Ballard High School Competes in NY Jazz Festival

Ballard High Essentially Ellington FestivalAs I mentioned in an earlier post, the Ballard High School jazz band was invited to play in a prestigious nationwide high school jazz competition, Essentially Ellington, in New York City. It was Ballard’s first time being at this impressive jazz festival. This weekend, they along with two other Seattle schools and twelve other nationwide high schools tooted their horns to the Ellington tunes of “Night in Tunisia,” “Tutti for Cootie,” “Riding on the Blue Note,” and other Ellington classics.

Roosevelt, Ballard, and Mountlake Terrace represented the Puget Sound area very well at the competition. Roosevelt High, well-known for its quality jazz band program and a regular competitor in “Essentially Ellington,” won second place at the festival! Ballard High won individual accolades for its performance. I would keep my eye on trumpet player and senior Sam Zisette and vocalist Jade Likkel, both Ballard High students. They each received awards for their performance at the festival. Congratulations, Ballard High!

New Ballard Restaurant: The Gerald

Ballardites, add a new restaurant to your radar. The space at 5210 Ballard Avenue will now be known as The Gerald, a restaurant/bar tapping into our desire for American comfort food. In an effort to fill the void created when Denny’s was torn down, The Gerald will be offering classic American diner options, such as Mac ‘n cheese. For the full menu options, please check out its website.

Perusing the menu, you know that I’ll be checking this place out in the next few weeks for three reasons:

  1. Poutine –  The heart attack-inducing food, poutine, is fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds. Slowly but surely, the Canadian classic has been sneaking down south in to the States. So, I cannot wait to taste The Gerald’s poutine creation.
  2. Swedish Meatballs– Despite living in the Nordic capital of Seattle, it is surprisingly difficult to find a place that serves Swedish meatballs. The only place I know that serves Swedish meatballs in Ballard is The Copper Gate. Besides that, the only option to satisfy my craving was to hop in a car and get lost in a Swedish maze of modern home furnishings that is IKEA. Now that The Gerald is open, you can bet I will order the Swedish meatballs. Thank you, The Gerald, for honoring Ballard’s Nordic roots.
  3. Cocktails – The Gerald offers an intriguing cocktail menu, inspired by the 50s and 60s. Highlights include the numerous gin cocktail options (the Ruby Gin Fizz, the Gimlet, and the James Bond-inspired Vesper), various ginger options, and more. I cannot wait to sip on a Silent Third while enjoying a sunny afternoon. Wouldn’t you like to try a “sexy coupling of lemon & vanilla,” otherwise known as the Sidecar? Oo, I’m thirsty!

The Gerald looks like a restaurant-bar hybrid. In the sea of restaurants and bars in Ballard,  it will be interesting to see how this one succeeds, as there are a few other restaurants that offer the comfort food options. It opens tonight, but an official grand opening will happen in the next few weeks. If you stop by, tell me what you think!

Don’t forget to check out The Gerald’s Facebook!

Safer Biking Becoming More Likely in Ballard

Are you a cyclist? If so, you’re probably aware that the Ballard District Council is working to make biking and walking safer in our neighborhood. Not too long ago, the Seattle Department of Transportation approved greenways throughout the city, including Ballard, in an effort to promote safe bicycling and walking in the city. According to the Ballard Greenways website, greenways are “slow, low-traffic streets connecting parks, libraries, schools, and businesses for pedestrians and bicyclists who need safe and comfortable routes through the City.” Ballard’s greenway would go along 58th Ave NW from 6th Ave to Golden Gardens. If adopted, it will create a safe east-to-west bicycling option in the heart of Ballard!

However, this route still poses challenges, as 58th St NW crosses multiple busy roads (8th Ave, 15th Ave, 20th Ave). So, it may require a Neighborhood Project Fund grant to make those crossings a bit safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

If you’re interested in hearing more about the greenways, attend the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways meet-up tomorrow. SDOT staff, Peter Hahn and Dongho Chang, will be there to answer greenway questions. The meet-up is on Thursday, March 22nd from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. It will take place at the Phinney Neighborhood Center. For more information on the advocacy group, check out the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Facebok page.

