All-Day Cafes Are a Byproduct of Seattle's New Work Culture

These stylish coffee-to-wine destinations have a symbiotic relationship with the city's new workforce.

By Allecia Vermillion September 19, 2017 Published in the October 2017 issue of Seattle Met

Laurenkelly cherrypublichouse 6 ebjbir

Cherry Street Public House

Image: Lauren Kelly

feel a little weird ordering something called coffee cola—ice coffee revved with lime, mint, cola syrup, and a float of Coke—in the morning. Until the guy behind the slick La Marzocco espresso machine hoists his own glass in salute: “That’s what I’m having right now too.”

Cherry Street Public House holds down the ground floor of Weyerhaeuser’s Pioneer Square headquarters, one of a few newer cafes—along with Cafe Hitchcock and Mr. West, on opposite sides of downtown—that make an art out of the all-day hang. Like my coffee cola (which possesses a certain earthy-sweet charm), this cafe is suitable throughout the day.

Morning might begin with photogenic avocado toast or maitake gravy over a fluffy scone. The public house is kin to the esteemed Cherry Street Coffee chain, thus North Carolina’s Counter Culture is the roaster of choice. A rotating cast of single-origin beans and by-the-cup brew methods, plus a lighthearted signature drink menu, augment the espresso line-up. Lunch is rush hour, says owner Ali Ghambari, and big, assured stews from his native Iran anchor the day-into-night menu—way more interesting than the usual sandwich suspects.

This concept certainly isn’t new to Seattle, where Capitol Hill’s independently employed set spends more waking hours at all-day lairs like Liberty and Oddfellows than in their own apartments. Nor to Paris, whose cafes inspire our own Le Pichet and Cafe Presse. This latest breed is defined by its responsive relationship with Seattle’s new workforce.

These urbanely styled spots concentrate many great aspects of the dining and coffee scene for people whose workloads don’t let them stray too far for quality sustenance. Here, it’s not gauche to laptop squat for hours (once at Mr. West I even saw someone set up his own printer tableside). You can also trade gossip over rosé, or enjoy a proper meal. Au courant coffee programs come standard, and 3pm generally signals the shift from counter service to ordering at your table.

18382416 431461360564435 8508454041578110976 n vif5qd

The patio outside Mr. West.

Then there’s Cafe Hitchcock, which makes its own blood orange mostarda and serves charcuterie from owner Brendan McGill’s flock of Mangalitsa hogs. A stellar breakfast sandwich tricks out housemade biscuits with a sweep of tomatillo jam, egg, cheddar, and Hitchcock’s own bacon.

The cafe is a culinary bright spot on a barren stretch of First Avenue and a spiritual extension of McGill’s restaurant Hitchcock, on Bainbridge Island, and its sibling delis. Lunchtime sandwiches include deli favorites, but the kitchen really flexes from happy hour into the evening with smart tartines and seasonal salads.

The chef requested dimmable lighting so the place “doesn’t feel uncool at midnight or like you’re in a coffee shop, sitting around in the dark.” He imagines a scenario where a nearby cubicle dweller, too chicken to ask an office mate on a proper date, instead suggests they repair to the cafe for a glass of wine.

Those theoretical office hookup partners do as much to shape our restaurants as the minimum wage, or the construction that floods Seattle with commercial real estate. The long hours fueling this boom mean office workers must find new ways to eat well—fancy urban grocers, food-delivery apps, and attractive third places that offer similar convenience, with a dash of human connection.

Then again, some workdays are too frenetic to take meetings at Cherry Street’s marble tables or seek a restorative pastrami sandwich in Cafe Hitchcock’s cozy booths. That’s another joy of these new cafes: They’re exceptionally equipped for takeout.

Show Comments