The Stranger staff has written a version of this guide many times. There are the places that we prefer to go to eat and drink, the secret spots we'd recommend to visiting friends who want something less touristy, and the advice we'd dish out for surviving the six interminable gray months called winter. But, we thought, what would people who've been here a year recommend to new arrivals? We thought, perhaps, that the newcomers would be totally off base and name really lame places, cite Starbucks as their favorite coffee shop, and tell people to hang out at Pike's Place or party on Cap Hill. (Editor's Note: It's fucking Pike Place Market and Capitol Hill, or "The Hill," never Cap Hill. Stop calling it that right now.)

But we were pleasantly surprised. Most of you came through with solid recommendations. We discovered that you like to eat (god, do you like to eat) more than you like to party, but when you do, you know where to go (Pony, Cha Cha, Kremwerk, Re-bar). You know a couple of off-the-beaten-path places we didn't even know about, and most of you know better than to name Starbucks as Seattle's best coffee. As for the winters, a few of the Midwesterners are laughing... for now. We'll check back on you next year.


Adam Rakunas, 42, stay-at-home parent and science-fiction novelist, moved here September 2015

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Whichever one has a taco truck parked in it.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Adam Rakunas Grace Rakunas

Rumba, jerk chicken salad; Cafe Soleil, ginger shrimp; Two Doors Down, veggie 420 burger; Seattle Deli, any banh mi and egg rolls; the Garage, the fancy-ass poutine (and, yes, I know every Canadian will scream "That's not poutine!" You guys have socialized medicine, give us this while our country implodes, okay?).

Best bars and clubs?

I'm a boring married guy, so I like a place where I can get a beer and play video games with my kid. Chuck's Hop Shop is perfect for that, especially on a night with a good food truck parked in front. Boring married guys of Seattle: Come to Chuck's.

Best coffee?

Hi Spot Cafe, Verite Coffee, and Cortona Cafe.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

The Rainier Beach playfield.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

The public schools are a mess because the state's government is a mess. All the clichés about coffee are true. The city's explosive growth means that every place you love will probably vanish in a few years. People keep voting for Goodspaceguy and will continue to do so because ha-ha the republic is dead.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

Running, coffee, and tacos.


Nathan Liechty, 25, customer service and repairs at Cascade Designs, moved here October 2016

Nathan Liechty

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Right now it's West Seattle. After six years of living in small towns in Eastern Washington, I wasn't ready for all the shenanigans of Capitol Hill or Ballard. I just wanna eat good food, look at mountains/waves, and go to bed at 9 on weekdays. And some weekends. Most weekends.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Little known place called the Costco deli. I dig the neobrutalist decor and putting a touch of bread under the cheese wall they call pizza was an inspired touch. Solid food value. Also, the pork banh mi at Saigon Deli in the Central District or Beacon Hill or Issaquah or whatever the fuck it is. [Editor's Note: He probably means the International District.]

Best bars and clubs?

I'm too poor for that shit. I like light beer on porches. BYOcozy.

Best coffee?

Slate. But the homer in me also says anywhere serving Olympia Coffee Roasting Company beans.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

I recently learned that every public street that ends at the water is mandated to have public access. There are some gems of little beaches and swimming holes to be found.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

How to get off the West Seattle Bridge.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

Winter used to be the worst, particularly when I lived in a 2,000-person town in Eastern Washington that didn't really have public gathering spaces. Now that I'm in Seattle, and on any given night of the week I can go and find people to drink/bullshit/flirt/ski with, winter is no problem. People are there, go find them and do fun things with them. Also, nothing in the world is better than escaping an inversion weather pattern. When the valleys are bone-cold and filled with fog, finding a way to pop out on a ridge top to bright sun and 15-degree-warmer weather is blissful. Go ask [meteorologist] Cliff Mass about it.


Gabriel Silberblatt, 27, urban planner, moved here June 2016

Gabriel Silberblatt

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Capitol Hill because it is walkable, has good transit, and I live here without a car.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Monsoon, wokked noodles.

Best bars and clubs?

Seattle's hottest club is... the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Best coffee?

Cafe Barjot.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

Vitamin D gummies.


