8.2 out of 10

International District

Ranked 9th best neighborhood in Seattle
47.5979172676546 -122.322885475469
Great for
  • Eating Out
  • Neighborly Spirit
  • Public Transport
  • Shopping Options
  • Parks & Recreation
Not great for
  • Pest Free
  • Childcare
  • Schools
  • Gym & Fitness
  • Resale or Rental Value
Who lives here?
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Hipsters

Reviews

5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
Apr 07, 2016

"Vegetarian Restaurant Haven"

The International District is host to a plethora of delicious vegetarian restaurants. Also, those not catered exclusively to vegetarians still tend to offer a good selection for non-meat eating people. As a vegetarian, here are some of the best:

The Loving Hut:
This vegan restaurant chain has had some negative press due to the spiritual and political beliefs of its owners. Putting that aside, the Southeast Asian menu offers a delightful variety of options. I generally make an effort to choose a dish that is vegetable-heavy, as many of the dishes are based around faux meat, which tends to be highly processed and is not always very nutritious (though it does provide a dense protein).

ChuMinh Tofu and Vegetarian Deli:
This is another faux-meat place, though instead of highly-processed vegan alternatives, most of their dishes are, unsurprisingly, based around tofu. So if the menu says “chicken,” it’s not really chicken, it’s flavored tofu. The buffet-style restaurant appears questionable and dingy from the outside, but once inside, the food and the service are excellent. They dishes are Vietnamese-style, with very good prices.

World Pizza:
One of the few non-Asian restaurants in the neighborhood, this pizza parlor serves exclusively vegetarian pizzas. They also accommodate vegans as well as others with food intolerances and allergies. The staff appears to have fun inventing new and surprising food combinations. The unique toppings may at first sound dubious, but once you taste them, your doubts disappear. Only once have I been disappointed, and I've been there more than a handful of times. Pizza is served by the slice, so you can try more than one type while you’re there. My top choice for pizza is the baked egg and fresh herb pizza, and I can also recommend the greek salad, which is quite refreshing with a slice.

Aside from food, this neighborhood hosts a vibrant international and local community, where you can hear a half dozen languages being spoken as you walk around. You might hear Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, or several Chinese dialects! All told, I always enjoy my visits to the International District.
Pros
  • Unique dining options
  • Ethnically diverse
  • Excellent museum
Cons
  • Heavy traffic on arterial streets
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
Apr 03, 2016

"Tasty Tasty Food"

I’ve been to the International District a few times to eat, because they have a bunch of Asian restaurants that are the bomb. I dunno if I’d want to live here, there doesn’t seem to be very much housing. But it’s a cool place to eat out. I only wish ‘international’ included Mexican food!

Twice I braved the line at Tsukushinbo Ramen, which is notoriously difficult to get in because it’s one of the top ramen places in the country. Going there means a serious time commitment, because they sell out of ramen, so you have to wait in a brutal line before they open. They only sell a limited amount because when they make the ramen broth, it takes them…. not 4 minutes like a prepared broth…not 4 hours like a specialty chef…but 4 DAYS because they are ramen ninja masters. It’s worth the wait.

I also have to admit I’ve done karaoke at Bush Garden. The food’s not worth mentioning, but the karaoke energy is awesome. People obvs. practice a ton, because they belt it out! Now they just need to update their music, because it’s seriously outdated.

Fort St. George isn’t bad as far as fusion food goes. It’s supposed to be American-Japanese fusion (Yoshuko), but they also have Italian meals. It’s kinda a weird combo, but decent flavor, and I really liked the Doria. It’s like risotto, but Japanese style. Basically cheese and rice. Trust me, it’s better than it sounds.
Pros
  • Unique dining options
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
Jan 06, 2016

"A diverse, historic neighborhood with delicious food"

The first thing I think of when I think of the International District is tasty, tasty food. This neighborhood, just southwest of downtown, is packed full of delicious restaurants, most of them Asian food. Pho soup? Got it. Japanese sushi? Yup. Dumplings? Plenty. What I especially love is that many of them are small, family-run places with great prices. If you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, take a walk around the heart of the neighborhood, just south of Main Street and to the west of I-5, and you’ll have dozens of mouth-watering choices.

