Eastern cafe seattle itcrel

Eastern Cafe in the International District

Image: Sarah Flotard

Finding a place to drink and work is a delicate thing. Wi-Fi is nice. But really it’s atmosphere—not too stuffy, not too dive-y, an inviting staff—that makes it feel okay to crack your laptop. Cafes, as a rule, have this. But many cafes have a beer or wine list that looks like the sale display at QFC. Here are some places where you don’t have to compromise work to taste.

Vif

Vif is a light-filled wine bar/cafe on Fremont Avenue. The coffee’s good. The wine—by glass or bottle—is also good and natural and tends toward prettiness and approachability. And the small evening menu tends toward quick bites, olives, almonds, tartines. Caveat: They have a no laptop policy on weekends, and close by 7 or 8pm most weekdays.

Cafe Presse

I shouldn’t have to tell you this. Go to Café Presse. For work or not. The Capitol Hill stalwart is the more casual joint by Joanne Herron and Jim Drohman, the owners of also excellent Le Pichet. Presse is more relaxed, and open from 7am to 2am everyday. If you do go for work, they have plenty of solo seating—an ample magazine rack at the entrance practically invites lone dining and drinking—and their wines are solid and inexpensive.

Stone Way Cafe 

Everything about Stone Way Cafe feels like a coffee shop. It sits quietly among Joule and the Whale Wins and Manolin in Fremont, but both in reputation and design is more subdued. It has all the amenities and coziness, but the folksy art and sandwich-heavy menu belie a surprisingly smart and expansive beer list. Cloudburst, Holy Mountain, Machine House, and newcomers like Jellyfish all frequent the taps. Wine and cider options are also available, if a little less interesting.

Cafe Hitchcock

The wines at Brendan McGill’s new all-day downtown cafe skew French. Cocktails are interesting—lemongrass infused tequila, anyone?—and largely $10 or under. There are also breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus—full of the kind of ethically sourced new American food that McGill has built his brand on. The real draw: a laptop bar running along the front window that looks right onto First and Marion, perfect for when you think you want to work but actually want to people watch.

Eastern Cafe 

This Chinatown–International District cafe serves plenty of hallmarks: crepes, coffee, sandwiches, gelato. The seating is either communal or at small tables—both great for when you don’t feel like annexing too many extra seats with your vocational or scholastic detritus. They also have mostly local rotating beers from places like Pike Brewing on five taps—a pint is $3 at happy hour—and more by the bottle. A small wine list accompanies.  

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Pike Brewing Company

$$ American/New American, Gastropub 1415 First Avenue

One of the stalwarts of Seattle's craft brewing community serves solid pub fare (don't miss the pretzel) in a rambling space that wraps around brewery operat...

Editor’s Pick

Cafe Hitchcock

$$ American/New American, French, Northwest 818 First Ave

Hitchcock's Brendan McGill runs this all-day cafe in the art deco Exchange Building, a culinary bright spot on a barren stretch of First Avenue downtown. Mor...

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Manolin

$$ American/New American 3621 Stone Way N

It’s a known fact that rockfish ceviche and plantain chips taste their brightest and best within quarters as cerulean and sparkling as a wave breaking on a t...

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The Whale Wins

$$ French 3506 Stone Way N

Another white restaurant from the extraordinary Renee Erickson (the Walrus and the Carpenter) wears all the buoyancy and cheer of a country cottage. Add in t...

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Joule

$$$ Global, Korean 3506 Stone Way N

One of Seattle’s genuinely electrifying culinary adventures, Joule is a Korean-fusion steak house—close quarters buzzing with loud music and a lively vibe—wh...

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Le Pichet

$$ French 1933 First Ave

One step inside the slender First Ave bistro with the little black awning transports you directly to the Right Bank of Paris—with all the buzz of lively conv...

Holy Mountain Brewing Co.

Brewery 1421 Elliott Ave W

There’s a vaguely culty feel to this brewery on Interbay’s main artery. It could be the temple vibe in the austere white taproom, or maybe just the reverence...

Cloudburst Brewing

Brewery, Editors Pick 2116 Western Ave

In his previous gig as Elysian's experimental brewer, Steve Luke created hits like Space Dust IPA and Split Shot espresso milk stout. So it was big news when...

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Cafe Presse

Editors Pick, Late Night, Recommended Menu 1117 12th Ave

It's the most come-as-you-are French cafe in town, suffused with a casual dailiness that makes it dangerously easy to become a regular. And by the looks of i...

Vif

Wine Bar 4401 Fremont Ave N