Daily news blog for Seattle's University District neighborhood

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#Mugshot Monday #13 -Chaco Canyon Café — Where Slow ≠ Bad

November 18th, 2014 by Nico Lund

WELCOME TO #MUGSHOTMONDAY *: A CAFFEINE INSPIRED JOURNEY TO UNCOVER THE UNIVERSITY DISTRICT’S CAFÉS

If You have never had the chance to visit Chaco Canyon and you have an interest in Raw, Vegan or Organic food, then b-line it straight to Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe. What you will find is an introduction to the Slow Movement, delicious food and a warm atmosphere that will satisfy any craving.

For a lot of Seattleites, the idea of a quick cup of coffee or a quick bite to eat is something that we habitually gravitate towards. At Chaco Canyon, they go to a lot of trouble of slowing things down. For this establishment, fast ≠ good and slow ≠ Bad.

Check out their Hot Beverage Offerings..Not your Average Cup of Joe Indeed! Click image to enlarge.

Although, Chaco Canyon is more of an eatery than just a café, it’s still a perfectly acceptable place to get some work done. I ordered a bowl of dahl and a latte (check out their menu) and found myself a small table by one of the many windows. I felt perfectly comfortable getting my computer out and getting some writing done. I wouldn’t say that about most eatery café’s. Usually, restaurants don’t want you lingering too long. This place is different. With its southwestern decor, warmly painted colors and flavorful food smells, this is the kind of place that you want to settle into; and they seem to want you to settle in and enjoy as well.

In addition to a whole wall dedicated to community events (it’s right in front, not hidden down the end of a hallway next to a bathroom), Chaco Canyon is extremely involved in programs to help make its establishment accessible to everyone — even people who can’t afford it. Including programs to pay-it-forward that will buy someone else a coffee to encouraging folks to donate to their community bowl program, this place not only fills your belly with goodness, but also others in need.

Got allergies to everything? They have a lot of ways to work around your food issues and are open to helping you find a menu option to fit your diet. They also have some lovely retail items such as sprouting kits, cookbooks, chili mixes, local jewelry and more.

Got Allergies? Fear not. Chaco wants you to feel safe!

The bottom line here is, if you have been avoiding Chaco Canyon because you are afraid it’ll be gross hippy food in a passive-aggressive atmosphere, I assure you there is none of that pseudo-peace-y vibe here. It’s just a bunch of people who really care about the food they are serving you and want it to be just right. One of their mottos is “the best things in life are free, the next best things are organic.” Sounds like a place that cares to me!

The only thing I recommend is, if you find yourself in a hurry this is not the place for you. Not because the service will be slow (mine was incredibly fast), but because at Chaco Canyon it’s about enjoyment, savoring, taking the time to be present. If you are craving a little time to be here now, you will love the vibe here. If waiting in line to order will make your skin crawl because you are trying to catch a bus and you’re already late for work– I would maybe skip it and come back when you have had time to breath.

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Mexicanos Unidos on I-5 Over-Pass Protesting 43 Students Kidnapped in Mexico

November 14th, 2014 by Nico Lund

Here in the U-district a demonstration took place today in response to the 43 students that were kidnapped and believed to be killed in the small town of Iguala, Mexico.

The local chapter of Mexicanos Unidos of Washington had a rally where many showed up holding painted signs with words expressing their anger over the violation of human rights.

On their Facebook page, they state that this protest is to demand the resignation of Enrique Peña Nieto for crimes against humanity.

I saw the display from I-5 as I was driving north-bound and I had to stop and get some pictures. It’s always a powerful thing to see people gathered together united in passion for justice.

For more information about Mexicanos Unidos visit their website.


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University District Trails w/ Only 10 meals Donated to the Hungry! We Can Do Better!

November 14th, 2014 by Nico Lund

Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission Challenges Neighborhoods to Competition to Provide the Most Meals to Decrease Hunger


With the goal not just to serve more meals but to decrease the number of hungry people in King County, Union Gospel Mission has a great way to get neighborhoods involved in decreasing hunger in our city.

