In advance of the annual Seattle Tattoo Expo, April and Jeff Cornell give us their around-town recommendations.

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It was love at first ink. April and Jeff Cornell met when she was 18 and getting her first tattoo. Jeff, then working at Slave to the Needle, tattooed a giant gargoyle on her right arm. He was immediately smitten. But because the piece was so large, he had to do it in two sessions.

“I had about a month between the first session and the second one. I wasn’t going to risk losing a client and having to finish the tattoo for free,” he joked.

When the work was done, he asked her out and she said yes. Fifteen years later, they are married and run Hidden Hand Tattoo, a studio in Fremont. Though April only started tattooing after the shop opened in 2007, they are now both well-regarded — Jeff, for his “quasi-realistic, bright color stuff,” and April for her line work and black and gray shading. “Things that need to look perfect; that’s mostly what people come to me for,” she said.

Seattle Tattoo Expo

August 14-16, (2-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Sunday), Fisher Pavilion, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St., Seattle; $20, three-day pass $50 (206-447-7725 or

When the 14th annual Seattle Tattoo Expo comes to town Aug. 14-16 at the Fisher Pavilion in Seattle Center, Hidden Hand Tattoo will serve as the host shop to the three-day event featuring tattoo contests, performances from the all-female AC/DC cover band Hell’s Belles and burlesque troupe The Atomic Bombshells, as well as the opportunity to get tattooed by 150 tattoo artists, including New York’s Takashi Matsuba and Los Angeles’ Shawn Barber.

“It’s always fun to host your friends in your own town and show them a good time,” said April. Added Jeff, “It’s a unique opportunity to showcase our city that we love very much in August — which is arguably the most beautiful month of year in Seattle.”

When asked to name their favorite places, the duo — who are originally from Iowa and Utah — couldn’t stop naming favorite restaurants. Jeff admitted: “We have had to come to terms with the fact that we are, in fact, foodies.”



Favorite tattoo artist, outside of your own shop?

Jeff: Well I just got a piece finished up by Derek Noble; he’s the co-owner of Dark Age Tattoo.

Where do you like to go to think?

Jeff: I take the dogs for a walk.

April: I go to the gym.

Favorite walk?

Jeff: I like Golden Gardens, it’s really nice. The steps are brutal, but it’s a nice place to go visit.

City getaway?

April: We’ve loved Lakedale [Resort] in the San Juans for many years.

Eat & drink

El Camino, 607 N. 35th St., 206-632-7303 or

El Borracho, 5465 Leary Ave. N.W., 206-582-1974

Staple & Fancy, 4739 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-789-1200

Bourbon and Bones, 4350 Leary Way N.W., 206-582-2241 or

Portage Bay Cafe, 2825 N.W. Market St., 206-783-1547

Brimmer & Heeltap, 425 N.W. Market St., 206-420-2534 or

HotelHotel Hostel, 3515 Fremont Ave. N., 206- 257-4543 or

Skycity Restaurant at the Space Needle,


Golden Gardens Park, 8498 Seaview Place N.W., 206-684-4075

Ride the Ducks, Seattle Center, 516 Broad St., 206-441-DUCK or

Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour, 608 First Ave., 206-682-4646 or


Jive Time Records, 3506 Fremont Ave. N., 206-632-5483 or

Horseshoe, 5344 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-547-9639 or

Show Pony Boutique, 702 N. 35th St., 206-706-4188 or

American Music, 4450 Fremont Ave. N., 206-633-1774 or

Dark Age Tattoo, 1205 E. Pike St., 206-323-1637 or

Kimberly Baker,


Lakedale Resort, 4313 Roche Harbor Road, Friday Harbor, 360-378-2350 or


Neumos, 925 E. Pike St, Seattle, 206-709-9442 or

Showbox at the Market, 1426 First Ave., Seattle, 206-628-3151 or

Jeff: Glamping.

No. 1 recommendation to out-of-towners?

Jeff:Ride the Ducks. You can see the whole city and it’s hilarious. Also, the Underground Tour downtown is great.

Best view?

Seattle Tattoo Expo

August 14-16, (2-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Sunday), Fisher Pavilion, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St.,Seattle (206-447-7725 or

Jeff: From the restaurant in the Space Needle.

April: My favorite view is Seattle from the ferry to Bainbridge.

Favorite place to see a band?

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Jeff: The Showbox or Neumos.

April: The Showbox at the Market.

Jeff:Not Sodo.

When did you know you were really a Seattleite?

April: When I knew all the back roads, and how to get around.

Jeff: When I started going golfing when it was 50 degrees out. I’m like, ‘This is great.’ And then it hits 75, ‘It’s hot,’ that’s when I realized I’ve acclimated entirely.

April: When you think the 80s are too warm.

Favorite rainy-day activity?

April: To read or to paint. We do a lot of painting in the winter.

Jeff: You have to do everything in the rain, so. That’s the thing. You have to get used to it.

Favorite place to go shopping?

Jeff: I love perusing record stores and guitar shops. Purely because of my neighborhood-centricness, Jive Time Records and American Music.

April: I go to Horseshoe. Or Show Pony or Kimberly Baker Jewelry. She’s located on Vashon.

Where do you meet up for drinks?

April: One place we really love for drinks is Brimmer & Heeltap.

Jeff: They have some really good beers on tap that you don’t see in very many places. They have some really, really nice cocktails that they make, and their food’s good. It’s nice and cozy.

April: We also go to HotelHotel, a lot. It’s above the shop.

Jeff: That’s the after work, automatic. They make really wicked pizza slices. Sriracha sausage and arugula is the way to go on the pizza slices.

What’s your go-to restaurant?

Jeff: Oh, man.

April: We kind of have a lot of regular spots.

Jeff:El Camino, we end up there a lot. We do it up there.

April: The plantain chips with guacamole.

Jeff: They have an excellent enchilada con mole.

Jeff:El Borracho in Ballard.

April: Their vegan dishes are really good.

Jeff: The Borracho margarita and the tacos. They have great tacos. And Staple & Fancy — we’ve found ourselves there a bunch of times, too. Bourbon and Bones, we haven’t been there for a while. April recently switched to vegetarian food, so it’s hard to get her to go to a BBQ joint. BBQ ribs and the mac and cheese and the bacon collard greens.

April: I love their desserts there. Whoever does their desserts is amazing. I love the Rancher’s Breakfast at Portage Bay. I’m more of a breakfast eater.

Jeff: That is really good. Now, I’m hungry.