Freeman's Guide to Seattle: Central District

Posted: Jun 20 2017

While we've already covered our store's home of Capitol Hill, directly east of our neighborhood lies one of Seattle's most storied, diverse areas: the Central District.

Home at one time or another to such Seattle luminaries as Quincy Jones, Bruce Lee, Jimi Hendrix and Sir Mix-a-Lot, the Central District is a historically African-American neighborhood that has faced waves gentrification and displacement throughout its history. Today it's a neighborhood emblematic of the various types of change Seattle faces, for better and for worse. A vibrant, historic area with a rich cultural history and some of the nicest views of the city has to offer, it's one of our favorite places to spend time, and several of us at Freeman have lived in or near the CD. Here are a few of our favorite spots to spend time  – let us know yours in the comments!

EAT

Ezell's Famous Chicken photo courtesy of Central District News and Ezell's.

  • Ezell's Famous Chicken: Oprah's favorite fried chicken and a decades-long Seattle mainstay, the original location is in the heart of the CD, across from Garfield High School. 
  • Meskel: There are several Ethiopian restaurants throughout the Central District, but Meskel is our pick. With patio seating and deliciously sour njera, you can't go wrong. 
  • Moonlight Cafe: This Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant on Jackson Street stands out for its dual menus: one has meat, the other is entirely vegetarian and vegan. Reasonably priced and very tasty.
  • Central District Ice Cream Company: A new addition to the city's constellation of independent, small-batch ice cream makers, the folks behind Nate's Wings & Waffles (another CD favorite) offer up unique flavors such as Roasted Apricot Sunflower and even collaborated with Marshawn Lynch on a limited-edition run (hah, get it?!) of ice cream. 

DRINK

Twilight Exit photo courtesy Central District News and Twilight Exit.

  • Twilight Exit: A venerable Central District dive bar, the Twilight feels like the 70s rec room of your dreams. With a very affordable happy hour, tasty food, and enough diversions – shuffleboard, Big Buck Hunter and a outdoor patio – to keep you entertained all night.
  • Standard Brewing: Serving its delicious beers through a glorified doorway, this tiny brewery has a great patio with lots of (dog- and kid-friendly!) seating that's the perfect spot for a sunny afternoon cold one. Bring in some to-go grub from Wood Shop BBQ across the street and your day's complete.
  • Chuck's Hop Shop: Another family-friendly suds-slamming destination, calling Chuck's a "bottle shop" is a serious understatement. With walls of fridges full of bottles from around the world, they also offer 50 beers on tap, a sunny patio facing Union Street, rotating food trucks, and even a selection of ice cream from Seattle favorite Full Tilt. Chuck's is tight.
  • The Neighbor Lady: A sibling bar to the Twilight, the Neighbor Lady offers up a similar vibe of better-than-it-should-be bar fare, cheap drinks and comfortable environs – plus a pool table!

SHOP

Homestead Seattle Plant Shop photo courtesy of Homestead.

  • Homestead Seattle Plant Shop: An offshoot of the incredibly popular Capitol Hill vintage furniture and home goods store (/AirBnB success story), Homestead's Plant Shop offers up an Instagram-worthy selection of plants large and small, as well as ceramic pots from our friends at Norden! 
  • Hammer & Awl: Technically outside the Central District by about half a bus stop, Hammer & Awl is one of our favorite mens' shops in Seattle. Skewing more towards accessories, but with a full offering of complementary apparel as well, we love sending our customers to H&A. 
  • Uncle Ike's: Perhaps Seattle's best-known shop for all things cannabis, Uncle Ike's is the place to go for all your legal pot needs. If you're from a state without legalized recreational marijuana, just visiting a place like Ike's is an experience. 

SEE & DO

Central Cinema image courtesy of Central Cinema.

  • Northwest African American Museum: Located next to the newly-dedicated Jimi Hendrix Park, the NAAM presents and curates stories and experiences where, according to their mission statement, "important histories, arts and cultures of people of African descent are embraced as an essential part of our shared heritage and future."
  • Judkins Park: Featuring a water-fountain play area for kids, a skatepark, and more, Judkins Park is a defining greenspace in the Central District and was the starting point for Seattle's 100,000-strong post-inauguration Womxn's March.
  • Central Cinema: A bonafide Seattle classic, Central Cinema is the city's coolest second-run movie theater. With a full kitchen and bar, you can sip a Manny's, share a pizza and watch any number of classic, indie and cult flicks, from horror films around Halloween to Christmas Vacation near the holidays. 

Cover image of Northwest African American Museum courtesy of NAAM.

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