Conversations with Local Authors

A Seattle Dive for Every Occasion

The author of a new guide to getting liquored up, lowbrow style, makes some divey selects for Sauced.

April 9, 2009

I was angry at Mike Seely. And by angry, I mean jealous. Jealous because he wrote a book, an actual book, on Seattle dive bars. (It’s available now under the straightforward title Seattle’s Best Dive Bars.)

Now, I’ve never been so delusional as to think I could have written A Tale of Two Cities or the Lexus and the Olive Tree, and I certainly am not qualified to have authored Gluten-Free Cooking for Dummies, a review copy of which has been loitering on my desk for over a year. But a guidebook on Seattle dive bars? Mayyyybe.

“Daggit,” I thought. (I actually thought the word “daggit.”) “Why didn’t I think of that?”

And then I had a breakthrough: I wasn’t angry at Mike Seely at all, I was angry at myself, for not having had the genius notion to pen a guidebook on low-brow bars. So where did I go to celebrate that sad little epiphany? I’m sorry to say, I can’t tell you. See, an undiscovered dive is a sort of tiny Eden, a pitcher-and-french-fry fantasy come to life…offering jukebox joy and easily attainable “regular” status and the sort of anonymity required when you are really ready to show some cheap beer who is boss. Plus, the mystical guide who took me there did so under the condition that I never blog about it.

Restricted such in my own ability to share by favorite dives, I decided just to get over myself and read Seely’s book. It has some seriously funny moments. It also has the lowdown on an impressively large number of watering holes the likes of which I’ve never even heard, let alone experienced firsthand.

This led me to another breakthrough: not only was I not only quick enough to think of writing a book on dive bars, I was also unqualified to write one. So let’s go ahead and turn things over to someone who is. Here, picks from Seely (he is also, incidentally, Managing Editor over at Seattle Weekly ) for the best local dives for all of life’s little dramas.

Best dive for clean beer taps
Ed’s Kort Haus or the College Inn.

Best dive for pub grub
Mike’s Chili Parlor or the Pacific Inn.

Best dive for writing in your journal without getting beaten up.
Blue Moon, given its deep literary roots.

Best dive for beating up journal writers.
“See above,” says Seely, “although you’ll be 86’d for life.”

Best dive for drowning you sorrows after you just walked in on your boyfriend with another woman.
Ozzie’s “if you want to get back on the horse.” The Seven Seas “if you want to get knocked further off it.”

Best dive for for drowning you sorrows after you just walked in on your boyfriend with another man.
C.C. Attle’s or the Seattle Eagle.

Best dive for celebrating a pay raise [remember those?]
The Corner Pocket, the author suggests, “if only because you’ll have more money to hustle pool. But you’d better be good at pool.”

Best dive for lamenting a layoff
The Locker Room, “where the Busch will never set you back more than $1.25.”

Best dive for listening to nostalgic stories about the Seattle of yore.
Al’s or the Ballard Smoke Shop.

Best dive for people-watching.
The Crescent Lounge says Seely,
or The Turf. “For vastly different reasons.”

Best dive for a first date.
The Rimrock or the Little Red Hen.

Best dive for breaking up with someone.
Take your significant other to the Rose Garden, says Seely, and “they won’t want to date you anymore.”

Best dive for getting stumbling, blind, ridiculous drunk.
The Baranof or Moon Temple, “each of which,” the author says, “is lying when they say they have anything other than liquor on the gun.”

Click here to buy the book and to find out about upcoming readings.

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