By Lani Bonadea
Seattle may not be a city that never sleeps, but when Seattle is awake you can do anything you want. Okay, so maybe not anything you want but there sure are a lot of options. Good beer, pinball, and music in a lot of great areas where you can easily bar-hop the night away.
Good Seattle nightlife resources are do206 or The Stranger. They tell you what’s going on at all the best venues in the city. The Stranger will let you search by type of event or neighborhood, and even what type of music you want to see (live, dj, etc.). Every place in Seattle has a happy hour and The Stranger offers a pretty amazing free app to find the closest one to you at all times – the Cocktail Compass for iPhone and Android.
Many neighborhoods have at least one brewery that’s worth checking out.
If you’re looking to wander a bit and hit up a few places in one night, here are five neighborhoods that could easily keep you busy until last call:
The Six Arms and Still Liquor are just a short walk from the conference hotel and will provide cheaper drinks and a more local scene than anything in the hotel’s area. The Lookout is tucked away enough that it doesn’t draw a huge crowd, but it’s got a great view of the Space Needle and a good selection of local beers. Venture deeper into the neighborhood and you’ll find dive bars, gay bars, fake dive bars (PBR and hipster hot spots), music, and any combination of those things you could possibly think of. Despite the crowds of hipsters, it has a very diverse scene.
Head to the area around E Pike St and 10th Ave for the best concentration of places. Some of the stand-outs in this small subsection of Capitol Hill are Q Nightclub, a good DJ spot; the Cha Cha, a hipster lounge with a Mexican wrestling theme; and Neumo’s, a good music venue that draws some pretty big names. Finally, there’s the late-night taco truck turned permanent late-night restaurant that everyone flocks to towards last call: Rancho Bravo, on Pine & 10th (they’ve kept to their taco truck roots so there’s no website).
Pike Place Market
A short walk from your hotel in the opposite direction from Capitol Hill, the Pike Place Market has a lot of nice places to drink. Check out the Pike Brewing Company for a great beer selection. If you want a show, The Can Can does regular cabaret and has a focus on absinthe and craft cocktails. Just stroll around the market, especially the alleys, to find all kinds of little bars.
Right outside of the market is one of the bigger venues in Seattle, the Showbox, with live music almost 365 days a year. Just be careful when checking out their online calendar because there are two locations: Sodo and the market. The Sodo location is just south of the stadiums and you’ll probably want to get a taxi.
A couple blocks from the main market entrance is a place called Von’s 1000SPIRITS. They re-filter booze and have a huge selection, as well as a great $5 martini.
This is the oldest area of Seattle. Some of the late-night spots are a bit grimy, but there are lots of nicer spots opening up all the time. Everything has an old city feel that other neighborhoods can’t offer. The Central is over 100 years old. On the same block, you can bar hop then eat a great late-night falafel or hit up the hot dog stand to soak up the fuel of the night. If you like learning while you drink or if you just like sake then Sake Nomi is ideal. It has a nice mellow scene where you can learn and taste some great sake while movies or games play on a flat-screen behind the bar. Temple Billiards is a great place to go and play pool, but pool is the main focus and there’s not much of a bar scene there. For some grown-up history, check out the adult underground tour where you can learn about the fire that burnt down the original downtown area. The tour comes with a drink and all the dirt they can’t talk about during the normal underground tour.
A very popular area for young professionals in the city. Full of condos, it’s mostly a lounge and bar scene, however, it has one of the best pinball bars and one of the best DJ venues in the city: Shorty’s and Tia Lou’s, respectively. There’s also a great music venue that’s been around for decades, The Crocodile. Towards the space needle, there’s a great 24hr eatery with good local beer and cocktails called the 5 point.
Worth a short 10-minute trip north, there’s a little bit of everything here and most of it is squeezed into two blocks. It’s a prime location for bar hopping. Head to Dayton Ave N & N 36th St to get started. The Backdoor has amazing décor and cocktails. Right around the corner is Norm’s, where, if things haven’t changed, you can get a 40oz in a paper bag to have at the bar. The most notable places to check out: Add-a-Ball, a great arcade with tons of pinball machines and lots of old arcade games (when’s the last time you played Dr. Mario?!); the George and Dragon, a true English style pub; Outlander Brewery an old house that’s been converted to a small brewery with a small collection of beers on tap that are good and sometimes pretty adventurous; Brouwer’s is a beer oriented bar with 64 taps and over 300 different bottled beers.
If you can, go on a Thursday and check out a Seattle Classic: Marmalade at the High Dive, a funk band that’s been playing with rotating members for over 20 years. Other nights check out Nectar. They have live music regularly and it’s a really good venue with a nice outdoor area (don’t worry there are strong heat lamps!)