El Borracho ("the drunk") is a new Mexican place in the space of the old Pan African along 1st Ave in the Pike Place Market. It is run by Kittie Davidovich of Le Bon Ton Roule, who has said she is after a sort of taco truck kind of place. There is a wide range of pretty good taco truck style tacos (including lamb, shrimp, pork, fish, beef, and rabbit) and a nice choice of margaritas.
1521 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101 - (206) 538-0440
Est. Aug 2012
Previous bars in this location: Pan African Market
The Ballard Station Public House is a substantial upgrade in maturity in both management and drink quality from the shortlived Ballard Avenue Pub. The cocktails are quite good -- I especially liked the Sundance Kid (Old Overholt rye, lillet and Cynar) -- the vibe is casual and welcoming, and features nods to both Ballard history and traditional British pubs.
Update: Borsalino's closed in Feb 2013.
For the past decade or so (2001-2011), this was Romio's Pizza, in the odd castle-like building just south of the University Bridge and across the street from the original Red Robin Tavern/Restaurant. In October of 2011, it was modernized into Borsalino's, which included upgrades to more high quality food stressing organic ingredients. The remodeling did not go so far as to replace the signage outside, but instead drapes some quickie banners over the railing. The bar and the food both seemed fairly pedestrian -- a decent alternative if you happen to be nearby, but nothing notable enough to draw from a wider area.
Historical (and personal) notes: In addition to serving as a furniture store and art gallery, this castle-like building has hosted the Town House Restaurant in the 30s, the Llahngaelhyn jazz and coffee house from 1965 to 1968, Rapunzel's Tavern from 1975 to 1985, and the Scoundrel's Lair (and "Club Fiasco") briefly in the mid 80s. Scoundrel's Lair was booked by Jon Poneman of SubPop, and was one of the few pre-Nevermind clubs that booked alternative bands, including small touring national acts like the Cowboy Junkies and Dead Milkmen, as well as local bands like Green River, Soundgarden, The Melvins, Pure Joy, Room 9, Cat Butt and Girl Trouble. In addition to seeing several of those bands there, I remember a particularly rocking night with the Royal Crescent Mob, and also one night there when I first really talked to the woman who would become my wife (after meeting at the Central Tavern before a Sonic Youth show).
Marko's is a very old, very laid back, and a bit artsy. It's under fairly new management, which has upgraded the beer choices. It has a mix of art on the brick walls, a pressed tin ceiling, and a grand old oak back bar. The sign says that it was established during prohibition, in 1931, and while it is unclear when it became a legal bar, it seems highly likely that this was shortly after the federal Beer and Wine Revenue Act took effect in April 1933. Two daughters of founder Marko Korich, Mary and Eva, have left audio recordings describing their father buying the place around the start of the decade and selling wine he made in the basement as well as bootleg whiskey though prohibition. While at the bar I also chatted with Alex, now 84, who remembered sneaking into the bar when he was 11-- i.e. in 1939. (Alex's hearing is not what it used to be; when someone asked "Do you have email?" he responded, "Have female?")
The 1937 Polk Guide lists a bar owned by Marko Korich, but at the address of 13 1st N. I'm fairly confident this was the same building, because we already know that Roslyn changed the street numbering scheme along this street, as The Brick, now listed at 100, was listed at 1 in the 1930s and 40s. In addition, Marko's daughters allude to the bar being in the same building the entire time.
The sisters also mention that Marko purchased the bar from a Mr. Bruno, and a 1913 Polk Guide lists a bar owned by Bruno & Filberto. This listing does not include an address, but it is intriguing to consider whether it is the same location.
In any case, it's a friendly bar, with a nice patio area, fairly basic liquors and beers. The new owner is working on fixing up the back patio area, where locals used to play bocce ball 70 years ago.
(There are some very old looking bartokens for Marko's out there.)
106 North First Street, Roslyn, Washington 98941 - (509) 649-2349
Est. 1931 (bar since at least 1933?)