With over 270,000 people struggling with hunger in King County, the Mission’s is challenging neighborhoods to compete to provide the most meals between Oct 15thand Nov 24th. The winning neighborhood receives a community celebration on Saturday, December 7th.

So Far, the University District is 43rd out of 45 on the list to feed the hungry this season. IMHO that is pretty lame! You can choose any amount to give, so feel good while you’re celebrating this coming holiday because you helped to feed someone in need.

Keep track which neighborhood is on top at www.ugm.org.

UGM’s strategy to fight hunger in King County includes:

1.   Shelters all over King County: Pioneer Square. Belltown. Kent. And winter shelters in Phinney Ridge. Lake City. Bellevue

2.   Afterschool program all King County offering after school snacks, monthly meals and food bags

3.    5,000 Build-a-Box food boxes to be distributed to hungry families and seniors in food desert territories.

4.    Hi-yield urban block farms.

The One City/One Hope campaign’s mission is to transform lives and transforms our city. No one gets left out or forgotten. It sounds like a great way to contribute to families in need this season.

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#Mugshot Monday #12 -Trabant Coffee & Chai: Satellite of (coffee) Love

November 13th, 2014 by Nico Lund

WELCOME TO #MUGSHOTMONDAY *: A CAFFEINE INSPIRED JOURNEY TO UNCOVER THE UNIVERSITY DISTRICT’S CAFÉS

*Apologies for the Tartiness…Let’s just pretend this week’s been like one long Monday!

From the German word meaning satellite or traveling companion, Trabant was an East German car that had somewhat of a bad reputation as poorly performing with an outdated and inefficient engine. It was a symbol of the East Germany as many East German Trabant owners abandoned their cars upon migrating to the west after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I am not sure what Trabant  has to do with coffee or chai. Perhaps Trabant Coffee & Chai gravitated to VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke’s Trabant for its name because it was inspired by Russia’s Sputnik; sputnik is the Russian word for satellite or companion. If you look around the cafe, you will notice a space-traveling theme.

Or maybe the owners went a little deeper into the meaning as dark, hot beverages can really serve as companions through the dismally cold winter months of the pacific northwest. I can also see that, as a patron of local cafes, I could be seen as a satellite of sorts since I seem to orbit reliably around my coffee habit.

Regardless of its namesake, Trabant is a cafe just off the ‘Ave’ on 45th right in the middle between the Neptune Theater and American Apparel.

I showed up on a Monday afternoon and ordered a split-shot americano. I was going to order a Chai and a shot but I chickened-out on trying a new chai that I hadn’t tried before. They Serve Maya Tea’s Chai which is a concentrate (not my favorite way to make chai). Readers of this column know that my bias is towards my favorite local chai company. Maya is a tea company out of Arizona and according to one of the Trabant baristas, their chai is really good. I will have to be brave and try it next time.

The barista pulled my americano (they serve Kuma Coffee here) and then re-pulled it when he decided the shot was off – I like a barista who knows what he’s doing! Ultimately, my cup was perfectly poured and hit the spot, albeit being half decaf.

Trabant has that subtle anti-artsy artsy vibe. A place for the intellectual bookish crowd, students, after movie chats and pre-show meet-ups at the Neptune  Theater.

They serve the usual coffee house assortment of snacks and they have bagels and cream cheese, soups and some other more hearty meal like options.

There is plenty of seating including a balcony for a more intimate atmosphere. The place has full front windows overlooking the hustle and bustle of 45th street, yet it doesn’t feel hectic inside.

I liked it here. I had always felt a little too intimidated to come in here because it’s on a busy street, but like I mentioned before, once I got through the doors the atmosphere was calm and had a good vibe. Next time you are in the u-district for a movie at the Grand Illusion or the Varsity or after a book signing at the U-bookstore or just need a quite place to read the comic book you just bought at the Comic Stop next door, this is a nice little spot.

I had fun chatting with my two baristas, Elias and Ben about what Trabant meant.

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After the UW Threat, Citizens Question What it Means to Be Alert

November 4th, 2014 by Nico Lund

When stories in the news about threats and scary happenings get too close to home, it’s hard not to feel an emotional response.

