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Bars where Pete has had a drink

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Sit-N-Bull, Clallam County, WA - 3/11/2017

Gary Blevins, the Sit-N-Bull Tavern
Update: We recently received the very sad news that Gary Blevins passed away on April 13, 2019. We feel very lucky to have met Gary and had received a tour of his amazing collection at the Sit'N'Bull. Our deepest condolences to all his family and friends.

For a little bit more than a decade now I have invested a considerable amount of my free time into studying and visiting bars in Seattle and around the northwest and more. Seeking especially bars with a unique character and longer history, at this writing I have recorded visits at 3,198 different licensed bars, and quite a few historical museums. But in all that time I have never seen anything like the "Sit-N-Bull," the astonishing home bar (or bars) of Clallam County's Gary Blevins.

Trista and Gary, the Sit-N-Bull Tavern

Gary has spent over half a century collecting artifacts and memorabilia from old bars across Clallam County and the Olympic Peninsula as they closed. A contract logger for 45 years, now in his 70s, Gary will still fell trees and trade other labor for items to add to his collection. He and much of his family have lived here all his life, and his property holdings and contractor background have helped him create a continually growing space to accommodate the treasures he acquires. Long before hipster bars in Seattle coveted it, Gary's friends thought he was crazy to collect the distressed wood from six or seven old barns, which he has used to beautiful effect in room after room of preserved tavern history.

I found Gary's name in an old newspaper article in the files of the Clallam County Historical Society in Port Angeles, Washington, midway across the top of the Olympic Peninsula as it stretches westward to the northwest tip of the contiguous United States. But Gary is old school -- never had a computer nor cell phone and says he never will -- and I only tracked him down through his daughter Pamela who currently lives in Florida. After Pamela helped us make arrangements, Gary and his fiancee Gwen graciously welcomed us out to the place, meeting us at the auto store just off the highway and guiding us down the winding neighborhood roads, the last of which was built by Gary himself.

The outside of place is a revelation -- like one of the greatest backwoods bar discoveries you'd ever happily stumble upon, with various old collectibles dominated by carved hand with a single finger upraised. This I immediately recognize as one of the controversial landmarks of old Loomis Tavern. To the right is wood boat, constructed to frame the sailing mast obtained from another tavern, with long list of old area bars attached. Stepping inside you first notice a large bar loaded with old beer lights and collectibles, with an antique back bar that turns out to be from the M&C Tavern, and a long brightly lacquered bar top made from the wood of an old shuffleboard table from another old tavern. The back bar was originally designed for a soda fountain, which was how the M&C started back in 1929, before transitioning to a tavern in 1934 just after prohibition. Then Gary steps behind the bar and pours you a cold one from on tap.

But it is when you turn around that your jaw first drops. Not only is there a second bar behind you back by racks of bottles, breweriana, photos, and taxidermy rising for two stories, but you can see that the wonders just continue up, around, over and behind the space. We move upstairs, past yet another bar, and Gary points out the Brunswick billards table and the Memphis shoeshine stand once sat upon by Elvis, various members of the Rat Pack, and more. After some time taking in as much as we can of the items upstairs, we return to the first floor, and the second pool table in the area behind the second bar. A collection of old rifles hangs from the ceiling beams above. This second backbar on the ground floor of the main room is from the Dungeness Tavern, with the front section from the Red Ranch Cocktail Lounge. But the tour has just begun.

The next stop is a hunting lodge sort of room with a boars, a full bear, a leopardskin, and several other horns, heads, and hides. There's even a golden lady mannequin that once graced an ornate bordello style bar in San Francisco. We take it all in, but wait, there's more. Past the lodge room is Gary's dance hall and bandstand, where people have danced the night away at some of the fundraisers and events he donates the facilities for. The bar in the next room off the dance floor has the art deco backbar from Brickie's Place and the front bar section from Smitty's.

On and on it goes, next to the "smoking room," bathed in light now, where stools from Pop Goody's Tavern in Sappho Junction look out over a small valley and several houses where his relatives have lived, including the house his mother grew up in. His mother is now the resident of the house adjoined to the Sit-N-Bull, where Gary regularly visits and cares for her. The eyes of the hardy logger go wet as he describes her declining condition, and how he engages the considerable struggles to support her now, just as "she was always there for me."

