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Watering holes that pay wry homage to our maritime heritage have, ahem, flooded the market, as common these days as ironic taxidermy at a Capitol Hill dive.

Now comes the Octopus, dropping anchor in Wallingford with its own nautical notions. But give this spot its due: The owners know how to subvert a cliché. The Octopus is not so much a wink-and-a-nod to the olde time maritime bar as a meta take on the conceit.

From the front, it looks like a shipwreck run aground on the main drag, among the unsuspecting mom-and-pop shops.

The pirates behind this bar know how to have fun.

There was a dude with a 5 o’clock shadow in roll-up Levi’s petting his dog and swaying to Rolling Stones tunes. There was a couple smooching on the patio and not giving a damn what others thought. Nearby, a bunch of bartenders and other restaurant folks from the North End were laughing and drinking PBRs under a canopy of buoy floats.

It’s a tranquillo vibe, in contrast to the commercial strip out front, where honking commuters have no patience for drivers who take too long parallel parking during rush hour.

In this Wallingford water world, you can sit around a bar that looks like a ship graveyard, complete with web of nets and crab traps and random objects such as a hundred jingling keys. It’s a Sanford-and-Son-at-sea skit waiting to happen.

Order from an avuncular captain who offers generous pours. Raspberry-flavored and even Sriracha-flavored vodka drinks are available if a shot or a beer isn’t your thing.

The bar food option is limited, with flat bread subbing for many variations of other dishes. There’s a flat bread served like a Vietnamese banh mi, a flatbread variation of a gyro with lamb sausage, feta and tzatziki sauce and flatbread as pizza. It’s actually not bad, some inventive stuff given its limited kitchen, and good enough to fortify you for a few rounds of drinks. No hurry. Remember, tranquillo. You’re not going to want to deal with the traffic congestion on this main drag during happy hour.

The Octopus Bar, 2109 N 45th St. in Wallingford, offers happy hour 3:30-6:30 daily with $4-$6 food, $4 beers and well drinks and $6 cocktails (

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or On Twitter @tanvinhseattle