Hula Hula – Queen Anne

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KARAOKE • TIKI • STRAW

HULA HULA
100 Denny | Queen Anne
OPEN: 4-2 daily
HAPPY HOUR: 4-6 daily

We left Tini Bigs and entered the adjacent Hula Hula, whose loud, lively crowd and tiki theme were in stark contrast to the nearly empty, quiet, and nondescript atmosphere of the former bar.

The double-sided bar is decorated with bamboo wainscoting below and illuminated blowfish hanging from above. From here, we ordered a Volcano Bowl—a large bowl with a fire centerpiece, filled with rum and stuff, which we saw other patrons drinking and knew we had to have.

We asked for three straws, but we were informed that it was illegal to distribute multiple straws for a single drink. This then became the topic of our conversation and subject of our ridicule as we shared our flaming beverage through a single straw. We followed up this heavy-handed drink with a round of Mai Tais, which weren’t the best we’ve had, but certainly the strongest!

Karaoke is this bar’s main draw, and this particular night happened to be Burlesque Karaoke Night—a contest that involved contestants stripping down to their skivvies while singing along to scrolling lyrics accompanied by ‘70s soft core in attempt to win Lady Gaga tickets. Not remembering our favorite contestants’ names, we submitted our votes for “Boxers Guy” and “Underwear Girl.”

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Karaoke every night of the week starting at 9pm.

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Drinks are all Polynesian and a bit pricey, but you get your money’s worth booze wise. Prepare to get drunk!

restrooms_Orange RESTROOMS

The tiki theme even extends to the sizeable restrooms, where backlit Polynesian masks line the walls along the ceiling.

AR_orange ANOTHER ROUND?

Hula Hula is a great bar to go to and get stupid. And, if things get to crazy for you, you can always head next door to the much more subdued and sophisticated Tini Bigs.

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bar 2 of 2 on 5/26/2014: Tini Bigs | Hula Hula

Tini Bigs – Queen Anne

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MEATBALLS • MAD MEN • COCKTAILS

TINI BIGS
100 Denny | Queen Anne
OPEN: 4-2 daily
HAPPY HOUR: 4-6 daily

We had been wanting to attend one of Tini Bigs’s Mad Men viewing parties for several seasons now, and we had finally ran out of excuses not to go—it was the season finale, we had the following day off (Memorial Day), and our friend Corrie had come to visit us from Ohio.

For this occasion, the girls dressed up like characters from the show. When we arrived at Tini Bigs (or, as Corrie preferred to call it,  Tig Ol’ Bitties) the famous ending of the original Planet of the Apes was projected onto the back wall while top-forty hits played throughout this Martini bar.

At 9:00, the bartender cut the movie and the music to start the show, which, to our dismay, had begun at 8:07! We, and the one other couple who showed up for Mad Men, ended up seeing the last seven minutes of the episode, which had aired an hour early this week so that AMC could promote some new awful show. Some major plotlines had been spoiled, but we stuck around for the second airing that was to begin at 10:07.

When the show finally began, it constantly had to compete with the bass and noise coming from the adjacent bar, Hula Hula (speaking of spoilers), that only got louder every time the back door between bars opened, which was very often.

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While we waited for the second showing, we each ordered our own custom meatballs. Tini Bigs allows you to choose a combination of a variety of balls, sauces, and servings.

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Tini Bigs has really good cocktails! We had a few libations from their special Mad Med menu (Mad Menu?), in addition to a Dirty Girl Scout and an Old Fashioned from their regular menu.

restrooms_Orange RESTROOMS

There’s a private room for the ladies and gents right across from the door to Hula Hula.

AR_orange ANOTHER ROUND?

