Two JarrBar alumni decamped from Pike Place Market for a place of their own with playful bar food and sharp cocktails. An icy vodka martini comes kissed with pipparas pepper brine and a chorizo-wrapped pepper garnish. A Wild Turkey hot toddy arrives in a funky mug from Goodwill. Which is to say the bar emanates cozy neighborhood vibes. Owner Jesse Spring often plays records (a habit from his JarrBar days), as the mood and the workflow allow. Build a rapport with your bartender, and they may even take a suggestion or two.
Tom Douglas’s high-spirited ode to Brandi Carlile at 9th and Pine has been hosting all-vinyl DJs—many of whom specialize in 45s—Friday and Saturday nights for four years. Mostly they focus on jams from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Sets start at 10, as does late-night happy hour during which you can snag dishes like duck fat hush puppies and marinated beets.
Really it’s just your typical Pine coffee shop turned bar that specializes in hip-hop and khao mun gai. Inside the nightspot known as Sugar Hill, Guitar Srisuthiamorn does an exemplary version of Thailand’s signature chicken-and-rice street food dish, one that packs real flavor—even before you add the sauce’s zing. The vinyl collection lining the walls inspires the soundtrack; petite platters of fried chicken skin fuel a night of Hill carousing.
Owner Bryan Jarr turned a storage closet beneath Pike Place Market into an approximation of watering holes in San Sebastián or Galicia or Lisbon, and the most welcoming of neighborhood bars in the thick of the tourist zone. The charming space is home to a variety of snacks and small plates—mainly cured meat or seafood preserved in jars, like a rich rillette of smoked black cod. It has records, too. “It is always something I loved at bars I visited and an option I wanted at my own bar,” says Jarr. What music bounces off the bar’s tall, white walls? That’s up to the bartender, but Jarr’s personal selection includes Prince, D’Angelo, and Donna Summer.
A passion project from a whole crowd of Seattle music industry veterans, KEXP DJ John Richards and a Neumos co-owner among them, Life on Mars serves cocktails, local beer, and “plant-based comfort foods”—think chicken-fried artichoke waffle sandwiches, jerk burgers. But the bar’s as much about music as it is drinking. The founders curated a whole wall of vinyl (some 5,800 records), and they sell a rotating selection, currently featuring David Bowie, Idles, and A Tribe Called Quest. A display shows what’s spinning at all times, and curation is open to anyone’s influence every day between 4 and 7, as well as on Sunday.
The Masonry’s slow rise to fame started in its understated, mural-adorned Lower Queen Anne location, home to scratch pizza and a lineup of unique beers that can only be the product of both an understanding of, and crucial connections within, this nation’s beer industry. As more and more people caught on, the Masonry opened a second location in Fremont, this time able to accommodate crowds. Thankfully, both spots still carry one of the beer sanctuary’s founding principles: a record player in the corner, spinning tunes as varied as the beer list.
The tiny, white-walled coffee shop on 14th is a tucked-away treasure, playing records as often as it can, and playing the digital versions when it can’t. Each barista has their own take, but the shop often exudes a calm vibe, offsetting the strong coffee. Bonus: You can buy records—from smaller bands (think American Football, Tacocat) to festival headliners (think Bon Iver, The National), even some used vinyl (Otis Redding, The Temptations).
Though (appropriately) messy on the weekends, Revolver makes an excellent weekday hangout, when you can actually make out the bright yellow barstools and blue accent walls. The happy hour deals aren’t groundbreaking—$1 off snacks, $2 PBR or Rainier, $5 wells, $6 shot and a beer—but the hours are accessible (all day Monday!) and it generally feels like hanging out in your music-nerd friend’s living room, listening to records. Owner Gary Reynolds inherited a massive record collection from his uncle, and has since implemented an “all vinyl, all the time” policy at this neighborhood joint. Revolver’s selection is as varied as the collection is massive, ranging from The Smiths to Nat King Cole, with occasional fast-paced, guitar-heavy bangers mixed in.
The creation of a former record producer and live audio engineer, Union Coffee is, unsurprisingly, acoustically sound. The shop plays vinyl whenever it doesn’t interfere with the distribution of essential caffeine, so that Solange, Beat Connection, or Preservation Hall Jazz Band can accompany your cortado. What won’t you hear? “We make it a point to steer pretty clear of indie rock/country/folk," owner Zack Reinig says, "that I find to be tired and overplayed in Seattle and can give a non-inclusive feel."