Pretty Party in the Heart of the Olive Way Community

North of Olive: A Homey Neighborhood

Hello from Analog Coffee, in the heart of No’Olive, where the coffee is thoughtfully delicious, the tunes come from the house record player, and the comic books and newspapers are waiting for you (yes, you!) to take a break.

North of Olive is not exactly a destination neighborhood. The gorgeous mansions are farther north, farther east. There’s only a handful of shops to browse; no museums. The parks are dinky. And the parking is ridiculous.

So why do I drive all the way over here from my hometown Ballard every few months? Because every time I visit this neighborhood, I have a good time.

On the first block in from Olive, on Summit, you’ll find the Pretty Parlor. And you’ll probably go in, even if you’re not looking for something, because it’s fun to be there in the flair. They sell vintage clothes and clothes by indie designers; their collection is well-curated and in good shape. I love this pink-satin museum where you get to take the artwork home with you. They have some spiffy men’s clothes, too, and a sewing room, a nice owner with an awesome name, a kitty named Vincent, a dog named Lucy…

The Pretty Parlor and two raspberries at Summit Slope Park/Unpaving Paradise P-Patch (in the North-of-Olive neighborhood, Seattle)

(Left) Not everyone at the Pretty Parlor is as snooty as the ladies in the window. (Right) No kidding: I took this photo at the end of November. How are there still red raspberries at the Unpaving Paradise P-Patch? (Rosie Gaynor photos)

Right next-door is a used furniture shop that I’ve never actually seen open, but it’s fun to peer into the gloom to see what they’ve got crammed in there this time. On this end of Summit, there’s also a bridal shop (part of Pretty Parlor, but around the corner), a hair salon, a warm and comfy Starbucks, and the Summit Slope Park/Unpaving Paradise P-Patch, where there’s a grill and a mod picnic table that you can use to play out your I-cook-fresh-food-al-fresco-for-my-friends fantasies. (The park’s website says it’s a skate bench. Cool. But I still say it looks like a great picnic table to me.)

Walk down Summit a bit; three blocks in from Olive is Analog Coffee. Hurray!

Analog Coffee, Seattle (in the North-of-Olive neighborhood, Seattle)

This spread in Poseur, on the reading table at Analog, kind of sums up the vibe I get (as an outsider) from the North of Olive neighborhood: eclectic, ironic and yet earnest, think-y, laugh-y. Look how pretty Analog’s little patio bench area is! (Rosie Gaynor photos)

And then there’s nothing much for a few blocks except a bike rental rack (Pronto: at Summit and Republican) and a hodgepodge of architectural styles to wonder at. It’s all just so nondescript. Until you get out of your car—out of the rat race—and slow down enough to see the details. This courtyard below? I didn’t see it until I was standing directly in front of the dark, bushy trees at its entryway. What a little charmer! And note that right here in the city you can hear the birds chirping.

A courtyard on Summit + the bike rental rack (in the North-of-Olive neighborhood, Seattle)

Time to get out of the car… (Rosie Gaynor photos)

Three blocks north of Analog you’ll find a nano-hood of happiness:

  • A mini-mart (one of at least three in No’Olive)
  • Indian Summer (a tiny vintage clothing store where I once found a terrific green suede miniskirt)
  • Cairo (indie stuff + classes, too)
  • Summit Public House (which the Stranger calls “a superlative neighborhood spot, like a pleasant cave that happens to have 22 beers on tap”)
  • Toscana Pizzeria
  • Sun Liquor Bar & Distillery (this is one of my cool, low-key barista’s favorite places to get a cocktail)
  • Top Pot Donuts (sugar, sugar, still love’em)
  • Single Shot (a kitchen and saloon that gets my vote for sexiest typography on this street)
Shops at Summit and Mercer (in the North-of-Olive neighborhood, Seattle)

Drop your little orange Google guy at the Summit and Mercer intersection and it won’t look like much. Ha! Shown above: A sign showing upcoming DIY classes at Cairo, Indian Summer’s monkey window, Single Shot’s sexy typography, Sun Liquor & Distillery next to Top Pot Donuts, and the interior of Single Shot…showing the reflection from the trees an apartments outside. (Rosie Gaynor photos)

On my way back to my car, I pass the Thomas Street Mini Park. It’s not excessively exciting, sure, but there were three dogs and three humans having an awesome time on this curvaceous corner. They were joined by the Easter Bunny Tree, which ought to be a much bigger tourist attraction than it is (n’t).

Thomas Street Park and the Easter Bunny Tree, Seattle (in the North-of-Olive neighborhood, Seattle)

Thomas Street Park and the Easter Bunny Tree (Rosie Gaynor photos)

When I asked Tim Hayden why he and his business partner chose North of Olive as a location for Analog Coffee, he said he wanted to give people the kind of business that’s close to their home, part of their neighborhood.

Which doesn’t explain my presence there. (It took me 35 minutes to drive here from Ballard, plus 10 more to find parking.)

Or maybe it does?

North of Olive: my ‘hood away from ‘hood.