Web site: facebook
Best Reviews: dorandbob - yelp - tripadvisor
I do not know how old the Horseshoe is, but a 1970 article in the Ellensburg Daily Record describes it as being sold to a new owner in 1918 (this account may not be entirely correct, as it describes that year as "a year before prohibition became law," and prohibition was in effect in Washington state Jan 1, 1916). Also, there is no bar listed at this address in either the 1937 or 1949 Polk Guides (I did not check under other business types), however there is one listed in 1911 under "Whitman & Lee" and again in 1913 under "C E Whitman."
In any case, the article recounts a storied history, back to the days when bars on the street were open 24-hours and the owner did much of his sales in gold. As was not unusual northwest bars in the late 19th and early 20th century, the Horseshoe also appears to have served as a bank, payroll office, and employment office -- e.g. distributing payroll to thrashing crews.
The current version of the Horseshoe positions itself as a sports bar, but more closely resembles a class, rural dive, with hunting trophies, paraphernalia for watery, corporate beers, and stickers sporting dopey jokes. Some of the latter evince a bit of the douchebag element that currently tends to hang out there ("Are all women on the rag the same day?" "Speak English or get the fuck out"). It can sometimes have a high BBCS (Backwards Baseball Cap Score), but most the folks there seem pretty agreeable.
Ellensburg may be the best town in the state for old bars, and as you are reminded by a number of signs, the Palace Cafe has been around since 1892. It existed in a couple different locations until opening in the current space in 1949. However, it is not clear how long the cafe has also featured a saloon. The drinks are pedestrian, but it's got a nice vibe with lots of historical photos. And while it is not quite an alley entrance (always a welcome sign for a bar), there is a sort of back door side entrance that most the bar patrons use.
323 North Main Street Ellensburg, WA 98926 - (509) 925-2327
Est. ? (Restaurant est. 1892, in current location 1949)
Named for original owners Bob and Jack, who for some reason decided to put a steakhouse restaurant in the basement of a rollicking dive bar upstairs, Bojack's is a local institution. It was founded in 1951, purchased by Wally and Katie Eglund in 1969 (the restaurant that is, they bought the bar later), and run by the Eglund family ever since. The bar upstairs is fun, if a little intimidating for some diners to traverse, and there are nifty signs on either side of the building. Locals recommend the Bite Sized Steak (tender deep fried pieces of steak).
311 Main Street, Lewiston, ID 83501 - (208) 746-9532
Although it was staffed by nice people, this bar in Oscar's Restaurant seemed boring and formulaic when we visited, with the vibe of an Applebees. But I've seen a few Oscar's reviewers who complained about all the noise coming from the bar, so we clearly did not come at a good time to judge.
Grangeville, Idaho is the largest town in Idaho County, at the base of the state's pan handle. It arose in a large meadow at the edge of the Nez Perce National Forest -- traversed by gold prospectors whose fortune seeking was not to be slowed by the treaty granting the Nez Perce control of the area. It was incorporated in 1889 and now has a population of around 3,000 people. Brodock's is the most genteel of the handful of bars in town.
"The Establishment" was admittedly our second choice in Grangeville, after finding our original target, "Earnie's Man Cave," closed. Earnie's was marked by the name formed in rope light above the door, signs on the door itself only partially obscuring the old NAPA Auto Parts signs, and a confusing sandwich board that listed the hours as "Open 1am to close."
So confused and disappointed, we wandered down to The Establishment, "North Central Idaho's Premier night spot." That it may be, as one bitter online reviewer includes among his complaints that the (fairly sizable) place is "way too small for the crowd that it draws, especially in the summer time." But on this lazy Saturday afternoon, it was just us and a bored bartender.
