Living in Seattle(ish), Day 270(ish): boba blues

Living in Seattle(ish), Day three(ish): 10 things I’ve learned
Living in Seattle(ish), Day eight(ish): regret in a screenshot
Living in Seattle(ish), Day 18(ish): Time for the mortuary, and I’m a bad driver

Living in Seattle(ish), Day 193(ish): where do I begin?

Interestingly enough I keep getting requests for more posts in this series, even though it has nothing to do with travel. About nine months ago I moved from Florida to Bellevue, Washington, because I needed a change, and I’ve been sharing my thoughts ever since. You guys were tremendously helpful with suggestions when I made the move, and again, I can’t thank you guys enough.

So with that in mind, here are my random observations about nine months into my life here (and for what it’s worth I have a 12 month lease, so it’s time to make some decisions soon).

Dear world: I’m not an expert on Bellevue

One of the funniest things that has happened from writing this series is that Google seems to think I’m now an expert on the greater Bellevue area. While I’m always happy to share my experiences living here, and especially thrilled to share them with readers considering a move, I can’t help but laugh at the number of emails I’ve started getting from random people that found this series of posts through Google and seem to think I’m an expert on the area. I’ve gotten requests for recommendations from stuff ranging from the best schools to the best proctologists. Thanks, I guess, but I really don’t know what I’m talking about!

Boba Blues — Drive Thru Boba save me please!

If you follow me on Twitter or read the last installment of this series you may know I’m obsessed with Drive Thru Boba. Rather than rehashing the last blog post I’d suggest going and checking it out.

Fast forward to a day after I wrote that blog post. I’m at Drive Thru Boba and it’s finally my turn. I didn’t know them prior to that, and I assume to them I was just one of their three weird Caucasian customers. So imagine my surprise when they said “hi Ben, we loved your blog post.” I was floored/speechless/embarrassed for a while, given what I wrote.

In the meantime Alex and Karen (the owners) are basically my spiritual boba advisers. They’re awesome in every way, and without getting into their personal life too much, as it turns out I have a lot in common with them in regards to our hobby. Besides, when I was in Taipei they gave me recommendations on the best places to get bubble tea, though sadly none of them compared to what they serve.

Late in June I was in Europe and Asia, and even when I’m traveling I check their Facebook page every day to slap myself over not being there when they have a good special. So I’m sure you can imagine my reaction when on July 3 they posted that they’re moving locations and that their last day at the current stand was June 30… several days prior!

On July 8 they posted the reasoning for the move, which is an interesting read regardless of whether or not you’ve ever been there. But nearly a month since they closed they still haven’t publicly announced when they’ll open again or where their new location will be.

Now, there are other places in the area that sell bubble tea and the like. But once you’ve had the best it’s tough to go back to the rest. So I’ve just been going through boba withdrawal, and I’m not sure how much longer I can take it before I have to be checked into rehab.

On the plus side there’s a Taiwanese restaurant a couple of blocks from my apartment called Facing East, and they have bubble tea and taro smoothies. In terms of quality they’re the closest I’ve experienced to Drive Thru Boba.

Taro smoothie and bubble tea at Facing East

Drive Thru Boba does catering, and I’m so desperate to the point that I may just have them come to my kitchen and make a month’s supply of their goodies so I can survive in the meantime. Or maybe I should just host a blog boba party so I can show you how awesome they are.

But seriously, I’ve never in my life experienced withdrawal systems the same way I have with Drive Thru Boba.

Lights on but no one’s home Lights off but someone’s driving

Totally random, but I’ve noticed this in Seattle/Bellevue and nowhere else I’ve ever been. What the hell is up with so many people driving at night without their lights on?


I’m from a suburban part of Tampa (I’m told there are non-suburban parts, though I’m not entirely sold), where an exciting evening of culinary delights would take us to TGI Fridays. And the great thing about TGI Fridays is that it’s always happy hour there. If you buy one shot glass worth of two buck chuck for $9, they’re so generous that they give you a second glass free. All day every day.