Top Ten Restaurants and Bars in Ballard of 2011

As a Ballardite who lacks an inner Julia Child, I find myself eating out a lot. Fortunately, Ballard is home to a large variety of restaurants, so I’m never bored. One Ballard couple took it upon themselves to eat and review every single restaurant and bar in Ballard. This is quite a feat, as our neighborhood has a lot to offer. One year later, they had made their top 10 list. Here is the list with links to each restaurant:

10. Tie between Flying Squirrel Pizza and Bastille
9. Copper Gate
8. The Boar’s Nest
7.Pasta Bella
6. Thai Thani
5. The Sexton
4. Ocho
3. La Carte de Oaxaca
2. The Walrus and the Carpenter
1. Plaka Estiatorio

So, Ballardites, what do you think? Do you agree with this list? What did the Seattle couple leave out? What adjustments would you make?

I’ve reviewed La Carta de Oaxaca and agree that it is absolutely delicious. Looking at this list, I’m honestly embarrassed that I haven’t been to many of these delicious places! Where have I been eating? It looks like I have a mission!

Congrats to the Best Farmer’s Market in the State – The Ballard Farmer’s Market

The votes are in! According to the Seattle Weekly, the best farmer’s market in the state of Washington is none other than Ballard’s own Farmer’s Market. This is the second year in a row that the Ballard Farmer’s Market has won this award. Held every Sunday, rain or shine, the Ballard Farmer’s Market is fantastic. It boasts great-tasting, varied produce throughout the year, even in the winter, and I always love picking up the soap there too. Along with having fantastic offerings year-round, it’s also in a supreme location, in the heart of Ballard on Ballard Avenue. In the summer months, I like to swing by Vera’s for breakfast, stroll around the Farmer’s Market, pick up a slice of wood-fired Veraci pizza, and enjoy the crowd.

If you haven’t stopped by, the Ballard’s Farmer Market is held every Sunday, from 10am-3pm, along Ballard Avenue. For more information, check out its website.

Warm Up at La Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard

Yesterday, in the middle of the 2012 Seattle Snowpocalypse, I realized that I was almost out of food, and I was STARVING. Not wanting to slowly wither away as the storm worsened, I headed in the direction where I could feed my hunger – not towards the grocery store, but towards Ballard Ave. As I used my inner strength to push me towards the street, I noticed hardly anything was open! The Tractor? Closed. Hattie’s Hat? Closed. The People’s Pub? Closed. My stomach growled.

As my eyesight blurred, my friend spotted a snowman, wearing a sombrero. Was it a mirage? I inched closer and saw a beacon of light; the snowman belonged to La Carta de Oaxaca, and the restaurant was OPEN and there were actually tables available! I have been meaning to try La Carta de Oaxaca for months, but every time I walk by, it is completely packed. So, you know it must be good. After warming up with La Carta de Oaxaca’s food, I found out it is one of the best restaurants in Ballard.

First off, the food is incredible. I ordered the mole enchilada, which arrived with a fried egg, showcasing how authentic La Carta de Oaxaca is. I bit into it and I could feel my taste buds smile. It came on a smaller plate, so I thought it wouldn’t be enough food; I left the restaurant stuffed! My friend ordered molotes, potatoes and beef sausage wrapped in fried homemade tortillas. Those were filling and incredible; you can always tell when something is homemade too. Muy bueno. My other friend ordered posole, a pork and hominy stew. That was also delicious. La Carta de Oaxaca also boasts a salsa bar, which is apparently very common in California. It’s fantastic to have salsa made out of fresh veggies for your meal. It’s 10x better than the Azteca salsa, which comes from who knows where.

Along with being delicious, La Carta de Oaxaca runs an honest business. As we were sitting down and removing our many layers of coats, a $100 bill flew out of my pocket and I didn’t notice. An employee picked it up and asked if it was mine. He definitely got a big tip due to his honesty!

La Carta de Oaxaca is a great place to go to warm up in the winter or to cool down in the summer. The food is incredible and the service is amazing. It’s a bit pricey but worth every penny. It’s a fantastic place! It is packed for a reason, but it certainly isn’t something to be missed.


The Scots are in Ballard! New Scottish Pub on Ballard Ave

Although Ballard is known as lil’ Scandinavia, it has a diverse group of restaurants and bars. Saturday night in Ballard is like going to a 21+ version of the EPCOT World Showcase. Along with having a German pub, an English pub, and many Irish pubs, Ballard is now home to a Scottish pub – MacLeod’s Scottish Pub, located at 5200 Ballard Avenue. It opened for business yesterday.

