The Best Bars in Seattle

Emerald City is known for its beverages: both Starbucks coffee and the craft beer movement count the city as ground zero. Find your favorite drinks, whether cocktail, latte, or lager, at one of Seattle’s best places for drinking.

1415 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
You really can’t ask for fresher beer than they serve at the Pike. This huge pub is actually built around the equipment that is brewing the next batch as you drink. It’s the brainchild of Charles Finkel, whose passion is evident in this glorious shrine to beer, with his collections of bottles, ads and vintage merch covering every square inch of the place. When we visited, he was actually putting up some beer-themed stamp collections on one of the few remaining patches of uncovered wall; we got chatting, and in his enthusiasm he insisted on taking us down to the basement for a tour of the workfloor. Charles just adores what he does and you can taste it in the microbrews, a selection of lovingly crafted beers that you’ll struggle to find outside the Pacific Northwest. I loved “Naughty Nellie,” a golden ale that slips down rather too easily, but there’s more than a dozen types to choose from not to mention seasonal varieties (we visited at Halloween, when a special Pumpkin ale was on tap). A good way is to buy the tasting menu, which includes around eight of their flavours (although beware, some of them are fairly strong and might go to your head). The Pike’s easiest to find if you approach it from 1st Avenue, through Pike Place Market, although we stumbled onto it in Post Alley, where you can get an elevator up to the pub. We stumbled upon it when we were just gasping for a drink—but we got so much more.
6118 12th Avenue South
This Georgetown hot spot offers diners an unexpected array of international dishes and a surprise art gallery between its cocktail bar and grill. A vast funky mural spices up an exposed cinder-block wall, and a skylight floods the furnishings’ bold pops of orange, scarlet, and turquoise. The menu celebrates the eatery’s wood-fired oven, showing off dips and flatbreads from all over the globe. Chimichurri rubs shoulders with mojo verde, burnt honey, and smoked yogurt, while small plates range from falafel to pomegranate-honey chicken wings. Don’t miss this terrific collaboration between James Beard Award–winning chef Matt Dillon (Sitka & Spruce, the London Plane) and Marcus Lalario (Li’l Woody’s, Fat’s Chicken and Waffles).
4559 California Avenue Southwest
Visitors with a particular interest in the grunge scene should make a trip to West Seattle’s Easy Street Records — Eddie Vedder lives in the neighborhood and has been known to shop here. But aside from that, Easy Street is just a great local independent music store, with a wide selection of CDs and records, and knowledeable staff. The attached cafe is a diner covered in music memorabilia that serves up good, basic breakfast and lunch. And an Easy Street T-shirt, with its distinctive red star logo, makes a great gift for your favorite music lover.
2226 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
“Seattle’s best happy hour” is not a title to be bestowed lightly, but List has more than its share of devotees. And with good reason: their happy hour features half off the food menu, plus discounted beer and wine. List serves Italian food with a focus on seafood, and it’s an excellent value at happy hour. We loved the gnocchi with black truffle cream, spicy meatballs, and cannelloni with spinach and ricotta. Unsurprisingly, List fills up quickly on the weekends, but if you stop by early, you can settle in, admire the modern decor and striking red chandeliers, and watch the plates pile up with delicious deals. Their happy hour is all day Sunday and Monday, and 4 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (with a late happy hour Tuesday through Thursday from 9 to midnight).
1501 Western Ave Ste 202, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
Tucked away beneath the Pike Place Market — halfway down the long staircase to the waterfront known as the Hill Climb — is the Zig Zag Cafe, a charming little cocktail bar with a distinctly speakeasy-esque atmosphere. The craft cocktail menu boasts obscure liqueurs and spirits you’ve never heard of, but their knowledgeable servers and bartenders are happy to explain and guide you to your ideal drink. During happy hour, cocktails are $4 off, and food discounts are offered. We loved the Pendennis, a sweet-tart drink with gin, apricot brandy, lime juice, and Peychaud’s bitters. The dinner menu is small but intriguing, with offerings such as braised rabbit and camel burgers.
1505 10th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
Lost Lake may look like it’s been open for decades, but despite its dimly-lit vintage decor, this Capitol Hill diner just opened in 2013 — and is already a favorite with locals. One side is a restaurant and the other side is a bar, depending on your mood. Stop by this 24-hour joint anytime for drinks, milkshakes, or a stick-to-your-ribs meal. The poutine is a salty, greasy delight at the end of a long night out, and the sandwiches and burgers are classic, filling fare. There are two happy hours: 6-9 am for breakfast, and 4-6 pm. The breakfast happy hour features deals on breakfast sandwiches, Bloody Marys, and mimosas. The afternoon happy hour includes a cheeseburger with fries, deep-fried cheese curds, and chicken-fried bacon. Don’t pretend your mouth isn’t watering.
18607 Bothell Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011, USA
Fans of Portland’s Kennedy School hotel, rejoice: now the Seattle area has the Anderson School. McMenamin’s, the Oregon-based hotel and restaurant chain, has a few bars and restaurants in Seattle, but their new hotel is a one-stop entertainment destination. Built in a renovated school, the hotel’s rooms are converted classrooms, and bars like the cheekily named Principal’s Office continue the theme. There are several restaurants on the property, including a tiki room with a view of the indoor pool, plus a movie theater and live music venue. Grab an outdoor seat by a firepit and order one of McMenamin’s own beers, wines, or ciders to sip by the fire.
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