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North America The Nomadic Life The United States

Local Lunchtime Discoveries in Ballard, Seattle: End

Monday’s Find

So, you know how sometimes you travel to a new corner and discover something so good you can’t be bothered to explore past that something? That all you want to do is indulge while you have the chance? Well, that’s kind of what happened today — instead of venturing out into Ballard to see what new stuff it had to offer, I ended up at El Camion once again, but this time with some spectacular company and a good dose of sunshine. I won’t bother telling you how delectable their food for the second time, so enjoy a few photos from the morning (bike) commute instead:

Taken near the Center for Wooden Boats in South Lake Union.

Taken in Old Ballard

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North America The Nomadic Life The United States

Local Lunchtime Discoveries in Ballard, Seattle: 20twenty & Second Ascent

Friday’s Find

(credit) secondascent.com

Initially, I was determined to track down some of Ballard’s Scandinavian roots for my Friday find, but aside from the Nordic Heritage Museum and a couple of shops/restaurants too far away for me to reasonably visit on a lunch break, none of the neighborhood’s more central Scandinavian staples still stand. Instead, I settled for pursuing affordable vintage clothes at 20twenty and geeking out over discount outdoors gear at Second Ascent.

From past experiences, I’ve found that Ballard is h0me to quite a few unique but pricey (!!) boutiques so stumbling on 20twenty — with $10 t-shirts, shoes under $50, and a whole host of other wallet-friendly vintage goodies — provided a happy contrast to its higher end neighbors. Finally! A Ballard clothing store broke office temps can afford!

After contemplating a polyester rainbow-striped and sequined skirt reminiscent of a circus tent (among other things), I headed across the street to Second Ascent outdoor retailers. In a city where the uber-outdoorsy has a prominent place in everyday fashion you don’t have to travel far to find stores like Second Ascent. However, their used gear selection is worth sifting through before caving to the incredible convenience of REI’s mega selection. North Face soft shell jacket for $60? Sure, I’ll skip working on my REI dividend for that. And besides, REI doesn’t let lazy dogs nap at their store’s entrance…

Visit Second Ascent @ 5209 Ballard Avenue Northwest and 20twenty @ 5208 Ballard Ave

Previous finds: one. two. three.

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North America The Nomadic Life The United States

Local Lunchtime Discoveries in Ballard, Seattle: El Camion Taco Truck

Still at large and exploring Ballard; catch up and view Tuesday and Wednesday!

Thursday’s Find

Photo Credit: El Camions website

Just when I was about to make a run back to the office and call this lunchtime tourist attempt a rain-drenching fail, thumping Latino music and a large “Now with tacos!” sign on a billboard lured me in the other direction.

Maybe I didn’t see enough of them growing up, but now the mere sight of a taco truck is enough for me to stop what I’m doing and approach said taco truck. And since the rain was getting heavier and this particular truck had covered tables, I really couldn’t resist. Turns out, I had stumbled on one of El Camión’s Mexican food trucks that dot the parking lots of several Seattle neighborhoods and turn out tacos and comida auténtica mexicana mouthwateringly delicious enough to win them several “Best of” awards with Seattle Met.

They’re well deserved. After spending far too long trying to decide on what to order, I opted for their grilled veggie mulita (something I’d never even heard of before…), which is essentially a cheesy, avocado and veggie-filled, mound of spicy goodness stuck between two fresh, corn tortillas. However, a few peeks at the enticing-looking yellow rice and generously sized burritos on other customers plates makes me think I couldn’t really have gone wrong with whatever I ordered. Disappointingly though, they were out of their  Champurrado (Mexican hot chocolate) but since they provided even further reprise from the rain with the heated dining tent next to the truck, I think I can forgive them for this one!

Visit El Camión @ 5314 15th Ave NW or one of their other 2 locations

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North America The Nomadic Life The United States

Local Lunchtime Discoveries in Ballard, Seattle: Cafe Besalu

In continuation of my lunchtime tourism in Ballard…

Wednesday’s Find

Founded with the hidden, backstreet pastry shops of Europe in mind, family owned Cafe Besalu was the real reason I ended up on the corner of 24th Ave NW and 59th St NW yesterday. Unfortunately it’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays so I had to put it off for a day, which ended up being yesterday! I didn’t find anything special about the atmosphere, but that’s not how they earned their 5-star yelp rating and multiple “best of Seattle” awards. Rather, it’s their croissants, pastries, and coffee.

I wanted to order everything. But instead opted for one of their vegetarian quiches, goat cheese and leek, a croissant, and pain au chocolate. Since their website touts that Besalu is “possibly the best croissant bakery on the entire American continent” I felt I couldn’t leave without one (or two). The quiche was rich and flavorful, and while I still prefer the croissants of Bakery Nouveau, Besalu did not leave me disappointed. They were flaky, buttery, soft, and just-out-of-the-oven fresh (Besalu makes their goods in house) — in short, everything a croissant should be. I may have to return to sample their cardamom pretzels, however…

After Besalu, I continued to wander about the historic section of Ballard, which still carries traces of its Scandinavian-influenced past in the architecture and of course, elements of Seattle’s quirky personality. Historically, Ballard has had a large fishing, boat building, and lumber industry, and even today large ship yards still dominate the waterfront. Possibly I’ll post a photo tomorrow… but for now the camera is dead :/

Visit Cafe Besalu @ 5909 24th Avenue Northwest

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North America The Nomadic Life The United States

Local Lunchtime Discoveries in Ballard, Seattle: Java Bean

I seriously don’t talk about Seattle enough, but since moving here in October I’ve really fallen in love. Problem is, it takes far too much effort for me to leave the hill (Capitol Hill that is) and explore elsewhere. However, this week I’ll be in Ballard on an office temp assignment and have decided to take advantage of my longish lunch breaks and play tourist.

Tuesday’s Find:

Enticed by a super-friendly Golden Labrador hanging around the rows of old-school metal sun chairs outside Java Bean, I used my first lunch break to sample some of this cozy cafe’s coffee — after getting covered in dog hair from petting the lab, of course. According to the outgoing barista behind the counter, the Cafe Vienna (a cinnamon infused vanilla latte) and Cafe Mole (the chocolate version of a Cafe Vienna) have been in house specialties since opening 21 years ago.  In attempt to satisfy my sweet tooth, I went for the Cafe Vienna which ended up being super creamy, tasty, and of course, chocolaty. It kind of lost the cinnamon flavor after the first few sips, but the chocolate held on strong. Extra props to Java Bean for having (*gasp*) comfortable sofas too!

(Visit Java Bean @ 5819 24th Avenue Northwest)

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In Photos North America The Nomadic Life The United States

Sunset at Gasworks Park

Because when the sun’s out in Seattle, we all spring to life… These are from a recent bike ride to Gasworks Park in Wallingford. As the name suggests, the park’s main lure is an old, unused gasification plant. While a good portion is barred off by fences, some of it is still fair game for monkeying around.


Fin.