Welcome to 'Stomping Grounds' — a new series where Seattle Refined staff and colleagues take you into their world, either where they grew up or currently live. We want this series to show you all the cool places to eat, things to do and places to go in these lovely cities and towns across the Pacific Northwest, so if you've never been, now you'll know! Today's feature is from our friend and colleague Will Harris, KOMO Promotion Manager and comics guru.
I have been a Seattle resident for 24 years – the first two on Queen Anne and the rest in Belltown. Change can be inspiring, frustrating, and sometimes heartbreaking. Favorite spots and the people that make them unique go away. New places to gather, dine or shop arrive. I have seen a lot of change, seen the pulse and spirit of the city pop, fade, fall, and rise.
Here are some of my favorite places for things and experiences walkable in my neighborhood: Belltown.
How can you be in Seattle yet feel like you’re strolling down a street in Europe? Assaggio Ristorante transports you to an Italian dream. You will enjoy a warm, wonderful experience, from the greeting to the first pour of wine and every bite of each course. Enjoy authentic dishes from Central Italy with fresh pasta and cuisine in a setting and service that just takes you away for a special night. Book a special date, gather for a celebration or just go on impulse when you need a night of Italian comfort food and ambiance.
A perfect pairing of amazing food and service, Petra is my neighborhood spot for incredible fresh Mediterranean meals. Hummus: mmm, the main reason I go. This is the place you want to bring a friend so you can order and share the hummus AND the labneh before your lentil soup and entrée. I always go for the Shish Tawook (garlic lemon chicken over a bed of rice with their house Garlic sauce.) Everything is just so marvelously flavorful. You can even buy the spices. A co-worker and I have a monthly (sometimes more) lunch. Owner Cal has crafted an amazing dining experience with friendly staff and tasty dishes. If you still have room after your entree, stay for the house Baklava and Turkish coffee!
Sense a theme? Grecian Corner is my treat for a quick lunchtime break at KOMO Plaza. My two favorite House Specialties are the Souvlaki - perfectly spiced chicken skewers with Greek salad - or Keftedes and, in the winter, add the Avgolemono soup – a comforting mix of chicken, rice and lemon. I’ve been going so long that Louis knows me and what items I want to add a little extra olives or tzatziki on!
When I need a slice (or three), I stroll down to Rocco’s. It’s a cool space to enjoy a drink and dinner but this has become my "I need slices ASAP" spot. If you need a night out or just a food mood boost escape, Rocco’s serves up incredible pizzas and salads in a cool space with amazing old-world architecture and hip décor. There have been some magic moments when I walk in after a long day and the specialty slices on offer are my favorites: meat-lovers slice and veggie-lovers slices at the same time.
I grew up in North Carolina. Outside of the South, most people don’t know what you mean by country ham. When I went into this great spot in the new section of Pike Place Market, I looked up and the Southerner in me sighed with love. There was a Johnsonville country ham hanging and I looked on the menu – more sighs of joy. All the biscuits are amazing, but the country ham is my favorite. I never thought I’d enjoy it without a flight back to the Tar Heel State. It’s the way the ham is cured that gives it a unique flavor – just have lots of water ready. Honest Biscuits serves up Three Cheese Grits ~ my oh my ~ corn grits with Tillamook Cheddar, Beecher’s Flagship Cheese and Parmesan. It’s like a South by Northwest warm melty dream in a bowl.
Three words: Orange Hazelnut Pinwheel.
You might be thinking, "Will eats a lot, where does he have a place to work it off?"
In a city with limited land that is growing taller, it is imperative that we have park spaces near our waterfront for all to enjoy. In spring and summer, this is where you will find me after work or on the weekends. After the Lenora stairs went away with the Viaduct, I now begin my walk on Bell Street that goes across Alaskan Way, then down to the waterfront to start my journey, usually seeing a Cruise ship in port, then by the majestic Edgewater Hotel (I want to live there) to the edge of the Olympic Sculpture Park, part of the Seattle Art Museum. If it’s one of those rare hot days, I can just sit still at the fountain in the shade of fountain water in the misty breeze before walking along the pathway with Elliot Bay and the snowcapped mountains to the left and people watching on the hill and the bike path to the right.
As the trail becomes Myrtle Edwards Park, my favorite spot is the second bench before the picnic table. It’s just under a tree for shade. If you were to dive in and swim you would reach West Seattle. I could sit there listening to music, thinking about life. Did I mention I listen on my iPod Nano? It’s taped up but still working and has my fast walk exercise playlist and my "contemplate in the shade" playlist. Under that tree is my Seattle Zen place with a view that makes you grateful, thoughtful, and just has that easy feeling.
Then there’s the way back. I like to go head back up the incline and into the SAM park that zig-zags over the train tracks and street to that big orange structure with the orange chairs – another great place to rest in the shade, adjust your playlist or take out a sketch pad for a while before heading back into Belltown and home again.
Will Harris is the KOMO Promotion Manager and resident comics expert. See more of his work here.
MORE: Stomping Grounds: Abby's 5 favorite spots in Bonney Lake