Our Seattle: Locals Dish on the Best Things to Do

Where sat down with folks that love this city—and this is where they like to go

Four interviews, four very different people from across the city: Get a little slice of what locals are up to and where they’d recommend visitors go below.

 Chis Horn, Dreya Weber, Dave Meinert and Athima Chansanchai portraits

Chris Horn is the wine director at Purple Café and Wine Bar, and he was also named the 2015 Sommelier of the Year at the Washington State Wine Awards. Dreya Weber is an aerialist, actress, choreographer and producer, currently starring as the Genie in Teatro ZinZanni’s “The Hot Spot.” Dave Meinert is owner of the historic 5 Point Café and Guild Seattle, which manages the Lost Lake Lounge, the Comet Tavern, Big Mario’s and Grim’s, all on Capitol Hill. Athima Chansanchai is the author of “100 Things to Do in Seattle Before You Die.”

As often happens in Seattle, the place to start any conversation is food.

“I love Serious Pie so much,” said Weber. “And I keep loving it. I tell people about it and I take them there, and I’m like, ‘OK, I’m not going to build this up too much, but it’s the best pizza ever.’”

Horn, after some thought, decided on Café Juanita as his favorite. “We love it.” He went on to describe a favorite dish from a few years ago: “She did this green apple sorbet with a king crab leg with Parmesan dust and it was mind-blowingly good. One of those things you look at and say ‘It’s not going to taste right at all,’ but in the mouth it was just … yeah.”

Chansanchai mentioned Westward as a good spot when the sun is shining. “When it’s nice, it has a nice view of the lake.” She also summed up Canlis, the king of Seattle fine dining and mentioned by multiple people: “You’re not going to go to Canlis all the time, but you should go once.”

Toulouse Petit food

As for happy hours, Chansanchai recommends McCormick & Schmick’s, while you’ll find Weber at Toulouse Petit. “Their happy hour food is awesome,” she said. "Palace Kitchen also has an amazing happy hour." Meinert went with a familiar place. “Lost Lake has the best happy hour,” he said, then laughed. “I mean, it’s just super cheap. It’s like $2.99 cheeseburger and fries, so it’s really great.”

If coffee is more your speed, there are favorites among the crowd. Caffé Vita in Lower Queen Anne is Meinert's pick, while Weber loves Uptown Espresso. "I love the high quality foam. And do you know that they're true to their velvety foam promise? I don't think I've ever been disappointed." Horn sticks close by--his favorite pick, Caffe Migliore, is next door to Purple Cafe. "They still pull espresso the old-fashioned way, and I feel like we grew up together. They moved in about the same time we did."

Get a good drink nearly anywhere in town. Weber loves Bathtub Gin & Co. “They’ve got very unusual, distinctive, probably small-batch boozes. It just seemed like a place where you should ask the bartender, ‘What’s your favorite thing to make?’” Meinert chose a relatively unknown spot, the White Horse Trading Co. in Pike Place Market. “It’s really cool, it’s so small, one bartender. It’s just beer and wine, and they usually have like three beers just in growlers.” One of Chansanchai’s recommendations is Hazlewood (2311 N.W. Market St.) in Ballard. “It’s one of those really cute, little places that has tons of character.”

International Fountain

Unsurprisingly, a day with no obligations brings more talk of delicious food and stellar drinks. Weber would spend the day walking, with periodic stops for soaking up the sun, savoring treats and sipping coffee. Between those activities, she suggests a play at ACT Theatre, lounging by the International Fountain at Seattle Center and a martini at Barolo Ristorante. You'll find Horn on a ferry to Bainbridge Island, where he'd spend the day with his family, including lunch at the Streamliner Diner and perusing Calico Cat Toy Shoppe. "We'd spend way too long at the toy store, but then that's what happens with toy stores, you just have to look at everything." A date with his wife at Tavolata would end the evening. Meinert suggests a day trip to Edison, Wash. "It's got two bars and a couple art galleries, and this great little Mexican restaurant and a breakfast place about half a mile down the street and that's it," he said. "It's a little farming community town and it's artsy. There's this great place called the Edison Inn, which is just a bar, but they have really great hamburgers. It's just a killer place."

Must-do lists for visitors were as diverse as restaurant choices. Weber suggests a visit to Kerry Park on Queen Anne. “That place is magical,” she said. "But Discovery Park is such magic, also. I'd say Kerry Park and Discovery Park are amazing." Chansanchai suggests finding a festival or art walk while in town. “It gives you a sense of the city,” she said. Her other recommendation is the Space Needle, as it gives visitors the lay of the land from 520 feet up. Meinert’s list included the 5 Point—“Because it’s historic”—followed by Matt’s in the Market as an excuse to go to Pike Place Market, and then a ferry ride.

If it's museums you're after, Horn suggests the Museum of Flight, a spot he likes to take his young son. "That's an easy one," he said. "We call it the airplane museum." Meinert suggests a stop at the Asian Art Museum, located in Volunteer Park, while Chansanchai's pick is the Wing Luke in the International District. "Not many [museums] tackle the Asian-American experience the way they do," she said.

Olympic Sculpture Park

Like restaurants, most Seattlites also have a favorite park. Mentioned multiple times were Kerry Park and Discovery Park as well as Volunteer Park as a spot to take kids. “The Volunteer Park playground is great,” said Meinert. “It’s on the northeast corner by the cemetery.” Chansanchai loves the Olympic Sculpture Park. “It’s just a nice place to hang out,” she said.

Looking to do some shopping while in town? Meinert’s favorites include Elliott Bay Book Company and Sugarpill, a spot for essential oils, gourmet food gifts and beauty products. Weber likes Three Birds Home and Gifts for presents, saying “It’s really eclectic. The woman who owns it buys to her own taste. It’s sort of home goods-ish … with a unique point of view.” If you’re a thrift store hunter, Weber suggests the Goodwill in South Lake Union. “Seattle consignment shops are great,” she said. She also enjoys Turner Helton Antiques: "Turner is a unique person, and wandering through his store, hearing stories about the origins of his pieces has been a great source of joy." Horn suggests stopping into Trove in Ballard: “I think I’ve found more interesting things there over the years.”

Like any local, each has his or her own favorite hidden gem. For Chansanchai, at Central Cinema—“It’s all about the sing-along. It’s a dance party.” Meinert likes The Kraken. “It’s a total little punk rock bar,” he said. “They have shows, it’s great.” Horn suggests checking out Nell’s Restaurant on Green Lake. “Phil [Mihalski, chef-owner] has been doing great food for decades, and his onion tart is still something that I crave from time to time.” Weber’s favorites fall along and over the sidewalks of Queen Anne. “The blackberry patch on Aloha.” And, she added, “There are plum trees on Taylor that have astounding plums.”