We wouldn’t watch Mad Men here again—too many distractions—but the bar has a subtly sexy vibe and better-than-most cocktails. And, if things ever get too dull here, you don’t even need to step outside to hop to the next bar…

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bar 1 of 2 on 5/26/2014: Tini BigsHula Hula

Belltown Pub – Belltown

St Patrick's Day Belltown Pub

GAMES • GUITARS • DOGS

BELLTOWN PUB
2322 1st Ave | Belltown
OPEN: 11-2 M-F, 9-2 weekends
HAPPY HOUR: 4-6:30 & 10-1 Sun-Th, 4-6:30 F-Sat

For St. Paddy’s Day, we hit up Belltown Pub with a group of friends for green beer and Guinness.  This roomy Irish bar was fully decorated for the holiday with streamers, banners, and balloons. A row of Jameson-bottle lamps illuminates the bar, while flags that hang from the tall ceiling and random knick-knacks on the wall keep things sporty.

Two raised stages on either side of the entrance offer seating by the windows, and further back are tables with classic board games permanently stationed within their surfaces.

In a cozy room off to the side of the bar, you can grab one of the acoustic guitars off of its wall and serenade your friends sitting on its leather couches.

A cup full of Trivial Pursuit cards kept us entertained while we snacked on several happy hour plates at our booth. We then made our way to the bar’s balcony level where we discovered a foosball, pool, and shuffleboard table. Mandy and Nicole topped Adam and Sam in a quick game of “McShuff.”

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Belltown Pub is a very canine friendly bar.  They have a food menu just for dogs, and the last Wednesday of each month is host to “Yappy Hour” from 5:30 to 7:30, with fun activities for your slobbery pals, and a portion of the bar sales are donated to a pet rescue organization.

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There are six rotating taps and four more mainstays. The cocktail menu has some interesting offerings, but the only cocktail we tried—the Frazzle Berry—didn’t blow us away.

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Classic Goldilocks restrooms—not too fancy nor too divey, and just big enough for more than one user.

AR_orange ANOTHER ROUND?

We’ll need a few more visits to take advantage of everything this bar has to offer.

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bar 1 of 1 on 3/17/2014: Belltown Pub

Tommy Gun – Capitol Hill

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WHISKEY • PROHIBITION • SALOON

TOMMY GUN
1703 E Olive Way | Capitol Hill
OPEN: 5-2 daily
HAPPY HOUR: 5-7 M-F, 5-9 Sat

Tommy Gun is a prohibition-era styled whiskey bar that, aside from a dartboard, large windows along their street-facing wall, and a few decorations that fit the bar’s theme, is fairly basic.

For Adam’s birthday, Mandy brought him here to participate in their Mixology 101 course, expertly instructed by Andrew the bartender, which they offer sporadically.

Here are some of the things the course entailed:

  • What spirits are and how they are made
  • The history of whiskey and well-known distillers
  • A sampling and explanation of bourbon, rye, scotch, and white dog (this was our first ever taste of the latter, which is a clear whiskey that hasn’t been barrel aged)
  • How to set up a home bar
  • How to prepare three classic whiskey-based cocktails—an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Whiskey Sour

Being the birthday boy, Adam was given the Whiskey Sour, which, of course, he shared with Mandy. Other prizes were awarded to those who correctly answered whiskey trivia questions. We hung around after the class for an Old Fashioned and Prince of Chicago cocktail, and got to talk with Andrew and the bar’s owner Erin.

Later, Andrew taught us how to light an orange peel on fire, and our friend Nicole stopped by to give Adam a b-day swag bag.

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Get $1 off all brown booze during Whiskey Wednesdays. They have 105 whiskeys to choose from!

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In addition to their whiskey and cocktail menu, there are a few choice beers andci ders on tap, and we even got to sample their house-made ginger beer.

restrooms_Orange RESTROOMS

The private men’s and ladies’ rooms are clean and spacious.

AR_orange ANOTHER ROUND?

It’s nice to know that there’s a bar nearby with great drinks and a friendly and knowledgeable bar staff.

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bar 1 of 1 on 2/25/2014: Tommy Gun

The Hideout – First Hill

The Hideout Bar Artwork

ARTWORK • CREATIVITY • COCKTAILS

THE HIDEOUT
1005 Boren Ave | First Hill
OPEN: 4-2 M-F, 6-2 weekends
HAPPY HOUR: 4-7 M-F

Who says there’s no good art in Seattle? The Hideout has plenty of it! That’s not to say that every one of the hundred-or-so paintings covering its walls are masterpieces, but many of them are indeed fantastic—and surely, each one contributes to the whole effect of this gallery and turns this bar itself into a work of art.

