The Best Places to Chill in Seattle and Spend (Almost) Nothing

chill seattle
Bro be chillin’.

Seattle is expensive. Everyone knows this. But if you chill at these places you can spend next to nothing and essentially be a vagrant without all the negative connotations that brings.

Madison Market

Shit is expensive here. But sometimes they have samples, and you can just buy a La Croix ($0.69) and chill in the nice indoor seating area.

Whole Foods (Roosevelt)

Shit is expensive here. But they have brewed yerba mate for under $2.00 and you can also post up in the cafe and buy nothing. Just don’t go at lunch time, when the place is rife with parents and their small children screaming/spilling food/doing other things small children do.

Elliott Bay Books

My only gripe with this place is it’s so chill, it’s so relaxing, that the only thing I want to do when I’m there is fall asleep. Today I was reading The Story of my Teeth by Valeria Luiselli. When I grabbed the book off the shelf one of the employees looked at me like, “You piece of shit I know you’re not going to buy that book you literally come in here everyday and have never bought a book,” but then just smiled. Upstairs I tried to read it but just got so…tired. And I’m not going to pay for anything in the cafe. Little Oddfellows is expensive.

Trader Joe’s

OK, you can’t really chill here. But they have samples/free coffee all day. Which means I chill here a lot, albeit in short stints.

Odegaard Library, UW Campus

My login still works at the computers, so sometimes I come here to work. It’s also a nice place to watch UW students “study,” i.e. peruse Facebook. The next generation is lost, man.

So there you have it. Like, there you have it. Like, chill, bro. Like, chill. There you have it. There. You. There you have it. Have it. Have it. Have it.

A Description of a Grocery Store, or, a Rant about Hipsters

I come to Whole Foods every single day. It’s my new routine. I’d say I’m about two visits away from a, “Wait, don’t tell me…12 oz. yerba mate?”

The reason I like Whole Foods is it’s so anonymous. It’s a grocery store. People don’t come here to be seen on their MacBook Pros. People don’t come here to pay 10 dollars for an americano and then tip five because they’re afraid the hip Seattle barista with a tattoo of a manatee will think they’re lame if they don’t. People don’t come here for the atmosphere. Besides being comfortable, there is no atmosphere.

When you walk into most coffee shops in Seattle people size you up, (if they can look up from their MacBook Pros for more than 0.04 seconds) thinking, “Hmmm, who is this guy? Is he a graphic designer? A photographer? Does he seriously have no tattoos?”

I’m just waiting for a hipster to say it one day instead of just passively aggressively thinking it.

Hipster: “Yo, so I’m going to be honest with you,” he/she says after giving me a high five instead of shaking my hand, “You have no forearm tattoos, and it’s kinda weird. Also, you look like you might care about sports. You look like you might be com– compe– competit– (struggles to even pronounce word) compet — comp — comp — competitive.”

Me: “Do I know you?”

Hipster: “Look, just like get a wolf or a beating heart tattooed on your ribs or something. Also, just so you know, it’s cool to play sports like kickball, but not real sports. And it’s never cool to try or care about anything, unless it’s how many followers you have on Instagram. And even then, it’s — OK, how do I put this — oh my God, so awkward — it’s not cool to care how many Instagram followers you have, but it’s also not cool to NOT have very many followers. You get me?”

Me: “So I need to have a bunch. But I can’t want a bunch.”

Hipster: “Exactly. Also, you need to like go to more desert locations and take photos of you and your friends standing around next to huge rocks. But please — please please please — don’t exert yourself. Don’t, like, actually go hiking. Don’t, like, sweat. Gross. Just, like, take pictures using medium format cameras.”

Me: “OK. So I should get a tattoo. And take pictures next to rocks.”

Hipster: “Yes.”

Me: “A tattoo of a wolf?”

Hispter: “That’s one example. Just make sure you get something forest-themed or something to do with the rugged life. Get like an axe or something.”

Me: “Do hipsters like the outdoors?”

Hipster: “No, but we like to pretend we do. Look, you’re obviously not really understanding, so I’ll break it down for you. Cool: Taking a picture next to a huge-ass stump. Not cool: Enjoying the forest by yourself or with a friend but not documenting it. Cool: Trying to chop the stump into smaller pieces, but being so bad at it that you just end up doing a photoshoot with the axe. Not cool: Actually being competent at using the axe.

“Now do you get it?”

Me: “I think so. So, appearances are the only thing that matter?”

