The luminous block letters advertising “Merchants Cafe” nearly overshadow the intriguing tidbit beneath: a sign reading "Established 1890, Seattle’s Oldest Restaurant." Once guests pass through the double-door entrance, though, its historic charms become undeniably clear. Rustic wood floors covered with ornate rugs complement wooden and exposed brick walls, and the stained-glass chandeliers hanging overhead cast a warm glow. Despite the homey 1800s feel, a few modern touches accent the restaurant, including flat-screen TVs around the cherry-wood bar and a menu of contemporary eats. Hearty American entrees, such as hot turkey sandwiches and Angus burgers, are crafted from local, organic ingredients sourced from the likes of Pike Place Market and Bob’s Fruit Stand.
Over the past 120-some years, Merchant’s has accrued quite a colorful history, but most notably operated as a hotel, saloon, and card room in the late 19th century. Today, barkeeps continue the tradition, sans the fist-fights over whose horse is more attractive, by pouring libations including Georgetown and Mac and Jack’s craft beers and wines and spirits from local wineries and distilleries.
The amiable bakers at Cow Chip Cookies drop 11 types of dough onto sheets before baking their signature cookies to a golden finish. Fresh ingredients from The Butter Creek Farm are used to craft cookies available in flavors such as classic chocolate chip with Ghirardelli chocolate and Mock Baby Ruth cookies featuring a peanut-butter-and-oatmeal cookie-dough base spotted with chocolate and butterscotch chips. As the cookies drop, each one takes on its own slightly different shape, just like a handmade pillow filled with shredded college rejection letters. Gift boxes delight recipients with heart-shaped treats, seasonal shapes, or custom flavor combinations.