Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Seattle Pacific University's Student Newspaper

The Falcon

Old-school spots of Seattle

Students, staff, faculty share longstanding local favorites

Seattle is well known for its second-to-Portland oddities, hole-in-the-wall restaurants and one-of-a-kind thrift stores. Some of Seattle Pacific University students’ favorite spots include classics like the Downtown Waterfront and Gas Works Park.

However, students at SPU may be unaware of the hidden gems that those in the city point to as must-visits. Keep reading to discover the top locations you have to stop by for the full old-school Seattle experience.

1. The Tlingit Story Pole at SPU

Kim Gilnett is an established Seattleite who graduated from SPU with a degree in communications and has stuck around ever since.

In 1974, Gilnett began working for SPU’s admissions team and marketing in SPU’s fine arts program as his wife built her career in University Communications. Gilnett’s years in the city have led to a platter of knowledge on what local wonders could be overlooked by SPU students.

The Tlingit Story Pole is on SPU’s own campus; a 25-foot-tall carved cedar wood formation between McKinley, Alexander and Adelaide Hall. It was commissioned by the university’s 1971 class and built by Abner Johnson, a Tlingit tribe member. It tells the story of SPU’s founding, history and purpose with several symbolic figures and a falcon perched on the top of the pole.

While the Tlingit tribe is outside of Washington State in the Alaskan panhandle, the pole serves as a reminder of the native land SPU inhabits in Seattle and the larger Pacific Northwest.

“One of the things that’s important to me about that, is it sort of represents our heritage. We are on the property of the Duwamish tribe, and the Duwamish owned all of this land,” Gilnett said. “Every time I give somebody a tour of the campus, I stop by there and remind them of the Duwamish.”

For more information about the Tlingit Story Pole, click here.

Fort Lawton (U.S. Library of Congress File Photo)

2. Discovery Park in Magnolia (formerly Fort Lawton)

Located in the northwest corner of the Magnolia neighborhood is Discovery Park, an escape from the noise of urban life. The 534-acre park offers trails that pass streams and thickets, open meadows, forest groves and tidal beaches. Visitors can stand at the edge of cliffs to absorb the views of both the Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges.

Arguably the most hauntingly beautiful part of Discovery Park, according to Gilnett, is the small Fort Lawton Post Cemetery. It was established in the 1900s and is home to World War II history from when the park was formerly Fort Lawton.

“It’s a beautiful place to go and almost everybody will drive by it and not even stop, but you’ve got to really see it,” Gilnett said.

Click the links for more information about Discovery Park and the former Fort Lawton.

3. Ballard Locks at west end of Salmon Bay

One of Seattle’s least talked about tourist attractions is the Ballard Locks, which opened in 1916 and is located between the Seattle neighborhoods of Magnolia and Ballard.

This attraction has drastically changed how Seattle’s maritime industry operates, with the most boat traffic of any lock in the nation. It also has brought several activities for tourists and locals to enjoy seasonally, including the maritime museum, connected park and fish ladder.

“What most people don’t know is that during the year, a million salmon make their way up to this little area here on their way to go up and find a place to spawn and die,” Gilnett said.

Visitors can head underground and see the salmon firsthand as they embark on their journey across the waters.

For more information about the Ballard Locks, click here.

4. Bizzarro Italian Cafe in Wallingford

Another longtime local is Bill Purcell, a communications professor at SPU who moved to Seattle in 1988. His memory serves him well as he recalls the most memorable scenes of the city, mourning much of the history that Seattle has lost through years of reconstruction.

Some businesses have withstood the test of time that Purcell says are worth a visit, starting with a “bizzarro” spot for food.

This cafe is in the heart of the Wallingford neighborhood and was opened in 1986 by visual artist and chef David Nast. He converted it from an auto shop into fine Italian dining. The owner’s artistry is found in the funky design, which is the signature of the cafe.

“It has this tacky interior of tricycles hanging upside down, a velvet Elvis painting – just anything tacky,” Purcell said. “They serve great Italian food and all of the wait-persons are inked up, even as 50-year-olds, so it’s kind of a cool, funky, different vibe.”

For more information about Bizzarro Italian Cafe, click here.

5. Fat’s Chicken and Waffles in Central District

Gurv Basra is a Seattle native and senior year communications student at SPU and has a list of musts when it comes to showing others around his hometown.

For some Southern comfort food with New Orleans influence and “soulful sounds,” Bazra recommends heading to Fat’s Chicken and Waffles.

“It’s some of the most flavorful food that I’ve ever had honestly in the city,” Basra said. “Their mac n’ cheese is out of this world.”

They also serve classics like fried catfish, chicken and waffles (of course), shrimp and grits and many other delicious cuisines.

Open for all three meals of the day and occasionally serving a happy hour with live music, it brings to life the colorful nature – and flavors – of the city.

“When friends come to Seattle, I always take them out to Fat’s, every single time,” Basra said.

For more information about Fat’s Chicken and Waffles, click here.

6. Beth’s Cafe on Aurora Ave

Last but certainly not least is “Beth’s Cafe,” arguably one of the more iconic locations in the city. Considered a “rite of passage” by Purcell, both he and Basra highly recommend visiting the restaurant to get the full Seattle experience.

Just four miles away from campus, Beth’s Cafe has a larger-than-life menu that makes the trip worth it. Their most notable is the 12-egg omelet, featured as a challenge on Man vs. Food, that was so large even the host, Adam Richman, could not finish.

Other popular dishes include the “Siders” — a pile-up of toppings on a large mound of hashbrowns — and classics like pancakes or biscuits and gravy. Open until 3 a.m. on weekends, it is the perfect pit stop for college students after a night out.

“If you’re a real Seattleite, you know you go to Beth’s right afterward,” Basra said.

Beth’s is more than just a hole in the wall and if you aren’t native to Seattle, it is a necessary dining experience to get to know the personality of the city better.

For more information about Beth’s Cafe, click here.

Even if you are a local yourself, these spots are well worth visiting as a reminder of the unique energy that Seattle brings to the table. With only so much time in college to explore, students can take advice from the people around them to discover Seattle’s secret spots.

“One of the great things about Seattle in general is everything is accessible and I really hope people will get a chance to see the city [and] get off campus,” Gilnett said. “There’s so many wonderful little specialty places in this city.”

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Sydney Lorton
Sydney Lorton, Digital Media Producer
Sydney is a senior studying journalism and minoring in digital media. She is passionate about visual storytelling and believes that everyone has something worthy of sharing. When not working for The Falcon, she enjoys spending time with close friends and family, being outdoors near any kind of water, and reading.
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