Christie Coyle, 29, record sales, moved here May 2015

Christie Coyle

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Wallingford—fun, low key, good food, and good bars.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Restaurant Roux, fried oysters; Plaka Estiatorio in Ballard, literally anything; Taqueria El Sabor for tacos or you are crazy.

Best bars and clubs?

Waterwheel Lounge, Toronado, Shorty's, Alibi Room, Hellbent Brewing—all of these bars make strangers feel welcome.

Best coffee?

Starbucks.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

Kirkland has some awesome parks and bars. Just a little bit of a hike.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

Don't drive anywhere from 3 to 6 p.m. And say thank you.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

Just a good jacket.


Donna Ippolito, 46, technical program manager, moved here March 2016

Donna Ippolito

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

I really like Pioneer Square—near the water, and a nice mix of posh and grit.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Altura, squid ink pasta; Staple & Fancy, anything.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

Traffic is worse than you can imagine.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

I still have flashbacks of Chicago winters. This is just fine.


Treva Sharee Bergem, 22, teacher, moved here August 2016

Treva Sharee Bergem

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Pike's Market, aka downtown. Always something to do, pretty flowers to smell, and interesting things to see.

Best bars and clubs?

Unicorn/Narwhal or Purr Cocktail Lounge. Unicorn is funny but always packed, while Purr is more traditional. The Unicorn has a dildo claw machine. EPIC!!!

How do you get through Seattle winters?

Coats and umbrellas.


Claire Bramil, 42, worker's comp consultant, moved here April 2016

Claire Bramil

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Cap Hill is fun for bars and nightlife, but I love my quiet and diverse Beacon Hill digs.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Anything lemongrass at Tamarind Tree, sandwiches at the HoneyHole, and anything at Roti Cuisine of India or Travelers Thali House.

Best bars and clubs?

Re-bar is my favorite for dancing. Sunday nights is Flammable, and dancing my ass off surrounded by sweaty shirtless gay boys makes this lesbian's heart happy!

Best coffee?

The Station on Beacon Hill. They are friendly and make a mean cup of bean!

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

I'm pretty sure you're supposed to keep those secret, so they don't get overrun with tourists.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

I had no idea that it got so cold here. I moved from Ohio and was dreaming of a wet but snow-free winter. Fail! I also was warned about the "Seattle Freeze," but I have had no trouble building a new crew of amazing friends here.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

Booze? So far, I'm slogging through by forcing myself to go out with friends, Netflix, and yes... booze. It hasn't been so bad so far, but I know I will get cabin fever at some point. I hear the flowers start blooming in February!


Heather Stiles, 41, social services, moved here about a year ago

Heather Stiles

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Pioneer Square—it's beautiful. Public transportation is never more than a couple of blocks away, and while it's close to everything, by 11 p.m. it's mostly quiet, unless it's a game day.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Food trucks in Occidental Park are the best for lunch. Fish and chips, buttermilk battered rabbit, banh mi, Chicago style pizza, and on and on. For dinner I'm partial to Cantina Leña before heading to Cinerama for a movie, or Poquitos for dinner before a show at Neumos. Talarico's in West Seattle has the best slice of pizza and great karaoke.

Best bars and clubs?

Whisky Bar in Belltown is lovely for sitting and chatting. Flatstick Pub is great to watch a game and/or get in a round of mini golf while drinking local beers and ciders. The Bar Shoppe/Trinity Nightclub is lovely for craft cocktails, atmosphere, and dancing.

Best coffee?

Zeitgeist Coffee.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

The waterfall garden at Second and Main is a great place to have lunch or just sit and read a book.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

Avoid Third Avenue altogether if possible.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

Hot chocolate, scarves, and flannel sheets. Spending time with friends and getting as much sun as possible during daylight hours helps to keep the seasonal depression at bay.


Emily Bright, 24, retail marketing/visuals, moved here January 2016

Emily Bright

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Ballard. It's quiet(er), and you can spend all day weaving up and down the streets, hitting up some happy hours, and finding little trinkets along the way.

Best restaurant and what to order?

