Updated: May 9, 2019
Since moving to Seattle, I’ve lived in several different neighborhoods throughout what
constitutes “North Seattle”. I have a great affinity for these neighborhoods, but I’m in the midst of moving, marking my first official move out of the city. While I’ll still be in the Greater Seattle Area, I’m going to miss out on this city’s most enviable offering: unique, charming cafes within walking distance of any neighborhood.
As an ode to my favorite pastime of drinking coffee and sitting for hours, I’ve compiled my 10 favorite cafes in North Seattle that I'll miss the most.
This family owned German cafe and bakery is nestled along Lake City Way, making it one of
Lake City’s only small cafes. The German sweets and breads are always fresh and delicious,
and their coffee is almost always done right. The ambiance is my favorite feature - it's filled with regulars, and there is a play area for kids. They also have an open-lending bookshelf and feature local artists for their decor. It really feels like a hub for the community, and when I lived in Lake City, no Saturday morning was complete without a latte and breakfast biscuit sandwich.
2. Cloud City Coffee
Cloud City is the perfect cafe for a sunny Seattle day, with ample outdoor tables and an open southern facing exterior. There are dogs, kids, and space for both to play. They offer lots of great snack and sandwich options, and make an excellent latte. Their friendly community vibe makes for one of my favorite cafes in all of Seattle, but it’s really the great outdoor seating and well-prepared coffee that make it exceptional.
3. Fresh Flours Phinney Ridge
It’s hard for a cafe to distinguish itself from others when there are many choices, but the Fresh Flours on Phinney ridge offers a variety of baked goods that aren't easy to find elsewhere. This includes Basque cakes and red bean muffins, as well as other unique pastries I have yet to try. Their coffee is always well made, and there are large tables for lengthy study or reading sessions. I haven’t visited any of the Fresh Flours locations, but the one on Phinney Ridge is the perfect place for a rainy day.
4. Grumpy D's coffeehouse
What I like most about Grumpy D's is the unassuming, unpretentious atmosphere that makes it easy to settle in and relax. The baristas are laid back, the coffee is good, and they have a unique open seating layout that provides a lot of space. While the don’t have the impressive pastries that bakery cafes have to offer, they make an excellent americano and are a great meeting spot. They also host open mics on Wednesdays, and musical guests on occasion. They are located between the North Ballard and Greenwood neighborhoods, and can be easy to miss because they blend in with an auto shop next door.
5. Coyle’s Bakeshop
Coyle’s is small, cheerful, and sits perfectly on a street corner off of Greenwood Ave. The baked goods are truly impressive, with the bakers and baristas working industriously over an open counter. There is no wifi, which contributes to its quaint and personable character. I appreciate how it makes customers slow down and take in their surroundings. This is not a work cafe, but a date spot. They close at 4pm, so make it an early afternoon or morning date so as not to miss out on their sweets, which come in wide variety.
6. Cafe Fiore Sunset Hill
This newly renovated Cafe Fiore location is atop Sunset Hill, where you can walk or drive down to beautiful Golden Gardens. It makes a perfect stop before or after spending time down at the beach, and serves an excellent latte. The location and new, comfortable interior make it one of the best spots to relax on a sunny afternoon, and they offer some of the best organic coffee options in Seattle.
7. Celine Patisserie
This french bakery prepares delectable pastries and a deliciously strong americano. The
croissant I enjoyed at Celine Patisserie was by far the best one I’ve had in Seattle. Similar to
Coyle’s Bakery down the road, there is a hum of activity as you watch the artisans at work
behind the counter. However, the setting is less intimate here, with a slightly more modern feel, and space to blend in with your surroundings if you stay to people watch on Phinney Ridge.
Mabel is a cute, unpretentious find in North Ballard in a neighborhood that is dominated by
stiffer and less relaxed cafes. There is a huge back room with tons of tables and comfortable
seating, and a front area for watching out the window. They prepare a lovely espresso (one of the best I’ve had in awhile) and have a decent selection of snacks. Good service can make or break a cafe visit, and the baristas here seemed to radiate pleasant vibes.
9. The Dane
Located off of 15th in Greenwood, The Dane is equal parts public house and cafe. It has the
cozy, woodsy atmosphere of a Scandinavian inspired coffeehouse, but offers a bar, food, and
happy hour specials. There is also a T.V, with happy hour running during some sports events. Even with the bustle of a bar and it being a popular meeting place, there are enough quiet corners to appeal to someone looking for a low-key study session or date.
10. The Pico Cafe
Here is another Sunset Hill gem, in one of the quaintest and prettiest neighborhoods in Seattle. The Pico Cafe is connected to a restaurant next door, but the cafe itself offers scrumptious lunches and a welcoming interior. The soup and sandwich menu is extensive, and the spacious seating arrangement with large windows provides the perfect place to relax. While their espresso is decent, the sandwiches seem to be this establishment’s forte. I also found their baristas to be exceptionally welcoming. The Pico Cafe is one of my most recent “finds”, and I wish I’d made it a regular spot sooner!