I don’t really like to drink, though I do love good deals on food. Quite possibly my favorite new discovery in the area is how good of a value happy hour can be. I know this probably sounds obvious to everyone else, but I’m of the strange opinion that this is an east coast vs. west coast thing. On the east coast most happy hours seem to center around drinks, while on the west coast there are lots of happy hours centered around food, I’ve found.

For example, Aqua by El Gaucho is one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle, and outrageously expensive. Usually for a decent meal for two you’re looking at paying $200+. They have a happy hour menu where you’ll get out paying about $50 for two real food and drinks for two — awesome!

And it’s even awesomer in summer, given they have a patio overlooking Elliott Bay and Mt Rainier.


Summers continue to be amazing…

I realize I’m once again stating the utterly obvious here, but the summers in the Pacific Northwest are literally the most gorgeous of anywhere in the world. It’s almost always 70 degrees without a cloud in the sky. It’s amazing. If I do stay here another year, I’ve gotta learn next year to do all my travel in the nine months where the weather is borderline miserable, and literally just stay home for the few months of summer.

I’m still trying to decide whether I’ll stay here another year or not. I do like the area, there’s some life to it that just doesn’t exist in Tampa, so I know I’m definitely not going back there. And while Bellevue is expensive compared to Tampa, it’s still pretty reasonably priced compared to other major cities I was considering, and the lack of a state income tax in Washington State sure doesn’t hurt either.

I hope everyone’s having an equally awesome summer, and safe travels!

Filed Under: Misc.
  1. Don’t judge the weather by this summer. What we’ve been experiencing is utterly freakish and unprecedented (and we never really had much rain this winter). For a typical summer, the rain would just be ending right around now. I think we’re in for one heckuva fire season. The smog (caused by temperature inversion) should be starting soon.

  2. Yep, Vancouver has had the one of the driest julys since the 1980’s. Not a single day of rain yet. 🙂

  3. Why don’t you reveal your significant other to your readers? I mean, it’s not like you all didn’t travel together already?

  4. Alexx, last few summers have been real nice starting at the end of June. Not just this one. It has been better than most.

    As for Seattle, there are less expensive areas than Bellevue.

  5. Agree with above. With that said, our typical summer does run mid-July to October and I cannot think of anywhere else I would be than here during that time. I tend to try to travel in the winter time when it is miserable.

    I love Facing East but for the food, not the Boba. Looks like I might have to try it now, though.

  6. Shhhhhhh keep telling people it rains here!

    No… it’s actually amazing. I fly only when I absolutely have to between Memorial Day and Labor Day… otherwise, it’s all Seattle all the time.

    Here’s the view today from my desk in downtown Seattle…

  7. If you do a boba party over Labor Day weekend, I will come. 🙂 Nick wants to go up to the track.

    McCormicks in downtown does an amazing happy hour. Try the hamburger, it is fantastic!

  8. Stay you stay in Seattle for at least another year. You keep getting all the good non-stop’s. Delta’s adding SEA-HKG & SEA-LHR – 2014 should be a great year fares out of SEA.

  9. You should stay in Seattle for at least another year. You keep getting all the good non-stop’s. Delta’s adding SEA-HKG & SEA-LHR – 2014 should be a great year fares out of SEA.

  10. I’m from Boca Raton, FL and was just in Seattle. You seriously need to try Ma’Ono Fried Chicken and Whiskey. Jean Claude Van DAMN was it awesome.

  11. did i miss the EVA air full report as well the tapei city posts? looking forward to your thoughts on TW

  12. @ jason — You didn’t, it’s still coming. Cranking out these trip reports as fast as I possibly can!

  13. Back by popular demand–another great post in the Seattle Musings series! The picture of the beverages makes me so thirsty…. Never had bubble tea before.

    When does the next “where should I move to?” series begin? 😉 (I suspect Seattle will be tough to beat.)

