Jun 21, 2022 - Food and Drink

Cafe Allegro is a little piece of old Seattle

A cafe exterior with a hanging sign with a blue coffee mug, large windows, a sandwich board outside and a person sitting at a red cafe table outside .
The cafe is hidden down an alley. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios

In a city and neighborhood where everything around it has changed, Cafe Allegro in the University District somehow stays the same.

Why it matters: That's always been part of Cafe Allegro's charm — a little bit of old Seattle amid things built up shinier and newer.

  • While the coffee shop is well known — it's been around since 1975 — you still feel like you are discovering something secret when you are here.

The spot: The cafe was down an alley when I was in college at the University of Washington, but now it feels even more tucked away, facing the back of a newer office building.

  • It reminds me of a slower time in my life when I could spend 40 minutes pondering a line of T.S. Elliot.
  • The exposed brick and ivy climbing the wall of the bookshop next door will make you feel like getting literary, too.

Pro tip: The place often looks full, but rest assured, there's more space.

  • After you buy your cup of coffee, head back outside and go through the big, black door, which leads up to the cafe's upper floor and cozy balcony.
  • This is one of the places where I learned to adore drip coffee, and I still like to get it in a large, glass mug and take it upstairs while I work.

Bonus: Overhearing students talk about where they plan to travel, exciting conversations they had on campus or how they plan to change the world will help energize you almost as much as the coffee does.

Details: The address is 4214 University Way NE.

  • You'll have to go along NE 42nd Street to find the alleyway entrance, which is next to Magus Books.
The view out the windows of Cafe Allegro, with the back of a man sitting in a chair in the foreground and a new-looking building across an alley.
Looking outside from inside Cafe Allegro. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios
A glass mug full of black coffee sitting on an outdoor red table, with people at tables in the background and some plants on the edge of a wall.
Don't miss the upstairs balcony. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios
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