever in a big way and you can't go anywhere without seeing Sounders flags, posters, t-shirts, or scarves. Many ladies of my acquaintance have caught Freddie fever. Freddie Ljungberg that is, the former Arsenal player and star of the team. With 22,000 season ticket holders and four months of sold out home games, you better plan way ahead if you want to get a piece of this action.



Posted By:  Barrie Arliss
Photo:  Barrie Arliss

Salumi Artisan Cured Meats
You know when you're asked the question, What would your last meal be? You should answer, without a doubt in your mind, "A meatball sandwich with fresh mozzarella and peppers, smothered in garlicky sauce from Salumi." Sure, people complain about the 20-minute line outside the door, but I personally think it creates an energy that makes ordering and eating that delicious meaty masterpiece even more exciting. Be prepared to have two sandwiches in mind, as usually your first choice will have been sold out hours ago. I've been trying to get the Cured Tongue for 3 years now with no luck, hence my addiction to their meatball sandwich. With this particular sammie, the bread is thick and crusty. The meatballs are big and if you have a knife I highly suggest cutting those bad boys up before you dig in. Because losing a meatball is a catastrophe. Everyone around you will gasp, wondering if you should use the 10-second rule. And if it's your last meal, then go ahead and eat that slimy meatball covered in bum piss. I won't tell a soul.



Posted By:  Barrie Arliss
Photo:  Barrie Arliss

Green Leaf Vietnamese Restaurant
Pho is pho is pho, right? Wrong. There's good pho and then there's mediocre pho. Luckily for me, Green Leaf is the best (rare brisket) pho I've had. And this is coming from someone who didn't even know what pho was until I moved to Seattle. But Green Leaf doesn't just do pho right. It does everything right. Even their 3-bean dessert, which you wouldn't think would be sweet since it sounds like a pre-dinner salad, was surprisingly a yummy treat. Their spring rolls were so fresh and their sauces seemed like they might've even been made them from scratch. Okay, maybe they weren't made by grandma, but at this point I'm living in some Vietnamese paradise and I've fallen in love. Plus, to top it off, the food is cheap! With lots of leftovers and a meal better and less expensive than any new frou frou fusion nonsense that keeps opening every other second, Green Leaf gives me exactly what I want. Simple, good, cheap, fresh food. And you can't really ask for anything more than that.



Posted By:  Barrie Arliss
Photo:  Barrie Arliss

Tacos Pihuamo Mexican Food
You know when you have some kind of magnetic force for finding treasures or always showing up to closed restaurants? Well, mine is discovering taco trucks. I came across the world's best Taco Truck when I was on my way to Stevens Pass some time ago. And sure, if you're in Seattle then you can go to Rancho Bravo. But if you did a side-by-side taco truck off, Tacos Pihuamo would kick the Wallingford hot spot in the cojones. Have your choice of cheek, tongue, tripe and all the basics meats in your simply delicious taco. The hot chocolate is purely Mexican and very sweet. The sauces on the chicken are perfectly saucy, and the tripe is freshly fried. With a wide variety of Mexican treats and lots of Mexicans waiting in line, this place is as real as crossing the border and getting your car highjacked in Tijuana.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Temple Billiards
As a general rule, I'd avoid Pioneer Square like the plague on a Friday or Saturday. Or any drinking holiday for that matter. But if you're looking for a good time on a weeknight, and a good time for you includes shooting a little stick, Temple Billiards has got what you're looking for. They rent their numerous tables by the hour and weeknights. Weekdays are even cheaper if you don't have a lot going on in the employment department. Refuel with an above-average pizza or sandwich. Among the usual suspects is the to-die for Lil' Mama pizza (pepperoncinis, Hungarian pickled peppers and mozzarella). They are big enough to share but you might not want to. Wash it down (as you do) with a pitcher of microbrew. If you want the place to yourself, reserve pool tables for private events or rent the downstairs lounge and utilize the DJ booth. On a weeknight, however, there's not a lot of competition if you've got a large group out for an impromptu gathering or for blowing off steam after a hard day's work. Go ahead, and imagine your boss's face on that cue ball. I won't tell.



Posted By:  Ingrid Mattson
Photo:  Ingrid Mattson

Collins Pub
I've reliably come to this bar/pub for the past two years--once a month--to meet with a small group of friends. The food, staff, and beverage selection have always been fine--you know, nothing to write home about but on the average well-suited for a group of 6–8 people who want a relatively quiet place to meet, perhaps eat, and definitely drink. Lately, however, the place feels too "cool" for me. The wait staff is far less attentive, as though a group of five or more who maybe just want a cocktail or beer (isn't the word 'pub' in the name of the place for pete's sake?) is far too much trouble for the meager tip they expect to receive. And really, haven't we seen enough menus with the unimaginative hummus, burgers, and artichoke dip to last a lifetime? Don't get me wrong--sometimes you don't want the unexpected. The same ol' thing is comforting after all. But if you've already got your favorite place for that same ol' thing, stick with it.



