Formerly a TV writer for Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live, Maria Semple moved to Seattle four years ago and then made her new home the subject of her second novel, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? In the best-selling book, Semple gently mocks Seattle’s mores and manners from the perspective of a disgruntled L.A. transplant. Semple splits her time between Belltown and Vashon, and her bests reflect that divide.
Best Ferry: Fauntleroy to Vashon
Once you’re on the ferry, all the stress is lifted off you. We sit in the car and read.
Best Bakery: Bakery Nouveau (West Seattle)
It’s the best bakery I’ve ever been to in my life. The croissants—and I’m not even a croissant fan—it seems impossible that there’s a better croissant on the planet. The sandwiches are unbelievable. We eat them on the ferry, and I stock up for the next morning’s breakfast. [Editor’s note: There’s a second location on East Capitol Hill.]
Best Park: Olympic Sculpture Park
It is to me the soul of the city. All my ideas come to me on the walk to the sculpture park. I walk through the park to Magnolia and back.
Best Landmark: The Space Needle
It’s such a cliche, but we love Seattle Center! We love going up the Space Needle. We go there with out-of-town visitors. We haven’t gotten sick of eating at the Space Needle or looking at the Space Needle.
Best Movie Theater: SIFF Cinema Uptown
SIFF is our neighborhood cinema. National Theatre Live—we’re all about that. [Editor: These are live satellite broadcasts of English stage productions, next running Oct. 28–Nov. 4.]
Best Pet Store: Mud Bay (Belltown)
We go there way too much. They’re super-friendly, and they love our animals.
Best Pizza: Bambino’s (Belltown)
I’m still waiting to have a better pizza than there.
Best Bookstore: Elliott Bay Book Co.
I go there for readings all the time. It’s really my home away from home.
Best Food Truck: Pinky’s Kitchen (Wallingford)
I love the barbecue sandwiches. It’s really great.
Best Symbolic Difference of Life in Seattle vs. Los Angeles: hanging flower baskets on buildings and light poles
They’re all over, and so lovingly maintained. What a lovely and unnecessary grace note. If they were in L.A., people would steal them.