Best Bars

Neighborhood Bars: West Seattle

Good beer, zero affectation

By Allecia Vermillion April 3, 2016 Published in the April 2016 issue of Seattle Met

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Image: Sarah Flotard

Beveridge Place Pub

A blonde woman approached our table with a dog in tow—a pointy-eared fellow with short yellow fur and a wry canine smile. “I’m sorry to interrupt,” she said. “We’re taking a poll on what to name our rescue dog.” She and her partner were deciding among Tug, Bodhi, or Rebel. Darwin had been nixed for fear of offending creationists. 

It’s hard to imagine a bar better suited to collective dog naming than Beveridge Place Pub, one of the last classic West Seattle bars standing (RIP Alki Tavern, Feedback, Benbow Room). Bars love to claim they’re the neighborhood’s living room, but on a typical Sunday night, most places don’t boast three separate domino games, a couple sitting a cushion’s length apart on one of the patterned couches, and three dogs curled companionably beneath their owners’ mismatched ladder-back chairs. Beveridge Place actually looks like a living room—a grandma’s living room. You half expect the affable bartenders to offer you an old TV Guide, maybe an ancient butterscotch from a candy dish. Instead they preside over 36 impressive draft beers, mostly from small brewers around Oregon and Washington. Plunk this bar on Capitol Hill and it would be a scene. But West Seattle’s insular nature, and resistance to snobbery, means this stupendous beer list simply coexists with the dogs and couches and board games.

West 5

Yes, it’s lame to order a cocktail based on its name, but how can you resist a drink dubbed the Duwamish Mafia? (It’s a take on a black manhattan.) This is as loungey as it gets in West Seattle, which really isn’t loungey at all, just creamy curve-backed stools, classic cocktails from sidecars to mai tais, and Eisenhower-era comforts like bubbling mac and cheese and bacon-wrapped meatloaf. The giant neon crown on the wall is helpful to light the way when pouring oneself into an Uber at the end of the night.

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Image: Sarah Flotard

Locöl Barley and Vine

Here’s everything you need to know about this sliver of a spot that gives equal attention to Washington beer and wine: You can buy a drink for someone who isn’t there at the time, and it gets noted on a board by the bar. People who drink here know one another well enough to make this system work, without devolving into dirty fake names or juvenile jokes. The kitchen, little more than a corner in the candlelit bar, puts out solid tacos, cheese plates, and fingerling potato poutine.

Blue Moon Tavern

The Professor’s Office

Polished divots checker the old wood seats of Blue Moon’s venerable booths like indentations in the marble steps of some ancient monument. The last watering hole on the west edge of the University District, the Blue Moon derives much of its legend from the wily academics who shared pints in these booths. It’s a monument to the literary community especially, a favorite spot for the Mount Rushmore of Seattle writers, including Theodore Roethke, Richard Hugo, and Tom Robbins. Tales of wanderers from UW tying one on, sharing works in progress, getting in fights, walking through glass windows feel spiritually tied to hallowed bars of lower Manhattan, incubators for the Beats, folk singers, and activists. Blue Moon stands as a reminder that Seattle, too, participated in the literary history of America in the twentieth century.

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