Laura Clise’s Intentional Favorites
The following itinerary was created in February 2021 and features businesses offerings that were available at that time. Be sure to check with individual businesses before you go and read our travel advisory for the latest on COVID-19 and Seattle’s reopening status.
Laura Clise is the founder and CEO of Intentionalist, an online guide that supports diverse local businesses. With this guide, she charts a path through the city via small businesses and neighborhood communities to discover and support.
A great way to get to know Seattle is through the diversity of its small businesses. Here is an InTENtional List of small businesses whose contributions to the community are so much more than the delicious food, products, or services for sale.
Seattle’s Chinatown-International District has a deep sense of cultural legacy and history, with a mix of businesses that have been around for a hundred years and those that started last year.
Start at Hing Hay Park and warm up with an Ube Latte from Hood Famous Café + Bar. Make sure to look at the walls—this is a space designed to celebrate the history of Filipino businesses, and it reflects a community-driven celebration of Filipino culture.
You can also pick up a boba tea from Seattle Best Tea—make sure to ask owner Lydia Lin about tea’s health benefits and stay for an hour to listen.
Up the street, Kobo at Higo houses a gallery and gift shop that showcases art, fine crafts, and design from Japan and the Northwest.
With a number of items preserved from the original Higo store, there’s a delicious taste of time travel along with the thoughtfully curated design aesthetic and celebration of local makers and artists.
While folks flock to open air Pike Place Market for the flying fish, I always stop by Oriental Mart, recognized by the James Beard Foundation for their Filipino fare.
The next day, start with a visit to the Burke Museum. Reopened in 2019, the Burke is a new kind of purpose-built museum, complete with working labs you can see into, one-of-a-kind objects all around you, and galleries filled with curiosity and conversation. Then, enjoy an order of Indian Tacos from Off The Rez Café, the brick-and-mortar location of Seattle’s first Native food truck. Owner and longtime couple Mark McConnell and Cecilia Rikar prepare their sweet frybread with seasonal jams that they make themselves.
Then walk a few blocks to Sweet Alchemy to enjoy a scoop of organic, locally sourced, small batch ice cream. Fun fact: owner Lois Ko considers a serving of ice cream to be about a pint, so treat yourself to at least one serving.
The Capitol Hill neighborhood is great to explore on foot and should include a stop at the wonderfully quirky boutique, Retail Therapy—a playfully irreverent space known for its card wall with occasional salty content.
One block over is neighborhood apothecary and gift shop SugarPill, where you can get a home remedy, gourmet chocolates, and a deep conversation about homeopathy with owner and trained naturopath, Karyn Schwartz, all in one place.
It should be about time to find some open-air happy hour or dining. Try chef Tamara Murphy’s Terra Plata—she was an early adopter of farm-to-table and was among the first in Seattle to develop relationships with her growers.
Plus, at the beginning of the pandemic, owners Tamara and Linda Di Lello Morton immediately reached out to their community with the Food is Love project, providing thousands and thousands of meals to families and kids in need. Try their Roast Pig Bowl with clams, chorizo, sofrito, hot smoked paprika, bay scented potato, and pickled red onion, and grab a Red Delicious cocktail on the side.
You can also try Marjorie, an homage to seasoned chef Donna Moodie’s mother. The food is a fusion of Jamaican and global flavors, but just as importantly, the space itself is the personification of welcoming, warmth, and hospitality. Their jerk chicken is nothing short of legendary and their plantain chips will stick in your dreams for weeks.
All of these businesses share a common denominator: owners who build relationships with people, community, and continually seek to serve their neighbors beyond the products or services they sell.
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