A blog about special neighbourhoods, local atmosphere and stellar coffee.


Known for its unique, off the wall character, Fremont is a Seattle neighbourhood that feels local, quirky and casual. With some unique landmarks, a great food scene and beautiful water views, this is a fun place to explore the quieter central Seattle.

An outside artwork of a local restaurant
Colourful graffiti saying Fremont
A vintage sign of a female diver
A cute wooden gift shop
A vibrant pink coffee machine
Three solitary turquise chairs waiting for patrons
A pastry counter at a local bakery

I have always been drawn to neighbourhoods that are close to the central core, but simultaneously far enough to have a bit more suburban soul. A manageable stroll from the central hub, Fremont is a Seattle neighbourhood that feels less touristy and more local, quirky and arty. The neighbourhood has an energetic buzz and active commercial side with a good amount of little shops to peruse and a refreshing food scene. The multiple terraces are prime locations for neighbourhood watching and immersing yourself in the local atmosphere.

Nostalgic wooden houses surronded by lavander
A sleek, ultramodern house on a rocky hill
A pretty craftsman style bungalow
A yellow wooden houses surrounded by blooming roses
A Pacific North West style green wooden house
A leafy facade of a lifestyle shop
A close up of beautiful white ceramics for sale
A leafy part of 35th street

‘The Center of the Universe’, as the residents have called Fremont since the 70s, may not have been the centre of the universe per se, but it was an important centre of the counterculture. Even today the neighbourhood applauds weirdness and bizarre public art. The unofficial motto of the neighbourhood ‘De Liberta Quirkas’ (‘Freedom to be Peculiar’), is printed on the Fremont Rocket, a 53-feet sculpture that resembles a Cold War era rocket. Fremont Troll, another iconic sculpture embodying the off-the-wall mentality of the area, represents a gigantic troll crushing a tiny VW Beetle. And don’t be puzzled by seeing a statue of the Communist Revolutionary Lenin. This out-of-place piece was brought from the former Czechoslovakia by an American chap and it was conserved in Fremont after his death. Also, open-mindedness is essential when visiting this neck of the woods; clothing is optional in the Fremont Solstice Parade that is hosted by the World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) every summer.

A massive troll sculpture under a bridge
A sculpture of a Cold War era rocket
A random statue of Lenin in Fremont
People hanging out around an old gasification park at Gas Works Park

However, in the past few years Fremont has experienced a wave of gentrification. The counterculture is still visible but to a smaller degree than in the past. Parts of the neighbourhood have started to resemble a modern urban enclave with lots of high tech companies and young professionals moving into the area and new modern apartments constantly being built. These two sides are co-living side by side, making it a very interesting neighbourhood if you want either an art or caffeine fix.

A close up of local pottery
Patrons munching lunch by a window seat at Stone way Cafe
A coffee shop sign advertising coffee

Nature and parks

A great way to reach Fremont is by foot as the neighbourhood is surrounded by water views from most directions. If you are staying in Seattle downtown or Capitol Hill, depending on your endurance, it is about a 1h 30min stroll down Westlake Avenue that leads to the iconic Fremont bridge. It is a pleasant walk by the Union Lake, passing through a busy working harbour as well as various houseboats and snug floating houses. It is beloved by cyclists and walkers. Glimpses of colourful wooden houses of the Eastlake neighbourhood on the other side of the lake bring contrast to the blue water.

Colourful boathouses on Union Lake
A high bridge connecting Fremont to downtown
A big boat parked on Union Lake
Rowing on the Union Lake against Capitol Hill

A great place to kick back is Kite Hill located at Gas Works Park (2101 N Northlake Way). The latter is a former gasification plant that operated between 1906 and 1956. Massive old, rusty gas and electrical equipment now have their new life as sculptures. Although possibly not evoking images of something idyllic and nature-like, the park is a beloved Fremont hangout with lots of green space to run and play or have a picnic. Due to Kite Hill’s elevated position it offers wonderful views of downtown, Capitol Hill and the residential North Queen Anne.

A group of boys having a picnic at Gasworks Park
A hilly view of Gasworks Park and downtown behind
A group of people gazing towards downtown
Old gasification park at Gas Works Park

Independently owned shops

You know you are in a creative, hipster neighbourhood when there are multiple plant shops and garment stores where 80’s loose T-shirts cost a silly pretty penny. But for the very same reason browsing here is fun as it is all about independent trading. Fremont boasts a handful of places to get pre-loved records, vintage clothes and secondhand books. Make sure to check Ophelia's Books (3504 Fremont Ave N) that is crammed with great discoveries and hard-to-find copies. I liked Sfingiday (513 N 36th St) for beautiful pottery and stationary, Les Amis (3420 Evanston Ave N) for timeless good quality clothes and homeware, and Pipe and Row (611 N 35th St) for contemporary, trendy clothing and accessories. For sweet treats, head to Theo Chocolate (3400 Phinney Ave N) that was the very first fair trade and organic chocolate producer in North America. They organise tours with chocolate sampling if you are looking for a delicious afternoon.

