Visiting Gay Seattle: Capitol Hill

Published Date Author: , September 19th, 2013

Looking for the gayborhood in Seattle? Check out Capitol Hill… home to the nation’s first LGBTQ Visitor’s Center, it’s just across the freeway and up a few blocks from downtown Seattle.

Capitol Hill - Apple Maps

from Apple Maps

The Capitol Hill neighborhood is really a series of little areas that each have their own charm. Walk up 15th Street near Volunteer Park, and you’ll find a neighborhood Safeway grocery store and a cute little set of shops with a couple local Cafes – we really liked Caffe Ladro, a local coffee chain.

Capitol Hill ConstructionAs we noted last time we were here, there’s also lots of construction – even in this market – especially new apartments.

capitol-hill-artCapitol Hill’s mostly gay street is Broadway, which runs north and south through the district, and which is soon to be served by a new underground metro line being constructed just east of the street. On Broadway, you’ll find some of the gay bars, a very gay friendly church, and a number of restaurants. There’s also one of our other favorite cafes, Vivace, and Julia’s, a long-running restaurant with drag shows on Friday and Saturday Nights.

Then there’s the Pike/Pine area toward the south, a hotbed of gay bars and bistro restaurants. Standouts here include the Poco Wine Room, Poquitos, Via Tribunali for pizza, and our favorite of the trip, Terra Plata, with its gorgeous upstairs bar with views of the downtown center.

Finally, a little farther south, there’s the bustling neighborhood along 12th street next to the University – 10 years ago it was a bit of as dive, but new construction has brought the area to life, and there’s an eclectic mix of funky art studios and trendy new shops.

Things to Do:

Volunteer Park Water TowerVolunteer Park ( Up on the north side of Capitol Hill, you’ll find the cruisey Volunteer Park, but for the less sexually adventurous (and those who like the daylight hours) there are other things to do here.

The Water Tower is a beautiful round brick structure that rises four or five stories above the park, and offers views of downtown and Bellevue.

There’s also the Asian Art Museum ($14) and for the budget-conscious, there’s the Conservatory, a beautiful greenhouse filled with tropical plants and flowers, free (suggested donation).

Drag Show at Julia’s (http://juliasrestaurantseattle.comm): The Le Faux drag show at Julia’s restaurant on Broadway plays at 10 PM Friday nights – tickets cost $30 a person.

Atomic BombshellsSee the Atomic Bombshells ( While these guys arent technically in Capitol hill, they’re a queer burlesque review show – a couple drag queens, a few lesbians, and some other women who put on a kick-ass show. The venues change, so check their website to see if there’s a show while you are in town.

View Spot:

Volunteer Park Water Tower (Free): The water tower here is a cool historic brick tower, originally built in 1906, that’s still in use. It’s a bit of a climb (at 108 steps, no elevator) but the price is right. The views used to be better, but the trees of the park have grown up to block a lot of the vista. Still, it’s free


Caffe Ladro ( Up on 15th on the back side of Capitol Hill, not far from Volunteer Park, you’ll find a cute little cafe – Caffe Ladro. It’s a small local chain, and this one was really friendly, with good coffee and a nice selection of pastries. They were also featuring the works of a local artist that fascinated me – Javier S. Ortega. You can see his work at

Espresso VivaceVivace ( In the heart of Capitol Hill, on Broadway (the main north-south thoroughfare), you’ll find another great cafe – Vivace (“lively” in Italian) – another cute, casual cafe with a great selection of pastries, including gluten free and vegan.

Eltana Wood-Fired Bagels ( – Regular readers of our Purple travels will remember our first exposure to wood-fired bagels – Montreal-style, in (of course), Montreal. The good news? Portland has them too! Check them out in the Pike-Pine part of Cap Hill, or up in Fremont, and buy a bagful. 🙂


Via Tribunali ( Our first night out, we checked out this little pizzeria in the hotbed of new places along Pike and Pine. It’s a cute little place with a great kinda Gothic atmosphere, and the pizzas were very good. Only downside – REALLY slow service.

Poquitos ( Our second night out – also in the Pike/Pine zone – this time Mexican food. The food here was also really good The restaurant is a bit loud, not great for quiet conversations.


Poco Wine Room ( In the Pike/Pine area, this cute little two story wine bar was very quiet all three nights when we walked by. On the second night, we stopped by for a nightcap – since I don’t drink, I tried the ginger beer – like root beer, but made from ginger – it was really good. Perfect for drinks with friends after dinner or clubbing.

Terra Plata SeattleTerra Plata: ( Our hands-down number one favorite restaurant in Seattle. Lesbian owned, by a wonderful couple – we’ll give this one its own profile in a separate post.  Simply fantastic.

Tango Seattle

Tango: ( just around the corner from Terra Plata, this tapas restaurant has terrific food. We had potatoes, pork, abondagas, calamari and more, and everything was good.


D’Ambrosio ( – Our favorite gelato place in town. On Pine and 12th in Capitol Hill’s south end – really good gelato, and next door to Eltana Bagels – see the breakfast section above.

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