Monday, December 28, 2009

An egoless coffeehouse in Seattle

Matcha Green Tea Latte, SOHO Coffee Company

Cup o' Joe Mondays are back! This week, Alan and I trekked to a different part of town for a coffeeshop that was aptly described by one Yelper as "egoless." Standing in sharp contrast to so many in the city, SOHO Coffee Company makes little attempt to do anything particularly special. They have all the ingredients of a good Seattle coffee spot - music, local art, free wi-fi, down-to-Earth baristas, local alternative papers available, great espresso drinks and pastries, a satisfying combination of tables, desks, cozy chairs and coffee tables. But there's nothing fancy or pretentious about it.

Even the neighborhood itself is probably the least fancy or pretentious of any in Seattle: the Central District, an oft-overlooked (it didn't get a mention in my very own blog entry heralding all the cute, personality-driven neighborhoods of Seattle, despite the fact that I live in the Central District's backyard and the vast majority of my runs trek through here) part of the city. It doesn't have the scenic parks or incredible strips of restaurants or cultural hubs of other corners of's a little bit more rundown than other parts of the city, and has quite a few of those sad, boarded up windows in shops. But it also boasts a lot of invigorating hills (yay for hill running!), some great outlooks and views of Rainier, proximity to the also oft-overlooked International District (more exploration of that in future blog entries) and frankly, a less homogenous vibe than other parts of Seattle.

Because it tends to be less busy than all the crammed coffee spots of Capitol Hill, it seems like it would be a good place to really hunker down and get some work done. It also clearly lends itself to a lot of regulars, as the barista seemed to know just about everybody by name who came through the door.

And if there's any category that goes above and beyond for an A+, it's either the music (which seemed to be set to a totally-customized-for-Yitka Pandora station: Jack Johnson, Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine, Regina Spektor, Joshua Radin? Yes.) or the awesome Seattle/Central District mural in the bathroom - which apparently harks back to the days when this coffeeshop was under a different name: Cafe Vega.

Floor-to ceiling windows (well, almost) and no tall neighboring buildings to obstruct the sky lead to a lot of sunlight on a clear day. A cute neighborhood park across the street, a few hugely territorial views toward the southern horizon, a yoga studio next door, interesting people going by...a nice landscape, in other words. Overall probably not a place I'll come back to often, but good to know it's here.

Lastly...Alan and I have instilled a Monday tradition of our own as well - Takeout Pizza Night! Some background story: Pagliacci Pizza is known throughout Seattle as the city's best; Seyeon and I went and got slices there my very first night here in July. Her mom and she and I shared giant takeout pizzas over the summer and into the fall when the three of us were all still living under the same roof. Upon Alan and I getting our apartment, the first thing I wanted to do to mark the occasion was order takeout Pacliacci and have it delivered. Imagine my disappointment to learn that our apartment was just barely out of their delivery range. Bummer!

And so we were passed off to Piecora's, the other big pizza name in town. Fortunately, despite big shoes to fill, they stood the test have proved to have equally delicious pies! Better yet, they run a 50% off special on Monday nights. This is a big deal, since pizza in Seattle, like everything else, is four meals (hot dinner and cold breakfast both, for two) for around $12 is great.

Chloe thinks so, too.

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