"With the Vigilance Committee in the East End: A Suspicious Character" from The Illustrated London News, 13 October 1888

In our schools and public places, we wonder what we can do to be alert and aware without giving into paranoia and fear? With so many more high-profile violence cases in the news these days what should we do to be more prepared?

Since it’s hard to definitively define what a real threat is, it makes it hard to know when to report something as suspicious activity or not. These days threats can come by email, text, forums, craigslist and more. People often question whether or not something is an actual threat or not, or if they do see something that seems out of the ordinary, scary or threatening, they don’t know what to do?

On the SafeCampus website it states:

If you see behavior that makes you or others concerned, report the behavior to SafeCampus by calling 206-685-SAFE (206-685-7233). Behaviors of concern could signal someone is in distress or may be prohibited behaviors as defined by UW policy. Remember to always call 911 if you need assistance from police, fire, or emergency medical personnel.
The bottom line is that it is great to be aware of your surroundings, be mindful of what’s going on and think about safety, but don’t live in fear.

Even though law enforcement can never be 100% successful in preventing tragedies like the one in Marysville, they are getting better at assessing and de-fusing threats.

The SPD lists what suspicious activity may look like, and if you have any information or see anything out of the ordinary please contact law enforcement as soon as possible by dialing 911.

Luckily, the suspect in the most recent threat to UW campus has been arrested. We can only hope that future threats are dealt with as successfully.

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Threat To UW Under Investigation

November 3rd, 2014 by Nico Lund

A non-specific Threat was made to the University of Washington through an online site.

UW Police Chief John Vinson has told the community to “be on the watch” for any unusual or suspicious activity.

Officials have not given out any specific details but want the community to know that they are erring on the side of caution.

If you have any information or see anything out of the ordinary please contact UWPD as soon as possible by dialing 911.

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#Mugshot Monday #11 -Ugly Mug Café: A Beautiful Surprise

November 3rd, 2014 by Nico Lund

Welcome to #MugShotMonday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover the University district’s Cafés

Some of my favorite music I have ever heard I first heard in a café. It was at the Ugly Mug Café when I was a UW student in 1998 that I first heard and fell in love with Lhasa. To this day, when I hear her beautiful music, I remember this sweet little cafe.

Located on 43rd St in between the Ave and Brooklyn, The Ugly Mug Café currently faces a huge hole in the ground and a picturesque landscape of construction vehicles, a crane and little men in yellow jackets. With the building of the new U-district Light Rail Station, customers must walk past the road-closed and caution signs and find the entrance tucked away up a short flight of stairs.

But don’t let these signs deter you. Once you arrive and close the door behind you the commotion from the machinery is gone. It’s like you’re in a surreal and peaceful room overlooking all the chaos. It’s quite nice, actually — like a sudden shift in perspective.

Established in 1995, it caters to the expected patronage of students, professors, faculty and u-district residents. There have been a few shifts in ownership but Ugly Mug has been owned by a longtime barista of the café since 2010.

The Ugly Mug Café has a great chilled-out neighborhood feel while at the same time offering a serious cup of coffee.

Not only do they take their coffee seriously (see above photo), they also take seriously a commitment to the community by supporting local business with their offerings. They are also now a bonafide roaster of their beans at an off-site roastery.  In regards to their roasting, they emphasize that their focus is on creating not only a good coffee but also in building strong farm to table relations with their suppliers. For now they are offering Espresso, Colombian and Ethiopian Blends.

Another way they are community minded is in their work with Coffee Kids. Coffee Kids is an organization that creates education, health care, economic diversification, food security and capacity building projects in coffee-farming communities in Latin America.

Ugly Mug is a great little spot, and by little I do mean you should be prepared to share your table. While offering many nice nooks to sit in, there is limited seating. But that just adds to the cozy atmosphere of the place. You will enjoy this spot to get some good work done, read a book, meet with a friend or whatever it is you do with your café time.

In addition to scones, muffins and other pastries, they also have a breakfast menu

To add the final touch to my visit, as I was getting ready to leave, one of my favorite songs by the Velvet Underground was playing. Perfect!

