7 Local Chains We Love in Seattle

By Leslie Kelly  |  January 20, 2014

"Chain" is a dirty word in some food circles, but there are plenty of prolific Seattle proprietors that are worthy of applause. We're blessed with a plethora of bakeries, artisan ice cream shops and even a fish and chips empire known and loved for its late founder's catchphrase: Keep Clam! Oh, and then there's that coffee place you might have heard of: name rhymes with Charbucks. Here are a few local chains we're happy to visit on the regular. 

  • Cupcake Royale

    The city-wide dessert meccas of cupcake pioneer Jody Hall are true gathering places, full of whimsically flavored treats that have a lock on the sweet tooth of many. Yes, we are currently in the throes of Deathcake season, leading up to Valentine's Day, but we're also fans of the fairly new ice cream offerings and the company's policy of giving back to the community. 

  • Molly Moon's

    Get in line. These sweet shops have loads of fans willing to wait for a scoop of the signature salted caramel or vegan coconut chunk. It's not a bad way to spend 20 minutes, especially when you get to breathe in the intoxicating aroma of the made-to-order waffle cones. We'll have ours in a cup, please, hot fudge on top.

  • Macrina Bakery

    Leslie Mackie's pastry-and-bread driven company started small, and has steadily grown in the past two decades. Three cafe locations have distinctive and winning personalities. We dig the recent remodel of the Belltown spot, with its more open, airy feel and very cool art. Queen Anne is kiddo central, while the SoDo venue is a mellow place to watch the production bread bakery at work. We've never been disappointed with anything from the well-provisioned pastry case, but the oat bar is a healthy obsession.

  • Ivar's

    If he were alive, the founder of this vast seafood empire would likely have a hard time "keeping clam" about its phenomenal success.  The Salmon House had a well-deserved facelift last year, taking fuller advantage of its gorgeous view of the city across Lake Union. And the newly released Ivar's cookbook receiving glowing praise. For the quintessential Ivar's experience, head to Pier 56 and watch diners feed the flock of fat seagulls. We order our chowder Manhattan-style and spice it up with a few shots of Tabasco.

  • Pagliacci Pizza

    Take-out, delivery, dine-in, these pie specialists are eager to accommodate their ever-growing throngs of followers. Regulars know that Pagliacci (the "g" is silent, like the Italian opera) puts a premium on sourcing local ingredients for its toppings, including charcuterie from Salumi at 24 locations. They also showcase the outstanding Gelatiamo creamy frozen treats. While there are no plans for new stores this year, the Edmonds location recently rebooted, adding a slice bar. The Magnolia location will do the same come spring. 

  • Top Pot Doughnuts

    This year, the city's most high-profile hand-forged doughnut makers are going bi-coastal, branching out with franchises in New York City. And, if that's not exciting enough, hold on to your coffee mugs. There are plans to roll out a cocktail program and high-end dessert creations very soon. We'll celebrate Top Pot's good fortune with a Pink Feather Boa, the pretty cake doughnut finished in a flurry of coconut.

  • Starbucks

    Love 'em or hate 'em, there's no denying the global force that is Starbucks. The Seattle-based chain is launching some upscale spots they're calling Starbucks Reserve, which downplay the ubiquitous branding and offer beer and wine. We go for the straight-up cuppa, brewed in the Clover - a high-tech version of a pour-over now showing up in more stores. If you're a black coffee-drinking purist, beg for it. The flavors are pure and bright and never bitter.