Culinary Boom Towns: Seattle's 4 Fastest Growing Foodie Neighborhoods

Seattle’s skyline says it all — the town’s booming. Construction cranes loom large over all areas of the city, threatening to overshadow the trademark Space Needle. This boom also brings higher tax revenue. The City of Seattle anticipates a 4.5% growth in 2016, thanks largely to Amazon and Boeing.

“Boeing and Amazon have become major drivers of the growth in local employment,” reports Office of the Mayor Ed Murray’s 2016 Budget Highlights.

The boom town effect trickles down into other economic sectors, including restaurants. Classics like Canlis, Anthony’s Homeport, and Daniel’s Broiler still hold court for Seattle’s elite sports figures, corporate executives and media elites with high-net worth and disposable income.

But such old guard sites now jostle for equal time with an influx of upstart eateries elbowing to serve Seattle’s high-income, high-octane, high-tech hipsters. These up-and-comer consumers demand trendy tipples, craft cocktails, farm-to-table fare, and casual vibes suitable for their frenetic, far-flung family and professional lives.

Additionally, the Port of Seattle reports continued double-digit growth in passenger traffic to the Emerald City in 2015, both by air and cruise ship. Seattle’s cuisine reflects the escalating demands expected of an international hub, including Asian-fusion finds like Wild Ginger, group-friendly gastropubs like Spur, and Northwest cuisine cafe/bars like Local 360.

Moreover, the growth doesn’t just ‘trickle-down.’ It trickles out. Neighborhoods like Ballard, SODO, Georgetown, and West Seattle benefit, too, resulting in their own ‘boomlets.’

Here, Foodable WebTV Network takes a peek at four of Seattle’s most popular foodie regions on the rise:

Ballard

This little burg north of downtown, west of Puget Sound, and east of Salmon Bay boasts a history rich in Scandinavian and maritime culture. Once known as the “Shingle capital of the world,” Ballard’s claims to fame include Fishermen’s Terminal, Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, Shilshole Marina, Golden Gardens Park,and Nordic Heritage Museum.

Today, Ballard bursts at its boundaries with the highest concentration of urban breweries in the city, notable hot spots and a thriving Ballard Farmer’s Market. 

For serious arm-curlers, Ballard offers a critical mass of breweries to choose from: Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Co., Great Pacific Northwest, Hilliards Brews, Jolly Roger Taproom, Lantern Brewing, Lucky Envelope Brewing, Maritime Pacific Brewing Company, Northwest Peaks Brewery, Peddler Brewing Company, Populuxe Breweries, Reuben’s Brews, Stoup Brewing, and Urban Family Brewing Co.

 As for foodies, forget gefilte fish — Ballard offers a smorgasbord of international eateries, including Bastille, Cafe Besalu, Honoré Artisan Bakery, La Carta de Oaxaca, Skillet Diner, Stoneburner, and Volterra. Old standards like Larsen’s Bakery and Ray’s Boathouse give way to culinary royalty like Ethan Stowell’s Bramling Cross, Chippy’s, Staple & Fancy, Renee Erickson's The Walrus & the Carpenter and Maria Hines’ The Golden Beetle.

Like a good friend, watering holes The Hi-Life, The Noble Fir, Ballard Station Public House, and Conor Byrne welcome locals and non-locals with Ballard’s warm, low-key hospitality.

Fremont

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Locals call Fremont “The Center of the Universe.” This quirky little orbit spinning on its own accord on the north shore of the Lake Washington Ship Canal rocks it with the Fremont Rocket, Fremont Troll, David-sized statue of Lenin, and annual Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade. Clearly Fremont marches to its own tune. And knows how to have fun.

No wonder so many independent-minded food and wine professionals choose to fly their flag in Fremont. Glance around the ‘hood, and you’ll find a global gaggle of good eats served up by folks with some serious skills who don’t take themselves too seriously. Caviar, Pomerol, Ponti’s, Revel, Rock Creek — it’s a heady list. Not to mention long-time haunts Red Door, Hale’s Ales, and Fremont Brewery.

From the Fremont Sunday Market, one of Seattle’s longest running farmers markets, to sustainably-centered PCC and ethically produced THEO’s chocolates, this neighborhood rolls out like a great blues tune - soulful, unfettered, true.

SODO | Georgetown   

Retro chic SODO district lies south of downtown Seattle, in the shadow of Century Link Field, Safeco Field, and Starbucks headquarters. A food truck lover’s paradise, SODO serves up plenty of pre-and post-game celebration sites, including Pyramid Alehouse, Gastropod, Schooner Exact Brewing, and Westland Distillery, plus a few urban wineries like Scarborough Winery and Elsom Cellars.

Beggin’ for a little blue-collar turned bohemian vibe? Look no further than SODO’s sibling Georgetown, south of Boeing Field and the Museum of Flight. This former warehouse wasteland, once home to Seattle’s starving artist scene, now enjoys a rocket-like renaissance fueled by trendy wineries, hip breweries and off-the-hook cooks.

A comfort food compass, Georgetown’s cafes enjoy a loyal following, from Brass Tacks, Hangar Cafe, and Via Tribunali to restaurateur Matt Dillon’s The Corson Building.

But it’s bad-boy wine mogul Charles Smith who reigns as Georgetown’s superstar for success. When this east-of-the-mountain wine maker wanted to expand west in 2015, Smith chose Georgetown to site his Charles Smith Jet City Wines. Smith’s rock-star move amped the area’s profile, shining a light on Jet CIty and other existing wineries like Laurelhurst Cellars, OS Winery, and Lost River Winery.

West Seattle

Seattle’s largest neighborhood, West Seattle boasts some of the city’s best beaches, sunsets, and stellar marine views. Set apart from the rest of Seattle’s stellar satellites, West Seattle’s quiet streets, parks, and boardwalks favor families, fitness buffs and furry, four-legged friends, while its water taxis and ferries offer commuters and vacationers seaward options for avoiding clogged roadways.

A little bit Mayberry, a little bit Bay City, West Seattle slings some of Seattle’s tastiest brunch selections, from break-outs like Bakery Nouveau, Blackboard Bistro, Fiddlehead Fine Foods & Cafe and Fresh Bistro, to stalwarts like Husky Deli, Jak’s Grill and Salty’s on Alki.

West Seattle tipple-lovers settle in at hop-houses like Burdick Brewery, Elliot Bay Brewery, West Seattle Brewing Company and wine bars like Bin 41, Locöl Vine and Barley, Phoenecia, and Purple Cafe and Wine Bar.

As Seattle illustrates, a great culinary boom town owes its success to the sum of its parts, with no weak links among them.