Seattle pub crawl

By Gregg Smith

More than any other city in America, Seattle was meant to have pubs. The temperate rain- forest only grows because of the constantly damp climate, exactly the type of conditions that drives people to the comfort of a tavern. These shelters from mother-nature's worst are among the best to be found anywhere. Because it would be a sin to miss any one of these of the city's taverns, running from north to south, covers a good stretch of ground and a combination of cabs and walking is recommended.

Begin on the near north side at the Latona Pub 6423 Latona Ave (206) 525-2238 A classic neighborhood pub, it almost shouldn't be the start of this tour - you may not want to leave. There are a baker's dozen taps featuring a rotating choice of northwest favorites, some dispatched via beer engines, are augmented by a thoughtful variety of bottled beers. The kitchen provides standard pub fare and there's live, but not offensive, music on weekends.

Head by cab to the next stop near the University of Washington (Go Huskies) where you'll find Big Time Brewing at 4133 University (206) 545-4509. There are as many as seven rotating taps. The beautiful wood back bar is nearly one-hundred years old and a quite afternoon can belie the tempest which invades when the day's classes are over. Still, it's worth a visit.

When you leave Big Time head south on foot down University to stop number three, it's closer to the college and so is it's name. In fact, College Inn Pub is so close to the University it's almost the in the college pub it sits at 4006 University Way (206) 634-2307 Like a true college bar it's down a flight of stairs. No matter, it's often so dark with rain in Seattle that you'll barely notice. Fifteen taps will keep you busy. During the slow hours you can engage in another popular sport in the northwest (aside from beer that is) by testing your skill with darts.

It's back to a cab for the next pub, head west to Leary Way and Four B's, 4300 Leary Way NW (206) 782-9024 This is a study in contrast as you move from the college scene to a neighborhood bar. What's different from the local place where you grew up is the number of tap handles, 24 in all. Still, there's something familiar about this place maybe it's the burgers. No, that can't be it, although burgers are their specialty the number is astonishing with nearly as many choices as there are beers.

For stop number five you'll need to catch a ride southeast along Leary to where it runs into Fremont. The Red Door Alehouse - 3401 Fremont (206) 547-7521 is a neighborhood place with a long wooden bar and more than twenty taps. As with many bars of the Northwest there's one tap devoted to a working beer engine. This place has one of the more unusual mug clubs. Regulars bring one from home to hang in "their spot" above the bar; it makes it seem even more friendly and home-like. It's also only about four block walknorthwest to reach the Trolleyman Pub of Red Hook Brewing.

Your next ride will take you due south on Queen Anne and cut over to the southwest corner of the Seattle Center. There, just north of Denny is Romper Room - 106 First Avenue (206) 284-5003. Referencing the good time associated with a romp, the pub has 16 taps and a whole variety of games. Not just your average bar, It supports local artists by displaying their works. At night it becomes a little crowded when the dancers arrive and the music fires up but during quieter moments it's another spot where you can sharpen your dart game.

It's nine blocks further south on First Avenue to the next stop. The Virginia Inn at the corner of First and Virginia (206) 728-1937 A real bar with an interesting crowd. If not for the works by local contemporary artists it would be a classic pub. But the art and clientele, which is a mix of locals and artists, makes this a most unusual place, more like a coffee shop or cafe. There are usually 18 different beers on tap which include most of the Washington micro breweries and their special releases. Special events coincide with the latest art exhibition. There's also a menu of good, inexpensive food. The patrons are quite a mix and conversations can range anywhere from the latest in foreign films to a discussion of Kyzyl, Tuva.

From the Virginia Inn it's a short walk downhill and toward the water on Virginia to Pike Place. Take a left and walk two blocks to the main entrance of the market (at Pike Street) directly back through the main entrance is the Place Pigalle. Named after the infamous area in Paris the cafe does project the feeling of a cafe. The bar is very small, but the food and gorgeous view of Elliot Bay and Puget Sound, along with a good beer selection, makes this a must stop in any visit to Seattle.

From Pike Place it's south with another ride and you're at The Central Saloon 207 1st Avenue South (206) 622-3174 Located between Main and Washington, this is Seattle's oldest bar, built in 1892 shortly after the great Seattle fire of 1889. There are 24 taps serving a wide variety of beers and there's a full bar for friends who don't share complete enthusiasm for beer. This entire area of Pioneer Square contains more than 20 bars and taverns within a one mile route and you could pass by the more lengthy journey for a footwalk around this area.

The last stop is F.X. McRory's 419 Occidental S. (206) 623-4800 This is a restaurant (Chop House) located just across the street from the King Dome. Don't let that keep you away. A bar in the grand saloon style awaits you and though that's reason enough to check it out, it's the beer that'll keep you there with more than 26 on tap.

Gregg Smith


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