White Center's Future Primitive Brewing is finally here; famed bartender Murray Stenson returns to Il Bistro; and the iconic Virginia Inn gets a new life, among other cool bar news.

Share story

Oaky’s Tex-Mex

Another Mexican-food joint would hardly raise an eyebrow in a city filled with taco corners, but this Interbay bar comes from the guys responsible for Wood Shop BBQ, one of the best Central Texas-style barbecues in the city. At Oaky’s, they stuff tacos, burritos and quesadillas with post-oak smoked albondigas, carnitas and barbacoa meat. The nachos are coated with queso. Another plus: Oaky’s is located inside Batch 206 Distillery, where craft cocktails are $10, a couple of bucks cheaper than other neighborhoods. Or walk next door to Holy Mountain Brewing Co. for the best beer in the city. Matt Davis, co-owner of Oaky’s, plans to open a second Oaky’s somewhere in the city by early next year; it will be a family-friendly restaurant instead of a bar.

1417 Elliott Ave. W. (inside the Batch 206 Distillery building), Seattle; 206-307-4769, oakystexmex.com

Future Primitive Brewing

Rising star brewer Kevin Watson started making beers at his parents’ house in White Center when he was in high school. Now, since a highly anticipated opening in late December, he runs a brewery that’s just a mile from where he grew up. Watson worked under respected brewer Dick Cantwell, formerly of Elysian Brewing Co., from 2010-2016. He helped come up with many of Elysian’s experimental beers, including the popular espresso milk stout Split Shot and the Mexican lager Hombre. Watson, who started as a night-shift keg washer at Hale’s Ales in Frelard 20 years ago, also cut his teeth at the acclaimed Allagash Brewing Co. in Maine.

Future Primitive Brewing has only six to eight beers ready, but Watson is brewing to fill a dozen taps. Expect a lineup of hoppy American beers, malty Belgian-style ales and lighter German lagers in the coming weeks. For beer geeks, barrel-aged beers and sours are in the works. Some early batches have been excellent. A beer called “Little One” doesn’t fit into any beer category; it’s a robust, bitter beer brewed with American hops with a tropical and banana finish from Belgian yeast. It shouldn’t work, but on the palate it does.

Like most neighborhood breweries, this White Center spot is an all-ages venue and dog-friendly. The two-level, 60-seat bar will have a 40-seat deck when the weather warms up. There are plans to put picnic tables on the back patio along with a food truck.

9832 14th Ave. S.W. (White Center), Seattle; futureprimitivebeer.com

The Bungalow at Juanita Beach

With a prime spot across the street from Kirkland’s Juanita Beach, The Bungalow hopes to lure beachgoers to come in for a mai tai or a cold one. The menu is a mishmash of many things beach-related, from a food menu of fish tacos and Spam musubi to a drink list with pina coladas and the hip tiki drink The Jungle Bird. The 99-seat bar includes two pool tables and seven televisions. There’s also a 14-seat deck for people-watching.

9714 N.E. Juanita Drive, Kirkland; 425-307-1214, jbbungalow.com

Juneau Tavern

Located next to a go-cart racing track, Juneau Tavern does typical tavern fare such as cheeseburgers and buttermilk-fried-chicken sandwiches along with takes on Southern, Asian and nostalgic Americana cuisine. Highlights include Pimento cheese dip, jalapeño hush puppies and stir-fried greens with butter and soy sauce.

17450 W. Valley Highway, Tukwila; 360-347-6792, juneautavern.com

In other bar news

The estimable Murray Stensonwho was once named America’s best bartender, will be back at Il Bistro when it reopens by Feb. 8. The romantic Pike Place Market bar is undergoing a kitchen renovation. Stenson, who had been recovering from a heart ailment, will work Mondays and Tuesdays.

Another classic Seattle bar, the century-old Virginia Inn, is under new ownership: Karl Sexton, the former bartender at the Capital Grille, and Craig Perez, former wine director at that same steakhouse chain, have purchased this downtown watering hole. Sexton has vowed he’s not interested in giving this iconic bar a major overhaul in the décor or on the menu. “We just want to carry on the tradition of the Virginia Inn as an old-school Seattle destination.”

Schooner Brewing, which just merged with San Juan Seltzer, closed its restaurant in Sodo last Friday. The taproom will stay open, though. The brewery released a statement saying the business will focus on just “craft beer and spiked sparkling water.”