History:
Why so much Asian food in one place? This has to do with a bit of Seattle’s history that we’re still coming to terms with. I’m talking about segregation. Like many American cities, we segregated our neighborhoods by race for the 19th, and even into the 20th century. International District was originally called China Town, and was where Chinese workers lived. They were often hired to do heavy labor, such as on the railroads. Japan Town also sprung up, just north of China Town. After World War II, when Seattle forcibly removed all people of Japanese heritage and placed them into internment camps, other people, often immigrants, moved into what was Japan Town. Eventually, the neighborhood simply became known as the International District. But depending on who you ask, part of the International District is still called China Town today.

Museums:
Speaking of history, I highly recommend checking out the Wing Luke Museum, which does a great job of covering some of the Asian-American history of Seattle that is distinctly missing from other museums. I recently went and saw their excellent exhibit on Bruce Lee, one of Seattle’s hometown heroes. There’s also the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington, just on the east side of I-5, which has a museum, classes, and community events.

Housing:
Much of the neighborhood is protected as an historic district, which means that it has unique zoning laws. You’ll find some older brick buildings, mixed in with a few newer ones with higher rent. If you head east, past I-5, you start getting into single-family homes. Many of them were built in the early 20th century, and have high ceilings, and gorgeous bay windows, which lets in a lot of light. What they often don’t have, though, is closet space. I guess people just didn’t own as much stuff back then. Having said that, housing is pretty scarce here, and you'll have to head a bit further east and south to find more options.

Transportation:
The city just installed a tram that will run straight past the International District to Capital Hill. They’re currently testing the tram cars, and will hopefully begin running soon. Better two years late than never. There are also two major transportation hubs here, King Street Station, and Sound Transit. So, it’s a convenient location for getting around. The bike lanes have slowly been appearing as well. In the summer, I often ride my bike from Pioneer Square through the International District to Capitol Hill.

Safety:
I should mention one concern about the International District, which is safety. For the most part, it’s a safe neighborhood. But I would be cautious at night, particularly on Jackson, which goes under I-5, when most of the shops are closed up for the evening. It’s a place where there is still some poverty and homelessness, so people are trying to survive.

Groceries:
I love stocking up on groceries at the Asian grocery stores here, which have very good prices, fresh produce, and specialty ingredients, like rice noodles and kimchi. I recommend the family-run places on the side streets, rather than the giant Uwajimaya. Don’t get me wrong, Uwajimaya has a large selection of food, and their gift shop is fun, but it’s twice the price of neighboring shops.

Community Garden:
There’s also the enormous Danny Woo Community Garden, just east of 6th. I’m not sure how you get a plot, but I often see people tending their veggies here. It seems particularly popular with elderly folks. Some of the food is also communal, like the fruit trees that have so much fruit in early autumn that they start dropping on the ground. Take a basket and collect some! Just don’t take from plots that aren’t marked as communal while you’re urban foraging. The garden also does kids activities in the summer.
Pros
  • Large community garden
  • Excellent museum
  • Ethnically diverse
  • Unique dining options
Cons
  • Minor safety concerns at night
  • Heavy traffic on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"An Exotic Neighborhood, Featuring The Tastes Of Japan, China and Vietnam"

An extremely diverse neighborhood, featuring a predominantly Asian population that woos locals and tourists with tasty venues. It is also a popular lunch destination for urban professionals, seeking to escape high-rise confinement. The boundaries, north to south, are simply between Yesler Way and South Dearborn, with a slice removed by Interstate 5 on South Jackson Street. It spans west to east from 4th Avenue South to 12th Avenue South, again, with a section carved out to the north, beginning at South Jackson Street, on the east side of the interstate.

