NFT Seattle U District

U District

Essentials
U-Dub boasts an impeccable reputation as a bastion of higher learning--after all, Bruce Lee once studied here. The campus is as charming as enrollment brochures suggest, but the surrounding area is an unlikely collision of thug-lifers, rah-rah collegiate types, meth-damaged street hustlers, and stubborn eccentrics. The U District has been designated an "alcohol impact zone," banning certain types of beverages from package stores, so plan ahead if you need some fortified wine for a sorority party.

Sundries/Entertainment
Kai's makes the best Manhattan in the city, but for serious drinking, head over to Earl's, that place with the black facade and chicken wire instead of windows; during their happy hour, a PINT of well booze is unconsciously cheap. See more.

>The Kraken Bar & Lounge is very metal, very dirty and your best bet on the Ave for avoiding students. Also try the karaoke at Monkey Pub, a beloved dive with the gritty, punk rock vibe.

Thai food reigns supreme, with seemingly dozens of joints on every block varying wildly in quality and price. Thai Tom is worth the long wait for a seat, but check out the slightly less delicious Thai 65 if you're in a hurry. Memo's slings burritos 24/7. Pho Thân Brothers' namesake soup blows away the copious competition. Village Sushi and Blue C Sushi are both dependable--the latter even features one of those silly-but-fun conveyor belt systems.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Thrift Store Chic Amongst the Fleece

By Sarah Sluis
You're poor AND stylish? Then this article is for you. Join Sarah Sluis as she travels around Puget Sound to find the very best thrift stores where you can score everything from polka dotted shoes to vintage jeans by the mile.
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Bicyclists, Boulevards, and Bridges

By Meiwa Chen
Meiwa Chen makes no effort to protect her skull from injury, nor does she wear spandex clothing, but that doesn't mean she's not an avid cyclist. The Seattle bike trails call her name and she cannot turn them down. Join her and an unnamed female friend on a perilous trek from Redmond to Seattle past mobile homes, seaplanes and pesky pedestrians.

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Aaaaaah, For It

By Karen Watson
Little known fact: Too much coffee and very little sun can do major harm to the body. So like all Seattleites, Karen Watson deserves some pampering and primping every so often. Follow Karen on her spa quest across the city and beyond.

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A (Karaoke) Place to Call Home

By Jessica Baxter
Eight years ago Jessica Baxter walked into an empty bar in Seattle to "sing" Daydream Believer in front of 3 friends and 6 wasted, possibly dangerous strangers. She wanted more. Now she's a bona fide karaoke expert.
Read More...

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Nook
Seattle was once known as a granola hippie town. Now, it's all about flour and butter. Following the heels of the pie renaissance, an apprentice of Top Chef's Richard Blais and former Mad Woman/self-taught baker opened up a cafe that specializes in biscuits; REALLY AWESOME biscuits. They're buttery as hell without leaving you feeling like you've just taken a dip in a deep fryer. You can eat them plain, with a variety of gourmet toppings, or in breakfast sandwich form. For lunch, they offer creative warm sandwiches on Grand Central Bakery bread, rotating soup, and customizable grilled cheese with twelve options. Weekends, they do a biscuit brunch. The selection includes poutine biscuits and strawberry shortcake. I'll let that sink in... Nook is as cozy and adorable as the name suggests. Owls and Mason jars abound. Small booths line the left wall and there are smaller booths by the window. It's like eating in your hipster grandma's kitchen. The downside is the limited hours (Tue-Fri 8 am-5 pm; Sat 8 am-2 pm, Sun 10 am-3 pm). Fortunately, they have plans to extend them through dinner. They've also applied for a liquor license. Good thinking. Maybe all this extra fat will help us get through the endless winter.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

