The Best Spots in Seattle, According to a Cool Lady Who Lives There

The founder of Cone & Steiner General on fresh fish, day drinking and the best month to visit

June 18, 2019 10:20 am
The Best Spots in Seattle, According to a Cool Lady Who Lives There

In 1915 an immigrant named Sam Cone opened a general store in Seattle called Cone & Steiner Meats and Groceries. The shop was located in the city’s modern day SoDo neighborhood, and while it lasted, it proved a natural gathering place for a city that at the time hadn’t even celebrated its 50th birthday.

One hundred years later, his great-granddaughter, Dani Cone, reopened the store under the name Cone & Steiner General. The concept (and logo) stayed the same, but the shelves looked a little different. In Dani’s Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square and Downton Seattle locations (the first two opened in 2014, the third in 2017), she stocks a variety of high-quality local food and goods, ranging from on-the-go gouda cheese to cold-pressed coffee to smoked olives. The menu, meanwhile, includes artisanal sandwiches, ice cream, kombucha and craft beer, while a range of flowers and handcrafted goods are also available in the shop.

Dani also manages area staples Fuel Coffee and High 5 Pie, so she’s all over the place in Seattle, in the best way possible. That made her a natural pick for our local-curated visitor’s guide. Below, she dishes on where to find the best oysters in the city, Hawaiian-Korean day-drinking spots and the best month to visit.

The best loop for running and biking Seattle … 
“A run through Lincoln Park first thing in the morning, right along the beach of Puget Sound. You’ll get to see Blue Herons, birds, squirrels, and if you go early enough, otters, seals, or even a whale (I’m still waiting on that!) Pro tip: enter the south end of the park down a long staircase from Gatewood Hill. Another one of my favorite walks is from our store on Capitol Hill to Golden Gardens, a beach park right on Puget Sound in the north part of Ballard. I walk down the northern part of Capitol Hill, over the University Bridge, along the water on the Burke-Gilman trail (great for biking!) at the north edge of Lake Union, cut up through Ballard along historic Ballard Avenue, and head west to the water along Market Street, and north along Shilshole Avenue past the marinas. There are amazing views all along the way, and lots of great spots to stop for coffee, snacks, drinks, what have you.”

Where to bring a book for a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon …
“Any Fuel Coffee location, of course!  If the weather is nice, enjoy your read out on our sunny patio at Montlake Fuel, and then take a little walk a couple blocks down to the Arboretum for a real treat! (Caveat: Fuel Coffee is my other business … so I may be biased.)”

An ideal date night in Seattle …
“A walk through Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill, grab a coffee at Caffe Vita, pop into Elliott Bay Books, and then head on down to Georgetown for drinks at the 9lb Hammer, great food at either Smarty Pants or Stellar Pizza, and stay around Georgetown for the evening to enjoy pinball and drinks at Flip Flip Ding Ding, ice cream at Seattle Freeze, and of course more coffee at All City Coffee.”

For a weekend trip outside the city …
The Tokeland Hotel is the ideal weekend getaway … a beautiful, historic hotel on Willapa Bay, and the oldest hotel in the state. Owned and run by renowned Seattle Chef Heather Earnhardt (The Wandering Goose), The Tokeland Hotel emanates her unmatched Southern hospitality, mind-blowing comfort food and baked goods. Plus, two fun facts: Robert Plant stayed there, and it’s haunted!”

Do you have a favorite island outside the city?
Vashon Island is my favorite island for a day trip for sure! A 15 minute ferry from West Seattle gets you there, and you’re instantly transported to all of the beauty of the Northwest: forests, beaches, wineries, small-town friendliness, and so much more.”

A favorite fish market?
Pike Place Market … you just have to go. Sure there’s a lot of touristy stuff, but the history here is rich and authentic. It’s one of the oldest continuously operating farmer’s markets in the States, and the quality and variety of food, crafts, flowers, and everything is truly beyond worthy of all the hype. My favorite seafood restaurants: Taylor Shellfish for oysters (multiple locations), Westward (right on the water on the north end of Lake Union, including a fire pit and Adirondack chairs), and of course the Seattle classic, Ivar’s, on the historic waterfront just below Pike Place Market.”

A lesser-known music venue to visit that spotlights local talent
“KEXP is our beloved local/independent radio station and the KEXP Gathering Space is truly one of the coolest and most unique venues and experiences in the city. It’s at Seattle Center, right in the shadow of the Space Needle, and you can see a show there, listen to the live broadcast (while watching it happen!), take a tour of the studio, and buy records at Light in the Attic’s micro-store.”

Where would a group go to day drink at one spot for four or five hours? “Marination Ma’kai. Delicious Hawaiian-Korean menu with street tacos, kimchi fried rice and cocktails. Omfg, it’s on Alki so basically you are sitting there enjoying all the drinks and the best food and staring across the water at the Seattle skyline, watching the ferries, and either feeling the breeze from the water or getting cozy inside watching the rain. This absolutely is the spot to clock in for an afternoon. And! You can even hop right on the water taxi from Downtown Seattle to get here. It’s less than 10 minutes across the water.”

A favorite old Seattle spot, and a favorite new spot …
Pioneer Square is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Seattle, and has quite the storied history. It mixes beautiful old brick buildings and trees right alongside new developments. Meanwhile, White Center isn’t technically in Seattle (it’s just south in unincorporated King County) and it isn’t new, but there are a ton of new businesses down there that are great.  Check out Future Primitive Brewing, Good Day Donuts, Dottie’s Double Wide.”

Best place to meet people who are in the tech scene?
“Good grief, anywhere.  Seriously. South Lake Union is the hub of the big guys, but Fremont is close on its heels and there are a ton of startups and coworking spaces hiving around Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill.”

Best place to meet people who aren’t in the tech scene?  
“Good luck.”

Best month of the year to visit Seattle?
“Tough call. I happen to love October because we get crisp and cool sunny days that make the fall colors just extraordinary. The Olympic and Cascade mountains look like jagged jewels. But the weather can be a crapshoot, so bring layers. July is very reliable. The days are long and warm and there’s a general buzz in the air about summer stretching out in front of us. Patios are in full swing, outdoor markets and concerts have kicked into gear, and Seattlelites aren’t yet heat-weary and griping about our lack of A/C. (We don’t do well in hot weather!)”

Any shops run by Seattle artisans that you recommend patronizing?
Ventures in Pike Place Market showcases the amazing wares of budding entrepreneurs going through their program…check out what they do, definitely a can’t miss. Ventures works closely with Seattle Made, an organization that provides support for urban manufacturing and local production. Also be sure to check out: Velouria, Sugarpill, Watson Kennedy, and the Georgetown Trailer Park every weekend.”

What would your order be at Cone & Steiner?
“Our signature C&S Garden Toast (avocado toast w/ housemade tomato jam, housemade herb cream cheese, greens), locally made Kale Love San Juan Sea Salt kale chips, a frosty glass of kombucha, whichever seasonal flavor we’re featuring on tap, a “Cone’s Cone” with local fave Full Tilt Ice Cream’s Mango Chile Sorbet, or an assortment of gummies and maltballs from our classic scoop-your-own candy jars, depending on the weather, (who am I kidding, I pretty much dip into those jars daily anyway), and of course an iced Americano, extra ice. I always have one of those with me, all day, everyday.”


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