MacLeod’s is in the hands of the Bastille owners, James Weimann and Deming Maclise, as well as an Edinburgh native, Allen MacLeod, to make it authentic. As expected, the Scottish pub serves primarily scotch – 50 different varieties for now. Pair your single malt scotch with a food offering, like its soup, savory pies, smoked salmon, and various meat and cheeses.

MacLeod’s Scottish Pub takes the place of Ballard’s Harlow Saloon. It is located in the Junction building, a gorgeous brick building on the corner of 20th and Ballard, near Second Ascent, the Tractor, and Conor Byrne. I think it’ll be a great fit for the Ballard crowd.

Seattle Coffee Works is Coming to Seattle!

According to Seattle Coffee Work’s Twitter, Seattle Coffee Work’s second cafe is coming to Ballard. It will be serving up its tasty coffee in early spring, located at the old Tully’s location on the corner of 22nd and Market.

As a Ballard resident, I am ecstatic that a coffee shop is replacing the old Tully’s. True to my Seattle roots, we can never have too much coffee. Plus, it’s local! It’ll fit right in with the other local businesses in Ballard. However, it will pose a bit of competition to the local cafe a couple stores down, Cupcake Royale.

The German native Coffee Works owner, Sebastian Simsch, told Seattle Met Magazine, “There’s rarely a piece of real estate like that.” He’s right. 22nd and Market is prime real estate to start a business. There’s moderate foot traffic, due to it being on Market and proximity to the library, condos, and other businesses. Additionally, it’s near Ballard Ave, home to the majority of Ballard’s pubs and the weekly Farmer’s Market.  People are still spending money too. Cupcake Royale almost always has people inside, munching on cupcakes or huddled behind their laptops. (I’m actually a bit surprised Tully’s left us)!

For those of you who are small business owners who missed out on the opportunity to lease 22nd and Market, never fear. There’s still a few other vacancies in Ballard, even on Market. Last time I checked, the old Epilogue Books is still vacant. Let’s put something there!


New Businesses Opening Up in Ballard

Keep your eyes out for new restaurants and businesses to frequent. There’s a few that opened this week or will soon that I cannot wait to check out. Here’s a list of what you can expect to see in Ballard. Let’s support these local businesses:

The Highliner Pub & Grill

The Highliner Pub & Grill has reopened! While it’s not exactly located in Ballard, it is only a hop away, located at Fisherman’s Terminal. Stop by if you want some of the freshest seafood or tasty burgers and sandwiches. It also has 15 craft beers on tap, which I cannot wait to try, along with 20+ bottled beers. While it closes a bit early on the weekends, it sounds like a great place to catch a Sounders game. Here’s the basic information:

  • Address: 3909 18th Ave West
  • Phone: 206-261-1254
  • Hours: Mon-Thu 10am-11pm, Fri – Sun 10am-12am
  • Happy Hour: Mon-Fri, 4pm-6pm
  • Website
  • Facebook

Po Dog

Po Dogs are much more appetizing than this

The local, late-night, hot dog spot, Po Dog, is expanding and coming to Ballard. While the location and hours have not been announced yet, it has been confirmed by the PoDog founder, Laura Olson. Thank you, Laura, for expanding your business to Ballard. I’m already dreaming about eating a South of the Border Dog on Ballard Ave.


Read more to find out about Full Tilt Ice Cream and the Ballard Auction House

Amazing Winter Season in Store for the PNW

If you’re into winter sports, it looks like we’re going to have a fantastic winter. According to a Seattle Times article, Accuweather predicts that we will have a traditional La Nina weather pattern, which means higher than normal precipitation and cold temperatures. We’re not talking pineapple expresses here. That’s the perfect recipe for snowfall and lots of it!

Looking more into the snowfall, the Cascade Mountains is predicted to have heavier snowfall after the New Year, around February and March. So, come 2012, I’m going to be in one place in Ballard and that’s Second Ascent, my favorite outdoor sports shop, located at 52nd and Ballard Avenue NW.

I like Second Ascent for one main reason. It’s not REI. Don’t get me wrong. I love REI. I’m a proud co-op member and I wear my Gortex jackets with Seattle pride. But Second Ascent in Ballard offers some things that REI cannot.

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