The Piecycle
This is the tale of the young pie maker named Max. Max baked the finest dessert pies in all the land. He made fruit pies and chocolate pies, lemon meringue and coconut cream. Once he turned a whole other dessert (S'mores) into a pie. Somehow he could even make a butter crust without any butter at all! Folks speculated about how somebody so young could craft a pie better than the most seasoned of grandmothers. Was it a deal at the crossroads? Sorcery? Whatever magic was at play, it was not black magic, as Max always used his power for good. Every weekend, after nightfall, he would mount his bicycle and deliver his incredible pies to the U District and surrounding areas until the wee hours. Though his pies were as deep as the ocean and worth their weight in gold, he commanded only $3/slice and $20/pie, a paltry sum for pastry perfection. All who tasted his wares were left in satiated bliss. Guess what, kids! This is no fairy tale. Max the Piecycle Man is real. He even has a Facebook page. And, if you're lucky, he'll come to your town real soon. Now shut up and go to sleep.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Curtsy Bella
These days, you can pretty much buy anything on line. But Curtsy Bella remembers when customer service meant something. If you're in the market for a cute and quirky gift for your engaged friend, your pregnant friend or your girlfriend, 10 minutes of browsing the cleverly arranged displays will yield more viable options than you ever thought possible. Their fanciful inventory includes socks, hats, bags, jewelry, clothing, and plenty of knickknacks you can't live without. They also have a delightfully snarky greeting card selection to help express your sentiments. It's like an upscale Archie McPhee's you're your recipients will actually use the things you buy them. The easily overwhelmed can take advantage of their shopping service. Call or email with a little information and they'll work with you until they find the perfect gift to meet your needs. They'll even gift wrap it (in leopard print paper!) and ship next day or same day by courier. You'll look thoughtful, whimsical and timely. I'd say that you couldn't buy service like that. But you could. At Curtsy Bella.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

I Love New York Deli
I was raised on the East Coast, but I happily moved to Washington for college and never looked back. I'd never really understood all the complaining by New Yorkers about the lack of good delis and bakeries in Seattle. Different places have different things. But then the I Love New York Deli happened. I'd forgotten all about knishes, rugelach, babka, and piles of thinly sliced and cured meats on marble rye. But these guys haven't. And they expertly deliver the goods to jonesing east coast ex-pats. It's like a Seinfeld episode come to life. The staggering knish selection offers both sweet and savory options. They bake their own breads and bagels every morning. There are multiple options for lox and schmear. Breakfast is served daily till 11 and includes a bevy of Kaiser egg sandwiches. At lunch, every enormous, made-to-order sandwich is served with a big, crispy pickle. They also offer a small dry goods selection for those of you missing Stella Doro, Wise chips, and Chock-Full-O-Nuts, plus your typical pre-packaged kosher foods. Though I still love Seattle for its Seattleness, I apparently have plenty of room in my heart for the I Love New York Deli.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Mark Tapio Kines

Portage Bay Café
Maybe it's because students aren't known as early risers that there's a disturbing lack of breakfast options in the U. District. Sure, you can get a coffee and pastry just about anywhere. But what happens when you want some damn French toast? Make it yourself? Fat chance. Fortunately, there's Portage Bay Café. Their sweet breakfast menu includes several types of Challah French toast (double down on the protein) and hearty buckwheat pancakes. Every order includes a trip to the toppings bar where you can smother your organic goodness with fruit, nuts, whipped cream and syrup to your inner child's heart's content. If you're after something a little more savory, they also offer 4 Benedicts and 6 Hashes. Some breakfast items are available all day but you can also move on to sandwiches and salads if you're so inclined. Their organic offerings are a whose who of Seattle heavyweights including Essential Baking Company, Bseecher's Flagship Cheese and Jones Soda. It's never too early (or late) for a mimosa and theirs are fully customizable via their vast juice selection. If you prefer to steer clear of the UD, you can also visit their South Lake Union and Ballard locations. Toppings bar!



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Village Sushi
Foodieism is unquestionably all the rage these days. Hipsters no longer flock to destinations for their on-tap PBR ironic decor, but for their wacky fusion dishes, local cheese selection and exotic meat offerings. Somewhere along the line, tater tots were replaced by foie gras. So that's why it's rather refreshing to find a place that just serves straight up, traditional genre cuisine and does it very well. Village Sushi doesn’t have any cleverly named house rolls. They just have the usual: Unagi, salmon nigiri, cucumber rolls, tempura, and everything you would expect a sushi restaurant to serve. It's not fancy, but it's perfectly executed and damned delicious. It doesn't hurt that they have the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic sake sommelier I've ever met. She'll ask you questions and pick the sake she thinks you'll like the best. She'll offer to let you sample her wares and she won't try to talk you into the pricey stuff. If you like sushi, you will leave Village stuffed and satisfied and you won’t have dropped a lot of coin either. Sure trying new things is fun, but you gotta love the classics!