Art of the Table for a special occasion, Fogón for a cheap and generous happy hour, Dino's Tomato Pie for a quick slice or late night pizza with friends, Fonda la Catrina for dinner (drinks are spot on and so are the chips and guacamole while you're waiting), Paseo for a killer sandwich at lunch, and the Wandering Goose for brunch.

Best bars and clubs?

Sun Liquor is a good one for mixed drinks and small neighborhood thrills, Peddler Brewing Company for a good beer and trivia combo, Cha Cha Lounge if you're trying to get a little crazy and prey on the drunk, and Hellbent Brewing Company for all of your dog watching/food truck/creepy Lake City needs.

Best coffee?

Seattle Coffee Works.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

The Pink Door. (It may be in Post Alley, but most people are too shy to investigate the unmarked entrance.)

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

Lake City is not cool. (Also, short-term leases are a great decision if you're blindly moving to a new city.)

How do you get through Seattle winters?

Slap a rain jacket on, and laugh.


Nora Stone, 28, preschool teacher/nanny, moved here August 2016

Nora Stone

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Ballard. Partly because I'm biased since it's the only place I've lived so far! But I truly enjoy the history, the independent streak, the farmers market, and the distinct character—it's a little town within a city!

Best restaurants and what to order?

The best places I've eaten are probably Tavolàta Capitol Hill (linguine nero), Coastal Kitchen (it was a specials week and I don't remember but it had fish and mashed potatoes and fried egg), El Borracho Ballard (el cheapo and the duck burrito, sue me), the Hi-Life (cleanup on aisle 12), Scooter's (bacon cheeseburger), Witness (hushpuppies, poutine, pulled pork sliders), Brass Tacks (beet salad and chicken and waffles), and the 5 Point (brass monkey and the burger with beets and a fried egg).

Best bars and clubs?

I love Olaf's in Ballard and Flip Flip Ding Ding in Georgetown, because I've recently fallen in love with pinball. Flatstick Pub is awesome. I'm not really a club person.

Best coffee?

Royal Drummer in Ballard.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

I still feel like a tourist a lot of the time! I mentioned Olaf's already. I like the waterfall garden park in Pioneer Square (kinda touristy, though). Fantagraphics Bookstore (and Georgetown in general) feels off the beaten path. Emerald City Supporters and the soccer weirdos of Seattle (not a spot, but "no one likes us / we don't care") have been incredibly welcoming to me as a newcomer.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

The sun never shines from late October through at least April. (I'm guessing? When will the fucking sun come back to us?) [Editor's Note: Maybe in July, if we're lucky.]

How do you get through Seattle winters?

Whiskey. Getting outside during the day as much as I'm able. Wine. A sun lamp. Treadmills and more whiskey. Working with preschoolers.


Natalie Murphy, 20, line cook, moved here November 2016

Natalie Murphy

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

The ID for Uwajimaya, low rent, limited man buns, close access to waterfront, and Uwajimaya.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Restaurants are expensive, so that's tough, but Lost Lake and Oddfellows in Cap Hill are brunch kings for sure.

Best coffee?

Seattle/Ballard Coffee Works.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

The gum wall and the Space Needle! Kidding! The stairs on Galer Street and Queen Anne in general near where I work, the site of the Wah Mee massacre in the ID, the mesmerizing bike polo matches off Broadway.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

Driving down Boren or any street with streetcar tracks is a bitch in a small vehicle. The little papers they give you on the bus are for transfers. The neighborhoods are distinct, and crossing any type of bridge constitutes a road trip.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

Tears of joy. I lived in Minnesota and Alaska last winter.


Doug Holstein, 46, mathematician, moved here August 2016

Doug Holstein

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Columbia City because of the cool little strip on Rainier and because we were not nearly cool (rich) enough to get a house there; we lost massively in two ridiculous bidding wars.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Buddha Ruksa, crispy garlic (crack) chicken or the tamarind duck. Seattle Fish Company, big bowl of chowder. Or if you haven't eaten for few days, West Seattle poutine. Easy Street Records, anything greasy on a hangover morning. Geraldine's, corned beef hash.

Best coffee?

