What’s Good in the Hood: Phinney Ridge

Don’t overlook this mighty lil’ hood — let us show you what they’re made of.

When it comes to Seattle neighborhoods, Phinney Ridge seems to be the frequently forgotten middle child, sandwiched between big brother, Ballard and cooky little sister, Fremont.  But don’t be mistaken. Phinney Ridge is no chump.  Stretching up past the Woodland Park Zoo up through Greenwood Ave, this little ‘hood boasts the kinds of where-everyone-knows-your-name eateries and bars that would make even the locals in Cheers jealous.

Deets on Eats: Phinney Ridge is no one-hit food wonder clinging to the fame of Red Mill Burgers.  It’s a ‘hood that dishes up creative but familiar food in uniquely homey environments, a combo that will have you coming back for more.  Here are two must-visit spots if you’re in the area:

Mae's Phinney Ridge Cafe is full of kitschy nick-nacks. Photo by flickr/jdong.

Mae’s Phinney Ridge Café is a funky diner with the kind of charmingly bizarre wall décor that makes you feel like you’re about to chow down on comfort food that usually gets whipped up in your cooky G-Ma’s kitchen.  In the presence of Mae’s personal collection of assorted cow and poultry nick-nacks, you can sip on their freshly roasted and brewed coffee while pigging out on local favorites like Mae’s Famous Cinnamon Rolls ($3.50), the Phinney Spud Feast ($10.99) – a wildly satisfying hashbrown, onion, green pepper, and cheddar concoction – or the Shake & Eggs  ($11.99): a combo of two eggs, hashbrowns or grits and homemade biscuits with a “moo-velous” shake of your choice to wash it all down.

If you want to try something your down-home country mama has never made, try smoked, in-house classics like the Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon Hash &Eggs ($13.99) or the House Smoked Trout & Eggs ($13.99).

Phinney Market Pub and Eatery. Photo by Lena Park

Though Phinney Market no longer offers a circus of goods and services as it once did as a corner store, coffee shop, ice cream stand, and deli extravaganza, the namesake is back with a twist.  Welcome to the neighborhood a one-of-a-kind, kid-friendly pub.  Although brews are still off-limits to toddlers, the new, family-owned Phinney Market Pub and Eatery offers parents a welcome reprieve from the camp and cheese pizza of typical kid-friendly joints like Chuck E. Cheese’s.

One of Phinney Market's many reclaimed wood tables. Photo by Lena Park.

While your munchkins can happily munch on kids’ options like the mini cheeseburger ($4.50) or grilled chicken strips ($4.50), you yourself can sit back and sip on a refreshing Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat Ale or any of their other local, rotating taps and enjoy hearty meals like the Classic Rueben ($12) the Almond Crusted Salmon ($17), or one of the best homemade, Black Bean Veggie Burgers ($12) in town.

Feel like having another brewski?  No worries.  Tucked in the corner with toys and a wooden train track is a children’s play area to keep them occupied when they’re finished and fidgety.  Kids can have fun, parents can relax – it’s a win-win for everyone.

The Haps: This ‘hood is rolling in unique things to do on a quiet night out that are sure to feed your creative spirit.  Here are just a few examples to get you stoked:

The Daily Planet is the badass, hoarders’ version of the Little Mermaid’s treasure trove.  Piled high in this hole-in-the-wall store are assorted gadgets and gizmos ranging from placemat-sized tapestries of deer in nature to army bomber jackets to vintage point-and-shoot cameras.  Rifle through any of the drawers and you’ll find even more trinkets and goods tucked away for you to discover.

Down the street, you can also find kitschy shops like The Fiber Gallery that sells yarn of all shapes, sizes, textures, and colors, stocked enough so that you can knit, stitch, or braid your heart out.

And on most weekends, after the hubbub from the zoo dies down, you can head over to the Empty Sea Studios to catch a live performance of some quality acoustic music.  A renovated home with top-notch sound and recording equipment, this unique 40-seat living room turned concert venue houses acoustic bluegrass, jazz, a capella, and folk music from around the world.

[tentblogger-youtube wfEYd5X1gH4]

And if you’re a music lover, you’ll appreciate knowing that you won’t have to be “that guy” who shushes your drunken neighbor during a show because you want to hear the music.  It’s a quiet venue and everyone’s there for the same reason: to listen to acoustic music the way it should be listened to.

Places For A Brew-Ha-Ha: Phinney Ridge is home to a host of great bars, pubs, and taverns.  Places like El Chupacabra, Prost, and the 74th Street Alehouse are favorite watering holes each with their own distinct flair, great brews, and happy hour specialties.

Sully's Snowgoose Saloon epitomizes a neighborhood bar. Photo by Lena Park.

But Sully’s Snowgoose Saloon is the kind of neighborhood bar that puts Cheers to shame.  The aesthetic can only be described as a ménage a trois of a one story, cozy cottage, an old school alpine lodge, and the kind of quaint pubs you can only really find in the countryside of southern Ireland.  And the clientele, well let’s just say the steady stream of friendly locals and regulars tend to be beer-loving, older men.

“It can be a sausage fest,” Mike, one of Sully’s regulars laughingly admits, but rest assured, the men here are no pinny-wearing, gum-smacking college bros who suffer from voice immodulation.  People who come here are looking for a good beer as much as they are good folks and new and familiar faces to talk to.

They serve a solid variety of micros with a number of local, regularly rotating taps ($4.50/pint), as well as $2 pints Genny Light , Upstate, and Labatt’s.  And on Thursdays, you can kick back and relax with all-day happy hours that include $3.50 pints for more than a dozen micros and $1.50 for those light and refreshing East Coast favorites.

The verdict is in: Sully’s is the neighborhood favorite to grab a casual drink.  Or seven.

Let Phinney Ridge break out of middle-child mediocrity and show you what it’s made of.  You won’t be disappointed.