Trailbend is the only stop on Ballard's ale trail where you can reliably balance all those brews with dynamite wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches and more.
Located on a sleepy stretch of N.W. 50th Street, Trailbend Taproom is the latest addition to Ballard’s ale trail, joining the ranks of Stoup, Lucky Envelope, Reuben’s and more. Here’s what makes it different: In addition to 42 taps (set against a backdrop of Carrara marble, no less) that serve brews sourced from around Seattle — as well as from across Washington state, Oregon and California — the big draw here is the food.
See, Trailbend is the only stop where you can reliably balance all those brews with wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches and more due to its full kitchen.
Named partially for its proximity to the Burke-Gilman Trail (it’s just a few blocks from the bike path), Trailbend is brought to you from the team behind The Yard and The Dray. The look, courtesy of Graham Baba Architects, is industrial-chic, meaning the space is filled with sharp angles where marble meets steel shelving and walnut countertops. There are long communal tables as well as smaller booths. Floor-to-ceiling windows spanning the front warm things up a bit. It’s kid-friendly (mostly — they don’t have high chairs) but not dog-friendly (much to the dismay of many, many Yelpers).
The menu: On the beverage side of things there’s gobs of local beer, a handful of wines by the glass and a few choice cocktails. The tap list not only gives information about what’s currently on — but also what brew will be coming next, so you know it’s only a matter of time before that Killer Green Fresh Hop from Double Mountain will be pouring. Food skews typical taproom fare: wood-fired pizzas, vaguely Italian sandwiches, a handful of salads and a curious section called “bites,” which corrals everything from nuts and olives to heartier apps such as chimichurri-drenched steak bits and wings.
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Don’t miss: The pizza. I’m of the mind that if a kitchen struggles with a margherita, there is no point in venturing to something with more toppings. But the margherita ($15) here is dynamite. The blistered crust had a good chew to it, foldable without being floppy. The sauce is bright and there’s just enough of it. The Mort sandwich ($14) is another highlight: The bun, made of the same pizza dough and jazzed up with spices, is a wonderfully chewy vehicle for mortadella, creamy provolone cheese, pickled shallots and arugula. On the day I visited, my friend and I had three kids between the two of us, so we added the meat and cheese board ($18) to appease the 3-year-old, and it did not disappoint. Finger food is fun for all ages, and the board is a substantial mix of charcuterie and cheese as well as spicy, crunchy house-made pickled vegetables and olives.
What to skip: Salads. The chop ($16) — although packed with everything from chicken and salami to roasted peppers and garbanzo beans — was forgettable. Also, the Caesar was not worth the extra two bucks it cost to upgrade. Lastly, the meatballs ($12) seemed to be about one-third chopped carrot, an addition that served as more of a head-scratcher than anything.
Trailbend Taproom, 1118 N.W. 50th St. (Ballard) Seattle; Monday-Thursday 3 p.m.-late, Friday-Sunday noon-late; 206-397-4374; trailbendtaproom.com