Although it's been surpassed as an eating and drinking destination by Pike-Pine, and portions of it have been snarled by light rail/streetcar construction for years, Broadway -- specifically, the stretch celebrated in Sir Mix-a-Lot's famous song (from Seattle Central College to around Roy, where the infamous Taco Bell used to be) -- is still Seattle's most iconic street.
It's packed with bars and restaurants, new condos, boutiques you're probably too old/not cool enough to shop in, and a bunch of other places. Anyway, now that the light rail station is finally finished, it's time your posse hit Broadway. Here’s where to go:
Where to drink
Opened by the women behind nearby Montana (one of whom is also behind Seattle's favorite ginger beer brand, Rachel’s), Nacho Borracho is one of the few (though strangely one of only two on this list) places in Seattle where you can get frozen cocktails, like a passion fruit margarita, or a pink guava Moscow mule. They also have a handful of cocktails and beers on tap, all in a brick-heavy space festooned with colorful south-of-the-border inspired decor, and fitted with a walk-up window cut into a corrugated metal wall from which street food operation Neon Taco is serving a selection of Mexican bites.
The best place for hiding a witness is obviously out in Amish country with Harrison Ford. But the best place for a bar called Witness is the former Five Fish Bistro space (now featuring frosted-glass windows that are meant to evoke a church, and booths built with 102-year-old pews). That's where a Knee High Stocking Co. bartender is serving seriously delicious Southern eats -- probably the best on the Hill, now that Kingfish Cafe is gone -- and plenty of creative craft cocktails.
What makes this place so special? Well, for starters, it's one of Seattle's most beautiful bars; it has a really cool lady bartender you should know; and it was the best new cocktail bar in the city last year. Basically, it's one of the best places to get a drink on any street in Seattle.
This dive is the north Broadway outpost of Linda Derschang's ever-growing booze empire. It’s presumably called Bait Shop because you'll end up hooked on its tropical drinks (is this thing on?). Or, more likely, because of the nautical motif, or whatever. Inside, it manages to feel like it was there back when Pike-Pine was just a wasteland of failed car dealerships, but without all the yuckiness associated with places that are actually old (it opened in 2013). If you're savvy, a whole mess of fried food options like fish & chips, crab fritters, etc., along with a few of their inventive cocktails, are being served inside -- a couple of which, yes, are frozen.
Where to eat
You won't find it in most guides to Seattle's best sushi, but you will find this no-frills fish spot -- with a double handful of small tables scattered around -- almost always full of locals who come for fresh sushi that's just a little cheaper than Cap Hill's other raw seafood joints. You'll also find a little piece of Seattle history, since Ha Na's been posted up in the idiosyncratic Broadway Alley building since before there were any other areas to go out in on the Hill.
After rising to fame as the chef at The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Jerry Traunfeld has made an art of Indian-inspired dishes using Northwest ingredients at this warmly colored, and warmly staffed, subcontinental restaurant. The pro move here is to try one of the daily Thalis, which for less than $30 will get you a half-dozen constantly changing delicacies, not to mention the best naan in the city.
Jerry Traunfeld’s back, baby! This time we’re talking about his latest project: a Sichaun spot he opened right next door to the aforementioned Poppy. The dishes range from steamed buns filled with braised beef tendon, to steaming bowls of buckwheat noodles, and mains like Ma Po Doufu, a stew made with pork, douban jiang(?!), and tofu... which, in this instance, actually tastes good.
Where to get dessert
This can't-miss first date spot seems like it's been on Broadway forever, but that's because from 1975 to 2008, this local chocolate producer’s flagship location was also on Broadway, just a couple blocks away. The newer version boasts the same mochas/desserts as the old places, but has added a full menu and a sleek martini bar, behind which its pouring indulgent takes on said cocktail, including a Mexican chocolate version; one with hazelnut espresso; and -- presumably in case things aren't getting hot on their own -- a version infused with cayenne pepper.
Where to flaunt clout... and/or get the best burger
If you know anything about Seattle's signature burger joint, then you know that Sir Mix-a-Lot and his posse famously ended their night on Broadway right here. And you probably should too, seeing as how it's the only place on the street open after the bars close (RIP Minnie's!).