White Bird, Idaho, is named for the chief of the Lamátta
band of the Nez Perce, a leader in the Battle of White Bird Canyon, where in 1877 the Nez Perce routed the U.S. Army in the opening skirmish of the Nez Perce War. Although White Bird's resistance continued beyond the surrender of Chief Joseph (attributed with the line "From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever"), the U.S., of course, eventually prevailed, in what an 1877 New York Times editorial described as "On our part, the war was in its origin and motive nothing short of a gigantic blunder and a crime." (1)
In the current town of White Bird, population 91, down the canyon along Old U.S. Highway 95, is the Silver Dollar Cafe and Saloon. You walk in under a baggie of water hanging over the door, which people believe keeps away flies. The saloon is in front, where a woman with a beehive hairdo serves strong, cheap drinks. Through the saloon is the cafe, where locals play cribbage and refresh their coffee at the self-serve stand. The locals do not immediately cotton to out-of-towners, and it takes a while to find who might eventually warm up to chat with you. We didn't find out how long the Silver Dollar had been around, but apparently an old version burned down, and this one was rebuilt around 1951.
The small town of Riggins, Idaho lies deep in a canyon, just west of the deepest gorge in north America (the Snake River Canyon) and in the shadows of the Seven Devils Mountains, which the Nez Perce once said were seven giant,
child-eating monsters. It is also at the confluence of the Little Salmon and the Salmon Rivers, the latter the longest free flowing river in the contiguous 48 states, with it's portion to the north long known as the "River of No Return." It is the Salmon that makes this old gold miner's town double in population in the summer months, and claim title to the whitewater capitol of Idaho, or of the "universe," depending upon who you talk to. It is a far cry from the days when the town was originally named "Gouge Eye," after a tussle between two gold miners at odds over the affections of a local woman.
Despite the tourists, the town of 500 or so residents is happily free of chain restaurants, and the few local watering holes might have an expansive area for hosting large numbers of visiting bikers and rafters, fronted by a cozy area attended regularly by the locals and peppered with photos of various citizens with their hunting and fishing trophies. This is the case with Summerville's Cafe, and it was in the small bar area that we met old John, a throwback to the times when gold miners first settled in the area in the 1850s. John looked the perfect example of a mountain man, with his bushy beard and missing ring finger he'd lost when his ring caught in some large machinery.
And indeed John actually moved into the area to pan for gold, and lived there with a fat, diabetic mutt he named "Dog," which he was nursing through various infirmities. Despite John's gentle nature and our pleasant conversation ranging from highway routes to cell phone carriers, we could barely have imagined a more perfect bar stool companion for evoking the days of old Gouge Eye.
Update: The gates of Paradise are now permanently closed.
This is an odd sort of paradise -- somewhere between a fast food joint, a sports bar, a classic diner, and a teen hangout. The small, limited bar doesn't have any particular attractions to recommend it, but the place has personality.
319 North 3rd St, McCall, ID 83638 - (208) 634-8377
Reviews: yelp - tripadvisor
Salmon River Brewery is a nifty little craft brewery and pub in McCall, Idaho. Although they are just a block off the highway, you need to know where you are going, as people would never see it in normal driving around McCall. But once you find it, you'll have some very good beers, an eclectic choice of food from sushi to elk burgers (recommended), and a warm, funky atmosphere. The pub has that feel that the best cabins have -- built one section at a time with a hodge podge of random parts and decor assembled from personal collections and friends. There's a nice beer garden out back, with horseshoes and live bands.
SRB is run by two couples, Matt & Jennifer Hurlbutt and Matt & Ellen Ganz, who use local ingredients and work on promoting the community. Their pub is a welcome relief from the bland corporate development in various parts of McCall.
300 Colorado St, McCall, ID 83638 - (208) 634-4772
Est. Feb 27, 2009 (Brewery est. 2008)
Dave and Kathy's Double Eagle Saloon is a new cafe and lounge serving
American classic comfort food and standard cocktails in a location that
used to be Vigilantes Restaurant and Lounge. The "Double Eagle" portion
of the name is a tribute to two members of the ownership team who are
retired army colonels.
263 Main St., Donnelly, ID 83615 - 208-325-4005
Previous bars in this location: Vigilante's