Homo for the Holidays

My family’s Christmases are usually filled with family and friends but this year it would just be the four of us. We planned several things to make it special.

The night before Christmas Eve, we visited Temperance Café and Bar, a new speakeasy-themed restaurant with Prohibition-era inspired food and drinks. It’s located in the Chinese Room of the Smith Tower. When it was built in 1914, the Smith Tower was the tallest building in Seattle until 1962 when the Space Needle, built for the World’s Fair, surpassed it. The Smith Tower is still a Seattle icon located in the downtown neighborhood of Pioneer Square. The Chinese Room has a beautifully hand carved teak ceiling as well as an old Chinese teak chair called the Wishing Chair. Legend has it that any unmarried person who sits in that chair will be married within a year. The bar also has an observation deck with a beautiful 360-degree view of Seattle.

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A view of downtown Seattle from the Smith Tower’s observation deck.

Before you can even access the speakeasy, you first have to purchase tickets. After entering the building from the lobby you are taken back in time to when the building was first built in 1914. From the lobby of the building you enter a self guided visitor tour explaining the history of the building as well as some of Seattle’s history.

When the Smith Tower was built, no details were overlooked. All the materials are top-of-the-line. Even the walls are made from a beautiful white marble.

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White marble walls inside the Smith Tower.

After the tour, you take a manually-operated golden-caged elevator up to the famous Chinese Room on the 35th floor. There is even a uniformed elevator operator to assist you. The room has been transformed into a small bar with a few tables and comfortable sitting chairs. They have a few menu items and fancy craft cocktails. The experience is definitely worth the price. It’s a great spot for dates or special occasions.

The food was a little too pricey for us, so after a few cocktails we headed to my all-time favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Tamarind Tree, located on 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street in the International District neighborhood. Dishes are around $10 to $12 and their menu has over 100 items, all of which they do extremely well – I could eat here everyday.

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Me and the family in the lobby of the Smith Tower.

On Christmas Eve, my mom made reservations for us to enjoy a fancy dinner at the recently-renovated Sorrento Hotel. The Sorrento Hotel is one of Seattle’s finest boutique hotels and another Seattle icon. It was built in 1909 and designed with an Italian influence.

My family and I got all dressed up and headed to visit my grandmother at her assisted living home in Edmonds before heading to dinner. It’s so hard to see someone you love on the edge of death, but we knew that she was ready to go. She lived a happy and fulfilling life.

The Sorrento Hotel’s restaurant was recently renovated in a French bistroesque style. Their Fireside Room, which is normally just used for happy hour or a meeting space, had been transformed into a dining area for people to enjoy a fancy Christmas Eve meal.

The Fireside Room is a circular room close to the entrance of the hotel with a large octagonal column in the middle. The room is enveloped in ochre mahogany paneling with a baby grand piano to even further add to the ambiance. The room gets its name from the large fireplace adorned with Rookwood tiles. I highly recommend coming here for the holidays or other special occasions. The menu is rustic Italian inspired.

After dinner we decided to drive to West Seattle to check out a famous home that is decorated with an over-the-top display of Christmas lights every year. The Menashe family owns a jewelry store in West Seattle and is famous for their display of Christmas lights. This year they even had the help of one of the local fire department’s ladders to put up their lights.

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One of the cast members from Homo for the Holidays, Cherdonna and I after the show.

And as if that wasn’t enough family time and Christmas events, the day after Christmas we went to see Homo for the Holidays. This is the second year I’ve seen it and I’ll definitely be going back next year. The live performance features an all-star cast of local burlesque and drag queen celebrities. It’s a two hour musical that combines hit pop songs with relevant policial humor. Tickets are only $25.

Seattle during the holidays:

What to do:

Temperance Bar and Cafe located on the 35th floor of the The Smith Tower, 506 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104. You must purchase tickets to enter.

Adults: $14

Children: $10

To purchase tickets visit:

https://visit.smithtower.com/mainstore.asp

Menashe Family Home has Christmas lights like you’ve never seen. Located at 5605 Beach Drive SW Seattle, WA 98136 this is one Christmas tradition to be sure not to miss. The lights are usually up from just after Thanksgiving until New Years.

Homo for the Holidays is held every year at the Oddfellows Hall, 1525 10th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122. There is usually one show a day in the evening during the week and two on the weekends. Tickets are $25.

Where to eat:

Tamarind Tree: a Vietnamese restaurant located in the International District on 12th Ave S and S Jackson St. It’s a little hard to find. There will be a parking lot you drive into from S Jackson St and the restaurant is located in the NW corner. Their address is 1036 S Jackson St. Seattle, WA 98104.

Sorrento Hotel’s restaurant is called the Dunbar Room. They are an upscale European bistro with delicious steaks and seafood. They are located at 900 Madison St. Seattle, WA 98104. It’s a great place to grab a drink or a nice dinner during the holidays. They also have a jazz brunch on the weekends.

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