Why This Small Seattle Junction Has Been Named One of the World’s Best Neighborhoods

Moisture Festival | © Josh Larios / Flickr
Moisture Festival | © Josh Larios / Flickr
The junction between Fremont and Ballard has been a gray area for quite some time. Some think it’s part of Fremont, while others believe it to still be in Ballard. Some call it Balmont as a compromise, though most agree that this combo sounds too uppity for the middle ground between what are historically the lands of fisherman and hippies. The city of Seattle calls it Interbay-Ballard. The people? They have been increasingly calling it Frelard. Recognized by Time and Lonely Planet as one of the top neighborhoods in the world, let’s explore what makes Frelard so interesting.


With the fourth-largest number of breweries in the nation, the state of Washington certainly knows its beer. That being said, when a bunch of microbreweries all start popping up in the same area, Washingtonians still get excited. Seattle is no different, which is why the Emerald City has been increasingly eyeing Frelard. The combination of Hale’s Ales, Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Co., Maritime Pacific Brewing Company, Populuxe Brewing, and Reuben’s Brews are all located within a number of blocks. From family-owned and decades-old breweries, to companies that brought their craft beers to the area as recently as 2012, it’s no wonder Frelard is gaining attention.


Even in a city as hippie-dippie as Seattle, restaurants still bring on the meat—and they do it well. Two Shoe BBQ offers chicken brined for three days and meat slow-smoked for up to 16 hours. Every single item on the menu is homemade and all their meat comes from sustainable farms in the region. Then there’s Giddy Up Burgers & Greens, promoting sustainable practices by offering grass-fed, hormone-free, organic beef burgers. The Western-themed restaurant also has vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. With over 20 craft beers, they also have kombucha on tap. Okay, so those are both still pretty hippie-dippie. But if you can taste good, while doing good, why not?

Giddy up burger + egg + bacon + cheddar cheese 😍

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Bringing a little life to Frelard, Substation turns up the fun by turning up the volume. With rentable rehearsal rooms, an onsite recording studio, and a private karaoke room, some might even forget about their shows. Seattle’s Underground Music Venue provides practically nightly shows with genres like punk, indie-pop, and metal, as well as fundraiser shows. The shows are not genre specific, in that they book good music regardless of its categorization. With such a variety, it’s bound to beckon a large following.

More good eats

Other than meat-specific spots, there are a handful of eateries that are also bringing attention to the area. The Dish Café has been knocking breakfast out of the park for over a decade, even making it on local and regional lists of best breakfasts. Tarsan i Jane is an upscale venue with multi-course, creative, Valencian dishes. Some of the few to bring legitimacy to the neighborhood’s nickname, the Frelard Pizza Company and Frelard Tamales pull people in with their food-specific expertise. Frelard Tamales doesn’t actually have a physical location, but they do have a delivery service that brings authentic, handmade, Mexican tamales to your door.

Tarsan i Jane Courtesy of Tarsan i Jane


For those not so keen on beer, do not fret. Not only do breweries often provide other options, but there are more bars in Frelard that focus less on the hops. The Leary Traveler, for example, aims to be the neighborhood bar: a place to relax, celebrate, and gather. On the other end, there’s 4B’s, also known as the Ballard Grill & Alehouse (maybe someone should inform them they’re actually in Frelard). This dive bar has the drinks, the tasty pub grub, and apparently enough business to forgo a website.

Moisture Festival

The world’s largest comedy/varieté festival, the Moisture Festival is a four week-long festival in Seattle during spring. Produced by a non-profit organization, the festival takes inspiration from music halls, cabaret, and vaudeville. Each show combines a live show band, comedy, and “physical and mental dexterity,” plus an element of Seattle’s circus and burlesque scene. In an effort to stay true to the performers’ philosophy of accessible art, tickets are kept affordable at no more than $30. That does, however, mean that the festival relies heavily on fundraising and community support. Most shows are hosted at Hale’s Palladium, which used to be the storage of Hale’s Ales, and the rest are at the Broadway Performance Hall.

Moisture Festival Acrobats © Allie Cooper / Flickr

So Seattle

The final reason Frelard is awesome is because it is just so Seattle. Taking an area that is so forlorn and forgotten that its own residents can’t agree on what to call it, and developing it from industrial to commercial is rather common in Seattle. Not only is the area increasingly attracting visitors, but it has been built on quality products and quality intentions. The burgeoning music venue in this growing neighborhood doesn’t book as many big names as it can, but rather puts the spotlight on those who have earned it, but haven’t yet been recognized. Frelard is a mass of collisions: collisions of passion, sustainability, creativity, and community that works in a way that only Seattle can make it work.