Wallingford has seen something of a bakery renaissance in the last couple of years – though we miss the sweet smell of the old Boulangerie and its kind proprietor Xon Loung, we’ve also been fortunate to have both Sea Wolf and Damsel and Hopper open up, serving both Upper and Lower Wallingford alongside the Essential.
But 45th has needed a sit-down, bread-soup-sandwich-sweets place for years. And years. So we extend the warmest of slightly belated Wallingford welcomes (polite clapping! subtle nods and maybe even eye contact!) to the Grand Central Bakery, now open at 1607 N. 45th, in one of those big new buildings we were all complaining about a couple years ago. You may already know Grand Central from its original location in Pioneer Square, where they’ve been serving hungry patrons for thirty years – if so, you don’t need me to tell you how lucky we are to have our own shop here in Wallingford.
Sitting here midday on a Thursday, I can tell you this – Grand Central is easily filling an unmet need. A dozen folks are reading, working, eating, talking, and enjoying the airy, clean, bright space, staff are cheerfully keeping the display cases filled with their delicious artisan bread and pastries, and I’m perched at the counter with a peekaboo view of Kozue and Sun Cleaners. It’s even still warm enough for folks to hang out on the balcony, which seats about a dozen, facing west over Woodlawn toward the library.
Grand Central is a particular kind of business, a certified B Corp, which means that they consider the impact of their business decisions on their stakeholders and the community. If you’re a nerd like me, you can read more about their B Corp assessment here: https://bcorporation.net/directory/grand-central-bakery Their flour is from Camas Country Mill, Shepherd’s Grain and Rogers Foods, all grown here in the Northwest, and they rigorously vet all of their producers for the highest quality ingredients.
And it shows in the consistently high quality of the product. Their European breads, most of which I have eaten at some point in the last couple decades, range from a sweet and nutty sesame current semolina loaf to a chewy Piccolo Como for when you just want to say you ate an entire loaf of bread all by yourself. They have ciabatta and potato buns, sour rye and Yukon gold and, on Fridays, challah.
And the pastries. Valrhona in the chocolate croissants, sticky gooey caramel buns, cookies galore, scones, muffins, and jammers (buttermilk biscuits filled with raspberry or Marionberry jam), savory ham and cheese or Beecher’s cheddar and scallion croissants, quiche and … bread pudding. Yes, they have bread pudding, or as they call it, “French toast in a muffin cup!”
Folks who’ve moved to the neighborhood in the last few years might not be aware, but at one point this was the location of the well-loved and noticeably quirky Asteroid Café, followed by the utterly delightful but apparently sorta shady Bottle Rocket Café. When Bottle Rocket opened, we were hopeful that the sandwich (and meatloaf) drought had finally ended, but to our great sadness, they lasted barely a year. Sutra opened next, lasting seven years before finally making way for Seattle’s favorite activity, demolition and rebuilding.
The sandwiches at Grand Central are satisfying, consistent, and tasty. From basic peanut butter and jelly to current special The Elote (sliced zucchini marinated in cilantro vinaigrette with roasted corn, lime, chili powder and vegan mayo topped with sweet onion and mozzarella on baguette), you’ll find something for the vegetarian, the vegan, or the confirmed bacon-eater. They serve breakfast sandwiches until 11 a.m. Monday – Friday and all day on weekends. And yes, they have soup (tomato every day, and a daily special).
Speaking of that tomato soup, Grand Central purchases the entire tomato crop from Arenth Farms as well as donating all of their day olds to FamilyWorks, and they’re always looking for way they can serve the community. The space is designed for ease of access, with low thresholds, plenty of room to maneuver, and all-gender bathrooms. And are they ever looking forward to serving the students, staff, and teachers at the newly reopened Lincoln High School! Brave, so brave.
Wallingford’s newest bakery café is open Monday – Sunday from 7:00 am – 6:00 pm at 1607 N. 45th Street and yes, yes, you should.