University District Specialty
Agua Verde Cafe & Paddle Club
1303 N.E. Boat St., University District
In the summer months, the water is one of the best ways to see the city; the café and paddle club make an excellent home base for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding in Portage Bay. Afterwards, enjoy the view over a margarita and our favorite salmon tacos.
4759 Brooklyn Ave. NE, University
The main reason you go to Full Tilt is for the fun of it: This ice cream shop has a mix of new and vintage arcade and pinball machines that make an entertaining afternoon outing for the whole family. As a bonus, there's also local Northwest beers. (In addition to the original joint in White Center, Full Tilt has locations in Columbia City, University, and Ballard.)
2615 N.E. 46th St., University
If you ask someone who lives in Seattle where to go for ice cream, Molly Moon's is likely to be one of the first places on their must-try list. Mainstay flavors here include vanilla bean, earl grey, honey lavender, melted chocolate, balsamic strawberry, and Scout Mint (Molly Moon's buys thousands of boxes of Thin Mint cookies each year from Western Washington Girl Scouts). They have a number of do-good policies: Everything used in the shop (from spoons to milkshake cups) is entirely compostable; their Anna Banana Milk Fund sends fresh milk to families in need every week; they source locally as much as possibly. (About 90% of their ingredients come from the Pacific Northwest. They've been working with the same organic lavender farm, Purple Haze, for several years. And the approximately 16,000 pounds of chocolate that they use annually comes from organic, fair-trade Theo Chocolate, which is made in Seattle.) The original Molly Moon's is in Wallingford, which has a parklet outside with swing seats and a baby hill for play. All of the ice cream in Wallingford is made on-site—same goes for the locations in Capitol Hill, Queen…
Portage Bay Cafe
4130 Roosevelt Way NE, University
Today, it’s not unusual for a restaurant to list the farmers and other local purveyors it sources ingredients from on the menu—though that wasn’t the case fifteen years ago, when Portage Bay Cafe started doing it. Three locations strong, we come here for easy lunches and all of the brunch staples, which they make with eggs from nearby Stirs farms (which, amazingly, includes plenty of actual images of their henhouses on their website). While it’s not technically grab-and-go, you can order takeout ahead and pick it up upon arrival. There are also locations in South Lake Union, Ballard, and Roosevelt.
Slate Coffee Roasters
1309 N.E. 45th St., University
The baristas at Slate are total connoisseurs—from the source of the beans to the grinding process to the water quality, they're obsessed with every detail of the coffee-making process. What's more, they're extraordinarily friendly and happy to give you a full education on the current (generally always light) roast. While the original Ballard location has Wifi, the tiny space can get pretty crowded: The newer University and Pioneer Square locations are better suited for working.