1022 South, AKA the Hidden Apothecary, is a small cafe and craft cocktail lounge in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood. The mad pharmacists there will turn their tinctures, herbs, and potions into some of the best cocktails in the Pacific northwest. They have an excellent cocktail list, but this is one of those places where you will want to tell the bartender a bit about your tastes and let them concoct something surprising and lovely for you.
In addition to the friendly and talented bartenders, we met customer
Chris here, who grew up in my (Greenwood) neighborhood and kindly gave
me some coins from the Old 5th Ave. Tavern. We had a fine visit. It is out of the way for most people I know, but the New York Times somehow made it all the way there and found it well worth the trip.
Tacoma's Parkway Tavern has a better neighborhood pub feel than any bar in Seattle. The tavern appears unexpectedly, in a 1935 wood-shingled bungalow in the midst of the homes of a quiet neighborhood two blocks from Wright Park. Hipsters and beer connoisseurs mix easily with families and folks of all ages. The walls hold several interesting old photographs from Tacoma history -- including one of the bar itself from just after 2:00am Friday October 8, 1983, after "a disgruntled customer rammed his pickup truck six or seven times into the front of the Parkway Tavern."
The building was renovated a little over five years ago, and now has a
high, exposed, vaulted ceiling and comfortable dark wood. Around the corner from the front bar there are a couple more rooms,
including one suddenly decorated in African artifacts, as if you've been
invited to dinner at the dean of anthropology's house. The bartenders and servers are very friendly and cool. They have a large and interesting selection of beers on tap (and growlers available), and better than average sandwiches and pub food. They were recently recognized by Esquire Magazine as one of the best bars in the country.
I don't know how old the bar at Parkway is. The current building started as a delicatessen in 1935, and became a tavern at some point later. But it's been serving the locals for decades and with quality improvements more recently has become of the most welcoming and comfortable bars in the the Pacific northwest.
313 North I Street Tacoma, WA 98403 - (253) 383-8748
Est. ? - Building constructed: 1935
Buffino's Golden West Restaurant and Lounge is a fairly typical dive, which features the owner's band, the Back Porch Band, on Friday and Saturday nights. It has an interesting back bar, a sort of art deco design, but I was unable to obtain any information about it from the folks there during our visit. So we sat dividing our attention between noticing new details of the bar, and watching TV, learning from the Monkeys' Mickey Dolan about a fantasic, never-before-offered collection of great rock hits.
The Golden West has been here since at least 1935.
Stonegate Pizza and Rum Bar is a multi-level homage to rock and roll, like a Hard Rock Cafe put together by a loving collector rather than just someone with lots of money. It's a hodgepodge of folk art, rock memorabilia, multiple stages, and accents painted in a wide range of styles and capabilities, filling two old buildings on South Tacoma Way.
We did not eat on our visit, but the pizza here has a special Tacoma legacy, with a crust created by Larry Turco, the owner's uncle and the creator of the famous compressed crust pizzas served for over five decades at the Cloverleaf Tavern.
Read more here: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/tntdiner/2009/12/04/drop-in-dining-stonegate-pizza/#storylink=cpy
5421 South Tacoma Way Tacoma,, WA 98409 - (253) 473-2255
Est. Oct 2009 - Building constructed: 1924
South Tacoma Way is a great stretch of dive bars and ramshackle memories of when it was part of Highway 99 and a major thoroughfare, elaborate signs and business models beckoning drivers off the road. That faded away in the 60s, when Interstate 5 and Tacoma Mall snatched the traffic away, but for a fan of old dive bars, it is one of the best stretches in the state.
I haven't found much history for the Airport Bar and Grill, but you know it's been around for a while, not just from the weathered signs and decor, but because it was named for the old South Tacoma Airport which closed down in the 70s. It's a mishmash of comfortable styles now, a gay bar with drag shows, but playing country music for a single elderly patron when we came in.
5406 South Tacoma Way Tacoma, WA 98409 - (253) 475-9730
Est. year - Building constructed: 1927
The former Tiger Lounge remains a funky place, winding through the various rooms of an old bungalow. But it is also and entirely different place, the groovy mid-century trappings replaced with the more neat and more feminine touches of owner Diane Lane, former bartender at Slim's. It's now even more like going to someone's private house, with cut flowers and a fire pit surrounded by log seats in the back yard. The kitchen serves salads, wraps and pizzas, and the small bar serves basic cocktails, wines and beers.
The Beach Tavern opened in mid-1934, a half a year after prohibition, where it must have had a fine view as the old Tacoma Narrows Bridge danced itself to pieces. It has a genuine beach bar feel -- medium sized open spaces decorated with seafaring gimcracks, hosting a wide range of ages and a good set of local characters. It is set across from Titlow Beach, where divers find huge barnacles, wolf eels, buffalo sculpins, plumose anemones, and Pacific Octopuses with ten foot arm spans. The drinks are pretty much the basics, and the food the sort of burgers and fish and chips items that you would expect. It's got a nice vibe -- it feels like summer, but with just enough cranky people around to not feel too touristy.
