Unlike last week’s neighborhood, Top Hat, Brighton is shaped like a top hat, albeit a bent one. Brighton, located just off the Othello Light Rail Station on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, is the kind of diverse neighborhood where you’ll find a crawfish joint near a Buddhist temple down the way from an Ethiopian cafe. You’ll find a McDonald’s too, but they’re everywhere.
Like many somewhat obscure neighborhoods, no one’s completely sure what to call Brighton. This piece of earth has gone by South Seattle, Rainier Valley, Brighton, and now, increasingly, Othello—a pretty good name for a neighborhood, but if you’re going to go the Shakespeare route, the best name is easily Titus Andronicus. “Welcome to Titus Andronicus.” See, it sounds cool.
Schools and parks are often major determining factors in neighborhood branding wars (worst reality show ever). The name Brighton took a hit in 2010 when Brighton Elementary School was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, and then there’s the Othello Playground. The arrival of light rail a few years ago had the potential to be the deciding factor. One can picture the train being beckoned like a puppy between the pro-Brighton crowd and the pro-Othello crowd, going back and forth uncertainly on its tracks. Obviously, Othello won out. I guess the “Hello Othello” signs along MLK kind of point to that.
Along with its array of eateries, Brighton is a virtual international food court of religious-observance options, with houses of worship catering to nearly everyone: the Duoc Su Temple (Buddhist), Rosehill Missionary Baptist, Minyan Ohr Chadash (orthodox Jew), Vietnamese Presbyterian Church, Community of Christ, Muslim Housing Services, and the Maranatha Adventist Church, among plenty of others. Depending on when services start, you could easily experience three or four different covenants in one day.
And there’s ample opportunity to mess up your best Sunday clothes with innumerable food options that I would have refused as a picky kid, but enjoy now. Standouts include the Huong Que Deli and Cafe, The Cajun Crawfish, Thai Savon, Rainier Restaurant and BBQ, Cafe Avole, and Huarachitos. Of course, there’s also the nondescript Zest’s Fast Food, which is sometimes referred to as Zesto’s, though I don’t have the energy to delve into the Zest/Zesto’s thing after all that Brighton/Othello malarkey.
Should you move here? Between the school, the park, the light-rail station, and countless diverse restaurants and temples, Brighton crosses every base that being a great neighborhood requires. If you’re looking for a bite or a God, head on down.
NeighborHuh? is a four week series celebrating Seattle neighborhoods you didn’t even know were neighborhoods.