Capitol Hill is an eclectic, densely populated slice of Seattle that’s known for its live music, theaters, urban parks, and being a hub for the LGBTQ+ community. Just a half-mile east of Pike Place Market and the city’s commercial core, travelers who venture into the area have access to an array of food and drink options that are just as diverse as the neighborhood itself — reflecting many styles, regions, and price points. Here’s one way to spend a day-and-night-and-day-again tour of the neighborhood’s culinary offerings.
8 a.m.: First cup of coffee at Espresso Vivace
Since its earliest days as a coffee cart at Fifth Avenue and Union Street, this mini chain has built a reputation for its dedication to flavor and precision. A pioneer in Seattle’s specialty coffee landscape, Vivace uses Northern Italian-style espresso roasting and fine-tuned brewing techniques to create a sweet, caramel-like flavor. Stop by either of Vivace’s Capitol Hill locations, the walk-up cafe just north of Cal Anderson Park or the industrial brick and mortar further up Broadway Avenue, for one of the best cappuccinos in the city.
9 a.m.: Breakfast at The Wandering Goose
About a 10-minute walk away from Espresso Vivace on 15th Avenue East is where Seattle’s hungry masses dutifully queue and endure cramped quarters for access to one of the neighborhood’s most notable breakfasts. The restaurant’s hearty Southern comfort food options include big, buttery biscuits — best served on either side of crunchy fried chicken or a combo of ham, egg, and cheese — and skillets piled up with everything from pan seared pork loin to fried oysters. Save room for a gooey biscuit cinnamon roll or cherry hand pie, too, or grab them for later on your way out.
12 p.m.: A quick bite at Tacos Chukis
Time to double back to East Broadway. From its perch on the second floor of Broadway Alley, Tacos Chukis cranks out some of the city’s best tacos. The small shop’s signature offering is the adobada pork taco that comes topped with tangy guacamole and a juicy slice of pineapple. The rest of the limited, but dialed-in menu includes burritos, quesadillas, and tortas — all of which are satisfying, affordable, and served with speed.
1 p.m.: Refreshments at Atulea
Best to pace oneself now as you make your way further south around Cal Anderson Park. This relative newcomer to the Hill specializes in matcha and cheese teas — a Tawianese phenomenon that originated in night market stalls. Atulea’s version includes peach jasmine, chamomile citrus, and tie-guan-yin, and they’re all topped off with a layer of milk, cream cheese, whipped cream, sugar and salt. It’s midday in the busy Pike/Pine Corridor at this point, and Atulea’s minimalist aesthetic and ample greenery offer a calm respite — even if it’s just for a short time.
4 p.m.: Worldly happy hour at Nue
This tchotchke-filled street food sensation pulls inspiration for its menu from the planet’s furthest reaches. Happy hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m. and includes patat oorlog, a stack of fries topped with garlic mayo, sambal, peanut satay, and red onion, as well as a bright, cumin-forward Syrian kale and carrot salad. Another highlight is the Japanese katsu sandwich, a rich samie with an ideal meat to bread ratio. Wash it all down with a cold Cass, one of Korea’s top beers.
7 p.m.: Grecian dinner at Omega Ouzeri
Basically right next door to Nue is this underrated restaurant. With Greece’s national flag out front and the space’s bright white and blue interior, Omega Ouzeri gets diners in a Mediterranean mood before the first course. The menu includes plenty of excellent seafood, including whole grilled sea bass and oysters in rosé vinegar and shallot mignonette. Plates here are small and meant to be shared family-style over a bottle of Greek wine or ouzo.
8:30 p.m.: Vegan ice cream Frankie and Jo’s
Seattle chainlet Frankie and Jo’s opened its flagship location in Capitol Hill in 2016, and the plant-based ice cream shop quickly became a destination for sweet-toothed vegans and non-vegans alike. Flavors like Salty Caramel Ash, Gingered Golden Milk, and Chocolate Tahini Supercookie are best eaten in one of the shop’s house-made maple-vanilla waffle cones. To build on their innovative recipes, co-founders Autumn Martin and Kari Brunson release three rotating flavors each month.
9 p.m.: Drinks and good tunes at Life on Mars
Owned by Seattle-music veterans, this vinyl-focused bar in Capitol Hill has nearly 6,000 records on-hand for customers to peruse, play, and purchase, including albums by The Clash, A Tribe Called Quest, Willie Nelson, and others. The audiophile theme carries into Life on Mars’ cocktail menu, with drinks like The Opener (green tea vodka, elderflower, lemon, and soda) and Velvet Goldmine (mezcal, dark rum, cashew orgeat, and ginger). The bar also carries its Life on Mars Imperial IPA brewed by Reuben’s Brews in Ballard and full menu of plant-based eats.
11 p.m.: Late-night French bites at Cafe Presse
Of all Seattle’s neighborhoods, Capitol Hill is definitely the best one to scour for after-hours sustenance. This is one of the city’s late-night dining essentials, serving traditional and regional French fare until 2 a.m. every day. Cap off the evening with house-made croques, frites, or a French country wine at this casual, no-fuss establishment.
9 a.m. the next day: Hangover cure at Glo’s Cafe
Another itty-bitty breakfast and brunch destination, Glo’s has been a Seattle institution for more than 30 years. Denizens of the Hill and beyond are perpetually gathered out front sipping piping hot mugs of coffee while they wait for a spot inside the compact cafe. Glo’s signature menu item are its variations on eggs Benedict, including smoked salmon, and the Eggs Blackstone with sauteed spinach, bacon, and grilled tomatoes. To satisfy an a.m. sweet tooth, diners should consider Glo’s sour cream coffee cake served with strawberries.