A colourful facade of a second hand book shop
A facade of a used records store
A facade of a bookshop specialising in cook books
A variety of hats at Pipe and Row
A front of a cute wooden gift shop
A front of a record shops
An extensive shop full of green foliage
A modern sign of a camera shop agains a grey wooden house

Food and coffee scene

For a local neighbourhood Fremont boasts a dynamic food scene. The numerous eateries and cafes cater for every taste, from exotic to organic, from hearty to health conscious. I was impressed by the lack of chain restaurants; or if there were any, these must have been totally blinded by the small, independent restaurants. I often like easy, casual places where you feel comfortable either when dining alone or with friends. And Fremont is packed with places that are unpretentious, fun and economic but also at the top of the foodie game. For some juicy nectars, there is a cluster of great places to hang out. If you are a fellow IPA junkie, have a break at Fremont Brewing (1050 N 34th St). If you are more of a cider sponge, try Schilling Cider House (708 N 34th St) with over 30 cider tabs. Here are some of the eateries I recommend adding to your Fremont list:

Inside of a modern restaurant
An airy deli counter at The Whale Wins
A vintage burger restaurant sign
A close up of chocolate bags
Leafy streets with restaurants

Milstead & Co.
754 N 34th St

Milstead & Co. is already a Fremontian institution: if you read about the best coffee spots in the city, you can be pretty sure Milstead is mentioned somewhere there. And the hype is real as the coffee is dang good. I had a La Marzocco powered latte that was nutty and balanced, yet offered that strong morning caffeine kick. There is a small but mouthwatering selection of breakfast pastries. My strawberry brioche was just how I like it; not too sweet but a nice compliment for the rich coffee.

The space is partially under the massive Aurora Bridge yet couldn’t be airier and lighter thanks to its massive floor-to-ceiling glass walls and sparse decoration. Long communal tables dominated the space and the window seats were coveted places to admire the impressive view of the bridge. Lots of freelancers were busy tapping on their laptops but equally Milstead was a place to catch up over a coffee. Add some friendly baristas, and you get an idea why this place is always mentioned in coffee-shops-to-visit lists.

Inside the airy Milstead & Co
Coffee and straberry brioche
Coffee counter at Milstead & Co

The Sea Wolf
3621 Stone Way

Bakeries are my thing. I’ve probably spent too much time raving about them, but they are often the best places to get some mouthwatering treats and immerse yourself in the local atmosphere. And The Sea Wolf is no exception.

This is a working bakery where the kitchen, a small indoor seating area and a coffee counter harmoniously coexist together under one big industrial roof. Whilst waiting for your coffee, have a little peek how the focaccias, cinnamon rolls, rhubarb croissants, and scones are being baked right behind the coffee counter. My moreish cake packed with seeds, pieces or chewy dates and ginger felt in equal measures decadent as well as healthy. Although patrons probably march here for their baked goodnesses, the coffee is no secondary either. The beans are roasted on premises by Hyacinth Coffee and the coffee was smooth with notes of caramel and almonds.

The Sea Wolf shares a substantial outdoor patio with the neighbouring restaurant Manolin. And this is the kind of outdoor space I enjoy: pergolas with hanging lights, charcoal aesthetics, plants, and a smoking pit releasing an aroma as if you were camping. Sitting outside, drinking my coffee, listening to the kitchen in full swing, and watching the fresh loaves being transported to other locations in wheelbarrows make this a very immersive local experience.

A coffee counter at Sea Wolf bakery
A bakery logo outside
The bakery section with bakers baking delicacies

Stone Way Cafe
3510 Stone Way

I was drawn to Stone Way Café, a little eatery with a sunny street-facing terrace where people were hanging out with their books and dogs, or catching up with their friends over a coffee. Their menu is definitely on the comfort food side, including hearty plates such as breakfast burritos and puds, messy Cuban sandwiches, and warm bowls. I overindulged in a Caribbean salad with chicken, avocado, grilled pineapple, sweet potato and kale. It was a good combination of naughty and nice. There’s a big indoor space to sit down but I opted for a table at the terrace as the sun was out and it was a perfect spot to do some Fremont street watching. In the evenings Stone Way Café offers beer, live music and open mic nights.

