Did you say dessert?
If you have a sweet tooth like me, here are some of the best places to get a sugar high in nearby Ballard.
Just a few miles north of SPU, you’ll enter the neighborhood of Ballard, which was once home to a Scandinavian community of fishermen, boat builders, and mill workers. Today, it’s a trendy neighborhood of restaurants and shops and home to some of my favorite dessert places.
It’s easy to get to Ballard by bus. It’s a 10-minute walk from campus to the bus stop near the Fremont Bridge (Westlake Avenue N & Westlake Aly). Take Bus 40. It takes about 15 minutes to reach NW Market St & Ballard Av NW, the main street of downtown Ballard.
5427 BALLARD AVE NW
It’s my go-to spot when I’m craving something sweet, and it’s where I take my friends and family when they come to visit.
Hot Cakes is a true Seattle treasure that got its start at the Farmers Market in 2008. Each weekend, Hot Cakes sold its molten chocolate cakes in mason jars for people to take home to bake.
In 2012, they opened their first storefront on Ballard Avenue, serving their rich, warm chocolate cake with a gooey center and a cakey exterior with a scoop of ice cream on the side. (My favorite is the dark decadence molten cake, but follow them on Instagram, where they post seasonal goods.)
They also offer a fairly broad menu (dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan alternatives), which includes not just molten cakes, but also warm cookies, ice cream, milkshakes, coffee drinks, savory items, and more.
Hot Cakes now offers outdoor seating, thanks to COVID. It’s a popular spot, so you may have to wait for a table during peak hours (but trust me, it’s worth the wait). If you hate waiting, Hot Cakes still sells their molten cakes to go, which you can bake at home or in your dorm’s kitchen.
Hot Cakes is open from 4 – 11 p.m. every day, making it ideal for a late treat, date night, or a great place to simply hang out with friends.
Salt and Straw
5420 BALLARD AVE
Salt and Straw can be enjoyed on even the chilliest days in Seattle. This magical place started in Portland, Oregon, but we are fortunate to have a few stores in Seattle as well. This one, in the heart of Ballard, is located across the street from Hot Cakes.
They serve classic West Coast flavors such as sea salt with caramel ribbons, honey lavender, strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper, or cinnamon snickerdoodle, but they are always experimenting with new ingredients and developing new recipes, frequently in collaboration with local producers.
Would you be brave enough to try habanero, black pepper, or blue cheese ice cream? They serve at least 36 flavors every day, but my current favorites are chocolate gooey brownie or coffee & love nuts. (They also have numerous dairy-free alternatives.)
Salt and Straw is open daily from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
2218 NW MARKET STREET
Ballard’s Pie Bar opened a few years ago (the original location is on Capitol Hill), and it has a great spot right on Market Street. I walked by this shop numerous times, and I finally decided to stop and taste the pies.
The environment is cozy, with its wooden tables and exposed brick walls. If you’re visiting by yourself, I recommend sitting at the marble-topped bar so you can see how the pies are made.
If you’re with friends, opt for one of the tables in the back (and don’t forget to ask for extra forks as you’ll want to try everyone’s pies).
Cream pies — served with a scoop of old-fashioned vanilla ice cream — are the best. (Vegan vanilla ice cream is also available.) My favorite was the boozy nut pie. It was a seasonal offering, so I can’t wait for it to be back on the menu. The banana cream pie, consisting of bananas, cream, sugar, banana liqueur, and cinnamon flavors, came in second place for me. It melted in my mouth.
Pie Bar also serves savory pies, if you prefer. They have everything from fiesta chicken pie to Australian curry veg pie on their menu.
With a day’s notice, you can also order a whole pie and take it to campus to share with your buddies. There’s also a sidewalk window where you can grab a slice to eat while exploring this lovely neighborhood.
Pie Bar is open Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; and Sunday, Monday, and Thursday from 6 p.m. to midnight.
Estefania Velazquez is a junior business administration major from Mexico. In addition to satisfying her sweet tooth, she loves cafe hopping, hiking, exploring Seattle, photographing street art, and she’s recently been getting into digital art.