A Dog's Day in Madrona

From cupcakes and coffee to squirrel chasing and wine, Madrona has it all for you and your canine.
Written by Laura Nevell; Photography by Julie Clegg
You know the look. The one your dog gives you as you grab your keys and coat, while rushing out the door. He dons his most pathetic version of the please-take-me-with-you look, which is often followed by a hefty sigh and if he’s really desperate, he’ll top it all off with a droopy-eyed head hang. So what do you do? Do you forego your plans and spend some much needed quality time with the pup? For some, this is quite the dilemma. But for anyone near dog friendly, Madrona, you grab the leash and make your dog’s day!

Just two miles away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Seattle, this charming, tree-lined neighborhood sits on a hill above Lake Washington on the city’s eastern edge. Downtown Madrona runs along 34th Avenue between Pike and Marion creating a small urban village that boasts an assortment of eateries and independent shops. Residents of Madrona range from local artists to young professionals as well as families with small children to retirees. Houses range in style and size from majestic Victorians to traditional craftsmans depending on your budget and preference. Madrona is an ideal place for those seeking an established, family-friendly neighborhood close to downtown Seattle. Oh, and did I mention it’s dog friendly too? I set out to explore this part of town with Wrigley, my energetic four year old golden retriever, and this is our adventure.

Our first stop on this early fall day, is the Hi Spot Café, a Madrona landmark that’s been on the map for 36 years. This beautifully renovated Victorian home has been converted into a cozy restaurant serving breakfast and lunch daily. Owner, Mike Walker says the Hi Spot is the hub of the neighborhood and he feels a strong sense of connection to the families in town, both past and present. One of his favorite perks about being in the business is the pleasure of watching the kids grow up from babies to teens; the same goes for the puppies too. Wrigley wasted no time and headed straight for the patio seating in the courtyard. I felt like Pavlov’s dog as I perused the breakfast menu and tried not to drool right on the spot. Packed with unique and flavorful offerings, from vegan dishes to a “Green Eggs and Ham” scramble, there is something here to please all palates. Generous portion sizes almost guarantee there’ll be some nibbles left over for a doggy bag. They are famous for their fresh baked scones and have been using the same recipe for 35 years. If you’re looking for a consistently delicious, home cooked meal in a warm, friendly atmosphere then the Hi Spot is definitely your spot.

Back out on the sidewalk, Wrigley is on a mission, catching a whiff of something and bolting across the street like a mad dog, practically dragging me face first into Fetch, a daycare for dogs. We are welcomed with wags and wiggles as an aroma of incense wafts through the greeting room. I chat with Brenda Blackburn, the shop’s owner, while Wrigley romps with some pals including Sedona, the shop dog. Decorated with recycled furniture and colorful antique pieces throughout, the setting has a vintage chic vibe and is surprisingly very peaceful—quite unusual for a place filled with dogs! Brenda has owned Fetch for 15 years and absolutely loves what she does. Originally she walked dogs in the neighborhood and fell in love with Madrona, so she opened a place of her own. Fetch also provides boarding and grooming services and all of Brenda’s staff have at least five to ten years experience. The daycare welcomes 30-40 dogs daily, including all breeds and sizes who intermingle within three cheerful interior rooms and a good sized yard. As I head for the door, Wrigley runs back through the doggy gate for one last frolic with his friends. I feel bad as it is now my turn to drag him away but it’s time to sniff out our next spot. And there it is, right across the street.

I’m not sure what it is about the lure of a jewelry store (even one that is closed for maternity leave) but a little window shopping is next on our list. Cousins Erica Sheehan and Dustin Nelson co-own Hitchcock, a haven for jewelry and accessory lovers, known for its ever-changing interior décor. Featuring pieces from Seattle based artists, they also handpick items from designers in New York, Los Angeles, London and Rome. They launched Druzy, their own line of custom designed rings made from tiny quartz crystals set in sterling silver. No two rings are alike which makes a perfect gift for that hard to buy for friend or family member. The owners don’t seem to be concerned about wayward tails as pooches are always welcome inside the store. Erica is currently on maternity leave and Hitchcock will re-open on November 3rd, just in time to get a head start on your holiday shopping.

