When it’s time for something new, head to Bellevue, Washington. This not-so-secret Pacific Northwest shopping hub has something for everyone — from casual shopping amid a mecca of fast-casual international cuisine to haute couture shopping and fine dining excursions that are nothing short of entertainment. A decades-old farming community turned cosmopolitan oasis, Bellevue mixes timeless style with top brands effortlessly.
Visit downtown’s Old Bellevue district for a glimpse of the city’s timeless charm. Main Street started as the commercial center for Bellevue’s farmers and merchants, surrounded by fields of strawberries at every turn. The strawberries are a thing of the past these days, unless you visit the Bellevue Farmers Market just a few miles away, but the area’s old-world charm is alive and well.
Some of the city’s most storied small businesses and restaurants call Old Bellevue home. Check out glassybaby, an original business-with-a-mission, for colorful handblown votives and glasses that benefit charities with every purchase. For unique designs in fine jewelry, head to J. Chapa Hernandez Jeweler, a shop whose mastermind has more than 45 years of experience designing timeless, inspired accessories; or take a look at Green Lake Jewelry Works, a national pioneer in custom and sustainably sourced fine jewelry, including engagement rings and wedding bands. And there’s plenty more to explore — from apparel to furniture galleries, home decorating to cooking stores — and be sure to visit Fran’s Chocolates, whose fine confections are unparalleled in the area.
When you’ve exhausted your feet and are ready for a bite or two, you won’t have to look far for renowned restaurants. Gilbert’s on Main — excellent for lunch or a morning coffee and a meal — has been serving Bellevue its authentic deli experience for more than 25 years. Some say that Gilbert’s rivals anything in New York City. Cantinetta has offered world-class Italian fine dining in Bellevue for more than 10 years, including fresh pastas and seafood in an intimate, low-light atmosphere, while the focus at Carmines is on reimagined, family-style Italian dining in a rustic space. For a more casual experience with a pint or two, visit 520 Bar & Grill for burgers and hot wings or grilled salmon, vegetarian tacos, and steaks. Those in the know also love Ginza Japanese Restaurant, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, and Monsoon, which blends traditional Vietnamese cuisine with Pacific Northwest innovation.
For an elevated experience, with the best brands in international shopping, head to The Shops at the Bravern, a shopping center destination for names such as Hermès, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and more. After a full morning experiencing these shops alone, keep up the high-fashion energy with lunch at The Dolar Shop, an upscale Chinese hot pot restaurant with roots in Macau, China. Or perhaps just pick up gourmet cupcakes that look almost too good to eat from Café Trophy.
Return to the retail world to shop for renowned accessories at Bottega Veneta, Eye Society, Wolford, and Tod’s. Finally, celebrate a day well spent by relaxing at John Howie Steak, a sophisticated yet cozy gem of Pacific Northwest dining — think custom-aged steaks and an award-winning wine list in a masculine atmosphere of dark wood, lush fabric, and cool glass. Finish up with drinks at Whiskey by John Howie, featuring a global selection of rare and finely crafted whiskies assembled by an in-house curator.
The Bellevue Collection offers a bit of it all. It is the best of both worlds, with hundreds of stores and a broad mix of dining options all in one place. From well-known favorites like Nordstrom, Coach, J.Crew, and Tesla to more local experiences like the locally headquartered Eddie Bauer and a brick-and-mortar Amazon Books store, The Bellevue Collection proves that all-in-one shopping locations are thriving.
The dining experience at The Bellevue Collection rivals its shopping, with local names and chefs as well as national favorites. Ascend Prime Steak & Sushi offers incredible views over Lake Washington toward the Seattle skyline alongside plates of Wagyu steak and fresh sushi. Around the corner, outdoor dining continues through late summer at The Porch at the W Bellevue, where menu items can be paired with craft cocktail as well as Northwest beers and wines in a relaxed setting. Entertainment options such as Forum Social House and Lucky Strike can keep the fun going well into the nighttime hours.
The Bellevue Collection is more than a shopping center. It’s also an experience destination with regular special events like the Bellevue Arts Museum Arts Fair, featuring the works of more than 100 juried artists each summer; the annual fall Fashion Week, with its wildly popular runway shows, parties, and independent designer showcases; and the family friendly Snowflake Lane parade, which delights young and old with a nightly snowfall and floats with whimsical winter characters throughout the holiday season.
CASUAL SHOPPING & INTERNATIONAL FALVORS
If you’re seeking a casual shopping experience, look no farther than The Marketplace at Factoria, where you can browse brands like DSW Shoe Warehouse, Old Navy, and Nordstrom Rack.
Nearby, the Crossroads shopping center has one of Bellevue’s most unique experiences, mixing old-school mall nostalgia with a fantastic selection of international cuisines. This one’s not to be missed — especially the mouthwatering dining experiences in the vibrant, 1960s-era food court.
The mall has served the Bellevue community since 1962, and today houses a collection of mostly local shops with a few well-known favorites. Large draws include Daiso Japan, a Japanese variety store selling housewares, gifts, bento supplies, and more, as well as Half Price Books, the Bellevue location of a national family chain selling used and discount books and media. Walk into Half Price to be met with the nostalgic smell and jumbled-but-still organized look of a beloved local book store. Half Price Books sits next to the Crossroads food court, boasting dozens of small international restaurants: Find it all, from Chinese hot pot to Japanese sushi and ramen to Laotian cuisine, Russian piroshky, South Indian favorites, and the flavors of the Mediterranean. All sit neatly tucked together beneath a nostalgia-inducing glow of neon signs.
No matter your style, or what your time or budget allows, you’ll find a memorable shopping experience — with just the right mix of local buzz and global renown — in Bellevue’s retail centers.
About the author
Elizabeth lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest, where she tackles hiking trails by day, breweries at night, and city-mountain-ocean-scapes in between.