The paintings aren’t the only visually pleasing or creative aspects of this bar: The glowing red retro-fridge and fancy-pants chandeliers are nice touches as well, and a tall vending machine contains asinine things that you might find in a truck-stop bathroom dispenser or head shop.

Couches are on both sides of the main entrance, with red velvet drapes between themselves and the windows.

The cocktail menu is also full of creativity, and is divided into two categories— present loves and past loves. We tried a 24 Hours of Sun and a Sunset Over Lisbon (we must have itching for warmer weather) from the present loves side, and from the past loves, a drink called the Andy Warhol, which is a classic Cosmo that comes with a Polaroid of your self.

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You can purchase many of the paintings on the wall—but not all.

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The cocktails here are excellent, but take a long time to make. Be patient, as the friendly bar staff tries to keep up on busy nights—which happen to be most nights.

restrooms_Orange RESTROOMS

Right outside the men’s room is a display cabinet that contains hand puppets arranged in way that’s reminiscent of mall shopping windows during Christmas. Inside the men’s room, the walls are covered with Beavis-and-Butthead-esque cartoon character graffiti. The ladies’ is hot pink and black, with an antique mirror and a door that isn’t always locked when you think it is. Both are single-use, and a bit on the gross and divey side.

AR_orange ANOTHER ROUND?

You wouldn’t know it from its exterior, but The Hideout is an artistic haven with well-above-average cocktails. This is a bar that begs to be shown off to friends.

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bar 3 of 3 on 2/21/14: Vito’s | Quarter Lounge | The Hideout

Quarter Lounge – First Hill

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BILLIARDS • POP ROCK • CHEAP

QUARTER LOUNGE
909 Madison Street | First Hill
OPEN: 3-2 daily
HAPPY HOUR: 3-7 & 11-2 Sun-Th, 3-7 F-Sat

We instantly felt at home in this bar. The corporate rock jukebox mix, undimmed lighting, sports on the TVs, and friendly bartenders and patrons told us that this is a place where we can take a  break from the usual hipness of the bar scene. Quarter Lounge is a dive, but it’s by no means dirty or seedy. It was, however, as cold in here as it was outside, forcing us to keep our coats on.

Quarter Lounge is divided into two spaces: the bar room with two TVs and one of those new-fangled jukeboxes, and a rec room up a small flight of steps that’s home to two pool tables.

At one point in this bar’s history it was more committed to a Creole theme, but today it could be easily mistaken for an Irish pub. In fact, it wasn’t until later that we realized that this bar’s name is probably a reference to the French Quarter in New Orleans, and not the method of payment used to play billiards.

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Our jaws dropped and our eyes popped out of our skulls when we saw how cheap the cocktails and wine were. We were even more impressed when we saw Mandy’s $4 wine glasses were filled to the brim! Adam had three pints of Mac & Jack’s African Amber, and, in true dive bar fashion, each was served in a different style cup.

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Free pool every Wednesday. If you’re desperate, Quarter Lounge has pizza, corn dogs, and popcorn (they used to feature Cajun cuisine).

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Wine, beer, cocktails—just about every drink is $5 or under. You’ll get your money’s worth here!

restrooms_Orange RESTROOMS

The private men’s and women’s rooms are minimally decorated and cleaner than you’d expect.

AR_orange ANOTHER ROUND?

Every neighborhood deserves at least one bar like this—a no fuss, friendly dive—and you won’t leave here feeling ripped off.

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bar 2 of 3 on 2/21/14: Vito’s | Quarter Lounge | The Hideout

Vito’s – First Hill

Artwork outside of Vito's Seattle

ITALIAN • OLD-SCHOOL • PIANO

VITO’S
927 Ninth Ave | First Hill
OPEN: 4-2 daily
HAPPY HOUR: 4-7 daily

While planning out a First Hill barhop, we were conflicted on whether to make Vito’s our first stop and eat dinner there, or make it our last stop and catch some live lounge music. We opted for the former, knowing that we wouldn’t survive bar-one if we didn’t get some food in our bellies. 

