Have yourself a staycation, shop for the holidays, and treat yourself all in one day, one neighborhood.

By Bao Nguyen
November 14, 2017

The holiday season is just around the corner and what would it be without proper eating and shopping? As always, Ethnic Seattle is here to bring your attention to the abundant small businesses owned by immigrants & minorities in our city. These businesses don’t just provide livelihood for their keepers; they make our lives more vibrant and interesting. It’s easy to do the usual – eat at a chain restaurant, shop at a big retailer or online. But we here at ES are never satisfied with the typical and we want to help you get off the beaten path.

Toward this goal, we’re starting a series called “Ethnic Seattle’s One Day Guide.” Each guide will focus on a different neighborhood and will be presented as a sample schedule for what you might do if you spend a whole day shopping & eating in one area. Our suggestions will focus on lesser-known businesses with the understanding that you can always visit the popular ones. We hope you’ll have a great time exploring ethnic Seattle.

Check back each week for a new guide and let us know if there’s a business you love and want to see listed!

First up: University District

With 46,000 students attending the University of Washington, the surrounding University District neighborhood has everything under the sun packed into a small area. This makes shopping and eating here both easy and difficult! You can probably find anything…but you’ll have a hard time deciding what you want. Most shops can be found on The Ave (University Avenue) so there’s no need to walk far, especially if you’re into hip, cool, vintage things.

Special note: The U-District Farmers Market take place every Saturday from 9am-2pm, year round. Do your shopping day on a Saturday and take advantage of added vendors!


Ly’s Donut Open 24 hours
Small family-owned neighborhood donut shops are getting harder to find but Ly’s still here serving up sweet treats all day long. Give Top Pot a day off!

Congeez 7am – 2pm (Delivery Only)
Who needs a restaurant when you can easily find a spot on campus and have food delivered to you? Congee is an Asian rice porridge most often eaten for breakfast. It comes with lots of options for toppings.

// LUNCH //

Guanaco’s Tacos 11:30am – 8:30pm
Despite the name, what you really want here are pupusas, the national food of El Salvador. Thick “pancakes” stuffed with your choice of cheese, meats, and herbs, topped with pickled cabbage and a special salsa.

Wann Yen 12pm – 7pm
There’s no shortage of Thai restaurants in the U-District, but this newcomer is doing something different by offering a dessert menu as large as the food menu.


Café O Dessert 11:30am – 10:30am
Get over the afternoon slump with a kick of sugar from a new shop offering Hong Kong style desserts.

Hiroki 9am – 7pm
This Japanese pastry shop is a little bit away from The Ave but it’s worth the short drive for green tea tiramisu, honey mango cheesecake, and lots of other fluffy goodies.


Palmi Korean BBQ 11am – 11pm (New)
It’s about time Korean BBQ comes to the U-District. Is an explanation even necessary?

Himalayan Sherpa House 10am – 3pm, 5pm – 10pm
End the day on a quieter note, drive away from the main strip a little to this cozy restaurant for something deliciously different.


Shopping in a mall or plaza might be convenient, but it can never be as fun as walking down The Ave, peeking in each store and never knowing what treasure you might find. Catering to students, shops are eclectic, thrifty, and hip. Book and clothing stores are plenty but don’t miss these three specialty shops for a truly unique gift.

Shiga’s Import 10am – 5:30pm
This museum-status store has seen over 50 graduating classes from UW and is still offering international gifts and merchandise, with a focus on Japanese products. It simply cannot be overlooked.

Pink Gorilla 11am – 7pm
Know a gamer in your life? Pink Gorilla specializes in retro and imported video games. They carry current releases as well as hard-to-find titles.

Gargoyle Statuary 11am – 7pm
This one of a kind shop carries things you might not ever think about getting. But stop by and be surprised by the variety of things you actually might like!

Books: Continent Books & Music, The Dreaming Comics & Games, Edge of Circle, University Book Store

Clothing: Buffalo Exchange, Earthbound Trading Company, Red Light Vintage, Sockshop, Valley of Roses