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Former Location of TUBS
In its glory days, TUBS was spa. A spa enveloped in rumor. These rumors suggested everything from anonymous sex in the secluded hot tubs to a full on prostitution ring. I don't know what, if any of it, was true. I suspect there were some sexual indiscretions in the tubs at one point or another but what hot tub hasn't seen at least one happy ending? And anyway, the speculation was half the fun of Tubs. It was a great conversation piece with a cool exterior. And now it's about to be torn down. In recent months, a group called the Free Sheep Foundation started to paint the outside. Not graffiti but actual art. Really good stuff. The city let them because they were tearing it down anyway. Last Sunday, they held an open house and the artists were there. You could also go inside. Sadly, I encountered no ghostly reach-arounds. Just tons of broke tile and dust. An old TV. More art. I know we have a lot of art spaces in Seattle already but it felt like a waste to just haul it away. On the other hand, the coolest things in this world are only temporary.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Chaco Canyon Organic Café
Many have praised it and I've only been once so I'm guessing Chaco Canyon is pretty hit or miss. For me, it was a huge miss. This is the sort of experience that makes meat and potatoes folks run for the hills. Me, I love organic food. But, while they succeed at stocking organic, local ingredients, they fail epically in the culinary department. The BBQ Seitan sandwich ($10.95) lived up to expectations only in that it was hot. Devoid of BBQ sweetness, it's surprising that something so spicy could be so bland. It also became a soggy mess on the 10-minute walk home. The carrot cake ($5.95) was an affront to desserts. While it resembled one of my all-time favorites from a visual standpoint, the first bite was a shocking disappointment. I couldn't identify the white topping, but it wasn’t frosting. The "cake" was bitter, mealy and raisin-free. The whimsical buttercream carrot on top, in this case an actual carrot, was the only edible part. To add insult to injury, this place ain't cheap. Sure, there's the quinoa "recession bowl" ($3.95). Quinoa is very tasty and chock full of protein but I shudder to think what they've done to it.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Memo's Mexican Food
Late-night Mexican food has long been a college student staple. Nothing soaks up the booze at 2:30 in the morning better than a couple of tacos or a fatty burrito. In my day, we had Taco Bell. But today, the kids have something a whole lot better: Real Mexican food twenty-four hours a day. Memo's is muy authentico and delicioso. You might experience a lot of emotions after enjoying one of their combo meals, but buyer's remorse is not one of them. Their breakfast menu, available all day, features a variety of eggy burritos (steak, ham, bacon, cheese or potato) as well as the classic Huevos Rancheros. From 6-11 am, 3 of those burritos are only $2.99. But the savings don't stop there. 16 combo meals offer massive amounts of food for under $7. Kids eat for $3.50. Gringos might enjoy the Washington Burrito, a behemoth featuring steak, potatoes, salsa and cheese for $4.50. Did I mention taquitos? They have those too. For dessert, try their house-made flan, advertised as "the dessert with all the answers." Run away from The Border and toward Memo''s.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

The Upper Playground
Used to be it was a Portland or San Fran destination. But now Seattle's got our very own Upper Playground. This distinctive clothing store features contemporary graphic design by urban artists on casual apparel. The artists on their roster include Sam Flores, Jeremy Fish, David Choe, Estevan Oriol and Alex Pardee. Printed on high-quality, robust tees and hoodies, these are clothes that will stay with you for the long haul. They'll certainly survive even the most intense urban lifestyle whether it's skateboard wipeouts or DJing a Lohan party. Who couldn't love their t-shirts that incorporate classic metal band logos with the U.P. walrus? Even if t-shirts and hoodies aren't your thing you can still enjoy the clever and unique art in book form and on bags, mugs, pillows, shower curtains and accessories. They also have an art gallery, which occasionally holds shows and openings. At the very least, it's a great place to find your next tattoo idea. Be sure to check out their website for more information about the artists and upcoming gallery shows, plus some pretty funny videos.



Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Cedars on Brooklyn
I first went into Cedars on a whim when I was rushing to get something to eat before seeing a movie at the Neptune. That was five years ago. The cute unassuming walk up window pulled me in. Finding cheap food around the U is easy but the problem is that most of it is shit. Cedars provides enormous portions of garlicy, saucy, yummy Middle Eastern food at great prices. Plus I love any cuisine that tastes even better wrapped in wax paper and eaten on the run. Falafel rolled in flatbread is the Lebanese burrito. The giant sandwiches are all under six bucks, even the Kebob and Gyro stuffed ones. Some of the other Lebanese specialties (lentil soup, Tabouli) are better enjoyed in the small dining room, surrounded by old yellowed travel posters advertising the cultural splendor of Beruit.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Red Light Vintage Clothing
Seattle thrift stores are completely picked over. You have a better chance of getting struck by lightening than of finding a vintage gem at the Goodwill. Thankfully there's the Red Light. The sizes tend to run a little small and ladies who still have all their ribs might have to root around a little. But it's usually worth the effort. The prices are surprisingly reasonable as long as you stick to true vintage. Stay away from the "vintage inspired" rip-off racks of new clothes. The Capitol Hill location is superior to the U.D. in terms of selection. It's also fun to peruse their massive costume room whether or not you have a reason to dress up. Take a minute to peek at the accessory cases containing fun wallets and purses, funky sunglasses and jewelry and seriously badass belt buckles. Whether you're attending a theme party or just like the old timey look, Red Light should be your first stop on your shopping excursion. But try to get your Halloween shopping done early or sharpen your elbows because the last week of October at either Red Light location is a douchy free-for-all.




Posted By:  Ingrid Mattson
Photo:  Ingrid Mattson

Burke Museum Cafe
Perhaps you always dreamed of dating a sexy smart coed but you never went to college. Or perhaps you're having a midlife crisis, approaching 50, and looking for arm candy aged 18-22. Sure, you could go to Paris Hilton-esque club Venom and take your chances, but aren't those places really just cougar dens these days? You could hit up one of the UW libraries, but striking up a conversation with all that shushing may prove difficult. Solution? Head to the Burke Museum coffee shop and take your pick of studious, attractive (in the hot librarian sense) girls. Feel free to play the professor card and work the sensitive intellectual angle. Put on your best J. Crew corduroy jacket with suede elbow patches, muss your hair in a rakish fashion, and read The Odyssey or some Proust. Or go with the disheveled artist look and bring your sketch pad and some charcoal. Given the geographic proximity to the law school, you may just get lucky enough to score a law student and your ticket to financial freedom.




Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Shiga's Imports
I've had a love affair with Hello Kitty since 1976. I was four, she was one. This has really been my only lasting, meaningful relationship. My apartment is a ten-year-old girl's wet dream (imagine that) with HK paraphernalia covering most of the space and HK-emblazoned toast served at breakfast. Besides Uwijimaya, Shiga's Imports is the best place in Seattle to gear up and has contributed heavily to my habit over the years. Besides all the Hello Kitty goodness, this is also a great place to buy a Japanese tea set as a gift for that upcoming wedding you've been forced to attend. UW students love Shiga's for its cheap duvet covers, curtains and wall hangings with which to decorate their dorm rooms. Looking for a gift for the Hindu who has everything? How about a nice likeness of Vishnu? I've got my eye on a nice luck cat.



Posted By:  Gawel Feliga
Photo:  Gawel Feliga

Moksha Clothing and Accessories
I can't readily recall an occasion where I thought it was reasonable to spend $50 on a t-shirt, but I'm sure some of you out there do, or just like the occasional splurge. Moksha is a well-furnished boutique that sells a good selection of designer streetwear, shirts, dresses, shoes--often handmade, limited-edition and short-run type shit. The walls are adorned by stencils and pieces from Seattle's street artists, often covered with framed art. Moksha has pretty regular showings, usually from local artists, so watch their schedules on myspace or whatnot, to mingle with the local hipsters and get some free wine. The staff here usually range from snobby to reserved, so don't expect a bow and fancy greeting when you walk in, but they will help you if asked, to be sure. Sometimes it seems like there's just a group of friends hanging out and you can't tell the patrons from the employees. If you shop here regularly, chances are you'll get a decent discount. Overall an interesting place, where the selection often changes, but not easy on the pocketbook.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Amazing Thai Cuisine
When one Thai restaurant falls, another takes its place. Or so it goes in Sea-Town. Pawinee Thai became the auspiciously titled Amazing Thai Cuisine under new owners, but in this case it was definitely an improvement, rather than a replacement. I was feeling lazy one day and called Pawinee for delivery. Amazing Thai answered, but all I heard was "Thai." I was a couple of dishes into my order before we both realized what had happened. There I was with no menu and a house full of hungry Thai enthusiasts. But the man on the phone was kind enough to suggest things based on what I had wanted to order and still brought it to my door. He also brought me FIVE menus for some reason. But I'm happy to have them. This menu is huge. It's got all the old standby dishes plus a few surprises like the Puff Omelet, Grilled Salmon, Pineapple Curry and something called Ultimate Fried Rice. It's not the best Thai I've ever had, but it's good enough to be called Amazing. And if I don't have to cook or put on pants, that's good enough for me.



