For the first time since the pandemic began, patrons can sidle up to the bar now that all Washington state’s COVID-19 seating restrictions have been lifted. Here are nine new drinking dens to check out.
2020 Pike St., Capitol Hill, Seattle; 206-583-7177; insidepassageseattle.com
This is one of the most talked-about bar openings this year — though, technically, this tiki den is a room inside an existing bar (Rumba). Inside Passage is the colorful, eccentric little sister to Rumba, with its over-the-top, flaming, kitschy, tropical drinks. Talented bartender Jennifer Akin curated this fun, ambitious lineup — from a cachaça spin on the Zombie, the “Amazombie 2.0” that’s served in an Amazon-esque shipping box; to its Scandinavian tribute, the Ballard Fog Cutter, a potent trio of aquavit, gin and cognac, garnished with a smoked salmon crostini and dill. The dimly lit, 32-seat bar with a subterranean vibe is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 5 p.m. to midnight. The wait list is long on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s the hottest ticket in town. Go on other evenings if you don’t want to wait.
Reuben’s Brews Barrel House
1133 N.W. 51st St., Ballard, Seattle; 206-784-2859; reubensbrews.com (reservations only)
The Ballard Brewery District is the most popular al fresco drinking area this summer, with beer gardens such as Reuben’s flagship brewery getting 100 names on its wait list on Saturday nights, sometimes. If you don’t want to endure a wait or the scrum, here’s the best-kept secret: Reuben’s has opened a third tasting room, the Barrel House, where you can reserve a table online. The Barrel House provides a quieter, more intimate setting with a dozen tables spread out inside, and four picnic tables plopped out front. Some of the best beers in Ballard are served at the Barrel House. Lots of sours and barrel-aged beers, most are limited releases that sell out quickly. These rare bottles are not available for sale outside of the brewery. Mark your calendar for August when Barrel House will release a special Ninth Anniversary Blend of Imperial Stout and barley wine. In the past, beer geeks have lined up for two hours just to buy a bottle of Reuben’s bourbon-barrel-aged beer.
Here’s more good news for those who hate to wait for a seat in the Ballard Brewery District: Reuben’s Brews has reopened its satellite brewery under a new name. The former Brewtap is now called The Canning Line, described as “an intimate space for our guests to gather with a unique guided experience to our award-winning beers within view of our … canning line.”
Fuel Sports Grill
8037 15th Ave. N.W., Crown Hill, Seattle; 206-405-3835; fuelseattle.com
The popular sports bar in Pioneer Square has relocated to bigger digs in Crown Hill with 175 seats inside and out. The 25 televisions and a giant projector show Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders and, soon, Kraken games. Unlike its former Pioneer Square bar space, the new 5,000-square-foot Fuel Sports Grill will be an all-ages venue until 11 p.m. and even offers a children’s menu. After 15 years in Pioneer Square, owner Mike Morris relocated because he said the pandemic turned that area into a ghost town with no office workers and few apartments to draw customers from. The challenges were “compounded with all the homeless tents,” around the bars and restaurants, he said.
Trade Winds Tavern
2505 Second Ave., Suite 105, Belltown, Seattle; 206-448-2610; tradewindstavern.net
The former nautical-themed craft-beer bar No Anchor has found a second act as a ’70s Midwestern-themed sports tavern. The beer list is smaller but still stellar, including an excellent saison from Mirage Beer. The lineup includes tap cocktails, slushies and some tropical and disco-era mixed drinks like the Rusty Nail. It’s a beer sponge of a food menu with fried pickles, buttermilk cheese curds, cheesesteak wontons and sandwiches such as a fatty short-rib melt. Anu Apte and Chris Elford, of Rob Roy and Navy Strength, are behind this sports bar.
Bar inside Easy Street Records & Cafe
4559 California Ave. S.W., West Seattle, Seattle; 206-938-3279; easystreetonline.com
This upstairs bar boasts 30 seats, but you’re allowed to take your Bloody Mary with you while you browse through the expensive vinyl collection. (What could go wrong?) This West Seattle hangout runs a simple, seven-cocktail menu with four beers and wines on tap, along with a well-curated local booze selection that includes Westland Distillery and Copperworks Distilling Co. The bar currently operates 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays through Sundays but will expand hours and days of operation later this month. Consulting on the bar project were Dave Flatman and Chris Jones, owners of the underrated Screwdriver Bar in Belltown, and Dave Young of The Crying Wolf bar in Nashville.
1011 Valley St., South Lake Union, Seattle; 206-257-1857; tapstertastingroom.com
Tech offices get all the cool toys. Located on the Google campus in South Lake Union, this taproom runs 57 self-pour taps of craft beer, wine and nonalcoholic drinks. (Prices range from 33 cents per ounce for a Miller High Life to 91 cents per ounce for a sour beer from Urban Family Brewing.) There are swing sets inside and about 70 seats outside. Come fall, expect bocce courts and tournaments. Also, open-mic comedy night, trivia and drag bingo.
Tra Due Leoni
1222-A First Ave., downtown, Seattle; instagram.com/tradueleoni
The owners behind one of the best cocktail bars in downtown Seattle, The Diller Room, have started a wine bar and bottle shop showcasing Italian wines. The list — about 70 different bottles — leans heavily toward Northern Italian for now, but more wines from the southern region will be added, said co-owner Rob Wilson. There will be 12 to 18 wines by the glass, and a food menu of pizzas, charcuterie and one entree such as a handmade pasta offered every night. The wine bar, attached to the Diller Room, has 14 seats inside and another six to eight seats outside.
The Princess & The Bear
309 S. Cloverdale St., Suite A1, South Park; Seattle; 206-323-4757; theprincessandthebear.com
This South Park bottle shop and tasting room focuses on natural wine from small producers from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. About 125 different bottles are available for retail, and a mix of five to six red, white, rosé and sparkling wines are offered by the glass. The tasting room can hold 62 inside, with 22 more seats outside.
The Blend by Ste. Michelle
15 Lake St., Kirkland; reservations at 425-588-3830 or 844-511-3831 or online at theBlendWA.com
The 35-seat tasting room showcases Columbia Valley whites and Walla Walla reds from Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Northstar Winery, Spring Valley Vineyard and Tenet wineries. The bar doubles as a bottle shop. This tasting room was once occupied by DeLille Cellars, which has since consolidated its operations and moved into the old Redhook Brewery plant in Woodinville.