A review in the Stranger called The 5 Point Caf? ?inarguably one of Seattle?s?indeed, the world?s?best dive bars.? The Seattle Times aptly described the eatery as ?a rare blend of homespun and depraved,? a reputation it's honed since 1929. Founder C. Preston Smith cashed in at the end of Prohibition, but it was his son Dick who cemented 5 Point?s notoriety with various stunts. He installed a periscope in the men?s room that still stands today, looking out at the Space Needle, and he had bikini-clad waitresses on roller skates plug expired meters around the neighborhood, leaving friendly notes behind.
The 24-hour eatery serves breakfast all day and night to pair with stiff drinks and frothy beers poured along the bar. Hearty plates arrive loaded with eggs benedict, huevos rancheros, and housemade spicy black beans or 1/3-pound burgers made from natural Oregon ground beef. Deep-fried jalapeno mac 'n' cheese balls lead off meals of open-faced turkey sandwiches or tofu scrambles that feature housemade curry.
After lauding the bar’s mellifluous pairing of “tasty fried chicken” and beer, Seattle Weekly lovingly describes Marco Polo Bar and Grill as “a working stiff's haunt” with “a schizophrenic interior that features a fireplace, pull tabs, pool tables, [and] multiple TV screens.” If not tuned to trivia, those 14 flat screens broadcast all manner of sporting events, drawing upon a premium satellite package powered by the metal plate in Mike Ditka’s head. Cheering sections holler through mouthfuls of breaded gizzards, a local favorite that preludes the menu’s panoply of handheld eats, such as the Coug Supreme, a third-pound burger topped with grilled ham and Cougar Gold cheese. Happy-hour specials during the week allow blue- and white-collar imbibers to divvy up which songs they’ll sing at karaoke that Friday and Saturday, when Marco Polo’s convivial eatery transforms into a who’s who of Steve Perry impersonators.
The Vibe: If you’re jonesing for a craft cocktail, you might want to look elsewhere. Sure, 9lb Hammer has a fully stocked bar, but that’s not generally what draws in its eclectic crowd. The appeal of this dive bar is its laid-back atmosphere, beer selection, and free pool and peanuts. You might even catch some live music, depending on the evening.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Browse for vinyl at Georgetown Records (1201 S. Vale Street).
After: Flip through comic books at Fantagraphics Books (1201 S. Vale Street).
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Play pool at Eastlake Zoo Tavern (2301 Eastlake Avenue E.).
Summit Public House: A User’s Guide
While You Wait: Grab a stick and an opponent for a free game of pool.
Where to Sit: If the weather’s nice, head to the cozy outdoor patio. Even if its a bit nippy out, the elevated fire pit will keep you somewhat toasty. The patio is a great spot to bring your pooch, too. Though Summit welcomes dogs of all ages, they still require them to show valid ID before ordering a beer.
What’s on the Tube? Though most sports bars hew to baseball, football, and basketball, Summit’s TVs tend to be tuned to soccer and cycling. A typical crowd at Summit is pretty diverse, but big soccer and cycling events draw diehards in droves.
While You’re In the Neighborhood
Before: Work up an appetite by perusing the eclectic collection of unique Japanese-themed gifts, clothing, and local artwork at Kobo (814 E. Roy Street) After: Time travel to a simpler time by catching a classic, indie, or foreign flick at Harvard Exit Theatre (807 E. Roy at Harvard), an old-fashioned movie house built in 1925.
*If You Can’t Make It, Try This: The Redwood (514 East Howell Street), a delightfully divey bar known for its cocktails, local on-tap brews, Southern-style comfort food, and extensive vegan options.
When Blue Moon Tavern opened in 1934, it was still illegal to sell alcohol within a mile of the University of Washington campus due to local temperance laws. Luckily, Blue Moon set up shop at the 1 mile mark, and thirsty students were more than happy to make the trek. It also attracted its share of intellectual heavyweights, including poets Allen Ginsberg and Dylan Thomas. When he beatnik hangout started to decline in the 1970s, diehard fans rallied to save it, paving the way for it to receive official landmark status in 1990. The no-frills bar continues to draw students and suits alike with cash-only beer and peanuts—the shells of which blanket the floor.
The soundtrack at Blue Moon Tavern changes depending on the day. From Thursday through Monday, it’s live music, with a jazz jam kicking things off every Thursday afternoon. Wednesday brings open-mic night, and on select Mondays, bar-goers may be treated to Opera on Tap, where chamber-music singers belt out classical hits without breaking a single glass.
“Dive bar” is probably the best way to describe Blue Moon Tavern. The aging posters on the wall have been there for decades, and the initials of drunken vandals remain scratched into the wooden booths. Though this tavern isn’t a spot for fancy craft cocktails, its the perfect place for shooting the breeze with friendly a bartender, or taking part in a wacky tradition, such as the semi-blasphemous annual Christmas pageant.
In a nod to its Emerald City environs, The Tin Hat Bar and Grill displays a grinning, cartoon Tin Man on its sign. These nostalgic trappings continue inside—step through the doors, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by throwback posters, retro pinball machines, and plates of tater tots and nachos. Read on to learn more about this popular Ballard watering hole.