  14. You still have to try Wonderful Foods at Irving St in SF. Best BOBA ever… Let me know when you’re in SF and I’ll take you.

  15. I’ve spent 6 summers try to remember not to fly anywhere, and stuff still comes up. I’m trying to convince Megan to stick around now for number 7 so we can try again. We’re off to Miami tonight, and the weather there is not nearly as nice as it is here in Seattle.

    It’s not nearly as good as El Gaucho, but for a summer meal with a view, Ivar’s has an outdoor deck on Lake Union.

  16. I moved away from Seattle a year ago and am still giddy about all the sunshine I get in New Mexico. But I do miss a couple of my favorite near-airport Seattle dining options. Have you tried 13 Coins (feel like I’m in Mad Men) or the Cedarbrook Lodge?

  17. before you try moving to a new place, you should try moving to seattle (and out of bellevue!) i’m curious how you made that choice. as a young guy, i’d think you’d want to be closer to the bars/restaurants etc in seattle. heck, i’m 34 and live in cap hill so i can walk to as many places as i want.

  18. I don’t know where you are in Bellevue, but I like the view, the food, and the value at Daniel’s for happy hour.

    Happy Hour is “Prime Time”
    4:00pm to 6:30pm and 9:00pm to Close, Seven Nights a Week (In the lounge only)

    New Specialty Bar Menu Items!
    Featured Happy Hour Wines by the Glass
    $1 off All Draft and Bottled Beer
    $8 Daniel’s Classic Martinis, Manhattans and Summer Cocktails

    Have you been here yet?

    It is not fine dining, but it is fun and fast.

  19. @ riverchica — I’ve been to the 13 Coins near SeaTac. My gosh, that place is creepily awesome/horrible. I’m convinced I’m going to get killed every time I go there, but alas, I’m still alive.

  20. @ Lark — Wasn’t aware of the happy hour at Daniel’s, thanks for the heads up.

    Have I been to Din Tai Fung? Are you kidding, I practically live there. 😀

  21. Next time you’re in LA, go to a Half & Half tea house in the San Gabriel Valley area. It’ll obliterate any Boba drink you’ve ever had, I promise you.

  22. Before you leave Seattle, be sure to check out Port Townsend on the peninsula. Admittedly I might be a little biased (born and raised), but it’s a beautiful town, even in the rain!

  23. The abundance of happy hour food is one of my favorite perks about living in Seattle. Even better is the fact that many places have two happy hours (after work and late night)!

  24. What? Seattle has months of summer now? Must be that global warming thing. When I lived there “month of summer” was being quite generous.

  25. @Jonathan Last few summers? Do you remember Summer of 2011? This year has been very strange in Seattle weather, we had a relatively dry/warm winter and June was mostly sunny. When is the last time you remember good weather in June?

  26. I discovered those happy hour deals a few years ago when I came out for a series of performances that began at 6 pm. Dinner obviously was out, but happy hour filled the bill and our stomachs. We got to sample lots of fab restaurants without eating or spending too much. Favorite was the Elliot’s Oyster House–folks line up for their Progressive Oyster Happy Hour, which starts at 3 pm.

  27. I visited Seattle and Bellevue last month and completely understand the decision to live in Bellevue. It’s clean, walkable and has much lower crime than many other places in the country, including Seattle. It reminded me of a small version of Tokyo.

  28. @riverchica @lucky You should try the original 13 Coins in SLU. Far better in my opinion, and a good choice when you’ve been out drinking until 2 AM and need something solid in your stomach.

  29. And, go to Canlis! No need to dress up if you go into the bar/lounge area. Well, no shorts and flip flops, but no tie or jacket required and jeans are okay too…..

  30. I live in Seattle proper, coming from the east coast five years ago. The driving-without-headlights thing still mystifies me. I have never seen it so prevalent anywhere else. Sometimes I consider calling the cops. I’ve seen people do it on the interstate and don’t know how they manage not to kill people.

