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Originally published Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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The evolution of Capitol Hill's artsy, sassy 11th Avenue

Tan Vinh looks at an evolving block of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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This Capitol Hill strip on 11th Avenue, sandwiched between East Pine Street and East Pike Street, used to be known more for its thrift stores than nightlife.

Value Village still anchors this strip, but other secondhand stores have been replaced with art galleries and wine bars. A popular hangout for artists, actors, Seattle University students and condo dwellers.

1. Velo Bike Shop, 1535 11th Ave. I know those Ortlieb messenger bags cost almost as much as used bikes, but damn if they don't look good.

2. Value Village, 1525 11th Ave. A popular place for gay men to forage for hip clothes. Even Hugo Boss and Giorgio Armani shirts have popped up on the racks. But you will have to fight for it. Calling it out doesn't count.

3. Purr Cocktail Lounge, 1518 11th Ave. You can't tell by the name, but Purr serves Mexican food and, at night, transforms into one of the city's hippest gay bars.

4. The Crypt, 1516 11th Ave. The store's motto: "sexy stuff for sexy people," which in this case means leather masks, leashes and DVDs that, ahem, aren't found in your neighborhood Blockbuster.

5. Grey Gallery & Lounge, 1512 11th Ave. A swanky two-story bar filled with rotating paintings, sculptures and multimedia art. Grey has really helped bring in the art crowd and broaden the appeal of this strip.

6. Barca, 1510 11th Ave.

Give these guys credit. Opened eight years ago, when lots of doubters thought it was crazy to open a bar along a strip that looked more like a dark alley.

7. Vermillion Gallery, 1508 11th Ave. One of the city's best-kept secrets. It's a pop art gallery out front. Only when you venture in do you notice the hidden wine bar in back with big screen for movie night, featuring independent films. Affordable wines.

8. Annex Theatre, 1100 E. Pike St. Features late-night live performances. Even better, you're a few steps away from a gin martini before or after the show — who are we kidding? We meant before and after the show.

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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