History

Large numbers of Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos immigrated to Seattle in the early 1900's. The highest concentrations settled in the International District (I.D.). World War II changed the face of this area, predominantly with the exodus of the Japanese to camps in Idaho and the influx of African Americans seeking jobs. New Southeast Asian residents emerged after the Vietnam War, establishing Little Saigon, east of the Interstate.

Demographics and Income

It is no surprise that over fifty percent of this community is Asian, with the next largest representation being Black. Whites and Latinos occupy the remaining, small slice. Domestically, most homes do not have children - just 10.5%. About equal numbers of residents are married, as are single - roughly 35%. The eye-opener is the distribution of singles, gender-wise. Over 27% of the population are single males, with only 7.5% being single female. The greatest age densities are those in their 30s, 40s, and 70s+. The affluent do not flock here, with the average income being only $12,255 (according to Zillow http://bitly.com/9NlAx5).

Real Estate

Interestingly, almost everyone living in the International District are renters. A mere 3.1% own a home, with most dwellings being condos. Home values are generally lower here, with the median list price being $230,000 (http://bitly.com/cCdN56).

Culture

This neighborhood not only contains rich diversity, it celebrates and proclaims it. Chinatown is the fulcrum, with Nihonmachi (or Japantown) a couple blocks away. Little Saigon, a prosperous Vietnamese American business district near 12th Avenue and Jackson Street, is on the east side of the Interstate. The Filipino population is represented, but lack a particular "identity" in this area. Even so, they still have a significant contribution to this cultural mecca of Seattle.

Restaurants, Pubs and Coffee Houses

The eating establishments, if you will, are the crown of the I.D. To list every venue would be laborious and lengthy, so a condensed version of restaurants is as follows... First, in Little Saigon, Tamarind Tree (http://tamarindtreerestaurant.com), Sichuanese Cuisine Restaurant (http://sichuaneserestaurant.com), The New Hong Kong (http://thehkrestaurants.com) - Featuring fresh dimsum everyday, and Malay Satay Hut (http://malaysatayhut.com). In Japantown, The Tenoch Mexican Grill (http://tenochmexicangrill.com) - Serving only lunch at this location, New Star Seafood (http://newstarseafood.com), Kayne-Izakaya & Shochu Bar (http://kaname-izakaya.com), Kau Kau Barbeque (http://bitly.com/cU4GXu) - Asian barbeque, and Jade Garden (http://bitly.com/9kIRGG) - Dim Sum and other varieties. In Chinatown, Harbor City Restaurant (http://bitly.com/9W07ME) - Dim Sum with fast service, Sea Garden (http://bitly.com/9DxwW2) - Quality Chinese cuisine, Chinagate (http://chinagate.cwok.com) - Top Ten Seattle Times Dim Sum, Honey Court Seafood Restaurant (http://bitly.com/9DlEFU), Pho Hoa (http://phohoa.com) - Noodle soups, and Seattle Crawfish King (http://seattlecrawfishking.com) - Cajon Seafood. As far as coffee is concerned... Gossip Espresso and Tea (http://gossip-tea.com) - Specializing in bubble tea, Oasis Tea Zone (http://bitly.com/bQphx2), Starbucks (http://starbucks.com), and Tully's (http://tullys.com).

Shopping and other Amenities

One of the premier attractions, when it comes to shopping, is Uwajimaya (http://uwajimaya.com). This place goes beyond being an Asian grocery store, with iconic status, even with tourists. Other businesses include Kobo (http://koboseattle.com) - A Japanese artisan gallery, International Examiner (http://iexaminer.org) - Northwest Asian American newspaper, Rocket Pictures (http://rocket-pictures.com) - Corporate & entertainment motion picture company, Hop Thanh Supermarket, Viet Wah (http://vietwah.com) - Asian grocery importer, and MacPherson Leather Company (http://macphersonleather.com).