  31. i also agree w/ half and half boba in LA. Best I’ve ever had….maybe even better than taiwan

  32. Lucky, I grew up in Bellevue most of my life and wanted figured I should share some insights with you since you have helped me plenty with my points game.
    My favorite boba place around here is actually in the Great Wall Shopping Area in Kent (not in the actual great wall store but it is a tiny place on your left as you enter the “mall”. However, if you love boba, you have got to hit up the summer market up in Vancouver. We got there at least once and maybe 2-3 times every summer. It is an outdoor asian street market that is held every night in the summer and they have enough boba and street food to make you go crazy.
    As for food, you absolutely need to try out Noodle Boat in Issaquah. Seriously the best thai food I have ever had.
    Leave me a note if you want more info or even feel free to email me.

  33. I agree with the weather being abnormally off for you guys. I’ve flown through SEA, PDX and a handful of Horizon only cities over the last month and a half and I have not once encountered any of the traditional PacNW weather I typically encounter.

    I have at least another month in that territory. Can you keep that gorgeous weather up??

  34. Now I’m craving some boba tea! Here in Jacksonville, we have a few places that sell it, but don’t taste that great.

    Where did you go and get it in Taipei? My favorite place it 50 Lan. It’s the yellow and blue sign. They’re everywhere. Just love their boba teas and I drank a ton of it earlier this year and I think that’s why I gained so much weight! But I knew I wouldn’t be able to drink it back at home.

  35. I’m missing some boba too please tell Alex and Karen that we are looking forward to their new location please don’t be too far!!! I will come if u have a boba blog party!!! I agree the closest taro smoothie is Facing East;)

  36. With all your miles, just head back to Taiwan on EVA and head down to Taichung on the high speed rail to Chun Shui Tang, the birthplace of bobs milk tea. I’m there visiting and the food is pretty good too.

  37. @ RestlessLocationSyndrome — Too funny! Per the recommendation of the DTB owners I visited Chun Shui Tang in Taipei and it was the best milk tea I had there for sure.

  38. Good to get a Drive Thru Boba update. I stayed at the Hyatt house in bellevue (disappointed) and made a special trip to find Boba. Sign said closed all out. Went back next day and still closed. Thought they might be out of business. I did notice a franchise opportunity sign. Maybe you could open one or more.

  39. Lucky, LA may have better Boba (debatable) but Seattle wins hands down as a place to live. If you’re ever considering moving to LA, drive the 405 during rush hour, or I-5 south of downtime pretty much any hour of the day or night first. 🙂 The only place I like better than Seattle is the San Francisco Bay Area.

  40. sign me up for the blog boba party. I was bummed too when I saw DTB’s announcement. Hopefully their new place will be up and running soon.

  41. Even though it’s 100 degrees all this week, the Tri-Cities is where it’s at… 300+ days of sun per year… you need to come and visit.

    I am just a few hours away and willing to feed you if you come across the mountains!

  42. “the summers in the Pacific Northwest are literally the most gorgeous of anywhere in the world”

    Oh dear — did you not sign the confidentiality pledge when you moved there?!
    Rule no. 1: We DON’T talk about Seattle summers!!
    Rule no. 2: see rule no. 1!

  43. Actually you’re off the hook. The summers in Juneau, Alaska are even more gorgeous than Seattle (at least on the 2 or 3 sunny days they get most summers).

  44. Just don’t go back to Florida. That place is so wacked out, it’s bizarro land when it comes to crime, murder, missing children, laws, etc.

  45. Sadly (dumbly?), I was out of Seattle for six weeks on a mega vacation with the family. Though the tropics are beautiful, nothing beats a Seattle summer.

  46. Long time lurker of your site, but I was just googling some of my favorite places in Bellevue…and of course, my top 3 were mentioned here or in the comments! Love Drive Thru Boba – they pay so much attention to quality that they’ll close up for the day if they run out instead of trying to stretch their remaining quantities! And of course Facing East and DTF. =]

  47. @ norman — Haha, send Alex and Karen at Drive Thru Boba my regards, if you’re there soon!

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