We arrived at Vito’s soon after they opened and sat at a cozy table in the middle of the restaurant, with the double-sided bar at our tweleve o’clock, the piano and disco ball stage at our three, the entrance at our six, and a row of red leather booths at our nine.

We each ordered a different pasta dish; both were very spicy, small-portioned, and not as good as the price would suggest.

The Goodfellas vibe and poodle-skirt playlist weren’t the only things about this bar that were old school—we were easily the youngest patrons in this packed bar, which has not been the case seen we moved out to Seattle. We felt like we were at one of the many “Sinatra bars” back in our hometown in Ohio.

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Vito’s has live music acts every day, Wednesday through Sunday. There’s a “Cougar Room” (named after its stuffed-cougar centerpiece) that you can reserve for private parties.

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We ordered a house red for happy hour, but our server explained that the house wine isn’t the happy hour wine, and suggested that the more expensive house wine was the better option. This had us pondering the purpose of a happy hour. We also had a Cowboy Logic—a strong tequila cocktail that tasted like an old man’s aftershave.

restrooms_Orange RESTROOMS

There’s some sophisticated, opposite-sex nude art in each of these fancy rooms.

AR_orange ANOTHER ROUND?

On one hand, Vito’s is a classy, classic joint that offers near-nightly entertainment. On the other hand, we found the food and drinks to be overhyped and overpriced. We’ll have to come back later some evening during a performance and see if we get a more favorable impression of this bar.

Vito's First Hill Seattle

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bar 1 of 3 on 2/21/14: Vito’s | Quarter Lounge | The Hideout

Hattie’s Hat – Ballard

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CASUAL • DINER • EYE-CANDY

HATTIE’S HAT
5231 Ballard Ave NW | Ballard
OPEN: 10-2 M-F, 9-2 weekends
HAPPY HOUR: 3-6 M-Th

We entered our third and final bar of the evening—Hattie’s—and found two empty stools at the quieter end of the bar, detached from the longer and louder portion, in front of the glowing-red refrigerator and under a mural of beautiful women from around the world.

From here, we were able to casually watch the best parts of the movie Ghostbusters, which we caught the beginning of at Zayda Buddy’s. It seemed only pertinent to order the first cocktail on their menu—The Bill Murray: a cocktail similar to an Old Fashioned, but with some extra boozes tossed in. 

With it, we ordered a Ballard-brewed Hilliard’s Amber Ale Tall Boy, which is always an appropriate beverage in this dive-meets-lounge-meets-diner. The plate of nachos we ate was good enough to help soak up some alcohol. 

The bar itself is both classic and classical, thanks to its ornamented wooden columns, and there are interesting murals and framed art found in every corner.

Down a hall past the restrooms is another room that offers additional seating, a projection screen, and unique experiences.

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Catch bands and DJs here sporadically or play video games on classic consoles the first and third Wednesday of each month.

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The drinks here are decent, and so is the number of alcoholic options. Your usual breakfast and dinner cocktails are all here, but each has it’s own Hattie’s twist.

restrooms_Orange RESTROOMS

The restrooms are a bit above divey, thanks to a rockabilly-inspired design painted on the walls instead the expected mess of graffiti. You can read more about this in the Seattle-based Urinal Journal (Don’t you just love this city?).

AR_orange ANOTHER ROUND?

Hattie’s’ no-sweat vibe might make it the easiest bar in Ballard to hang out in.

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bar 3 of 3 on 2/16/14: Zayda Buddy’s | The Sexton | Hattie’s Hat

The Sexton – Ballard

Seattle Barhoppers The Sexton bar

SEPIA TONES • COCKTAILS • CHARMING

THE SEXTON
5327 Ballard Ave NW | Ballard
OPEN: 5-2 Tu-Sun, closed M
HAPPY HOUR: 5-7 Tu-Sun

A little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll—the Sexton is a romantic cocktail lounge with a lot of style.