Finally we sign the guest book and say our goodbyes, with Gary inviting us back in the future, an invitation we will eagerly take him up on sometime soon, perhaps as much for his congenial company as for his miraculous place here. As we leave the clouds over the old coast town are clearing, and we feel like we've uncovered a treasure chest, one we'd heard about but whose contents far exceeded our imagination.

Many more photos here

Sunday, March 19, 2017

#2512 #S1245 - West Seattle Brewing, Seattle - 5/3/2014

Another nice, casual, Seattle craft beer tasting room. Since this particular visit they have upgraded the interior, their sign out front, and their brewmaster (Craig Koontz from Mudshark, Four Peaks, and Tamarack), and they've added a back porch and expresso bar, not to mention a second location on Alki Beach.

4415 Fauntleroy Way SW, Seattle, WA 98126 - (206) 405-0972
Est. Dec 19, 2013 - Building constructed: 1924
Previous bars in this location: None known
Web site: facebook
Reviews: porchdrinkingwashingtonbeerblog - washingtonbeerblog - yelp - seattlebeernews - tripadvisor - hopplotter - beeradvocate

Saturday, March 18, 2017

#2511 #S1244 - Fremont Dock, Seattle - 5/2/2014

The Fremont Dock, Seattle, WA
In the funky Fremont neighborhood, "The Dock" stands out for not standing out. It's a suburban style sports bar with old school bar food in large portions, 100oz beer towers, and a sun deck for warmer days.

1102 N 34th St, Seattle, WA 98103 - (206) 829-8372
Est. ? - Building constructed: 1926
Previous bars in this location: None known
Web site: - facebook
Reviews: thestranger - - yelp

#2510 #S1243 - Red Cow, Seattle - 4/1/2014

Red Cow, Seattle, WA
Red Cow is the 9th restaurant in the mini empire of local chef Ethan Stowell, and this one focuses on steak frites: "Red Cow is Steak Frites in Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood. A classic French brasserie featuring housemade charcuterie, local shellfish, a full bar, and a robust offering of steak to choose from." Of course they can emphasize the frites, but the price and the pleasure of the dishes is defined by your choice of meat cuts, from a hanger steak option ($24) to Wagyu ribeye ($60). And as you would expect from a Stowell joint, there are some finely made cocktails as well (though I have lost my notes on my drinks that night).

1423 34th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122 - (206) 454-7932                    
Est. Feb 10, 2014 - Building constructed: 1904
Previous bars in this location: June, Restaurant Bea
Web site: - facebook 
Articles ranked: seattletimesthestranger - seattlemag - seattleweekly - seattlemet - haveyoueaten - eater - eater - centraldistrictnewsyelp - tripadvisor - thrillist

#2509 #S1242 - Brimmer & Heeltap, Seattle - 4/25/2014

After popular Le Gourmand and Sambar eventually closed in this quirky Ballard location far from the center of gravity of Ballard eating and drinking, the neighbors did not have to wait long for it to once again host one of Seattle's top rated restaurants. Jen Doak  (Agrodolce, Tilth, Taste) and Mike Whisenhunt (Barking Frog, Lark, Joule, Revel) teamed up to provide inventive new dishes -- the kind that commonly include phrases like "topped with a walnut seaweed crumble and sherry-caramel glaze." (1) And they didn't ignore the cocktail side, bringing in first Jeff Steiner and later Brian Hibbard to provide the same sort of balanced inventiveness to the drink options. It's particularly attractive in the warmer months, since they inherited a nifty hidden patio, opened both sides to much more light, and recently added additional outdoor seating options.

Oh yes, and the name combines terms for a drink poured all the way to the brim, and the last little slurp at the bottom.

425 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107 - (206) 420-2534
Est. Jan 15, 2014 - Building constructed: 1926
Previous bars in this location: Sambar
Web site: - facebook - blog
Articles ranked: seattlemet - hungrydogblog - eater - seattledining - seattlemageater - myballard - yelpthestranger -

#2508 - Duvall Tavern, Duvall, WA - 4/24/2014

Duvall Tavern, Duvall, WA
About 15 miles northeast of Seattle as the crow flies sits the city of Duvall, homesteaded by loggers and Civil War veterans after the U.S. government filched the land from the ancestral Tulalip tribes. But the community really got going when the railroads moved the residents of the town of Cherry Valley here in 1909, to make way for a route through the original location half a mile to the south. Some of the buildings moved, including the Grange hall and Hix Market remain to this day. But perhaps the most famous event in Duvall history is the Great Piano Drop of 1968, when a standup piano was dropped from a helicopter before an outdoor concert featuring Country Joe and the Fish. The piano missed its target, but fortunately also missed the estimated 3,000 people attending. This event led to a series of multi-day, multi-band, Sky River Rock Festival outdoor concerts in nearby Sultan, featuring performers like the Grateful Dead, Santana, Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton and Richard Pryor, and which may have inspired the similar event at Woodstock.