8612 6th Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98465 - (253) 564-9984
Like Greenwood's Chuck's 85th St. Market and West Seattle's Super Deli Mart, Lake City's Beer Authority has turned a small retain space into a beer Mecca by combining a huge selection of well selected beers with a small number of taps and a friendly, tiny bar. Actually, the B.A. is a bit more like Bottleworks in Wallingford, since rather than being carved out of a convenience store, it is dedicated entirely to beer. The shop was established in March/April of 2009, and as the original owners decided to spend some more time with their kids they signed a couple partners include Burc McFarlen, who installed the taps and bar. It now pulls in a small but dedicated group of beer-loving patrons.
12716 Lake City Way NE Suite A Seattle, WA 98125 - (206) 417-9629
Est. March 2009 as bottleshop; taps installed late 2010 - Building constructed 2001
Previous bars in this location: None
Web site: blog
Reviews: beeradvocate - yelp
The bar at Queen Margherita ever so barely qualifies at a bar by my definition. But it does have a small bar where people sit and drink wine. And while most people go there for the (very good) wood-fired, Neapolitan style pizza, another reason to sit at the bar is to watch the work in the open kitchen, as well as the very friendly folks who own and work at the place interacting with customers.
I love barbeque -- who doesn't love barbeque? -- but my favorite barbeque is Kansas City style. Oh how I miss the sweet sauce of Ribbins down in Ballard. So I've been eager for some time to try out Stan's. In case you forget where he's from, Stan has decorated the place with Kansas City Chief memorabilia.
The bar, as you might expect, is basically beer and very basic
cocktails. They have eight pretty good beers on tap, but the spirits
are dominated by vodka and especially flavored vodkas -- like many a
suburban dive catering to clients more interested in the effects of their drinks than the tastes.
Sam's actually has a variety of BBQ styles, with three sauces, served separately, to choose from. I had the Commander and Chief sandwich -- beef brisket with smoked ham -- and as usual in my first stop in a place I tried their beans and potato salad. All of these were pretty good, and served by some friendly folks, but alas, it was not the can't-wait-to-go-back ecstasy of the old Ribbins. I would describe it as a very nice stop if you're in the area, but not necessarily worth going out of your way.
The Issaquah Brewhouse was an idependent brewpub that was acquired by Rogue Ales in 2000, but still makes several of its previous brews as well, including Bullfrog Ale, Menage-a-Frog, Rye Frog, MacFrog, and Hippie Frog. It has several good beer choices on tap, fairly standard brewpub food, and a odd-shaped space shaped by various expansions and some old coal train rails.
The H&H Tavern is one of the oldest couple dozen bars in Washington
state, apparently established in 1910, in a building constructed in the
1890s. It is now a classic rural town dive bar with old, amateur murals
and taxidermied fish surviving amidst the more contemporary pull tab
boxes and corporate beer paraphernalia.
91 Front St N, Issaquah, WA 98027 - (425) 392-3031
Est. 1910 - Building constructed: 1890s (originally Schomber's Bakery)
Previous bars in this location: None known yelp - rantandrave
Chan (or Cha:n) is a tiny new Korean fusion place in the courtyard of the Inn at the Market. The restaurant comes from Heong Soon Park, owner of the adjacent Italian bistro Bacco. Pretty much everything about Chan is tiny: the space is tiny (38 seats), the bar is tinier, and the food is served in small plates.
The bar has a couple interesting offerings, incorporating soju, but the selection of spirits is, again, tiny. I did not eat on this visit, and some foodies have complained that the offerings tend to be a bit more bland that traditional Korean, but it seems like a nice place to sample a good number of Korean-based dishes that at least looked good to me.
The Neighbor Lady is a new bar from Stephan Mollmann and Shira Bray, owner and bartender respectively of the Twilight Exit. It is a heavily remodeled space in the location of the old Thompson's Point of View, soul food cafe and lounge. Thompson's was probably the last bar in Seattle where you could generally count on being the only white person there, a sad but inevitable victim of growing gentrification and racial change in Seattle's Central District.
I happened to be in the area and stumbled across it open before it's
official opening date, but much of the menu and most the drinks were
available. The owners did a handsome job of remodeling and redecorating
the space, with dark wood, wine-colored damask wallpaper and
wainscoting. The physical configuration inside is completely different,
with the intimate, often crowded bar area walls removed and a larger,
open space devoted to drinkers. It has a Victorian house of ill repute
sort of decor, apparently modeled on such an institution of the same
name that the owner admired in Amsterdam.
The menu is focused on vegetarian items, being constructed by Meagan Lass, a former chef at Cafe Flora. The drinks are much more redolent of a steady neighborhood dive, focused on the basics and generally poured with a heavy hand.
2308 East Union Street Seattle, WA 98122 - (206) 695-2072
Est. May 1, 2012 - Building constructed: 1928
Previous bars in this location: Thompson's Point of View
Web site: facebook