The Upstairs is a rather hidden, semi-elegant cocktail parlor up the stairs in the former location of the McLeod Residence. It has something of the feel of the nearby Bathtub gin, and is a relaxing break from the Belltown streets, with dark wood, old brick, and some quite good craft cocktails.
I'd had lunch here at this cafe under the Seattle Art Museum a few times before, and upon finally recollecting that it has a bar, I was thinking of it as just another bar to knock off on my Seattle list. Instead I had one of my favorite dining and drinking experiences of the year.
This was in large measure because we pulled up to the bar to the capable hands of Duncan Chase. I somehow lost my notes and I'm writing several weeks after, so I do not recollect everything we tried. But I do clearly remember much enjoying Duncan's Manhattan with fig infused Maker's Mark, another cocktail or two, and perhaps the most tender and tasty white fish (ling cod?) dish I think I have ever had.
I am not a fan of the bright and cold decor -- a fine bar should be dark and woody. But the sheer deliciousness of the food and drinks, along an enjoyable chat with Duncan, will definitely have me coming back.
Another in the local chain of Neapolitan style pizza places (certified by the Naples-based Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana), with good pizza, salads, and cocktails; this one located in an old, brick, Wallingford print shop.
Another in the local chain of Neapolitan style pizza places (certified by the Naples-based Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana), with good pizza, salads, and cocktails. This one is in a more modern space above Whole Foods on Westlake, with a view of the Space Needle and a counter made from reclaimed wood from a 100-year-old tree.
Chuck's Hop Shop, Greenwood neighborhood, Seattle, WA
First, new owner Chuck Shin took a shady little shop and cleaned it up into a bright convenience store that the neighbors actually welcomed. Next he turned the back section into a beer lover's mecca, with a small bar, a fairly large selection of craft beers on tap, and 1,200 additional choices in bottles (this is to go along with 600 wine choices under $15. It's a homey place, where the beer is served in masan jars, the workers know and love beer, and their toddlers and families drop by. The Seattle PI listed it as the "Best bar that isn't exactly a bar."
As it *is* a convenience store, it's a little bright and busy when one is in the mood for a relaxing pint. But it's a great place for beer lovers to fill their growlers or grab a quick taste of some very interesting things on tap.
Note: Since the writing above Chuck's has added picnic tables out front and regular visits from some of the best food trucks in Seattle (food truck schedule)
Sun Liquor Distillery is a sister cocktail lounge to Sun Liquor and also the first distillery on Capitol Hill since prohibition. Both locations make quite good cocktails -- the bars are managed by Eric Chapman.
Chino's calls itself an "Urban Tiki House & Taiwanese Cantina." They offer Mexican and Taiwanese street foods, as served from old-style L.A. food trucks, along with tiki cocktails. Whereas tiki drinks are generally terribly made sugary concoctions for drinkers who don't really like spirits, here they are a rotation of well-crafted classics from Verionika Groth (of Poppy and Oliver's Twist). The foods items we sampled were very tasty and many not quite like anything I've seen anywhere else in the city. “Most of the food we're doing can be found at the Taiwanese night markets,” says one of the owners.
Update: Fusion closed in March 2015
An all-ages nightclub with a separate bar area.
"According to police, officers have been called to Fusion, located at
Northeast 45th Street and Eighth Avenue Northeast more than 30 times in
the past year for events ranging from traffic-stopping, 50-person
brawls, to shooting, to security staff pulling a gun on a drunk patron." (komonews)
Historical notes: This has hosted bars since at least 1939, most notably The Rainbow (Rainbow Tavern, Fabulous Rainbow Room, etc.). It was the Rainbow from at least 1941 into the 60s, renamed the Sandpiper Tavern for a while, then renamed The Rainbow in 1973, and hosted a wide range of musical styles and artists including Robert Cray, Bo Diddley, George Thorogood, and Sound Garden.
722 NE 45th St, Seattle, WA 98105 - (206) 774-9296
The Innkeeper looks much the same as Marco's Supperclub, but manages to have both a little more personality and a little less attitude. The menu is focused on Latin American and Caribbean dishes, with a few good cocktails to boot. I had the Penn Cove Manila Clams and Chorizo, which were spicy and tasty and had me ordering extra bread to sop up every drop of the broth. I also had a cup of the Ham Hock White Bean soup which was also very fine.
The cocktails were fairly good, though not quite as well balanced as one would expect at, say, Spur or Canon. I had a fairly good "Fleur de Lys" and an okay Corn n'Oil, while my friend had a slightly sweet but enjoyable Dark and Stormy.
The Innkeeper is run by the folks behind Black Bottle and here they provide the same sort of affordable, quality food in perhaps a slightly more casual atmosphere. I'm eager to go back, particularly if the back patio is open on warm evenings.
The new Cactus in South Lake Union shares the menu of the other three Seattle are restaurants, which means quite good southwestern and Tex-Mex food and some good margaritas with fresh lime and citrus juices. My personal favorite is the Baja (El Jimador Blanco with cilantro, jalapeño and fresh citrus juices).
Like the Alki location, the SLU space has a more open and modern decor than the original Madison Park location (est. 1990), and it tends to have a younger crowd, including staff from nearby Amazon.com.
If one should honor truth in advertising, Shifty's deserves some acclaim for the name. It's a classic neighborhood dive, a mile or two from the Las Vegas strip, and caters to bikers and Raiders fans. It was recently "Squiggy's," and at least used to host goth karaoke. If you want a break from the ersatz Vegas grandiosity and blaring glitz -- or if you just want a strongly poured drink for a low price -- I can't imagine Vegas has many better options than Shifty's.
The space of a long-time favorite Italian restaurant, The Venetian, after a brief life as the "Slanted Clam" and others, has been reclaimed and remodeled into a classic, rat pack style Italian restaurant and pre-prohibition cocktail lounge. I did not have dinner there, but the cocktails are top notch.
Frankie's is an all-out tiki bar a short cab ride from the strip. Upon entering you are immediately greeted by pleasing darkness and a towering tiki by Crazy Al, above a faux fire that occasionally emits smoke. The decor is largely designed by Bamboo Ben, with works by leading tiki carvers like Bosko, LeRoy Schmaltz, Ken Pleasant and Tiki Ray. The drinks include tiki classics in custom-made mugs, and it is open 24 hours.
Frankie's is one of the best tiki bars in the country and should not be missed on any Vegas trip. The one shortcoming for many of us here a half century past the mid-century era it evokes is that it quite genuinely replicates the heavy cigarette smoking of the era.