Schools and Recreation Facilities

A variety of schools exist in the I.D., including ACLF (http://aclfnorthwest.org) - A nonprofit that trains and supports leadership of Asian Pacific Islanders, Chinese Wushu & Tai Chi Academy (http://yijiaowushu.com), Vuu's Beauty School (http://vuubeautyschool.com), Hengda Dance Academy (http://hengda-dance.com), Puget Sound Community School (http://pscs.org), and the Chinese Information and Service Center (http://cisc-seattle.org). Forms of recreation are the Pink Gorilla (http://pinkgorillagames.com) - Gaming center, China Town Community Center (http://sasc.countmein.com) - A variety of sporting and craft activities, and Hing Hay Park (http://bitly.com/9JiW4m).

Medical Facilities

No major for-profit hospitals exist within the International District. However, Harborview Medical Center (http://bitly.com/dhPLZL) is less than a mile to the north. The largest nonprofit Asian community health center in Washington, International Community Health Services (http://ichs.com), is near Dearborn and 8th Avenue. Other facilities, most of which are Asian medicine varieties, include the Washington State Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Center (http://acupunctureomd.com) and a few private practices scattered around the community.

Access

Getting around Seattle from the I.D. couldn't be more convenient. Being located on the south side of downtown, nestled into the Interstate 5 and Interstate 90 interchange, having arterials in every direction - residents' only challenge is traffic. The train station is just blocks away, with the airport just 20 minutes away. Even Qwest Field (http://qwestfield.com) and SafeCo Field (http://seattle.mariners.mlb.com) are an easy reach by foot.

Summary

This neighborhood is a treat for the Seattleite and tourist, with surprising delights for the pallet, eyes and ears. In addition to the seemingly unending variety of restaurants and cultural businesses, Asian festivals continue to draw crowds from around the state, with the Chinese New Year being one of the largest celebrations. When considering the next dining experience, why not investigate the exotic tastes this Asian village has to offer.
Pros
  • Ethnically diverse
  • Unique dining options
  • Inexpensive housing
Cons
  • Highway corridor dividing neighborhood
  • Heavy traffic on arterial streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Hipsters
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
2yrs+

"Historic, Affordable, Delicious"

The International District (commonly known as Chinatown), is a historical and spectacular region of Seattle. More than half the residents are Asian, which ought not to be a surprise considering the name. As such, most of the surrounding restaurants, shops, and stores cater to Asian tastes or take on Asian themes of some kind and have done so since Asian immigrants began collecting in this area. In turn, many spots and buildings in the International District have been designated for or under consideration for historic preservation, which spurs a debate between opposing factions who are either in favor of maintaining the Historic spots and those who would opt toward development and redevelopment in the future, a view that often elicits responses about possibly gentrification.

There are certainly important places to preserve in the area, all of which are worth a visit. Hing Hay Park is a popular and central point in the International District, as is the Wing Luke Asian Museum. The Danny Woo International District Community Garden is a project to provide an urban gardening option that is established on Kobe Terrace, and the Iconic China Gate restaurant has stood in place since the 1920s.

If you're looking for authentic Vietnamese, Chinese or Japanese cuisine, search no further. Around every corner of the International District is a restaurant offering Dim Sum or Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches). A wonderful option for lunch or dinner is Green Leaf Vietnamese Restaurant where enjoy a big bowl of Pho or Vermicelli noodles in the small and cozy atmosphere.

For those wanting a more historical place to eat, none is better than the Panama Hotel Tea and Coffee House. This historic building is still a working bed and breakfast and is the focal point of the novel “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.” Have a cup of tea followed by a tour of this amazing building which still contains remnants of World War II.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
2yrs+

"Culture and Diversity in One Space"

The international district isn’t just ethnic stores and businesses; it’s a vibrant diverse section of Seattle in its people and their incomes. Recently, I even noticed that some spaces are being converted into art spaces. When visiting the area I stopped by to see friends, who had with other like-minded artist, renovated a warehouse in the area and converted it into living and art spaces. However, it’s unlikely that the area will move from the international district into a thriving arts only community anytime soon.

