The Case For Seattle As The Coolest City In The Country

COOLEST CITY IN THE COUNTRY is a new series that argues for one of our favorite cities being crowned “coolest.”

Seattle is a great city, no doubt. Is it the best in the country? Well, that’s why we’re writing this — to cajole you into taking that stance (or to open ourselves to your mockery in the comments).

Here’s what’s not up for debate: The “Emerald City” is one of the nation’s cleanest metrops. It also draws a high-rankings for energy efficiency and strong adherence to better environmental standards. It’s unarguably progressive from a political standpoint. It’s beautiful, too — sitting on the calm Salish Sea, with an abundance of wildlife in literally every direction. This allows the average Seattleite the chance to unplug with ease — a habit that is crucial for citydwellers to maintain good physical, social, and mental health.

There are also matters of taste worth debating. The food and drink scene is incredible, but is it tops in food-obsessed Pacific Northwest? What about the art? The music? The style?

Let’s explore some of the facets of Seattle that we find interesting — the bits of the city that make it stand out.


It’s easy to make an argument for the Pacific Northwest having the best food scene in the country. With access to the sea and mountains plus the high plains and cattle lands to the east — the variety is nearly unmatched. But Seattle’s food and drink scene stands above the rest.

In 2015, the city opted to raise the minimum wage to $15 (with a multi-year implementation). This experiment in labor has allowed restaurants and bars to balance the pay disparities between the front and back of house. It’s also led many Seattle area establishments to forgo tipping in the classic sense and add in a built in service fee to assure employee wages.

Sure, experiments like these are happening in Manhattan, too. But only in small pockets at a few elite restaurants. Seattle restaurateurs and bar owners Tom Douglas, Renée Erickson, and even fast food chain Ivar’s have all implemented policies that pay their employees living wages and 86’d tipping at their various restaurants and bars across the city. “We saw Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law as an opportunity to right some of the serious discrepancies between the back-of-house and front-of-house,” Bob Donegan told the world when Ivar’s decided to go all in with the new wage laws. And, according to him, it’s worked.