When you think of communities located near major metropolitan airports, you probably of think of noise. But Burien, Wash., a relatively affordable suburb just south of Seattle and west of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, avoids such a fate with flight paths mercifully positioned to the east. Charmed with breathtaking access to Puget Sound, snow-capped Mount Rainier and the wooded trails of Seahurst Park, Burien now has a downtown in the midst of a serious upswing, thanks in part to several outposts of popular Seattle originals.
This multifaceted bakery, now in three locations, consistently ranks among the West Coast’s finest. When the owner William Leaman went looking for a facility to expand his chocolate-making capacity, he found Burien to be a more affordable option than the West Seattle neighborhood that still houses his popular original storefront. While sweets are the main draw in this year-old spot, savory lunch items like stromboli and croque-monsieurs are also first-rate — and you can watch the chocolate being stirred mechanically through a glass floor panel, giving the place a wonderfully Willy Wonka-like vibe.
426 SW 153rd St., bakerynouveau.com
Smarty Pants Garage
A larger, more family-friendly spinoff of the Seattle original, this restaurant and bar specializes in hot, hulking hoagies and creative Bloody Marys served with a chaser of Rainier beer. It’s also the only bar in the Seattle area that prioritizes motorcycle racing over all other sports on its bank of TVs.
626 SW 152nd St, smartypantsgarage.com
Downtown Burien’s main drag, 152nd Street, gets more ornate west of Ambaum Boulevard, where this subterranean movie theater has made its home since 2003 in a former tin shop. A street-level restaurant serves American classics like meatloaf and jambalaya. The cinematic fare tends toward heady indie offerings and documentaries such as “Paterson” and “RBG.” Plus, it’s a treat to have a well-made Manhattan delivered to your seat while the reel rolls.
923 SW 152nd St., tintheater.com
The Electric Train Shop
This shop, which its owner Scott Law relocated here from West Seattle in 2011, features electric trains, Matchbox cars and an impressive array of railroad paraphernalia. With the Pacific Northwest Railroad Archive just a block away, housing a collection of documents and photos on regional train travel, the Electric Train Shop has helped make Burien an attractive whistle stop for would-be conductors.
625 SW 152nd St, electrictrainshop.com
Sidestreet Kitchen & Bar
Opened in 2008, this well-appointed hole in the wall caters to a broad cross-section of locals. With big bowls of delicious rosemary-flavored popcorn and a $5 cheeseburger served during happy hour, it’s become a popular hangout for teachers from nearby schools to grade papers over pints before heading home.
717 SW 148th St., sidestreetkitchen.com