I’ll bet you’re looking forward to seeing your friends from years past at the All-American Council in Bellevue, but you’re not planning to empty your pocketbooks on high-priced food and transportation. Believe me, I hear you. As a recession victim and recent student, I was a little scared when I first heard “Hyatt Regency Bellevue” because all three of those words mean “pricey” to me. Bellevue is an “edge city” – one of those places just outside the main city with lots of recently-built glass buildings with corporate offices and fancy retail shops.
But fear not! I discovered from a brief walk around the neighborhood that there are plenty of affordable places to go nearby:
First, transportation: The Hyatt Regency Bellevue is served by excellent public transportation, so renting a car and paying to park it is optional. To get from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to the hotel, take Sound Transit Bus 560. The cost is $2.50. It runs every 30 minutes through most of the day on weekdays. (Hourly on weekends.) Make sure the bus is going to Bellevue, not West Seattle. It should take about an hour to get to the Bellevue Transit Center. From there, walk west two blocks on NE 6th St. and north on Bellevue Way NE two blocks, and you’re at the hotel. The area around the Hyatt Regency Bellevue is also served by bus routes going all sorts of other places, but that’ll be a different article.
Secondly, food: There’s plenty of upscale restaurants that will jump right out at you, but there are more than a few affordable places as well. The nearest one is the Needs Deli, which is on the second floor of Bellevue Place, the same complex of buildings that contains the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. It’s a small grocery and deli counter, where one can get sandwiches and breakfast food.
I found several other nice low-price restaurants in the immediate area. The Greek Kitchen in the Bellevue Square Mall also made it possible to spend less than $10 on a dinner. The mall also contains a McDonald’s, and a Specialty’s Bakery that offers soups, sandwiches and pastries. Just after you take the skybridge across Bellevue Way, there’s a new Asian dumpling restaurant called Din Tai Fung, where they make the dumplings in the window. (At first, you might think they’re perogies!) Here’s a link to a clickable map of the Bellevue Collection. (That’s the name for all the skybridge-connected retail shops around the hotel.)
If you’re willing to venture outside the family of indoor shopping centers, there is the Chipotle Mexican Grill at 10503 NE 4th Street, and Casa D’s Taqueria, an independent taco counter at 102 Bellevue Way NE # B. (That last one was my favorite of the group.)
There are also two reasonably priced Mediterranean restaurants right around the same area: Garlic Crush, 102 Bellevue Way Northeast, and the Mediterranean Kitchen at 103 Bellevue Way NE # 103.
One other choice is an outdoor pizza kitchen, Tuscan Stone Pizza, at the intersection of Bellevue Way NE and Main Street. They’ve rented the parking lot of a closed-down fast-food place, and they have wood-fired pizza starting at $7.95. I ate there once back in the spring, and it was good stuff.
Finally, your cheapest option of all for food would be the Safeway grocery store at 300 Bellevue Way NE. It’s a full-service grocery store with a deli and bakery.
You might also want some low-priced recreation near the Hyatt Regency Bellevue as well. One opportunity you won’t want to pass up is the Bellevue Arts Museum, which offers free admission on the first Friday of every month. November 4, 2011 will be the first Friday of the month, and that’s right at the end of the council. The exhibitions will be “Travelers: Objects of Dream and Revelation” and an array of objects by the architect and designer George Nelson. It’s at 510 Bellevue Way NE, just three blocks south of the hotel.
Also, there’s a movie theatre adjacent to the hotel, the Lincoln Square Cinemas which has 16 screens, including one IMAX screen. Prices range from $8.50-$10.50.
And believe it or not, in all this stacked-up shopping mall space, there’s a bowling alley wedged in here. The Lucky Strikes Lanes and Lounge offers a 16-lane alley. It’s accessible by skybridge from the hotel.
Finally, if you’re in need of some quiet time after a plenary session tired you out, there’s the Bellevue Regional Library at 1111 110th Avenue Northeast, a four-block walk to the north and east of the hotel.
Other cheap spots to think about: If you get overenthusiastic at breakfast and spill egg on your riasa and you need a dry cleaner, you might consider Andre’s Cleaners at 240 Bellevue Way NE. It’s a few blocks away and might be cheaper than the hotel’s in-house service.
If you are a bachelor third-year seminarian and happen to find the perfect future matushka at this council, you might consider a bouquet from City Flowers to impress her. It’s in Bellevue Place, the same complex of buildings that contains our hotel. Another option for flowers is the Safeway, as mentioned earlier, and Lawrence the Florist at 224 105th Avenue NE.
Two other places that deserve mention: The Bellevue Square Mall contains a thrift shop, and it’s got pretty good merchandise. It’s the Bellevue Lifespring Thrift Shop and it’s definitely worth a visit. Finally, if you want chocolate, visit Oh Chocolate! In the Bellevue Square Mall. It’s a place that offers premium chocolates that can be organized into a variety box, but the cheap treat is a basket of chocolates that they keep at the front. The basket contains slightly malformed chocolates that are discounted and still really tasty.