The Decibel Festival‘s 10th installment is just around the corner, hitting the clubs of Seattle from September 25-29, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned from our own festival tour this summer, it’s to do your homework. Granted, Decibel isn’t the kind of outdoor festival where you’re gonna get fleeced for an oversized pretzel or funnel cake, but all the same, it helps to know where to fill up after a show ends but before the after-party starts. As such, we want to make your Decibel experience as rich as possible, so we’ve rounded up the city’s best quick food spots, cocktail bars, dives, parks, boutiques, record stores, and cafes to make that Seattle trip a memorable one.
Wall Of Sound
1205 E Pike St. #1C
A short walk from Decibel’s main action sits Wall of Sound—a must for any music lover. WoS has been a Seattle landmark since it opened in 1990—as if The Wire magazine were converted into a record store. With an extensive selection of CDs and LPs spanning everything from industrial, noise, acoustic, electro, art-rock, indie, jazz, neoclassical, and beyond, Wall of Sound has something for every serious music fan.
Zion’s Gate Records
1100 East Pike St.
Located on Pike Street in Capitol Hill’s Pike and Pine district, you’ll recognize Zion’s Gate Records by the rather majestic lion emblazoned on the sign out front. Although the records at Zion’s Gate lean a bit on the pricier side, the selection and the atmosphere make it worth the extra pennies. Known for their amazing selection of metal, house, doom, punk, and rock, Zion’s Gate has become an underground hub for Seattle’s discerning music lovers. Pressed for time? Place your order online for in-store pick-up! Vinyl-philes and those with a more eclectic taste in music will not be disappointed.
Espresso Vivace Roasteria
532 Broadway E
If you’re like us here at Beatport, you need your coffee done right, and the baristas at Espresso Vivace Roasteria know what they’re doing. Vivace is close to most of the Decibel action, making it the perfect morning-after recovery spot and the ultimate (and essential) pre-festival pit stop. Keep it simple with a latte or espresso, or try something new like their White Velvet mocha. Even their whipped cream is coffee flavored.
4543 University Way NE
Located in the University District, Thai Tom is what you’d call an intimate dining experience—and by intimate, we mean it’s a tight squeeze. There’s only enough seats for about a dozen people, but the food is well known as the best Thai in the city. But don’t worry, the fare—which is cooked right in front of you, and includes everything from your classic Pad Thai to Panang curry, fried rice, and crab wontons—makes it worth the cramped quarters.
1036 South Jackson St.
If you’re looking to escape the fast-food nation for a quasi-classy experience, Tamarind Tree, not far from Capitol Hill in the International District, serves up some of the best Vietnamese cuisine short of Vietnam itself. We recommend the curries, salads, and, of course, the Pho.
1211 Pine St.
Although fine dining is a nice idea in theory, it’s more than likely that after a long day of dancing, you’ll be looking for somewhere like Lil Woody’s. A short walk from Decibel’s primary goings-on in Capitol Hill, Lil Woody’s is one of many burger joints that have popped up since the retro-style gourmet burger bar craze hit—it’s one of the few, though, that’s worth mentioning. Go for the classic Lil Woody burger and fresh-cut fries, or try one of their milkshakes made with local Molly Moon ice cream.
219 Broadway E
Easily the best in Seattle’s cheap-eats offerings, Tacos Chukis is a Mexican street-food joint tucked in an upstairs spot on East Broadway in Capitol Hill. Although Tacos Chukis is a little hard to find, it’s definitely worth tracking down (there’s a lack of signage, so keep your eye out for the address). Authentic Mexican at a very affordable price, the menu is small, but you’ll still find everything you want: Tacos include beef, cactus, pork, veggie, and chicken—the perfect match for a cold beer.
You’ve got to try a Seattle Dog—a cream-cheese-topped hot dog that’s become something of a wonder in Seattle. Its origins aren’t known for sure, but the Seattle Dog has been around since the ’80s, and can be found in restaurants and via street vendors alike. We recommend the Seattle Dogs at Cafe Racer (5828 Roosevelt Way), Hot Dog Joe’s (1st Ave. and Blanchard), and Dog in the Park (1520 4th Ave.) to get you started on your late-night post-clubbing binge.
Elysian Brewing Company
1221 E Pike St.
Nestled in the Pike/Pine area of Capitol Hill, Elysian is a local brewery that also boasts a full bar and food menu. You’ll find a chilled-out, relaxed vibe at Elysian, along with an immense selection of beers—there’s always something new on tap here. Happy-hour specials are also a highlight. Try the pumpkin beer, Irish stout, or Jasmine IPA. As for food? We’re partial to the curry schnitzel.
928 12th Ave.
Located at the edge of Capitol Hill, Canon is a bar/lounge hybrid that takes its “mixology” very seriously. This place is not for the faint of heart. The drinks have a price tag to match the extravagant atmosphere, but you get what you pay for: you won’t find a more authentic, perfectly mixed drink elsewhere in Seattle.
1603 Nagle Place
Fancy a quick break from the festival scene? Rock Box, a Japanese karaoke bar in Capitol Hill, is just what you need. A lively venue with a full bar and a fusion-style menu, Rock Box cuts down on the awkwardness of singing in front of a group of drunk strangers with its optional private rooms, rentable by the hour. There’s an open space for the brave souls among you, too. Bring your whole crew and enjoy their happy-hour specials (liquid courage) before starting your night of after-parties.
The Comet Tavern
922 E Pike St.
If your ears need a rest from non-stop dance music—although we can’t say we really imagine that happening—check out The Comet Tavern in Capitol Hill. One of the last remaining scuzzy punk-metal venues in the area, The Comet is a laidback dive bar that will likely see some hardcore metal bands headlining during Decibel. Pair a cold beer with their infamous Comet Dogs. We recommend it for those who want a true Seattle experience.
4528 4th Ave. NE
Located just on the opposite side of Lake Union is Buddhaful, a Seattle-grown clothing company that specializes in not only fashion, but art, music, and events. Established in 1998, Buddhaful clothing is designed by a group of artists based out of BC, San Francisco, and Seattle, offering comfortable, quality apparel for both guys and girls. Buddhaful’s unique printed hoodies are a personal favorite.
Gas Works Park
2101 N Northlake Way
The crowds and commotion at any major festival can be draining by the end of your trip. We suggest taking a breather at Gas Works Park, located in Wallingford on the north shore of Lake Union. Designed by landscape architect Richard Haag, the park has been open since 1975, and contains remnants of the sole remaining coal gasification plant in America. Gas Works Park is the ideal green space for a disco nap or a moment of much-needed respite.
325 5th Ave. N
For the music geek in all of us there is the EMP Museum in the Queen Anne neighborhood, just west of Capitol Hill. If you find yourself with a bit of spare time, the EMP Museum is definitely worth visiting. Formerly known as the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (shortening the name was a good call), the EMP is a non-profit museum that explores the ideas and innovations that fuel popular culture. Check out the Jimi Hendrix retrospective, the Nirvana exhibit, or the Icons of Science Fiction. Knowledge is power!
**Brandon Ivers contributed research help to this story