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Customers sharing an order of freshly shucked oysters on patio at The Walrus and The Carpenter.
NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

A guide to local favorites in Ballard

Customers sharing an order of freshly shucked oysters on patio at The Walrus and The Carpenter.
  • By Seth Sommerfeld
  • Photos by Hayley Young
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Ballard
Seattle
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Resting just north of Salmon Bay, Ballard offers a slower-paced, more residential alternative to the core metropolitan area’s bustle. Once a hub for early-Seattle fishing and lumber industries, it has become a cultural hotbed. Whether you’re looking to dine, shop, kick back with a drink, roll with the kids to cruise through the popular Ballard farmers market on Sunday or rock the night away, the options are more plentiful than those salmon migrating up the nearby waters.

Meet Seth Sommerfeld

Seth has lived in Seattle since 2011. He was born and raised in Billings, Mont., with collegiate pit stops in Spokane, Wash., and Syracuse (go Zags, though) along the way. You can probably run into him at a concert.

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Ballard

Sonic Boom Records
Want to pick up the newest releases from top local bands? Or dig through used vinyl for that hidden gem? Turn to Sonic Boom, Seattle’s best record store. The well-organized offerings prevent things from feeling like a search for a needle in a haystack, and active vinyl traders help keep the flow of albums fresh. (Don’t sleep on the wall of new and used cassettes.) The store has become a go-to spot for up-and-coming acts celebrating new releases.
Sonic Boom Records, 2209 NW Market St. Seattle, WA 98107
Mighty-O Donuts
There’s no shortage of delicious doughnut shops across the city, but local chain Mighty-O’s treats stand out from the pack. The organic vegan cake doughnuts have stomach-satisfying heft. Although the creative, seasonal flavors and traditional preparations are solid, you really can’t top the maple-glazed flavor perfection of Mighty-O’s French Toast doughnut.
Mighty-O Donuts, 1555 NW Market St. Seattle, WA 98107
Ballard Locks
Connecting the fresh water of Lake Washington with the Puget Sound’s salty streams since 1917, the Ballard Locks are a marvel of engineering that remain impressive to watch in action a century later. Meanwhile, the complex’s Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden is ideal for tranquil, sunny Seattle afternoons, thanks to its lush paths for strolling and the rolling green hills that overlook the water. It’s ideal for lounging and sunbathing.
Ballard Locks, 3015 NW 54th St. Seattle, WA 98107
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Washington state is a world-renowned oyster oasis, and the Walrus and the Carpenter is Seattle’s go-to oyster bar (plus, the restaurant’s other offerings are superb). The flavors of the local waters are best enjoyed by grabbing a drink and shucking your way to a pile of shells. Show up before the 4 p.m. open if you want to ensure you get a spot.
The Walrus and the Carpenter, 4743 Ballard Ave. NW Seattle, WA 98107
Sunset Tavern
The Sunset is the ideal blend of bar and music venue: The front of the house, Betty’s Room, is its own (pretty sound-tight) space where folks can enjoy cozy, colorful maritime chic even if they’re skipping the concert. Push through the door to the back room and you’ll find one of the better concert spots in town, where the low ceiling and corner-tucked stage make every show feel intimate. It’s a favorite spot of rising independent (mostly rock and singer-songwriter) acts.
Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. NW Seattle, WA 98107
Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery
In terms of indulgences, it doesn’t get much sweeter than this pair: a tiny chocolate cake with a gooey, warm center, served on a wooden slab next to a scoop of ice cream that cuts the cocoa overload. Hot Cakes (which also has a location on Capitol Hill) does dessert right, both day and (late) night, with a host of baked delights (milk chocolate hazelnut, vegan dark chocolate, s’mores) plus alternatives like wonderfully chewy cookies and boozy milkshakes.
Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery, 5427 Ballard Ave. NW Seattle, WA 98107
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Seth Sommerfeld
Seth has lived in Seattle since 2011. He was born and raised in Billings, Mont., with collegiate pit stops in Spokane, Wash., and Syracuse (go Zags, though) along the way. You can probably run into him at a concert.
Hayley Young
Hayley is a photographer living in Seattle since 2003, drawn there by its music scene. She loves her city’s white-capped-mountain views, freshwater lakes, relaxed culture and collective embrace of sunshine. You can spot her at the Tractor Tavern catching touring acts before they make it to arena tours.
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