Posted By:  Ingrid Mattson
Photo:  Ingrid Mattson

Safeco Field
No one likes being a loser. Paying a lot of money to be a loser is even worse, as I can attest having recently paid almost $100 for two bad seats at a Mariners game, two beers, one order of clams and chips, and parking. The Ms are at the bottom of the barrel in the American League, Seattle weather is in the frigid 50s, and even bad seats (a mere eight rows from the roof) run you about $25 a pop. The least the team could do to assuage the agony of yet another disappointing season is cut ticket prices. I know, I know--they have to pay for the stadium we all wanted. And, sure, I could've cut my financial losses a bit by taking the bus, but during ball games, the folks at Metro Transit cut--yes cut--routes resulting in a tenfold wait for a bus to leave the game. Granted, the Ichiroll received rave reviews in the NY Times article on baseball stadium food, but really! This is Seattle. Good sushi is plentiful without having to fork over a small financial investment to enjoy it. Save yourself some cash and heartache by grabbing a local brew across the street at Pyramid and watching the game on TV. The season plows on interminably through September should you still want to buy tickets.



Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Safeco Field
The Mariners may have the one of the worst records in the major leagues but that isn't the only bar being dropped--a recent match up between the M's and the Texas Rangers set a record for all-time lowest ticket sales at Safeco Field. OK sure, the Mariner Moose may be a lame mascot (pretty sure the Toronto Blue Jay could kick his ass), they can't hit the ball out of the infield most games, and I don't see the mojo risin' anytime soon, but they need us. Remember when we made them play in a shithole like the Kingdome on artificial turf? They didn't complain. Get it together Seattle and head to SODO this summer. There are worse ways to enjoy one of our rare sunny days than in the outfield bleachers of our gorgeous stadium. They might even win--they pulled out two wins against the Red Sox recently proving anything is possible. One of those was in the bottom of the ninth inning so don't go streaming toward the exit with the other sheep just because we're down but not necessarily out.



Posted By:  Sarah Sluis
Photo:  Sarah Sluis

The Underground Tour
You know how your relatives come to town and you get roped into doing lame things with them? The Underground Tour solves this problem by creating a tour featuring the parts of Seattle that everyone, literally, cannot see because they are underground. The tour guides take you through dark and damp (and allergy-inducing) rooms. The rooms aren’t much, but the tour guides infuse them with stories of prostitution, illegal activity, bank robberies, sewage, and death. How’s that for fun with the family? This anecdote alone was worth the price of admission: In the 1900s, Seattleites used an elevated log as a sewage pipe, which would not only drip on people, but also wash their filth back into the city during high tide. Instead of fixing the whole walking-in-your-own-filth problem, high tide became front page news. So impress your friends and visitors, and go on the underground tour.



Posted By:  Sarah Sluis
Photo:  Sarah Sluis

Cowgirls Inc.
Cowgirls is the kind of place everyone needs to go at least once. Coyote Ugly-meets-Saddle Ranch, most self-respecting girls would go running for the exit. I was not one of them. The permanent half-price drinks for women soon make the atmosphere of the bar more hilarious than disturbing, and, if it’s a busy night, the drunk girls will get all lipstick feminism and dance on the bar with the equally scantily-dressed bartenders. Boys are not allowed to dance up high, as my guy friend learned when he tried to dance on a platform with my friend and was quickly dethroned by a security guard. There’s also a mechanical bull, where you have the chance either to prove your masculinity (males) or have camera phone pictures taken of you by creepy guys (females). All parties will have suspicious bruises on their inner thighs the next day. Just saying.



Posted By:  Gawel Feliga
Photo:  Gawel Feliga

New Orleans Creole
The New Orleans is a well-aging establishment in the Pioneer Square district. Decent food, good booze and solid jazz and blues music, played live every night. Now optimally, I would have left it at that, but if you really feel like you want to read reviews of places you should already be hanging out, I’ll elaborate. There’s a small stage on the left in the long lounge, covered with tile and wood tables. On the right is a portal leading to a heavy wood bar and a few more tables. Earlier in the day, you’ll find the regulars here. Having one too many. Chattering at the bartenders. As the sky darkens outside, the place gets livelier, more lights go on and the conversations begin to layer with dining noises. The band sets up. A wrinkled bachelorette in a leopard-print top goes out to smoke. A well-groomed, middle-aged couple finds a table near the bathrooms. A cascade of gruff and cackling laughter erupts from the bar. The trombone player slides into a falling note and the rest of the band jump in evenly, straight into an upbeat ragtime melody.



Posted By:  Gawel Feliga
Photo:  Gawel Feliga

Don’t bring your kids in here unless you’re ready to spend some money. In fact, if you’re broke or in a hurry, don’t go in at all. If you think you’re “all grown up,” I dare you to. This busy toy store in Pioneer Square is filled with kooky gadgets that light up, spin, twirl, bounce, and go “boing.” And if you don’t like things that go “boing,” I’m sure you’ll be able to find something that provides your favorite sound effect. If you don’t want to buy batteries, there are puzzles, stuffed animals, dolls (boy dolls too—uh, I mean action figures), toy cars and trucks, board games, balls, frisbees, books, magic tricks, yo-yos...You get the idea. If you’re not throwing things or trying to stuff them into your pockets, chances are nobody here is going to tell you “not to touch that” and you’ll probably have fun, which will result in the purchase of something hilariously useless (like a talking “Mister Rogers in Your Pocket” keychain). Resisting further temptation I paid for my new toy, dodged the battery-operated balls rolling dazily on the carpet, and headed for the exit, reminding myself that I should probably fill up my car before I get a $40 Muppet chess set.




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