Victrola or Caffe Ladro.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

Hiking in Camp Long, view from Columbia Center, Alki Beach.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

I need a coat with a hood. Going as far as Ballard (from West Seattle) may never actually happen. One needs a whole extra day to do that. Buses are actually a great way to get around, but you won't go real far.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

We came from similar northern climes, so the darkness is not unusual. I would appreciate more snow, but I can take a bit of amusement at the freak-out that happens from the hint of a threat of snow.


Nick Siler, 24, grad student, moved here September 2016

Nick Siler

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Fremont.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Arepa Venezuelan Kitchen, get the llanera or the reina pepiada.

Best bars and clubs?

The Triangle Pub and High Dive are great. The Crocodile is also brilliant. Owl & Thistle, however, is still the best bar in town.

Best coffee?

Top Pot.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

South Park, Georgetown, and the more eastern part of the International District are some seriously sweet neighborhoods. Also, there are great rooftop cafes and restaurants and viewing pads in many of the buildings downtown. You just need to look like you belong there.


Isaac Gloor, 21, server

Isaac Gloor

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Queen Anne to live in, because it's quiet and peaceful and nothing ever happens. Ballard to drink in, Cap Hill to party in, and Fremont to shop at PCC Natural Markets.

Best restaurants and what to order?

No Bones Beach Club, a vegan place in Ballard. Go for brunch and get a Benedict, with avocado. And Pung Kang Noodle Place in Lower Queen Anne. Just get pad thai. It's comfort food.

Best coffee?

El Diablo coffee at the top of the hill. Always, always, always avoid Uptown Espresso.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

9/10 people who live in Seattle work for Amazon. Fact (?). [Editor's Note: Not a fact, but it feels that way.]

How do you get through Seattle winters?

I moved from Hawaii, where the days were always the same length. The cold isn't so bad, but the early sunset is slowly draining the happiness from my life. I get through it with Christmas lights and alcohol.


Spencer Troth, 26, campaign director, moved here February 2015

Spencer Troth

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Capitol Hill, it feels like a European neighborhood with ample locations to enjoy cuisine and drink, as well to explore and feel the true liberal culture of the city, all condensed into an easily navigable space.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Lost Lake will make any tasty diner food one could desire, 24 hours a day.

Best bars and clubs?

Canon is the best bar in the area, serving a medley of innovative house cocktails. If you want beer, though, the Pine Box is a great stop.

Best coffee?

Victrola Coffee or Roy Street Coffee & Tea. Both have a fun and cozy ambience.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

Discovery Park and Volunteer Park. Seattle has a magnanimous park system for a city, and Discovery Park and Volunteer Park are the crown jewels of the city's parks.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

People talk a lot about the Seattle Freeze, but I feel like most people here are quite friendly, but perhaps a little hesitant to open up at first.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

Space heaters, though it's really not as cold as most places in the country.


Robby Stedman, 31, technical recruiter, moved here March 2016

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Fremont. Cool divey/sports bars and underground music.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Sushi, of course. Shiro's in Belltown is bomb!

Best bars and clubs?

Cha Cha Lounge is a cool and unique spot. I also like Sam's Tavern in SLU! Love Buckley's too. This city could use more solid sports bars like that.

Best coffee?

Work, cause it's free. Caffe Ladro is closest and nearest outside of that, however, so will go there when I need some outside of work.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

Frolik? Or Nectar Lounge in Fremont.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

I have to be careful complaining about the Seattle Freeze, but also you can't be too "overly friendly" with folks, either—apparently it makes a fair amount of people uncomfortable in this town.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

Stay home and away from people, but likely to get back into skiing again soon!


Sharrin Manor, 22, service engineer, moved here June 2016

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Fremont because Hashtag Cannabis and Add-a-Ball are great and it's not crowded.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Chaco Canyon, spinach artichoke sandwich and a smoothie. Razzis Pizzeria, a massive fucking calzone.

Best bars and clubs?

Kremwerk, Re-bar—dancing to techno and house all night. Monkey Pub karaoke on Monday nights. Add-a-Ball—pinball!!! Jenga!!! The second floor juke box!! It's great for people who feel awkward at bars because there's so much happening, you don't have to talk to anyone.