Ugly Mug is located at 1309 NE 43rd St. (206) 547-3219

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Safety First Tonight! Motorist’s Beware of ‘Trick-or-Treaters’ & Parents, Dress Kids For Success!

October 31st, 2014 by Nico Lund

Don’t Let the Spookiest Night of The Year Be the Scariest for the Thousands of Kids that will Be going Door to Door for Treats and maybe a little Tricking!

Not only should motorist be mindful of the kids, Parents can help their kids by going over street-safety rules and making sure their child’s costume passes a safety check.

Courtesy of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, this poster illustrates some important tips such as:

  • Make sure costumes are visible to drivers
  • Make sure masks offer large enough holes for seeing and breathing
  • Trim any fabric that might be a hazard for walking stairs
  • Don’t send kids out with open flames (duh!!)
  • Watch out for treats (toys) with choking hazards for small children

But most Importantly, have fun, enjoy the costumes and when it’s all over, brush your teeth double!

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Don’t Miss A Halloween Special at the Grand Illusion Cinema Oct 31, 9pm

October 30th, 2014 by Nico Lund

THERE IS BLOOD TO BE SPILLED IN THE U-DISTRICT HALLOWEEN NIGHT AT THE GRAND ILLUSION CINEMA, SNATCH A WARM BODY AND ENJOY.


Grand Illusion Cinema invites you to see the original version of Roger Corman’s ‘Little Shop of Horrors.”

Seriosly folks, this isn’t the musical version that you’ve seen or heard about in the 80’s, this is the black and white 1960 cult classic that even features a small role for a young Jack Nicholson.

Presented in 16 mm for the full experience, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ tells the dark yet truly comical tale of a florist’s assistant who cultivates a strange plant that feeds on human flesh and blood.

So after you’ve given away your last treat and performed your last trick, this should be a perfect way to end your Halloween Night!

The Grand Illusion Cinema
1403 NE 50th St., Seattle, WA.
Friday, October 31, 9:00 pm
Tickets $9

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#Mugshot Monday #10 -Cafe Allegro: A Brick & Ivy Lined Cafe

October 27th, 2014 by Nico Lund

Welcome to #MugShotMonday: a caffeine inspired journey to uncover the University district’s Cafés

Just around the corner from Magus Books, in the brick and ivy lined alley, is one of Seattle’s Oldest Cafés. Grab a used book and enjoy an old school cafe tradition.

Once a mortuary, Cafe Allegro has been a mecca for students, professors, artist, poets and more for over 40 years. Surviving months of construction across the alley and the highs and lows of the University District’s culture, Cafe Allegro has seen its share of change in the Seattle coffee community. Not one to stay stagnant through it all, Allegro is now in the process of branding their own coffee beans for cafe use and sale.

I wandered in on a brisk yet partly-sunny afternoon. I wasn’t looking forward to being on the not-so-sunny-side of the street, however, I was surprised how much light reflected off the facing wall giving the cafe a nice daylight effect.

The cafe is a wall-to-wall working atmosphere – at least when I was there. Allegro seems to run on a combination of student and mobile-worker energy. Computers, textbooks and notebooks covered every surface. Being a mobile worker myself, I fit right in.

I ordered myself a chai – fortunately they carried the chai I really love, Morning Glory Chai.  Unfortunately, I forgot to ask them to make it spicy so I had to go back to the counter and ask for a little more umph in my drink. The barista was very friendly and added more spice with no problem.

I ended up sitting in the back room and had to share a table with someone. It was all very friendly. We even laughed about the wiggly table. I overheard conversations about classes, assignments and there was even a sweet service dog cuddled up on a jacket on the floor next to me.

This would be a great place to get into that focused mindset that university students get into when they all get together and study. If you want to feel that kind of intellectual vibe, this is the place for you.

Check out their website for update on their upstairs remodel and roaster install.

Cafe Allegro is located at:
4214 The Ave (206) 633-3030
Hours of Operation are:
Monday – Friday 6:30 am – 10:30 pm
Saturday7:30 am – 10:30 pm
Sunday8:00 am – 10:30 pm

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