Hispter: “God. No. It’s more like, ‘Appearing as if appearances don’t matter even though they totally matter is the only thing that matters.'”

Me: “What?”

Hipster: “Really good to meet you, man.”

(Another high five. Hipster walks back to table and sits next to pale Caucasian girl with a tattoo of an Indian headdress on the underside of her bicep.)

Anyway, as I was saying, this doesn’t happen in Whole Foods, because even though it has a cafe, Whole Foods is primarily a grocery store. Granted, it’s a neo-hippie, “it doesn’t really matter if it’s organic; what matters is it costs more” kind of grocery store, but that’s the subject for a different rant. And I’m not here to rant. I’m here to sip my 12 oz. yerba mate and enjoy the conservative music coming from the speakers, blissfully unaware that life could be so much better if I just cared a little more but didn’t care, if I tromped around the desert next to huge rocks, and if my forearms had a little ink.

Wednesdays at Mr. West

mr. west, seattle, matcha latte
Matcha lattes at Mr. West.

The thing I don’t like about writing is that it’s an exercise in not living in the present. If I describe yesterday, for instance, I have to transport myself back to that day, imagine sitting on the bus, walking through downtown past the Amazon drones, basking in the sea of tranquility of Mr. West, enjoying the chic cafe atmosphere as I grade papers and wait for my friend. I have to imagine my friend’s granite handshake, waiting while he orders tea, our conversation, and then the fact that he pulls out his pay stub — his pay stub! — makes conversation, and I’m flabbergasted, not because he’s pulled out his pay stub but because my matcha latte is gone and I want another one. God, how I want another one but they cost $4.40 each and I always feel obligated to tip, you’re an asshole if you don’t tip in Seattle, so the idea of buying another one is out of the question. Plus, I’ve eaten nothing all day and a matcha latte probably isn’t the best idea. I need real sustenance. I need a burrito.

If I think of yesterday I remember the time I asked my friend something and he looked away and I thought, Why are you looking away? I remember the way the tea smelled like hay and had a neon green sheen like spandex, and I remember how in Mr. West it always feels like you’ve wandered into some little pocket of 1920’s New York decadence, a place where everything’s perfect, everyone affluent and moving up in the world.

But I don’t feel this way where I am now, which is Starbucks. I don’t usually go to Starbucks, not because I have anything against the place but because it’s usually too crowded and I prefer the silence of Peet’s two blocks away. Walking into Peet’s is liking walking into a mausoleum. It must get 10 customers a day. Which is great when you’re one of the customers because you feel special, like at any moment the employee could slap you on the back and invite you to his lake house, provided of course he had a lake house, which of course he wouldn’t because he’s working at Peet’s and making minimum wage for a company that probably gets a a fifth of the business Starbucks gets, scratch that, a tenth, and the only way he’d ever have a lake house is if his parents owned a lake house, and something tells me his parents could. Because this is Seattle. There are a lot of lake houses.

Back to Mr. West. I’m sitting in Mr. West, my friend comes and shakes my hand and we talk about nothing. There’s a firetruck across the street and men carrying oxygen tanks. A cloud of dust hangs in the air resembling smoke — if you want it to resemble smoke — but mostly it resembles dust. I think about what it would be like to order another matcha latte, how I would feel, but hold off because they’re prohibitively expensive. The only reason I could justify it is because the weather’s gorgeous, it’s in the 70’s in Seattle and everyone’s wearing bikinis, and it feels like the right thing to do. If it feels like the right thing to do, do it. Don’t think about it, just do it. This can be tough, because often times the right thing to do is hard work. For example, the other day I was riding the bus and I felt like I should get off at Montlake and walk across the Montlake bridge. It would be glorious, the sun was setting, and I could imagine how I would feel standing on the bridge, looking down at the water below, looking at the sky in front of me. I’d feel like Jay freaking Gastby. I’d feel on top of the world. But I didn’t do it! I stayed on the bus. I stayed on the bus like a coward because I didn’t want to walk too much. And I missed out on this experience that I knew was the right thing for me at that moment all because I didn’t want to do a little extra walking.

When you know it’s the right thing, do it.

Back at Starbucks, today today, my tea is almost gone. It was Earl Grey and now it’s the temperature of dirty bath water. The regulars to my right have left, and I’m glad. They were talking about politics and all the problems in “this town.” They kept calling it “this town,” probably to emphasize that they’ve been living here since it was just a town. I debate whether or not to work my shitty online job and decide not to. Instead, I’ll take a walk around the lake. Shitty online job or a walk around the lake? The choice is clear.