One of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods, the International District (or just ID) thrives with an array of flavorful Asian cuisines, myriad shops selling everything from fresh fish to traditional herbs, and cool cultural festivals throughout the year. Drop by to drink in the diverse sights, tastes, and sounds of this ethnic enclave.
Japanese cuisine is well represented in the ID, with everything from sublime sushi to beer-friendly izakaya fare. One of the most revered—by the James Beard Awards and sushi fanatics alike—is Maneki Restaurant, now 111 years old. Or try the teeny but great Tsukushinbo, where no-fuss sushi rolls pair well with ramen. For superb tempura, katsu, and grilled squid, Maekawa Bar is a fantastic bet. Other must-try eats include hand-shaved noodles and fried tofu at Henry’s Taiwan, modern Vietnamese fare at Tamarind Tree, and the steamed buns, dumplings, and other quintessential dim sum offerings at Jade Garden.
Tucked in with some pint-size galleries on Main Street is plus45design, a great shop packed with a carefully chosen selection of jewelry, art, and creative gifts for kids. It’s the kind of place that’s near impossible to leave without a trinket—perhaps a Scandinavian candleholder or a wee felted toy. On Jackson Street, housed in a historic department store, is Kobo, where shoppers can find minimal pottery, as well as books on design, travel, and life. Two blocks south, neighborhood landmark Uwajimaya fills its shelves with Asian grocery staples, plus tabletop items, kawaii (aka cute) gifts, unique candies, and foreign-language books and magazines.
With 50 games, the oldest dating back to 1960, the Seattle Pinball Museum is a hit with families. For $13 ($10 for kids ages 7 to 12), you can play as long as you please on pinball machines from Godzilla to Creature from the Black Lagoon. Plus, it just might be the only museum around serving up beer and snacks. Nearby is Wing Luke Museum, a must-see institution that gracefully chronicles the Asian Pacific American experience with rotating exhibits about everything from local legend Bruce Lee to ornate Qing Dynasty robes. And if you happen to be visiting during one of the neighborhood’s annual events—like Dragon Fest and the Night Market & Autumn Moon Festival—expect to enjoy everything from dragon dances and Japanese drumming to food trucks and parades.
International District Partners