Duvall Tavern, c.2012 - photo: Irwin Group
It is not known how many, if any, if the hippie concert attendees dropped by what was by then Duvall's oldest operating business, the Duval Tavern. The bar is said to have opened in 1934, shortly after prohibition ended, in a building constructed during prohibition next to the ramp to the old Stewart Street Bridge, although at that time was known as Myers Cafe and Tavern. I was attending shortly after the grand reopening June 27th under new ownership, after considerable spiffing up of the physical premises, beer choices, and menu.

While I personally may have prefered the divey biker's bar with its rock and fading wood exterior, the new, gentrified version appears to be doing a bustling business, accomodating a broad range of customers, and preserving artifacts of the old joint in everything from historic photos to hanging the old, heavily-carved table tops on the wall. My "Washington State Salad" was excellent, the burger was quite good, and the whole place was packed with happy locals of all ages.

The Great Duvall Piano Drop
Photo: Pat Dorpat

Duvall Tavern, Washington State Salad
15807 Main St NE, Duvall, WA 98019 - (425) 318-6277
Est. ? (1934 as Myers Cafe & Tavern) - Building constructed: 1931
Previous bars in this location: Myers Cafe & Tavern
Web site: - facebook
Reviews: heraldnet - roadtripreinventednwnews - yelp - tripadvisor - nwnews

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

#2507 #S1241 - Loulay, Seattle - 4/20/2014

Update: Already closed for a year due to COVID, Loulay announced their permanent closure Aug 9, 2021.

I had only a light meal on this trip to Loulay, but it is owned and run by Seattle's trademarked "Chef in the Hat,Thierry Rautureau, who has a trail of awards from James Beard to Chevalier de l’Ordre Du Mérite Agricole to various Seattle restaurant/chef of the years blah-dy, blah-dy, blah, so you already know the food is good. This blog is here to tell you that it is also a fine stop in downtown Seattle for a good cocktail. Bartender Justin told us stories about lining up drinks at Rautureau's Luc, with bartenders contesting to make the cocktail menu of the new place.

Loulay, Seattle, WA
Rautureau apparently tired of the intimate locations on shady, neighborhoody streets, and moved into this huge, shiny space in a hotel in the middle of downtown, complete with massive mirrors to admire itself. It is named for his hometown in the Muscadet region of France. From there Thierry plied his trade in Normandy and the French Alps, before moving on to the quaint little American villages of Chicago and Los Angeles. Seattleites know him mostly for the highly regarded Rover's, which he closed a few years ago, and of course for the hat. There isn't a whole lot of bar here, but if you're waiting for a fine French meal or just nearby, it's one of your best options in the area for an interesting, nicely crafted cocktail.

Loulay, Seattle, 
600 Union St, Seattle, WA 98101 - (206) 402-4588
Est. Dec 4, 2013 - Closed Aug 9, 2021 - Building constructed: 1982
Previous bars in this location: None known
Web site: - - facebook 
Articles ranked: tastingbitesseattlemetseattlemetseattletimes - thestranger - edibleseattle - seattlemag - notesfromthenapkin - spoken-wheel - belltowninseattle - thestranger - eater - yelp - tripadvisor - thrillist

#2506 #S1240 - Always Happy Hour, Seattle - 4/19/2014

I gave this place 20% in my Probability of Making it Three Years (PMTY) estimate, and it appears to have closed sometime in 2015. The owner was quite a nice guy and they had cheap prices and free popcorn, which is always swell. But with a small number of beers, just 15 spirits, a rather hidden location and not much of a divey vibe, it was difficult to see many people coming here given all the choices in Fremont, even if there were several people here on this Saturday night.

3601 Fremont Ave N, Ste 207, Seattle, WA 98103 - (206) 634-3601
Est. 2014 - Building constructed: 1996 - Closed 2015?
Previous bars in this location: The Augustus, Rogue and Peasant
Reviews: yelp