At Poco Wine Room, the influences come from near and far. More than 20 wines available by the glass represent wineries from the Pacific Northwest as well as locales such as Italy, Argentina, France, and Spain. The origins of the food are just as eclectic: the monthly rotating menu may include Albondigas—pork-and-beef meatballs in a tomato piquillo sauce—or orange-chicken skewers topped with crushed almonds, which chefs favoring local ingredients whenever possible. Even the beer list spans the globe, with brews such as Pike Place IPA and Tieton Wild Washington cider sharing billing with standbys like Red Stripe.
At Tavern Law, an artfully crafted cocktail is something to celebrate. As the bartenders create the perfect classic cocktail, guests can peruse the upscale tavern menu, which includes foie gras terrine or mac and cheese topped with duck-fat breadcrumbs, in stylish, speakeasy-inspired surrounds. Chef-owners Brian McCracken and Dana Tough have received critical acclaim for their culinary achievements, including earning a coveted spot on Food & Wine magazine’s list of Seattle’s best restaurants for their other eatery, Spur Gastropub.
At Liberty, bartending is about much more than just mixing drinks. It’s also about making ingredients such as bitters and tinctures. Barrel-aged cocktails sit above the front door for up to 24 weeks before being poured. All this isn’t surprising, considering owner Andrew Friedman is the president and cofounder of the Washington State Bartenders’ Guild.
At The Tin Table, the dinner menu offers local, sustainable, and pub-friendly eats, including modern American salads, meats, and seafood selections. Grab a seat at the bar to sip Chimay Blue Reserve ($10), tongue-tie on a few shoestring fries with truffle salt ($4), or simply snack through a plate of duck-liver pâté, cherry jam, sweet pickled-carrot ribbon and crostini ($5). For a hearty dinner, Tin Table tablemates can hang fangs on seared swordfish adorned with spicy avocado, sweet corn, red onion, and peppadew ($14) or Carlton Farms pork tenderloin flanked by braised rainbow chard, shaved garlic, and a fig drizzle ($15). To top off the evening, make a heartfelt request for the black-plum galette served warm with almond cream, caramel sauce, and vanilla-bean ice cream ($8), because, with the exception of speaker-boxed teddy bears, nothing says “love” like dessert.
Whole oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits make up the essential tools of trade for The Hideout’s bartenders. They hand squeeze this fruit for use in their selection of signature cocktails, all of which come with just a dash of quirkiness. Case in point: the Andy Warhol—a traditional cosmopolitan served with a polaroid picture, which bartenders snap right after you order the drink.
More than 70 paintings cover The Hideout’s soaring 16-foot walls in everything from landscapes to erotica, forming a constantly evolving collage of local art. Ask a server for a flashlight (yes, they have them), and you’ll discover that most paintings also have a price tag. Earl 3.0, one of the bar’s most diligent employees, also sells smaller works of art, just don’t expect him to make small talk or beep at your jokes. The “robot art dispenser” spits out works from local artists in exchange for bills. And since the owners believe that just like that artistic robot, every patron has a bit of creativity hidden inside, they hand out clipboards and pens on which patrons can draw or scribble thoughts. The bar regularly publishes these creations the Vital 5 Review, available for free at the bar.
Karaoke, live bands, and DJs all make up The Hideout’s soundtrack. Yet some of the best performances never show up on a schedule. They’re part of a program called Discreet Theatre, which invites patrons to come and perform a bit of live theatre, with no warning to the other guests inside. To keep things from devolving into complete chaos, the bar does require potential performers to submit a date and a proposal for their art piece. If accepted, the rewards include an evening’s worth of drinks for just one nickel, as well as the opportunity to give someone a story he or she can tell at countless dinner parties.