Although it would be nice not to stick this district into a box the majority of the shops and restaurants cater to the international “feel” and you can often find spices and other items not readily available in a normal super market. In fact Uwajimaya, is a much sought after and visited market in the area and probably the single largest business in the area which spawned the Uwajimaya Village, which is a really clean and newer looking office building that host shops and office in equal share.

Of course you can’t mention the International District without mentioning Wing Luke Museum, which celebrates the ethnic diversity of the area. It’s a must see when in the area.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
2yrs+

"Vibrant Ethnic Community - Exciting To Visit or Live Here"

Seattle's International District, also known as the I.D., is a diverse neighborhood located just south of Downtown. Often called 'Chinatown' by locals, the International District is actually home to a melting-pot of dozens of Asian immigrant groups, including Chinese Americans, Filipino Americans, Japanese Americans, Cambodian Americans, and many more. Each new wave of immigration changes the character of the neighborhood in its own unique way.

The International District stretches between Fifth Avenue South and Rainier Avenue South, North of S. Dearborn Street and South of South Main Street. Within the International District, the main roads are South King Street and South Jackson Street. This area was first known as Chinatown as early as the 1890s. Today, the entire area is officially recognized as a Historic District.

The International District is known for many cultural landmarks where the various groups who call the I.D. home congregate. These include Hing Hay Park, the Wing Luke Asian Museum, and Kobe Terrace. Though there are few green spaces within the district, the Danny Woo Community Garden offers residents opportunities for urban gardening. There are also plenty of Asian supermarkets, boutiques offering unique gifts and specialty wares, and affordable ethnic restaurants.

This vibrant community is a favorite residential area of many of Seattle's inhabitants. Most of the housing in the I.D. consists of apartment buildings located above retail centers. Statistically, the neighborhood is more than 50% Asian, though all groups are welcomed with open arms. The International District is a great place for cultural exploration, and also an exciting place to live.
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
2yrs+

"A wonderful ethnic section of the city"

Aside from some apartments residing over restaurants, stores and businesses, there are no homes in this area, but it is one of the most colorful and entertaining areas in the city. The cultural charm of the buildings, artwork and parks is phenomenal and you'll be hard pressed to find better Asian cuisine in the city than in some of these small restaurants that line the little 4-block square that makes up the International District. There are a few little shops, but the majority of the retail in the area is Uwajimaya, a huge grocery store where you can find the most unusual food products I think I've ever seen. The employees of nearby Amazon.com infiltrate the International District daily, enjoying the food, sights and culture of the area.
Access into the International District from downtown couldn't be easier. A 4-minute bus ride through the underground bus tunnels is free and takes you directly to the International District with a minimal number of stops along the way. If you're driving from the city, 5th Ave. provides a straight shot into the district and there is usually plenty of parking. Eastsiders have easy access to Interstate 90, and those who live outside of the city can quickly access I-5 or Hwy 99.
3/5
2yrs+

"Not a place to live, but offers a great cultural visit"

With so many things to do and see in the International District it shocks me at how many locals have never been there! Perhaps when you settle into your own neighborhood, venturing out to other areas becomes unheard of. I'm an adventurist, so have been to just about every neighborhood in Seattle and am still exploring.

Some places you do not want to miss while in Seattle's International District inlcude Wing Luke Asian Museum located along Seventh Avenue S, the Northwest Asian American Theatre also along Seventh Ave, and Tsue Chong Noodle Company on King Street. Tsue Chong was founded in the early 1900s and cranks out fortune cookies and Chinese noodles like you wouldn't believe. My 7 year old loves this place and because of that, we keep going back.

The drive in to the International District is not desirable and due to some safety concerns I am wise in bringing my spouse or friends along. We always travel in groups to this neighborhood.

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