A stroll through Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood feels more like a stroll down Main Street, USA. With its locally-owned storefronts and restaurants, pedestrian-friendly streets, and craftsman-style houses, Wallingford might not be the most hopping place in town, but it’s a great place to experience a small-town feel within the city limits—and it happens to be home to some of Seattle’s best restaurants.
The main drag of Wallingford is Northeast 45th St., and most of the restaurants and shops in the neighborhood are located on this thoroughfare. Wallingford’s boundaries are somewhat unofficial, but most agree that Interstate 5 and Highway 99 constitute its eastern and western borders, and Gasworks Park represents its boundary to the south. The latter, a former gas production facility, is now a popular park and a great spot for flying kites and admiring a terrific view of the downtown Seattle skyline over Lake Union. Green Lake is also easily accessible from Wallingford, located just a few blocks to the northwest.
The neighborhood offers the weary traveler an abundance of dining options to suit nearly a variety of tastes and budgets—from the iconic Dick’s Drive-In hamburger stand, where you can still get a hamburger and fries for under three bucks, to the nationally renowned, all-organic Tilth, named by the New York Times as one of the top restaurants in the nation. For some of the city’s most authentic Mexican food, try Rancho Bravo, a taco truck permanently parked near Dick’s, which has become something of a neighborhood institution. If tacos and tortas aren’t your thing, there are at least a dozen options for ethnic foods ranging from Afghan to Hawaiian, including at least four options for both Thai and Japanese. There are also plenty of wine bars and pubs if you’re seeking an aperitif or hoping to catch your favorite team in action.
If you’re dining in Wallingford, you definitely shouldn’t skip dessert. Molly Moon’s Ice Cream is one of the most popular spots in town, and if you’ve walked by and noticed the scent of homemade waffle cones drifting out from the open door, it’s easy to see why. Get there early if you want to avoid waiting in the prohibitively long line, which has been known to stretch half a block or more. Trophy Cupcakes, located inside the century-old Wallingford Center building, serves cupcakes in creative flavors like snickerdoodle and chai cardamom, as well as the traditional chocolate and vanilla. And Fainting Goat Gelato is a good option for a light after-dinner treat. Whatever your choice, one of the best things about dining in Wallingford is that almost all the restaurants in the neighborhood are located on 45th, so it’s easy to walk from one end of the street to another, checking your options as you go.
Shopping options in Wallingford aren’t quite as plentiful as restaurants and bars, but there are a few shops worth mentioning. The neighborhood is home to two novelty gift shops: Archie McPhee, proudly sporting the motto, “Less Talk More Monkey Since 1983, and Not a Number Cards and Gifts, which sells everything from locally made greeting cards to politically incorrect bumper stickers. Wide World Books and Maps is a great place to find travel accessories, guidebooks, and travel-themed gifts. Paper Delights sells letterpressed cards and custom invitations. And Golden Oldies is a treasure trove of vinyl records and used CDs from classical to jazz.
Wallingford hosts a farmers market on Wednesday afternoons from May to September. Annual events drawing people to the neighborhood include the Fourth of July fireworks show at Gasworks Park and the Wallingford Kiddies Parade, part of the citywide Seafair celebration, which also occurs in July.
- • Wallingford Neighborhood Association: www.wallingford.org
- • Wallyhood, Wallingford’s neighborhood blog: www.wallyhood.org
- • Wallingford on Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallingford,_Seattle
- • Wallingford Center: www.wallingfordcenter.com
- • Wallingford Farmer’s Market: wallingfordfarmersmarket.wordpress.com
- Restaurants and Shops:
- • Dick’s Drive-In: www.dicksdrivein.com
- • Tilth: www.tilthrestaurant.com
- • Trophy Cupcakes: www.trophycupcakes.com
- • Molly Moon’s Ice Cream: www.mollymoonicecream.com
- • Fainting Goat Gelato: www.faintinggoatseattle.com
- • Archie McPhee: www.mcphee.com
- • Not a Number Cards and Gifts: notanumbergifts.com
- • Wide World Books and Maps: www.wideworldtravelstore.com
- • Paper Delights: www.paperdelights.com
- • Golden Oldies: www.goldenoldies-records.com