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Originally published Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 7:03 PM

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Summit Avenue is a top spot, thanks to Top Pot

Tan Vinh visits the 600 block of Summit Avenue East on Seattle's Capitol Hill, home to the original Top Pot Doughnuts and other attractions.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Numbers correspond to map.

1 Spikespace Fine Art Gallery, 611 Summit Ave. E. This spot has changed hands from one artist to another over the past 40 years, operating the last 17 years under Spike Mafford, the gallery owner who has specialized in fine-art photography. www.galleriaspike.com.

2 Top Pot, 609 Summit Ave. E. This original cafe of the famed local franchise was originally called "Topspot" but the "s" fell off the neon sign. That rusty sign still hangs above the storefront. A coffeepot icon has replaced the "s." www.toppotdoughnuts.com.

3 Sun Liquor, 607 Summit Ave. E. Polynesian décor, with scratch cocktails — drinks with fresh-squeezed juice made to order. Coasters and storefront are devoid of any advertising or neon signs from booze companies. It has come to symbolize that this block didn't sell out. sunliquor.com.

4 Toscana Pizzeria, 601 Summit Ave. E. Local chain celebrating its 15th anniversary. Sells $3 pizza slices until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. www.toscanapizzeria.com.

5 Summit Public House, 601 Summit Ave. E., No. 102. A taco and beer joint, with 22 beers on tap and free pool. Nice complement to Sun Liquor. www.summitpublichouse.com.

Here is where Top Pot Doughnuts was born, four blocks away from the stilettos-and-Chuck Taylor flow of Broadway.

Still quiet here. Parking still free. It's a part of Capitol Hill that stubbornly and pridefully still belongs to the folks in the "industry" — the line cooks, servers and tattooed barmen who occupy a lot of the apartment towers and condos around this block of Summit Avenue East.

It's the insider's Capitol Hill, with parking so sparse that it guarantees outsiders won't overrun this block.

"And if you blink, you miss it driving down the street," said Michael Klebeck, co-founder of Top Pot and the cocktail bar next door, Sun Liquor.

Nine years ago, Klebeck opened the now famed Top Pot. He saw this sleepy block with cheap rent and "vintage 1930s style architecture" and likened it to traveling in Europe, "where you go to some alley and find a place that becomes your secret location."

Thousands of glazed old-fashioned doughnuts later, in 2006 Klebeck and a partner opened Sun Liquor, the coolest cocktail den in the city.

His joints still anchor this Summit Avenue East block between East Roy and East Mercer streets. Here's a look at the businesses on this block.

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

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