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15th Ave: Living in Foodie Heaven

Over the years, I’ve had so many friends who have lived just a block or two off 15th Avenue East. It’s easy to see why people choose this neighborhood. Pretty residential streets lie on both sides of this avenue that meets the basic needs of any foodie.

I’m very happily writing this blog post at Ada’s Technical Books and Café, at the north end of this micro-hood. Years ago, this converted house was the great old dusty bookstore that you’d wander into while waiting for a brunch table at the so-Seattle Coastal Kitchen next-door. Now it’s a beautiful, airy, techie bookstore with nice coffee, good food, and a full roster of events. They even have “The Office” now—a co-working space that you can use for just $20 a day. Walking into Ada’s inspires me to be smart and hip. Suddenly, I want to be a scientist! An interior designer! A café owner! At the very least, I want to be able to understand the science behind their cold-brew apparatus. For the time being, though, I’m content—very content—with my latte and my stupidly good, plain, sticky, ricotta mini Bundt cake.

Ada's Technical Books and Cafe on 15th Ave East, Seattle

Ada’s is a great place to hang out, drink coffee, get smarter! (Rosie Gaynor photo)

The beauty of 15th is that in a different mood, I could have been just as happy at Ladro or Victrola, which are literally just a few doors down the street from Ada’s. Or, blocks away, at Remedy Teas, where you can sniff as many teas as you want before you order.

Remedy Teas near 15th Ave East, Seattle

I used to think I wasn’t a tea drinker, but Remedy Teas proved me wrong. They gave me a chance to figure out what kind of teas I might like…no time pressure…sniff as many test tubes as you need to! (Rosie Gaynor photos)

What else is on 15th?

There’s Take 2, a (mostly women’s) clothing consignment store, where I find something cool every time I go. (It’s sometimes a little stinky in there, actually, but the things I’ve purchased seem just fine when I get them home. They have a pretty amazing website for a local vintage shop, too.) There are a few cute boutiques to wander through. There’s a Walgreen’s for basics, and a QFC and a Safeway for groceries.

If you’re looking for special ingredients, pick them up at The Shop Agora, toward the middle of 15th. My friend introduced me to this tiny shop as one of her favorite places to shop for food. Apparently people come from across the lake to buy Agora’s preserved lemons, harissa, and dried pastas (some gluten-free). The draws for me are the wine and oils…and all the tiny little jars with pretty labels. (Olive al cacao—crema? Really? Olives, anchovies, capers, chocolate, hot pepper, rum…hm…) The guy I live with likes their hummus and baklava. They’ve a small sit-down area for food and wine, too. On my most recent visit, as I was leaving, a woman came in from the cold to order lentil soup to go.

The Shop Agora on 15th Ave East, Seattle

The Shop Agora: the perfect place to pick up everything you need for an impromptu party. (Rosie Gaynor photos)

As for restaurants: have fun! At the south end of this micro-hood there’s Anchovies & Olives, Artusi, Cascina Spinasse, Bar Cotto, Le Zinc. At the north end you’ve got Liberty, Jamjuree, Smith, Rione XIII. And that’s not even a full list of the eateries/drinkeries that are pretty much all along a .7 mile-long stretch of 14th and 15th. I wish I could say I’ve tried them, but to be honest, if I’m in this neighborhood eating dinner, I’m probably eating it at my friends’ homes. I have tried the cheaper but very worthy fare at Hopvine Pub for lunch (oh, yum, try their peanut soup!). And the crew of a weeklong photo shoot I worked on voted The Patio Fine Thai Cuisine pick-up the best lunch of our bare-budget shoot.

What else? Bakery Nouveau beckons—for breakfast, lunch, elevensies, teatime, or early evening. They’ve made my birthday cake the last two years.

According to signage in one window, there’s a vegan ice creamery and sweet shop named Sugar Plum that’ll open up here at some point. There’s a florist, some hair salons, cleaners, The Red Balloon Company, Rainbow Natural Remedies, Group Health. There’s even Dance Underground, where you can learn salsa and tango and, on some Sundays, lose yourself in “ecstatic dancing.”

When my college friends came to Seattle for a four-day weekend, we rented a condo on Capitol Hill. We chose one a few blocks from 15th. And it was perfect. Visiting this neighborhood as a foodie is fun, but “living” here in foodie heaven is even better!