Some things you might miss from “the westside” and where to find them

Wayne Gray, Columnist

Many students at CWU are transplants from western Washington. The low cost tuition and high acceptance rates of CWU attract students to this side of the Cascades, but a common sentiment expressed by many conversations is how much they miss “the westside.”

Ellensburg is a small town with rodeos and a sprinkling of fast food restaurants. If you’re from a place like Seattle, with its wide array of restaurants, arts, culture and music at every turn, Ellensburg can be a bit underwhelming.

While Ellensburg can be a relief from rush hour traffic on the 405 and parking meters, there is a trade-off for some of the Andy Griffith, small town charm.

However, with some work, we can find some of the things you might be missing from Western Washington, specifically the Puget Sound region. You have to do even less work now that I’ve written this article for you.

Arts and Music

If you’re into the arts scene, Gallery One Visual Arts Center at 408 N. Pearl St. in Ellensburg is an obvious choice, but I’ve listed some of the quirkier, less refined places that have that Western Washington vibe that I miss. Here’s some places you should check out:

1. Dick and Jane’s Spot 101 N. Pearl St., Ellensburg

This weird spot is not your typical art gallery. Dick and Jane Orleman are two CWU alumni who turned their yard and fence into a piece of art. Pieces come and go, but Dick and Jane’s Spot remains. The fence art is open to the public, but the Orleman’s ask that viewers not wander into the yard.

2. Old Skool’s 308 N. Main St., Ellensburg

This local shop sells records as well as some DVDs, CDs and vintage clothing. This place is also a venue and regularly hosts open mic nights and live music events. Info for the events is posted on their Facebook.

3. Boogie Man Music 101 E. 2nd Ave., Ellensburg

This is a classic music shop. It has guitars, amps, effect pedals and they do repairs. Their selection is a little limited, but they have some good choices for vintage and used gear. 

4. Bearded Monkey-Yakima 1802 Nob Hill Blvd., Yakima

This place is a bike shop, sometimes a music venue, with a music shop attached. You can get your bike, guitar and live music all in one spot. 

Bars and Restaurants

As for local restaurants, they’re all okay, nothing to write home about. Most of the options are your typical diner/family restaurant type places. They have food. You order the food. You eat the food. 

I can’t personally recommend any bars, but if you’re of the legal drinking age, go check them out. I’m sure that liquor and beer basically taste the same no matter who pours it. I can recommend Happy’s, a local convenience and liquor store that has an extensive selection of imported beers.

Here are a few specific things I miss:

1. Chipotle 1121 N. Mission St., Wenatchee

I don’t know about you, but I miss Chipotle. With all the choices for fast-food around Ellensburg, why isn’t there a Chipotle? The nearest one is in Wenatchee, which is about as far as just driving back to Western Washington, but if you turn it into a day trip to go see a new place, you can grab some Chipotle while you’re at it.

2. Mod Pizza Rainier Square, Yakima

There are plenty of pizza choices in Ellensburg, but not having Mod just makes me want it more. I don’t know what it is, but there is something nice about unlimited topping choices and made-to-order pizza. It’s basically just Chipotle for pizza. 

3. Boba Tea

No particular location in mind, but there’s like 3 boba tea places in Ellensburg. It’s one of those things that is like a little piece of Western Washington. In cities like Bellevue and Seattle, there are boba tea places every few miles and the international districts are buffets of Asian cuisines and groceries. I was never crazy about boba tea, every once in a while I would get one, but it’s nice to have here in Ellensburg.


Ellensburg has Fred Meyer’s clothing department, and it has a few boutique clothing stores, mostly country chic kind of stuff. If you want a wider selection of clothing, you’ll have to search elsewhere. Then again, you can always just order online. Here are a few places though:

1. Target 12 N. Fair Ave., Yakima

You might not care about having a Target, but I do. The nearest one is in Yakima. 

2. Valley Mall 2529 Main St., Union Gap (which is basically just more Yakima)

This mall has the usual department stores, like Macy’s and JCPenneys. There is also a Buffalo Wild Wings, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Guitar Center in the same parking lot. 

Books and Art Supplies 

I’ve always felt that Western Washington is especially artistic and bookish, something about art supplies and old books takes me back to some of the Seattle neighborhoods that I miss. Here’s a few of my favorite spots here in Ellensburg:

1. Jerrol’s 111 E. University Way, Ellensburg

This place has a little bit of everything, model cars, every kind of art supply imaginable, books and quirky little gifts. Jerrol’s is like Blick’s in Seattle, but in Ellensburg. It has some small town charm, but this place clearly caters to the more artsy crowd from outside of Ellensburg.

2. Brick Road Books 305 N. Main St., Ellensburg

Fair warning, the guy who runs this place will talk you ear off if you give him a chance. It has a great selection of books, all of them used or vintage, so don’t go in there expecting Barnes and Noble.

3. Pearl Street Books 421 Pearl St., Ellensburg

Yes, Pearl Street Books is on Pearl Street. They offer a wide selection of books, mostly new stuff. You will likely pay retail prices, but you’re a college student, so nobody is going to judge you for ordering your books on Amazon. However, supporting small businesses is vital to local economies. I’ll let you wrestle with that choice. It’s none of my business.