The inside got quite the makeover, though the red neon tavern sign remains.

The schoolroom-size tavern at 14508 Woodinville-Redmond Road in Woodinville was first known as Mabel's, then the Hollywood Tavern, plying locals with cheap beer beneath a row of watchful fake taxidermy and a ton of pull tabs. Now it's under the care of Joshua Henderson, who would still like to serve you some cheap beer, but has been busy transforming the little roadhouse in the heart of Woodinville into what he hopes will be a destinationworthy restaurant.

There's also the small matter of the hulking new Woodinville Whiskey distillery rising adjacent to the once-humble tavern. That's still a ways from completion, but The Hollywood Tavern's official reopening is Tuesday, November 12. Here, five reasons we're excited to add cheeseburgers and brown liquor to our Woodinville itineraries.

Dive bar meets grandma's dining room. You can hang out in the original tavern building, which has a fresh coat of paint and salvaged wood tables designed by Mike Marian; apparently Banksy liked them on Instagram, so you know they're legit. Or have a proper grown-up meal in the brand new dining room that forms an L with the original space. The open kitchen is at one end, and spindle-backed chairs and a bank of lampshades hanging from the ceiling are designed to evoke (in a very hip way) feelings of dining at grandma's. Which I would have done way more often if grandma had a tavern attached to her house.

It's not just a burger joint. Henderson has talked a big game about this burger since August of last year. But there's only one burger to be had; it's classically dressed with American cheese (housemade!) and sits dead center on the menu. Around it, chef Angie Roberts's lineup mixes seasonal Seattle staples with a little bit of the south, a dash of  Eisenhower-era comfort food, and some hearty tavern fare. A meal here could include: pimento cheese, a kale salad, cheese fries made with kimchi and braised shortrib, pan-fried trout, or crispy pig ears served a la buffalo wings.

Drinking here doesn’t have to be precious. Yes, there is as cocktail list with names that pay tribute to the tavern’s history. Most of them showcase Woodinville whiskey. The bar pours microbrews and cider, and, duh, wine. But the beer coolers behind the bar (preserved from the pre-Henderson days) were stocked with Milwaukee’s Best; it’s one of a handful of beers on the menu for $3. Soda is dispensed from a soda gun, and boilermakers of the fancy and straight-up variety are encouraged.

But whiskey is everywhere. It's in bottles all around the bar. It's in cocktails. There's even a section of the drink menu dedicated to whiskey infused with things like lemon, or coriander and cardamom, served with a schooner of complementing beer. I love that Roberts is doing housemade soft serve on the dessert menu, but I doubly love that you can get it with a shot of whiskey.

So. Many. Patios. Henderson has developed quite a way with outdoor dining space (witness the jaw-dropping setup at Westward, and the friendly, heated new addition to the original Skillet Diner). The area between the tavern and the distillery will soon be filled with seating, lawn games like cornhole and horseshoes, and a firepit. The original tavern patio remains, and a few other outdoor elements are in the works, giving people a space for private events, or just a reason to wander the premises with a drink in hand.


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