Seattle Neighbourhood Guide: Ballard
The neighbourhood of Ballard began as many of the surrounding neighbourhoods of Seattle did, its very own city. As the population of Ballard grew in size, the municipality struggled in providing adequate services to its residents - mainly the supply of clean drinking water. To manage this problem, Ballard began to buy drinking water from Seattle however, this lead to Ballard racking up a hefty debt that they were unable to repay. Because of this, Ballard was annexed over to Seattle in 1907. While the annexation was thought to be a necessity at the time, the citizens of Ballard marked the day by flying the Town Hall flag at half-mast and covering store fronts with black curtains.
Today Ballard is home to some of the best food in the Seattle area as well as a massive farmer’s market. A central feature of the neighbourhood are the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and a great way to see them is with live music! In the summer, concerts are held on the lawn of the locks Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm.
The Ballard Farmers market is one my absolute favourite summer events in Seattle. The market runs all year around, but in my opinion the best time to experience it is in the summer months. It runs on Sundays (10am-3pm) and parking is free on Sundays (however it is usually in high demand). Definitely come to the market hungry and enjoy sampling your way through the many stalls ranging from kombucha, perogies, curries, the freshest fruits, charcuteries, and more.
If you want a progressive meal, Ballard is the place to be. Every second storefront is an amazing bar or restaurant and that is just fine with me. Anchored Ship Coffee Bar is a simple and cozy setup that serves a great brew. They also have a carbonated coffee brew which is as interesting as it sounds. As you wander up or down Ballard Ave NW, look for Space Oddity Vintage Furniture (very quirky vintage furniture and small items), re-souL (a lovely shoe store with unique offerings), and Prism (his & her apparel). Lucca Great Finds is my favourite shop in Ballard. Carrying an eclectic array of everything from bath products, stationary, incense, playing cards, and bar supplies.
There are no shortage of food options and I will not be covering them all here! My favourite bar to enjoy a meal and drink is Percy’s & Co. This place always has amazing energy and their drinks are always spot on. Little Tin is perhaps the most interesting spot in Ballard. It's hard to describe the interior- think 1930's vintage but in an outdoor garden space. The space is covered in both real and artificial plants, with an exposed brick wall, a wood burning stove, and oversized rugs covering the cement floor it is hard not to just sit and stare at your surroundings. Their cocktails are delicious and have some great garnishes. Two other options would be Bastille Cafe and Bar (French bistro with a great brunch), La Isla (a Puerto Rican eatery). If you are feeling like Mexican food, you definitely want to try Asadero. They specialize in serving Mesquite grilled meats on family platters.
A little further down you will find the Walrus and the Carpenter, a restaurant that is certainly unsurpassed in their seafood offerings. They have at least six different oysters on the menu and lovely host of other small plates to share.
Finish whatever meal you choose at Hot Cakes - Molten Chocolate Cakery. My personal favourite is the Smoked Chocolate S’mores Lava Cake (feel free to share one - they are a good portion). Alternatively, if it is a hot summer day, I would recommend heading to Parfait Ice Cream with flavours like chocolate peanut butter cup, rosemary almond brittle, and lavender caramel it’s hard not try two… or three. They also have a great selection of dairy free options!
Ballard is one of my favourite neighbourhoods to wander through. For accommodations, the Ballard Hotel is a lovely option or there are plenty of Airbnb's in the area.