A Canine's Capitol Hill

A Canine's Capitol Hill

Just above downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill is known for its stately homes, funky shops, eclectic mix of restaurants, coffeehouses, parks, theaters and...dog friendliness? Yes, dog friendliness.
Written by Elizabeth Henkes | Photography by David Henkes
Tucked between Interstate 5 to the west and the Washington Park Arboretum to the east, Seattle’s expansive Capitol Hill neighborhood enjoys a reputation for its alternative lifestyles, numerous independent business owners, excellent restaurants, coffeehouses, and nightlife. In 1999 Capitol Hill was ground zero for the now-famous Seattle WTO riots; it’s also considered by some to be the birthplace of the “grunge” music movement, and has been compared to both the Castro and Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods in San Francisco.

On this sunny but cool morning, it’s practically impossible to choose a location for our morning cup of coffee; there is espresso everywhere we look! Every coffeehouse has its own style, reputation, and faithful customers so odds are good we can’t go too wrong; most have outside seating where canines can hang out with their masters, and many have biscuits to share as well.

Stymied by choice, we opt for breakfast instead, and find a seat outside at Broadway Grill, the home of the infamous “Wasabi Bloody Mary” and located just across the parking lot from the TNT Espresso Company, where there are almost more dogs than people sitting outside. Our server, Tonya (an ultra trail runner), assures us that the grill is very dog-friendly and shares her observations of the neighborhood while we peruse the extensive menu. The people-watching from this location is great and Winston and Sawyer are continually entertained by the many doggie “friends” that pause to say hello on their morning walks. After a thoroughly enjoyable breakfast, we debate between a walk in the park and a visit to the Sunday Broadway Farmer’s Market.

Although the park wins out, it bears mentioning that the Farmer’s Market, open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from May through December, is a quality spot to stock up on the week’s produce. A member of the Neighborhood Farmer’s Market Alliance, this location showcases excellent local farmers, such as Alvarez Farms and Full Circle Farm. It’s also incredibly dog-friendly and hands out a sheet of “Dog Manners” so that everyone can continue to enjoy the market in harmony.

We set out for Volunteer Park, a nearly 50-acre haven that houses the Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle Asian Art Museum, fantastic downtown and mountain views, a showcase garden from the International Dahlia Society, and lots of great places to sniff and play on-leash. The approach from 15th Avenue is majestic, as this is Capitol Hill’s “Millionaire’s Row,” where many old and beautiful homes rise above the green space, a stark contrast to the other more eclectic areas of the neighborhood.

As soon as we enter the grassy area, we meet Isis, a gorgeous husky, and friend Loki, a black Labrador mix who is just a bit more interested in catching a squirrel than he is in greeting a couple of hounds. There are at least five other dogs within shouting distance, and as we wander toward a large meadow we encounter Willow, a young Australian Labradoodle. She’s not entirely sure what to do with the two little guys that want to say hello, but she’s awfully interested in both our camera and the stick she’s found to chew.

We spend some time wandering the park, which is beloved by residents and is busy with parties, barbeques, and other gatherings; then we decide to check out another of Capitol Hill’s renowned recreational spots: Cal Anderson Park. A good deal smaller than Volunteer Park (only about 8 acres), this little gem has recently been redesigned. Its centerpiece is a large fountain, with texture and reflecting pools, creating a mellow backdrop for the large yoga class that meets on the lawn. Well-maintained pathways are littered with benches where one might sit for a bit of peaceful reading or rumination. Though on-leash, this park is also quite dog-friendly, providing Mutt Mitts if you forget yours.

We’re curious about the area around Pike and Pine Streets on the fringe of downtown, so pile in the car for a bit of investigation. As we drive down Pike Street, we grab a free parking space and dash into the newest location of Cupcake Royale, which shares a space with Verite Coffee. Though dogs are not allowed inside, Cupcake Royale plans to place a bench outside where one can share a snack with their canine friend. Sweet treats firmly in paw we continue the drive, passing Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream on Pine Street. Although Molly Moon’s has several locations, the Capitol Hill store is its flagship and is similar in style to its Wallingford store (see CityDog, Summer 2009). We hate to pass up the gourmet flavors of Salted Caramel, Balsamic Strawberry, and Birthday Cake, but we press on to our destination.

We pass one of the few off-leash runs in the area, Plymouth Pillars Park, a very small gravel space, but one that is welcomed and frequented by residents and their best friends. The feel of the neighborhood is definitely different here; it’s much more urban than the areas around the parks, with lots of funky, friendly stores to peruse. We’re headed for local pet store Mud Bay and are surprised when we come to its tiny storefront. A quality company, this location is challenged by its small size, but the managers have done an exemplary job of using every inch of space available to them. (Additionally, Mud Bay has put its stamp on the neighborhood by providing many of the local businesses with biscuits for their canine customers.) Winston and Sawyer are welcomed by Gina and Sarah, who owns “store dog,” Tyk (pronounced “Teek”); both are very knowledgeable about this part of the neighborhood and ply the boys with treats and attention.

Just a few doors down we find the Mecca we’ve been searching for in Bauhaus Books & Coffee. The books here are of the encyclopedia and reference variety but are a huge part of the atmosphere in this establishment, which has been around since 1993. Inside is packed (thanks to stellar coffee and free Wi-Fi) and we spend a little time at the counter chatting with store manager, Mis. She welcomes dogs in outside seating, and understands if a customer needs to bring their howler in long enough to place an order. In addition to a small but quality merchandise selection and a mixed clientele, this coffeehouse rolls out one fantastic hazelnut latte.

We’re excited by everything we found in Capitol Hill and realize there’s so much more to see in this sprawling, one-of-a-kind neighborhood, but our little legs have reached their limit. Right now it’s time for a nap, but we can’t wait for the discoveries on our next visit—for starters, we’re betting on the coffee.

Gear up for Capitol Hill at the CityDog Shop.

More Information

Bauhaus Books & Coffee
301 East Pine Street

Broadway Sunday Farmers Market (Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance)
Open May 10 - Dec. 20; 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Espresso Vivace Sidewalk Bar
321 Broadway Avenue East (walk-up bar)
532 Broadway Avenue East
(at Brix; sit-down shop)

Cupcake Royale & Verite Coffee
1111 East Pike Street

Fuel Coffee
610 19th Avenue East

Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
917 East Pine Street

The Broadway Grill
314 Broadway Avenue East
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

TNT Espresso Company
328 Broadway East

Cal Anderson Park
1635 11th Avenue

Plymouth Pillars Park (Off-leash area)
Boren Avenue and Pike Street

Volunteer Park
1247 15th Avenue East

Mud Bay
321 East Pine Street, 206.839.1144
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