Patrons sitting outside Stone Way Cafe
Chicken and avocado salad

Lighthouse Roasters
400n N 43rd St

Lighthouse Roasters is a proper local spot, located in a vibrant yellow wooden house on a hilly residential road. It's a working roastery so whilst you are getting your caffeine fix, the beans are being roasted right in the same room with you.

Whilst the facade may be a cookie-cut homey, the indoors reminded me of an old men’s bar in Spain. The roasting released that distinct smell almost like beers and cigarettes and the background music and dark dated decor added to that nocturnal feel. It couldn't be any further from the white, light-filled Scandi aesthetics I usually prefer, but for a peculiar way, it all works and I really enjoyed hanging out here. Perhaps it was the window seating and the very friendly and smiley baristas. If you prefer to have your coffee in a less dark setting, grab your cup and sit in their homey backyard filled with plants and rays of sunshine.

As you would expect from a roastery, the coffee is fresh, aromatic and strong. The notes were deep, hoppy, almost like a mixture of dark chocolate, cherries and stout but with a smooth creamy finish. This was one of the deepest coffee experiences I have had for a long time, without being bitter. Lighthouse Roasters perfectly exemplifies how in Seattle you can even find the strongest cup of joe in the cutest residential areas.

A bright yellow facade of the cafe
A close up of the roastery's logo

709 N 35th St

Crumby is a local sandwich shop but unlike the usual deli aesthetics and ceiling menus, this joint is a proper restaurant where waiting for your gourmet sandwich is part of the fun. Massive windows let in all the natural light and an array of comfy cushions by a long bench invite you to sit down. Knives and forks give a hint this place takes sandwiches to a completely new level.

The menu revolves around messy, mouthwatering sandwiches. Usual flavours like carnitas, mortadella or chorizo are given a new twist with ingredients such as saffron aioli, pickled mustard seeds, burrata, and apples. I am obsessed with earthy, foraged mushrooms and when these are mixed with plenty of mozzarella and caramelised onions in the form of a flavour oozing messy burger, we are talking about an ultimate comfort food. I usually skip any accompanying crisps but Crumby’s housemade, well seasoned crisps disappeared from my plate even before I could comprehend this milestone. Crumby also has a substantial cocktail bar so you can grab botanical gins, dark manhattans or local hazies to sip along with your sarnies.

A leafy terrace and a big glass windows of the sandwich shop
A close up a mushroom and mozzarella sandwich

Lucky's Pho
3414 Fremont Ave N

Lucky’s Pho is a casual Vietnamese neighbourhood joint. It is known for its heartwarming Pho bowls, messy Bahn Mi sandwiches and bubble tea. The place is very low key with water machines and condiments on old faded tables. But it has a warm soul, perhaps because of the friendly staff. This setting suits the agenda as people came here for a quick soothing bite, and the prices are very affordable for a tasty lunch.

My chicken pho in beef broth was just delicious. The broth had deep, almost cinnamony flavours and the rice noodles had the perfect buoyancy and texture. The portion is huge and satisfying. And don’t be shy to slurp all the broth - it is way too good to even waste a drop.

A big bowl of Vietnamese Pho
The sleepy, white facade of Lucky's Pho

Fremont Bowl
4258 Fremont Ave N

In Seattle you are never too far from the water or from decent seafood. Fremont Bowl is a tiny Japanese restaurant located a bit further from the main drag of the neighbourhood. But if big chunks of fish is your thing, then the little walk up the hill is all worth it.

Fremont Bowl has gained popularity thanks to the generous portions and decent prices. The menu is pretty condensed, offering about ten main donburi dishes, often with seafood. Their photogenic chirashi seems to be the star of the show with an overload of beautifully presented fish, but my salmon poke bowl wasn’t particularly petite either. It contained so many cubes of soft salmon that I thought I couldn’t finish it all in one go. But, it was so tasty that it all disappeared in the end, with no struggle. With seaweed, masago, and yuzu soy sauce seeping through to the sushi rice, this bowl really hit the right spot on a hot day. The place is very casual, where all the attention is directed to the food.

A big salmon poke bowl
The humble counter at Fremont Bowl

I've always liked neighbourhoods that feel local and so Fremont really felt like my kind of place. With a glorious mixture of beautiful residential streets, craftsman style houses, parks, small indie shops and fascinating eateries it is easy to spend a lazy, tasty day in Fremont. It boasts that special small town ambiance that makes it feel like a microcity away from all the central hustle and bustle, whilst firmly being entrenched in it.

A sign of a Japanese restaurant
Colourful Fremont graffiti
A bustling cafe terrace
Eateries along Stone Way