Best coffee?

Milstead—the bubbly water with the espresso feels so fancy and tastes amazing.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

[The coffee shop at] KEXP in Seattle Center has free seltzer water on tap. The Vera Project—also in Seattle Center!

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

Traffic is bad even on the weekends. I refused to believe it, but it's true. The light rail is the best way to get to the airport.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

It's been pretty rough. I followed everyone's advice and now try to take vitamin D regularly. Game nights and movie nights. Smoking weed. I bought a banjo.


Liz Cummings, 38, nonprofit worker, moved here May 2016

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Ballard—walkable, great food.

Best restaurants and what to order?

San Fermo, any pasta (changes regularly); Hot Cakes, chocolate molten cake and boozy shakes; the Walrus and the Carpenter, scallops.

Best bars and clubs?

Ray's Boathouse has a great happy hour and a fabulous view.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

Ballard has the best Goodwill; Discovery and Golden Gardens Parks are great for urban hiking.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

Seattle has much better weather than you think.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

If you're from the East Coast, they'll be a breeze. Just make sure you have some waterproof shoes and a rain jacket.


Kara Ludwig, 31, unemployed, moved here September 2016

Best bars and clubs?

I almost exclusively go to the Mercury [@Machinewerks], which is a private club (one has to be sponsored to be admitted except on nights that are explicitly open to the public). It's pretty much a goth club, but it serves so many different "flavors" of goth.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

I knew the conventional image about the weather being rainy, but I wasn't aware HOW gloomy it is in fall and winter, since I'd previously only visited for a couple weeks at a time. People are really kind, and after the election, I felt safe and understood. I think that in a lot of cities, people are too cool to be kind, but here people get it that it actually makes a difference. It's juxtaposed with the anger that people often feel at injustice and it makes them actually DO something and fight for progress rather than just bitch about it or be complacent.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

I have to admit, it's been hellish for me and I don't know if I'll make it through another one. I often I feel like I'm being smothered by a cold gray blanket. I am seriously considering moving elsewhere. I'm fortunate enough to have had friends here before moving; otherwise I think I'd already be gone.


Chris Pennell, 32, video producer, moved here March 2016

Chris Pennell

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Fremont, the best food I've had so far, easy and fun to walk, and it really exemplifies Seattle's maker spirit.

Best restaurants and what to order?

Anthony's fish and chips are the best, but Ivar's has them beat in the chowder department, especially their salmon chowder. Blue Moon Burgers in Fremont has the best tater tots I've ever eaten, and RoRo BBQ & Grill, also in Fremont, has pulled pork with some really great sauces.

What are some secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

Nobody told me about Gas Works Park when I moved here. I had to find the best view in Seattle for myself.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

Seattle is beautiful from literally any angle. Coming up from Sea-Tac in the south, the industry of the seaport and the stadiums against the Sound is awesome. Coming in from the north from Everett, watching the Space Needle poking up through morning fog is breathtaking, and seeing the city rise up as you're crossing the bridge over the lake is phenomenal. And from just about anywhere in the city you can see mountains, maybe it's just because I'm from Indiana, but I don't think that majesty will ever go away for me.

How do you get through Seattle winters?

I'm from Indiana, so the worst thing Seattle winter can throw at me is awful drivers. Just being cautious and driving defensively is all I need.


Kate Parnell, 28, nursing student, moved here 2015

Kate Parnell

Best neighborhood in Seattle?

Ballard! Love the origins as a Swedish fishing village, there's great food, stores, and it's easy to get around.

Best restaurants and what to order?

San Fermo, carbonara.

Best bars and clubs?

Tractor Tavern or Nectar for music. Best bar is Poggie Tavern in West Seattle.

Best coffee?

Caffe Vita in Ballard.

Secret spots that no tourist would ever know about?

Lincoln Park or Golden Gardens, Mill Creek Nature Preserve.

What are some things you know now but didn't know then?

How expensive it is to buy a house, feeling unwelcome in a city of transplants, watching a city in transition and wondering who is buying all the houses and condos here?

How do you get through Seattle winters?

LOVE the winter!!!