The entire bar is washed in sepia tones—a color scheme that lends to weather-worn wood, damask wallpaper, and old-fashioned portraits and furniture. That’s the country. The rock ‘n’ roll is the snowflake disco ball lamp shades and the Warholian rows of white cassette tapes under the surface of the bar. The two styles merge in the acoustic guitar shelf and the nearby white analog 4-track recorder with brown deer antlers.

The same level of style and attention to detail goes into their cocktails. Our favorite was the Computer Blue—a creation of our amazing-in-every-way bartender, Gavin—made with bourbon, blueberries, egg whites, and love, literally listed on the menu as an ingredient.

There’s more fun on the menu, such as the Bet on Your Bartender. We bet on Gavin and won a drink he named House of the Rising Sun. We also tried a Cupid’s Crush and The Perfect Woman. Everything we drank was unbelievably good.

We sat in this bar from sunlight to sundown, drinking amazing cocktails while the magic increased with each candle lit. The evening’s soundtrack—a seamless flow of alternative-EDM, delta blues, indie folk, and classic R&B—was just as wonderfully time-warping as the stage.

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Sexton serves gourmet southern comfort food, which we hear is delicious.

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These cocktails are works of art created by very talented artists. They’re in a very elite class.

restrooms_Orange RESTROOMS

The men’s room is designed to make you feel as though you are in the cockpit of a fighter jet. The ladies’ is fine, but not nearly as impressive, visually.

AR_orange ANOTHER ROUND?

Mandy wants another Computer Blue. The Sexton offers a unique experience and top-notch cocktails.

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bar 2 of 3 on 2/16/2014: Zayda Buddy’s | The Sexton | Hattie’s Hat

Zayda Buddy’s – Ballard

Zayda Buddy's Ballard

MINNESOTA • MIDWEST FOOD • SPORTS

ZAYDA BUDDY’S
5405 Leary Ave NW | Ballard
OPEN: 11-2 daily
HAPPY HOUR: 3-6 M-F & 10-12 M-Th, 9-3 weekends

Zayda Buddy’s isn’t a Minnesota dive bar, but a Minnesota dive-themed bar; not a Minnesota-themed dive bar, mind you.

The walls are covered with football, fishing, and old-man-beer (Stroh’s, Blatz, Schlitz) memorabilia imported from the Midwest, but the draft beers we drank were local: a Maritime Pacific Jolly Roger and a Fremont Dark Star with hazelnut and peppercorn flavors. This latter beer blew us away at first sip, and it turns out that only six kegs of it were distributed throughout Washington (way to get your hands on one, Zayda!).

We ordered a tasty crispy-crust pizza and tater tots from the humongous Midwest-inspired menu and watched our favorite guilty-pleasure TV show, America’s Funniest Home Videos, before the movie Ghostbusters took over on one of their seven televisions.

Seattle Barhoppers Seattle Zayda Bar

Being from the Midwest ourselves, we found the vibe to be accurate and comforting. The regulars drinking at the small bar, and the young family dining at one of the booths seemed to be enjoying themselves as well.

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Come here to watch your favorite Minnesota, Midwest, and local sports teams. During this visit, the Golden Gophers b-ball game was on.

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In addition to their great beer list, Zayda also has an interesting blue-collar cocktail menu, featuring a Minnesota Pop (grape soda + vodka). From this menu, we tried a refreshing, lemony Booze Hound.

restrooms_Orange RESTROOMS

The restrooms are both truck-stoppie and features fun surprises—the men’s has classic posters of sexy Bo Derek, Farrah Fawcett, and Vikings cheerleaders, while the women’s has studly Tom Selleck and fully-nude Burt Reynolds.

AR_orange ANOTHER ROUND?

If we lived in Ballard, we’d got to Zayda Buddy’s all the time. Their huge menu and casual atmosphere—both inspired by Minnesota—would make for an easy dinner option that we’d never tire of.

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bar 1 of 3 on 2/16/14: Zayda Buddy’s | The Sexton | Hattie’s Hat