Peeping through windows is fun (ok that sounded a bit strange) but I still have an itch for shopping that needs to be scratched. My internal shopping detector leads us directly to Juniper, a stylish clothing and accessory boutique with a minimalist Euro edge. Wrigley tap-dances anxiously outside waiting to greet Ralph the house cat but as soon as we enter the store, Ralph sprints for the dressing room. Smart guy. Lisa Clinton, store owner, fosters Ralph through the Seattle Animal Shelter and in the three and half years she’s owned Juniper, she’s fostered and placed 17 cats. She’s able to care for them at the store and welcomes shoppers with dogs as it familiarizes her kitties to new experiences, especially if they are adopted into a dog friendly home. Lisa carries organic and fair wage designs that she refers to as “clothing with a conscience.” She gravitates toward casual yet non-trendy pieces made from organic cotton, bamboo terry and other eco-friendly fibers. There’s quite an assortment of Parisian designer, Dominique Picquier bags and the Jo Gordon fingerless gloves and wraps from Scotland are ideal for chilly weather. Definitely worth checking out and don’t forget to bring your pooch. Lisa would love it, though I’m not so sure about Ralph.

One of us needed a caffeine fix and since this is Seattle there’s bound to be a coffee shop on every corner, right? We walk about…oh, four feet and here we are at Verite Coffee and Cupcake Royale. Founder, Jody Hall opened the very first cupcake shop six years ago right here in Madrona. She now owns three others throughout Seattle with a fifth soon to open in Bellevue. With over a dozen varieties of cupcakes on the menu, I have a hard time deciding what to order. Made from local ingredients using cage free eggs, hormone free milk and organic sugar, I settle on a Blue Mountain Huckleberry cupcake but cannot pass up the Classic Vanilla with Chocolate frosting. Luckily I bumped into some latte sipping friends so we share a few bites as we sit and relax in the comfy Adirondack chairs just outside with our pups. The cupcakes are sinfully indulgent and I could have eaten my weight in chocolate frosting alone. But Jody’s mission expands beyond baking and brewing in the shop’s kitchen. She is highly involved in community outreach and donates over 25,000 cupcakes annually to local non-profit organizations.

After our sweetness overload we need to burn off some calories so we decide it is time for a run. Well, ok a jog. Alright, so it’s really more of a fast walk but what can I say, my belly is full! We stroll just a few blocks north on 34th and arrive at Al Larkins Park, a large grassy area surrounded by trees and wildflowers and to the east, incredible views of Lake Washington. Wrigley is on heightened squirrel alert as he sprints from tree to tree barking up a frenzy. We play a couple rounds of fetch and walk the perimeter for a potty break, then settle on a blanket to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. It was mealtime for Wrigley and reading time for me so I curl up alongside him with my book while he dines on kibble, pausing every few seconds to scope the trees in hopes of another squirrel sighting. I feel the lull of sleep coming all too quickly so figure it’s time to head home. As we pack up our picnic and make our way to the car, something else in the distance cataches my eye.

Much like the lure of a jewelry store, the attraction to a wine bar is pretty hard to resist so I just have to peek inside this charming yellow house, appropriately called, The Bottlehouse (see next page for more detail). We are first greeted by a chalkboard sign on the porch declaring a, “Dog Friendly Deck” and that’s all I need to see. With Wrigley leading the way, we follow the path that leads us to an outside patio, settling into our comfy spot at what was once a gymnasium bench and laboratory table in a previous lifetime and is now utilized as a table and chairs. Soni Davé, one of the co-owners, prepares a light tasting of wines including Wilridge’s Maison red blend, paired with an assortment of locally made breads topped with crème fraiche butter, sea salt and a honey drizzle. We also sample the “rustic picnic” sandwich made with local garlic beef salami made locally by Salumi, Dubliner Irish cheddar, organic, mixed spring greens, stout ale whole grain mustard and a dab of mayonnaise. The temptation is way too much for Wrigley as he swipes a bite right off my plate but I can’t say I blame him.

With bellies full (again!) we settle into the car for the ride home. Wrigley lets out a happy sigh, before drifting off to sleep. I patted the top of his head then notice a slight grin appearing on his face. This doesn’t surprise me though, as I’m sure he is having pleasant dreams.

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