The Wurst Place, a beer geek's haven in South Lake Union.

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The bar sign hasn’t been plopped out front yet. But there’s a gnome emblem in its stead. What to make of it? Kitschy artwork? A distraction to draw your eyes away from the corrugated metal facade?

Of all the bars and restaurants to open up in the hot South Lake Union ‘hood, The Wurst Place seems the oddest. But it has built a cult following, especially from beer geeks and locals who rebel against the polished, big-name restaurants erected around the Amazon campus.

It’s a bratwurst-and-craft-beer joint, opened in February. The motto, said owner Bob Liptak, is “the best beer, the best sausage, at The Wurst Place.” The motto and the gnome motif were intended to underscore a button-down, let’s-be-silly vibe Liptak was shooting for. He giggles every time he sees a garden gnome.

The bar boasts the most eclectic beer lineup in this ‘hood — 23 taps including craft beers from the West Coast, imports from Belgium and Germany, and always four IPAs on tap because, well, this is Seattle.

On a recent visit, it seemed like one out of three taps was either a cherry or pumpkin beer. Beer geeks will love the Crimson Cove Rye on nitro — creamy and smokey, with cherry notes, from Valholl Brewing in Poulsbo. There’s a cherry-sweet brew, Mort Subite Kriek, that could pass for dessert, a beer for a non-beer drinker.

The kitchen isn’t exactly sweating it. Just bratwursts and fries. Gourmet sausages ($6.50-$8.50), sourced from regional and national artisanal shops, sizzled on the grill and were served on a toasted po’boy bun.

The venison-rabbit-and-bacon sausage didn’t taste as gamey as it sounds. The bacon-potato-cheddar-pork bratwurst? A snappy bite, and oozing with melted cheese. Go easy on the complimentary toppings — sauerkraut, sweet peppers, caramelized onions — which can be overpowering.

Décor is rustic, though the owner has big plans: “A wall of 500 gnomes,” he said, laughing. “Just to creep people out.”

The Wurst Place, 510 Westlake Ave. N., offers happy hour weekdays 3-7 p.m. ($1 off on draft and a designated $5 sausage of the day); 206-623-3548 or

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or

On Twitter @tanvinhseattle.