Bradley Foster is a former Thrillist editor who still misses Broadway Grill, and gets two Deluxes and two cheeseburgers from Dick's pretty much every time he drives down Broadway.
1. Nacho Borracho & Neon Taco209 Broadway E, Seattle
2. Witness410 Broadway E, Seattle
3. Herb & Bitter Public House516 Broadway E, Seattle
4. Bait Shop606 Broadway E, Seattle
5. Ha Na219 Broadway E, Seattle
6. Poppy622 Broadway E, Seattle
7. Lionhead618 Broadway E, Seattle
8. Dilettante Mocha Café & Chocolate Martini Bar538 Broadway E #100, Seattle
9. Dick's Drive-In115 Broadway E, Seattle
Nacho Borracho (translation: drunk nacho) is a kitschy bar with margaritas -- frozen or on tap, your call -- Tecate tallboys, and a handful of other Mexican drinks to fulfill the "borracho" part of its name. And as for the nachos… housed inside of the bar is Neon Taco, one of acclaimed Chef Monica Dimas’ casual pop-up concepts fueled by her heritage. While you can get carnitas or veggie nachos here (or totchos, that’s right, tater-tot nachos), the menu hones in on authentic Mexican street food… you know, like tacos. Those gleaming tacos are the hand-held heart and soul of the bar, though the carnitas torta was popular enough to launch a counter concept of its own, Tortas Condesa. Let’s just say you’d be hard-pressed to find a better pair than a tequila slushy and some handmade, soft shell-wrapped lengua on Capitol Hill.
Opened in the old Five Fish Bistro space by a former Knee High Stocking Co. bartender, this Capitol Hill boozer uses decorative touches (frosted class windows, booths built with 102yr-old church pews, etc.) to evoke an old-timey church, and serves up a menu stuffed with Southern classics ranging from buttermilk waffles & fried chicken w/ Bourbon maple gravy, to vivid green Mint Juleps.
Italian amari steals the scene at this addition to Broadway’s drinking scene: libations are smart and mature, and the space -- with its dark ceiling and beautiful chandelier -- is impressive, especially the oversized patio with optional covering for those Seattle drizzles. When the weather's nice, enjoy your drink on the oversized patio with a retractable roof that might be one of Seattle's best outdoor drinking spots.
This Cap Hill dive is the north Broadway outpost of Linda Derschang's ever-growing booze empire, and is as direct as they come. Sidle up for a fish sandwich, fish & chips, or a fried chicken sandwich with a cold brew. A whole mess of other fried foods are also available, along with a number of inventive (and even frozen) cocktails.
Almost always full of locals who come for fresh sushi that's just a little cheaper than Cap Hill's other raw seafood joints, Ha Na is a no-frills eatery that also supplies a number of Japanese entrees (think noodle dishes and teriyaki bowls), along with sake and beer. A handful of small tables scattered around makes Ha Na perfect for a casual lunch or dinner.
This warmly colored, and warmly staffed, subcontinental restaurant in Capitol Hill totes Indian-inspired dishes using Northwest ingredients at this. Poppy is also known for its Thali, platters holding a variety of small dishes. Constantly-changing New American dishes served buffet-style? Don't mind if we do.
This upscale, locally-driven spot boasts dishes from the Sichuan Province of China. Expect noodle, vegetable, cold, and hot dishes, all optionally seasoned with the Sichuan peppercorn, a hot and numbing spice specific to this subset of Chinese food.
Although Dilettante Mocha Café & Chocolate Martini Bar has been in operation since 1975, this popular Broadway cafe gracefully moved with the times. And in addition to supplying old favorites (mochas and dessert), Dilettante offers a menu booming with indulgent cocktails, all prepared at the sleek martini bar.
As Seattle's signature burger chain, Dick's feels a bit like a local McDonald's -- it serves a classic lineup of fries, shakes, and burgers, that in true old-school fashion, cannot be altered. Seriously. Whether you order a single cheeseburger (topped with melted American cheese, ketchup, mild mustard) or the deluxe burger (double patties, melted cheese, lettuce, mayonnaise, and pickle relish), no substitutions are allowed at Dick's. It's open until 2am, which makes it a prime spot for those late-night greasy food cravings.