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Bars where Pete has had a drink

Saturday, March 24, 2018

#2645 - Unicorn Sports Bar, Ruston, WA - 11/1/2014

Unicorn Sports Bar, Ruston, WA
The Unicorn is unique. Virtually hidden in a residential neighborhood less than a half mile up from the waters of Commencement Bay and just south of Point Defiance Park, the Unicorn resides in a stolid brick building that looks much as one would expect for a place that served the smelter workers and blue collar workmen who relaxed here in the mid 20th century. It was the much less inscrutably named "Seaview Tavern" when it opened here in 1934, and remained into the mid 70s. By the late 70s it was known as the equally self-explanatory name of "The Brick," before becoming the "Unicorn Tavern" at some point in the 1980s.

No longer strictly a "tavern," that part of the title now lies half-heartedly obfuscated with an inadequate layer of paint on the outer facade. Virtually all neighborhood bars want to be a "sports bar" now, and the Unicorn has embraced the name and the flatscreen televisions, but thankfully left the decades-worn concrete floors and the unexpected water feature, behind moss-flecked, copper-barked cherry trees tucked around the edge of the building.

View of Commencement Bay from the Unicorn Sports Bar
Inside it is just the sort of working class mishmash you would expect and hope for. Silver dollars lacquered into the bar with the names of customers from the mid 80s; the old smoke eaters, the corporate beer paraphernalia, the mix of craft and big corporate beers, and the old geezers raising eyebrows at the outsiders, but happy to regale you with their stories.

There's also a  young-ish, well regarded bartender named Darrel, whom we did not meet, but we learned he has won best bartender in western Washington several years running. Darrel is "legendary" according to some of the locals, and one year the winner of the Unicorn Halloween contest was a patron dressed as Darrel. I don't even know for sure that he still works there at this point, but if he does, I'd like to see him in action on a busy Saturday night. In any case, the Unicorn is well worth a few return trips.

5302 N 49th St, Ruston, WA 98407 - (253) 752-5939               
Previous bars in this location: Seaview Tavern, The Brick
Web site: facebook
Reviews: northwestmilitaryyelp - tnt 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Darryl still works there. There'd be an uproar if he left.

The neighborhood continues to change (not always for the best, oddly). The owners have changed since the 90's. Some of the interior has changed (specifically, the gorgeous hardwood back bar and side coolers and brass taps were ripped out when Suzy bought the place around 2000). The crowd has changed a little bit (far more hipsters and less local seniors and blue collar folks). But the Uni is still basically the same as it was 20/25 years ago, and that's because of Darryl. He really is the best bartender around. Not just fast and accurate, its the personality. He knows what seems like all of Tacoma for the last 25 years. Its uncanny and impressive to see. He's a super nice guy, you should return and meet him. Listen for the "Hey Bill/Bob....haven't seen you in 15 still drinking X?" and how accurate he is with it. Its uncanny.