I had so much fun in West Seattle, I had to break it up into two blog posts. First, fun at the the Junction.
The thing about living in Seattle is that I want to move into every new neighborhood that I explore.
Early on, I was enchanted by the bustling U-District, with its eclectic selection of restaurants and pubs, arts venues, and used bookstores (no small consideration, in my eyes).
A few weeks ago, Ballard caught my eye with its nod to the nautical and, well, Paseo.
The most recent object of my desire: West Seattle.
Truth be told — and this is straight-up sad — I wouldn’t have been able to find West Seattle on a map as recently as a month ago. I always assumed “west Seattle” referred to the westernmost point of the city, which I thought was downtown. Accordingly, I found it curious that downtown was called “west Seattle” instead of, say, “downtown.” I had no idea that there existed another neighborhood on the west side of Elliott Bay.
So once I found out that West Seattle was a thing — and as soon as I could find it on a map — I went exploring.
There are two ways to get to West Seattle: Drive south of downtown and take the oft-congested West Seattle Bridge … or take a water taxi. (Seattle sure does love its boats!) Seeing as how I had a full day to kill and a transit pass at my disposal, I opted for the water taxi.
The first thing I noticed about West Seattle was that it felt like an island; it’s not, but it’s very much a self-contained community. West Seattle is surrounded on three sides by water, has limited transportation options to and from the rest of Seattle, and features a free shuttle to get people around. Every second I was out there, I thought I was on an island.
I started my West Seattle adventure by exploring what’s called the Junction — a cool enclave that reminded me in many ways of a small coastal community, complete with restaurants, used bookstores, antique stores, murals on the sides of businesses, and — of course — a bakery.
But this was no ordinary bakery. This was the acclaimed Bakery Nouveau. I had traveled by bus, water taxi, and shuttle, in part, to try one of its famed baked goods, and I wasn’t disappointed.
I wasn’t sure where to begin — it all looked mouthwatering — so I started by telling the young lady behind the counter, “This is my first time here,” hoping to elicit a recommendation. Without missing a beat, she turned to the trio of women behind me in line and said, “Ladies! We have a first-timer here! Can you believe it?! What should he get?”
“Oh my God!” “Really?!” “Get one of everything!” “What’s wrong with you!” “Well, at least you’re here now!” “Get the almond croissant! ”
With that, I ordered the twice-baked almond croissant, sat down, took a bite, and … can’t remember what happened next. I think I started levitating for a moment. Angels appeared. I saw colors. I might have passed out.
It was, far and away, the single best baked good I’ve ever eaten in my life.
I can safely say that, if I had moved to West Seattle instead of Eastlake, I would have contracted diabetes by now. Heart disease might have claimed me. I would have filed bankruptcy after sampling two of everything. It was one of the three or four most memorable culinary experiences of my life. (Not that I keep a list of such things, but it was JUST THAT GOOD.)
(Oh dear. I’m hitting every bad blogger stereotype right now. Moving on …)
I walked around the district’s main stretch for a bit, ducking in and out of used bookstores along the way. After a spell, I hit up The Beer Junction, a taproom/bottle shop with an impressive selection of about 15 beers on tap.
I indulged in a Pumking from Southern Tier Brewing Company. With overcast skies and a slight breeze, it was certainly a “fall beer” kind of day. It was a nice break, to be sure.
I explored a bit more, walked to the shuttle, and headed to Alki Point. That adventure is worthy of its own blog post, so more on that in part two …