Have you been to the center of the universe? The Fremont neighborhood in Seattle has given itself this bold title. Honestly, after spending some time there, we can absolutely see why! It's a bohemian wonderland littered with great coffee, even better food, and a seemingly endless variety of funky art. Let's face it, anywhere that boasts a gigantic troll under a bridge is a place worth visiting, right? It's just the right distance away from the craziness of downtown and it's seated along a canal. This means as you're buying your fresh produce and local art at the Fremont Sunday Market, you have the gorgeous backdrop of ships slowly passing under the Aurora bridge. Here's why we think you should spend one of these few late summer days left exploring Fremont.
Looking for those one-off crazy beers you can't find anywhere else? For over a decade, Brouwer's Cafe has been one of Seattle's most sought-out craft beer destinations. They have over 60 rotating beers on tap and an impressive selection of over 400 bottles to choose from. Plus an incredible scotch collection, impressive whiskey offering, and some pretty swell house cocktails. Now... typically a place with this insane of a beer selection isn't known for its food. Not the case with Brouwer's. Their modern take on classic Belgian cuisine is incredible and they are probably most well known for their mouth-watering lamb burger. So we'll finish with this: after a long day of cycling along the canal or walking the Fremont Sunday Market, Brouwer's is the perfect place to cut loose and unwind.
The Whale Wins
Waterfront dining at it's best. Renee Erickson was awarded a James Beard award in 2016 and when you visit this establishment, it's apparent why. This vegetable-forward menu is the embodiment of local and seasonal. They do a near flawless job of gathering fresh ingredients from the local coastline, farms and gardens, cooking them to perfection in their wood-fired oven, then excitingly serving them for the table to share. Renee's own words sum it up perfectly: "The Whale Wins is a warm, approachable, neighborhood restaurant — a place to enjoy great wines by the glass, draft beer, spirited cocktails, and flavorful, ingredient-focused food with friends and family."
If you're looking for the closest thing to a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory kind of experience (and yes, of course we're referring to the Gene Wilder version), then make sure to tour the Theo chocolate factory while you're in Fremont! There may not be any Oompa Loompas, but you will be stuffed to the gills in amazing samples. All the while you can feel good about supporting these guys because frankly, they're amazing when it comes to running a sustainable business. They build long-term relationships with farmers around the world, and their products reflect the value of those relationships and the quality of cocoa they buy. They go above and beyond to support critical needs like reforestation programs in Peru and maternal health initiatives in Eastern Congo. Every bar contributes to Theo's positive impact all over the globe. And if that wasn't enough, the chocolate is just amazing! Personal faves are the mint or chili dark chocolate, but they are sure to always have exciting new flavors!
At Mischief, the tastings are lively, engaging, and delicious. The grounds are pristine, the decor is unique, and the owners and staff are inviting. We love that all their whiskeys are exclusively rye whiskeys because of a commitment to sustainability in their local growing region here in Washington and Oregon (and rye grain being the only grain not requiring chemicals to grow). Because of committing to this specific type of whiskey, they've really honed their skills and consider themselves "rye experts." In addition to the rye, we have to say their gin is one of the best we've ever had: the aromatics they use really make it unique and stand out from the norm. If you leave your tasting with a bottle or two, don't miss the cocktail recipes on their website!
In Japan, soba is a way of life, but here in the States, soba restaurants are few and far between. We love that Kamonegi is trying to change that! What this cozy little restaurant lacks in seating and space, they make up for in incredible service and perfectly executed dishes. The chef-owner is an artisan soba maker and the Japanese equivalent of a sake sommelier, so you are getting a very authentic soba and sake experience with an aggressively seasonal & modern slant. The soba noodles themselves are outrageously good, nutty with a perfect al-dente chew. We recommend starting with the umami-rich broccolini tempura with parmesan and miso anchovy aioli, moving onto the mushroom soba with leek, mitsuba, and truffle oil, and finishing off with the charcoal Butter Mochi Cake with grilled corn ice cream and soy caramel. But the staff can guide you through all your questions and you really can't go wrong with anything you decide on.
This European style indoor-outdoor market has been building a following for almost 30 years now. Over 200 vendors bring antiques, collectibles, retro, vintage, original fashion, tools, and estate sale treasures. Also, there's a continually changing bazaar of unusual items from all over the world, new and innovative designers, artists and craftsmen with one-of-a-kind artisan products. Don't even get us started on the gourmet food trucks that line up to offer their incredibly eclectic cuisines. The market is free and happens no matter what the weather brings. With Seattle's own Theo Chocolate on one end and the Red Door Ale House on the other, its surrounded by a fabulous selection of neighboring shops, cafes and restaurants. Little insider's tip: The Red Door Ale House has some of the best buffalo wings we've ever had.
Right along the canal you'll find this unique and truly romantic park. It sort of winds along the water with a beautiful walking trail. It features several benches to watch the ships slowly pass or to watch the incredible summer sunsets. Or walk right up to the canal and sit above the water for a more intimate view. The park provides a community gathering space, notably for the annual Fremont Fair, which is celebrated in June and draws more than 100,000 people! On a beautiful night, take someone you love to an incredible meal in Fremont, then find a spot on the canal and watch the sun go down. Hard to beat!
Burke Gilman Trail
The 19 mile long Burke Gilman is without a doubt the most popular trail in Seattle. It's paved. It's flat. It's beautiful. What more could you ask for in a trail? From commuters cycling to work daily to evening joggers, it's rare ever to find this trail empty. We bring it up here because quite a nice stretch of it takes you right through Fremont. You follow the beautiful curvy path of the canal and see some pretty interesting installments like the Fremont Rocket, Vladimir Lenin statue, and the Fremont Troll. If you want to explore Fremont on a bike, the Burke Gilman trail is the way to do it.
Ah yes... The infamous Fremont Troll. In 1989, the city launched an art competition to fix up the area under the bridge, which was becoming a common hang out for drug dealers. Later that year a team led by sculptor Steve Badanes started a project inspired by the folktale Billy Goat's Gruff. It's 18 ft. tall and made of 2 tons of concrete and is 100% weird. But that's what's so great about areas like Fremont! It's home to some major tech giants and big business, yet has a giant creepy troll sculpture under its bridges. It's incredible.
You're walking along, head down an art-filled stairwell out of nowhere and it opens up into this massively packed, super funky, super cool vintage shop. Imagine you went to 900 estate sales and painstakingly picked out only the very coolest items you could find. Organize them in an easy to browse fashion in a basement in Fremont and you've got the Vintage Mall! From rare vinyl to vintage pyrex to that insanely cool armchair your great-great-grandmother hand made for great grandmother... Even if you're not looking to buy anything, you'll leave here with some crazy cool trinket you won't soon forget.