Posted By:  Gawel Feliga
Photo:  Gawel Feliga

Burger & Kabob Hut
McDookie's and Crack in the Box make you gag, but you're still fiending for a burger. Something with maybe a touch more flavor and originality. Burger Hut has some interesting offerings. Mind you, this is not a gourmet-burger joint, whatever that means. The place is still greasy and your fries still come in a basket lined with checkered wax paper. But the ingredients of some items on the menu may surprise. Mushrooms, pineapple, veggie burgers... I had a hawaiian burger. Though filling and tasty, it was a bit heavy on the sauce, and much too sweet. Left me feeling a bit uneasy some time after, as well. Hard to say if it was the burger or the full basket of greasy fries that caused it, but I'd still recommend this place over a chain any day. There's no dollar-menu here, of course, unless you want a tiny soda. But when was the last time you had anything resembling real food for a buck or less? Honestly.



Posted By:  Gawel Feliga
Photo:  Gawel Feliga

Zao Noodle Bar
Zao rhymes with Kung Pao and this place is just as authentic. Hopefully, that's not high on your priorities list when you step through these doors. You won't see whole ducks hanging from hooks here. The food here is decent and there's a pretty varied selection. But the flavors are a bit muddled and everything seems overdone or somewhat carelessly put together. The Vietnamese-style seared prawns are delicious, but the rest of the dish is too salty and drenched in a heavy sauce, with too many leafy greens making it eventually unappetizing. The ramen noodles with chicken broth are filling but not satisfying. The rice-paper wraps are an OK starter, the curry's alright--and so it goes. Nothing here is overly expensive or modestly portioned, but nothing is close to perfection either. The servers are usually overly friendly and chipper, even if they hate your guts--as you might expect from a chain restaurant. It can get fairly crowded, with a noise level to match, so don't expect and quiet, leisurely meal here. Actually, you're in the U-Village, so don't expect much of anything.



Posted By:  Gawel Feliga
Photo:  Gawel Feliga

China Village
To raise your food. My bet is that somewhere a balding man, who's set up a desk in a basement, an LLC and has an excellent formula for slightly nonsensical, but catchy (some owners even say lucky!) names, creates the names for Asian restaurants. He often works into the night, catching up with demand, thinking up the great Asia Houses and Pow Changs to fill our strip malls. China Village may have very well have been one of his bland creations. But trust me, this is one of those places where the menu greatly exceeds expectations you may have upon hearing the restaurant's humdrum name. Be sure not to snack before you come here and come with more than one person, so you can order a few items to share. The sizzling rice soup's a great starter. The walnut prawns are heavy, sticky and delicious. The noodle dishes and meat portions are ample and well-executed. Some items are standouts like the moo shu pork with pancakes and some are just decent, like the broccoli beef. Prices for entrees range from $9 up to $19 for some of the seafood dishes.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

It's not necessarily the best option for pizza delivery in the U District. It's a bit greasy for my taste and they go a little too easy on the sauce. That said, I know people who positively swear by Ragazzi pies. Perhaps that is more to do with the fact that they will deliver to you as late as 4am, every day of the week. That means there are only 7 hours a day that one can't have piping hot pizza delivered to them. You can Ragazzi around the clock, if you will. And let's face it; if you need pizza between 4am and 11am, you need to rethink your life. Being that they are conveniently located near a large university, that is a smart as hell business plan. Adding to the convenience is the ability to order on-line and a walk-up window which sells slices. Now if only they would make it easy to turn off the "Candle in the Wind" elevator music on their website.




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