It’s hot out there, people. Basements are cool.
Well, basements can be cool. Coolest, in every sense of the word, has to be Kraken Congee, whose chill brick-and-timber walls provided me blessed refuge last week, along with icy bevs and one lickably fine bowl of pork belly adobo rice porridge. Something about Kraken’s mission—innovative, boundary-crossing comfort food—fits its surroundings perfectly. Cozy in winter, cool in summer. Yes.
Seattle has a handful of other belowground restaurants, which make suitably dim retreats for those who want to be out of the sun altogether. Vampires could eat in some of these places, though they should call ahead for specifics. (Indeed, everyone should call ahead: Some basements go more airless than cool when the sun is roaring.)
Downtown office lunchers can dive into the Pedestrian Underground Concourse linking Rainier Square with the Union Square buildings for a bunch of deli-ish options (including the impressively thorough make-your-own salad spot Market Fresh). Bakeman’s, down a Cherry Street staircase further south, holds down the day-after-Thanksgiving franchise in this town, with its real turkey sandwiches.
There are private-dining rooms in basements, like El Gaucho’s Pampas Room, or the Alibi Room’s basement, or Capitol Cider; there are also downstairs bars, like the Cha Cha Lounge, or Bathtub Gin, or the Narwhal.
There’s Pike Place Market, many of whose warrens and crannies either are basements or feel like them (see Il Bistro, Chan, Cafe Campagne, Kells Irish Pub, the Can Can Cabaret, and The Pink Door, which you descend to like a basement to find it attached to a rooftop, go figure).
Downtown offers Tap House Grill and Morton’s Steakhouse (closed), both on Sixth Avenue. In the nabes there’s the College Inn Pub in the U District, Annapurna Cafe on Capitol Hill, and the cool stone-clad basement of the inimitable Harvest Vine in the Madison Valley.