The indie scene is still alive and rocking in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. Take a Zipcar down Evanston Street and be witness to a gigantic 16-foot bronze Lenin statue reflecting this area’s love for counterculture. In what’s referred to by locals as “The Center of the Universe”, you’ll find niche boutiques, the first Fair Trade chocolate factory in North America, and even the legendary Fremont troll who lives under the Aurora Bridge.
1. Fremont Sunday Street Market (3401 Evanston Avenue North; seattlemarkets.com) You’ll find unique items from over 200 local vendors selling everything over the region from farm produce, flowers, and local crafts. Rain or shine, the market goes on all year round.
2. Theo Chocolate Tour (3400 Phinney Avenue North; 206-632-5100; theochocolate.com/factory-tour) Loosen your belt and sample your way through an hour-long tour at Theo’s. Learn about the history of chocolate making and the importance of sourcing Fair Trade ingredients. See how chocolate bars are created by using Theo’s unique vintage machines. You’ll visit the confectioner room and watch chocolatiers make handmade ganache, bark (chocolate with things on top), and Big Daddies (Graham cracker, caramel, and marshmallows). If you haven’t had your fill, the tour ends at the shop where you can sample mounds more sweets or sample one of their award winning ghost-chili caramel and honey saffron chocolates. Ooh la la.
3. Fremont Coffee House (459 North 36th Street; 206-632-3633; fremontcoffee.net) Specializing in artisan-roasted, fine coffees the Fremont House’s mission is to bring back the classic neighborhood coffee house in a city that gave birth to the biggest chains in the world. Get a cup of their Fair Trade and organic Liquid Lightning and enjoy the work of local artists. On nice days, take a Morning Glory (Soy Chai) outside to the patio and enjoy the rare sightings of the Seattle sun. These baristas take their latte art seriously – you’ll see everything from a foamy unicorn to the legendary Fremont Troll.
4. 9 Million In Unmarked Bills (3507 Fremont Pl N; 206-632-0880; 9m-unmarked.com) Seattle’s only Prohibition-themed whiskey bar has the look of a 1920s Speakeasy complete with gangster photos on quilted velvet walls and a neon sign that reads “Prescription” hanging over the fully-stocked sleek bar. Try the Last Word (Hendrick’s gin, green Chartreuse, lime, and Luxardo Maraschino) paired with the Prairie Burger (all-natural beef and harvarti cheese on a potato bun) or if you are hankering for a veggie option, go for the black-bean veggie burger with soy bacon. Favorite snacks include Tofu Pillows (crusty cubes of tofu served with scallion ginger soy sauce) and the crowd-pleasing Truffle Fries.
5. Essenza (615 North 35th Street; 206-547-4895; essenzaseattle.com) This airy perfumery is set to look like a European Apothecary and carries small artisan perfumes from all over the globe. Be sure not to miss their delicate jewelry – a third of which is made by local designers. Their bath products are also a find, from cashmere robes to Turkish towels.
6. Pie (3515 Fremont Avenue North; 206-436-8590; sweetandsavorypie.com) The friendly, tattooed wait staff are happy to tell you about their rotating pie menu full of hot-off-the-rack savory selections like the Mac and Cheese Pie (noodles, house-made cheese sauce, peas, topped by cheddar bread crumbs) or the BBQ Pulled Pork Pie. When your sweet tooth kicks in, try the Salty Caramel, the Berry Awesome, or the Root Beer Cream Pie filled with pudding made from scratch. Enjoy their sweet pies with a cup of local Victrola coffee or Full-Tilt ice cream or wash down a savory selection with a can from the Fremont Brewery Company.
7. Portage Bay Goods (621 North 35th Street; 206-547-5221; portagebaygoods.com) This brightly-colored novelty shop is brimming with regionally-designed goods from Space Needle onesies, to Carpe Diem journals to their bestselling Northwestern-themed cards. Every first Friday, PBG features a new collection of items from local graphic designers, letterpress companies, and jewelry makers, keeping their selection super fresh.