One Foot in Front of the Other
Although I reside primarily in Paris, where cakes and pastries can be found on almost every street, I often daydream of Seattle’s sweet treats.
Because I never learned to drive and my parents don’t live in Seattle proper, when I’m home visiting family, I have to make the best use of my time when I find myself in the city. This walking route will guide you through some sweet Seattle destinations, packing treats together for a sugar rush of a day.
As I like to say, a sweet tooth is reflective of a sweet personality.
Sweet walk through downtown Seattle
Round-trip distance: 4.3 miles
This walk starts in Belltown, where I like to start any Seattle adventure because of the architecture and Fulcrum Café (590 Bell St.). Fulcrum is owned by fifth-generation Costa Rican coffee farmer Blas Alfaro, who also has his own roastery, Fulcrum Coffee Roaster, in Sodo.
The coffee shop is nestled in a sleek condominium building; the interior is at once inviting and chic. The pour-overs are always excellent, but I drool over Fulcrum’s seasonal signature beverages. The menu rotates but the Snuggle Me, Sesame drink is always there, waiting like a warm embrace. The richness of the toasted black sesame, the sweetness of the brown sugar and the nuttiness of the oat milk blends incredibly well with Fulcrum’s espresso.
Stay and enjoy the cafe’s high ceilings and modern light fixtures — or if you’re like me, walk and sip as you marvel at the buildings as you continue on Sixth Avenue toward downtown. Look out for the Amazon Spheres against a high-rise backdrop across the street. At Stewart Street, take a right to continue southwest until you hit Pike Place Market.
Pike Place Market is filled with so many gems, but for the purpose of this walk, we will highlight just three. Feel free to switch up the order — and you can pick just one or two!
Popular Ellenos brand yogurt can be found at Pacific Northwest grocery stores (or delivered to your doorstep), but a visit to the Ellenos Yogurt stand (1500 Pike Place) at the front of the main Market entrance is always a high priority for me. You can find special concoctions that can’t be found anywhere else in addition to the classic flavors, like lemon curd and passion fruit. Flavors rotate often; I typically count close to two dozen offerings on every visit. On my latest trip, I enjoyed an olive oil collaboration with DeLaurenti (an Italian food and wine shop located inside the Market) and the white chocolate raspberry flavor.
If dairy isn’t your thing, fret not — the other two stops at Pike Place have dairy-free options.
Fizzy drinks make a great palate cleanser, so make your way to Rachel’s Ginger Beer (1530 Post Alley). The flagship store is spacious, a great place to sit, chill and enjoy the buzzing sounds of the Market. Rachel’s ginger beers start off as ginger root, lemon juice, organic sugar and sparkling water, but here you can discover a bunch of flavors that build from there.
Continue to Joe Chocolate Co. (1606 Pike Place), which started off as an undergraduate project by two University of Washington students. They have a small coffee and treat stand right next to Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. Here you’ll find dark chocolate espresso barks in a handful of flavors, including seasonal offerings, as well as baked treats and espresso drinks. Some of the bark flavors come in 1-ounce bars if you just want a taste.
I like to space out my treats, so I enjoy wandering around the Market and taking some snacks to the sun deck to avoid the crowds and take in the Elliott Bay views. There’s ample, uncovered seating, but I always walk up to the edge to really take it all in.
When you’re ready, exit the Market on Pine Street and go up three blocks to Cupcake Royale (106 Pine St.), Seattle’s first cupcake bakery. It’s been around for nearly two decades and I always crave its cupcakes — it has mastered the perfect balance of flavors. Its cakes have a hint of sour cream that helps with texture and cuts the sweetness of the buttercreams. The indoor seating area is closed for now, but take your cupcake to-go as you continue 1.6 miles through Seattle’s downtown area to Capitol Hill. The most graceful way to eat a cupcake while walking is to remove the base (the cake-only part in cupcake liner) and place it on top of the frosting to make a sandwich. Remove the liner and enjoy.
This walk to Capitol Hill might seem long, but because of the interesting setting and change in neighborhoods, time flies and you’ll be there in no time. The walk will also help you digest, as there are a few more delectable treats left to be devoured.
The next stop is Batch Baking Co. (808 12th Ave.), a mostly cookie destination that opened in 2019. When you walk in, chances are you’ll be welcomed by Scot and Jared, the owners and self-taught bakers who sprawl their small-batch creations across a wooden table. I had this bakery bookmarked since it first popped up on my Instagram feed, so I grabbed a few treats. The peanut butter cookie sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies transported me right back to my childhood.
With baked goods in hand, make your way north on 12th Avenue. Take a left on East Union Street to reach General Porpoise (1020 E. Union St.), fan-favorite chef Renee Erickson’s cozy doughnut shop. The doughnuts are handmade with fresh eggs and filled with creams, custards and jams. The shop is tastefully designed, helping us escape into a dreamy world. I like to enjoy my doughnut(s) by the storefront window, which brings in all the natural light and also let’s me slow down and watch life take place on the streets.
For the last stop on this route, continue two blocks north on 10th Avenue to always-busy Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (917 E. Pine St.), just around the corner from beloved Elliott Bay Book Co., where it’s worth a stop to peruse the rows. Molly Moon’s has the creamiest texture that is enjoyable and doesn’t feel heavy. Between a social mission to “do good whenever possible,” unique monthly flavors and mouthwatering classics, the ice cream experience at this Seattle favorite is always uplifting. Salted caramel is my favorite flavor, as it’s actually salty, but you can never go wrong here. The candied hazelnut topping takes already delicious treats to the next level.
Walking back to Fulcrum takes this route to 4.3 miles — rest well knowing you earned those sweets!
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