The first non-coy, unapologetically hipster venue in Greenwood. In certain aspects it is ridiculous, of course, like the perfectly-spaced, brick-revealing holes in the plaster. But the place was packed and there were no little horns in the front of the hair, zero untucked long sleeve striped shirts, and only one backwards baseball cap. And what the hell, I like hipsters.
The standard Chinese restaurant dive, with a small bar, karaoke, cheap decor, overpowering smell of cleaner, and a brilliant range of patrons, from the giggling girls to the absolutely smashed old men.
Historical notes: The building currently housing Mission on California Ave was constucted in 1924, although it probably did not contain the upper floor at the time. It starts appearing in city guides under James Robinson or his "Jim's Tavern" in 1935 and continuing into the 70s. In 1980 it is the "Rainy City Tavern," in 1990 the "Caddyshack Tavern,"and by the early 2000s "Lizzard Lounge."
2325 California Avenue Southwest, Seattle - (206) 937-8220
Est. 2005 - Building constructed 1924
Previous bars in this location: Jim's Tavern, Rainy City Tavern, Caddyshack Tavern, Lizzard Lounge
In addition to being genuinely cozy and a genuine tavern (no liquor), the Cozy Inn Tavern has a deck and a history -- it's been around since the early 30s. It's a comfortable neighborhood place with lots of wood and microwave pork rinds.
Update: 2/27/2012: Since the night of this visit, Spring Hill upgraded their cocktail game to a fantastic degree, and then on Feb 8, 2012 changed their emphasis to Hawaiian and their name to Ma'Ono Fried Chicken and Whisky.
This relatively new place (6 mos. old) looks like a fine restaurant. But this list is about bars, and the bar here is an afterthought.
I suddenly felt like I was in a tavern in the mountains in Idaho. A classic dive, with guys with big beards and gals with big hair. The large bartender, in levis suspenders and plaid shirt said of a just-departed patron, "He's a character. But ain't we all?"
Historical notes: There has been a bar in the location of West Seattle's Poggie Tavern since at least 1934, and it has been "The Poggie Inn" or Tavern since at least 1936. However, it appears that the previous structure was replaced with the current one in 1970.
4717 California Avenue Southwest Seattle, WA 98116 - (206) 937-2165
Est. 1936 OE - Building constructed 1970
I almost gave this my Highly Recommended rating, based on the magnificent sign, the bartender Jay, and the one cocktail I had -- a bartender's muddled choice which is informally, if not that appetizingly, called the "Plumber's Crack." But the place was pretty dead when I went there on a Sunday evening, and I couldn't get any sense for what the vibe and crowd are like when it's busy. I must revisit soon on a Friday or Saturday evening.
Try the Dry Hopped IPA, which immediately hopped onto my favorite beers list (along with Manny's Pale and Diamond Knot Industrial).
It finally occurred to me, as it must have to many others, that West Seattle is Seattle's Portland. They've very nicely mixed in the new with the old, like a small town with an inexplicable amount of variation. And the 4400-4700 stretch of California Ave. is the best and most varied set of drinking establishments in the city, from the ultra-swanky Ama Ama, to the hip and funky West 5, from the young people's dive at the Corner Pocket, to the classic older folks' dive at Poggie Tavern. And Elliot Bay Brewery is one of a number of nice places in between.