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University of Washington men's crew team returning from Lake Washington.
NEIGHBORHOOD GUIDE

A guide to local favorites in University District

University of Washington men's crew team returning from Lake Washington.
  • By Seth Sommerfeld
  • Photos by Hayley Young
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University District
Seattle
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Even though outsiders don’t often think of Seattle as a college town, the University of Washington’s shadow looms large. As long as packs of 18-to-22-year-olds don’t spook you, the University District has a lot to offer. In addition to all the attractions the campus brings (speakers, sports, cherry blossoms), the surrounding neighborhood stays busy with engaging entertainment, high-end shopping (see: University Village) and loads of international food options (many of which cater to UW’s student population).

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.

Want to get in touch?

mail-solidEmail bytheway@washpost.com
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University District

Neptune Theatre
The Neptune checks so many of the boxes you would want in a live-performance venue, it’s perhaps the best place to see a concert — and definitely the top spot for stand-up comedy. It has an inviting, updated-but-still-classic style (complete with faux stained glass honoring the Roman god), with a perfect three-tier structure, great acoustics, a snack bar and savvy booking that often catches acts right before they get huge.
Neptune Theatre, 1303 NE 45th St. Seattle, WA 98105
University Book Store
Far from a mere textbook and UW merch outpost, the University Book Store nails what a collegiate bookshop should aspire to be. Seattle’s oldest independent bookstore is replete with new releases (including robust local-author and children’s sections) and gift items. Its ultra-casual feel makes it the ideal spot to catch top authors swinging through town — the rarely crowded readings often end up morphing into personable affairs.
University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE Seattle, WA 98105
Xi’an Noodles
Picking just one international cuisine in the U District is a fool’s errand, but the hand-pulled Chinese noodles at Xi’an are frankly undeniable. This no-frills, counter-service joint quickly delivers warm and satisfying noodles with sublime chewiness (garnished by the meat, veggies or hot oil of your choice), while menu deep cuts like Heart-Break Spicy Sour Noodles soup blend contrasting flavors into blissful journeys for your taste buds.
Xi’an Noodles, 5259 University Way NE Seattle, WA 98105
Pink Gorilla
You might not know that the Seattle area is a video-gaming hub (home to Nintendo of America, Microsoft, Valve, Bungie and more), but within the walls of the used-game store Pink Gorilla, it all makes sense. With a collection of thousands of classic and rare games across console generations (from Game Boy to PlayStation 2 to the Japanese Famicom), the shop offers a veritable smorgasbord of digital gaming goodness.
Pink Gorilla, 4341 University Way NE Seattle, WA 98105
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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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