But Seattle isn’t easy to navigate carless either—especially if, like me, you’re a peripatetic eater, someone who isn’t content to stay in their own little neighborhood. I love my local pho joint and Senegalese restaurant as much as anyone loves their neighborhood restaurants, but sometimes—often—I want to try someplace new.
Which is how I ended up wandering from Hillman City to Georgetown in search of crêpes.
Georgetown isn’t exactly exotic or uncharted territory. By car, it isn’t really that far away from home—about nine minutes, by Google Maps’ estimate. The problem is that at some point, city transit planners apparently decided that Georgetown just wasn’t a place folks in Southeast Seattle wanted to go. At least, that’s all I can glean from the route that King County’s Trip Planner suggested I take to get there—up Rainier on the 7 to the International District, then all the way back south on the 60 to Georgetown. Total round trip: 54 minutes. Screw that. We were walking.
Since 2008, Google has been working on what may someday be a cool little feature that gives you walking directions—a solution the company realized it needed to develop when on-foot users complained that they were being directed to walk on freeways. I use it all the time, with mixed results. This time,our directions seemed simple enough: Up Orcas, left on 22nd, right on Spencer, then over the freeway to Georgetown.
On the map, Spencer Street is a little jog that takes you over to 21st Ave. S., in a part of Beacon Hill laid out suburb-style, with countless cul-de-sacs and streets that end in fenced-off lots:
The view from the road seemed to confirm that we were on the right (if slightly illegal) path:
Walk a little further, though, and "Spencer Street" looks like this:
Yep. That’s a dirt path that trails right off into someone’s yard.
I’m not trying to slag on Google—as the tool warns you, the walking maps are still in beta mode. But the glitch highlights a bigger problem with eating carless in Seattle—if you aren’t up for getting lost and wasting time, getting from place to place can be a serious pain.
On the other hand, it can give you a chance to practice your patience, and learn unexpected things about the city along the way.
For instance, I now know where to find the best crêpes in Seattle: the Hangar Café (6261 13th Ave. S.), a cute little house with a big, dog-friendly patio out front. Starving from our hourlong trek, two of us split three items: A sweet crêpe with lemon curd, blueberries, and powdered sugar; a savory crêpe with eggs, ham, spinach, onions, and cheese; and a savory waffle with bacon and brie.
The sweet crêpe suffered a little from oversimplicity—too-sweet and a little one-dimensional on its own, it benefited greatly from the addition of a dollop of smoky maple syrup. I hate super-sweet things (when I make lemon curd, I leave out half the sugar), but my gentleman companion declared it "perfect" après-dousing.
The savory crêpe special was, in contrast, easily among the top five crêpes I’ve ever had—delicate and buttery, the crêpe encased a thin skein of eggs, a mound of buttery, sweet, meltingly tender onions, tiny, just-wilted leaves of baby spinach, an unctuous mix of Swiss cheese and creme fraiche, and a generous pile of thinly sliced black forest ham. The whole effect was complex without being overwhelming—an ooze of cheese in one bite, the slight crunch of spinach in the next, the tang of German mustard mixed with chive-scented creme fraiche in the next.
I've had bacon waffles before (the bacon-in-batter version at Cyndy's Pancake House was memorable, if a little leaden), but never one like the Hangar Cafe's. Unlike most renditions, Hangar's waffle puts the bacon on the outside, perched on top of a butter-pat-sized chunk of brie, which melts into a gooey, spreadable mass. The combination—an almost-salty Belgian waffle with an ethereal, almost bready texture, the slightly funky cheese, and the thick-cut, half-crisp bacon—was weird but unforgettable.
Combined with the sunny Seattle morning, a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and the thrilling view of jets passing just overhead, in fact, it was perfect.