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Seattle is well-stocked with bars delivering joy to regulars and first-timers alike. My own list of pouring paradises would take up the page and include many spots I tend to go on and on about, such as Belltown’s Rob Roy, Pioneer Square’s Damn the Weather, Greenwood's Teachers Lounge and many others. They all, for different reasons and in different ways, bring together a happily holistic drinking and eating experience that delivers time and time again. These three favorites do the same.
I dream of a nautical life never lived, where I captained a ship across the high seas, stopping at foreign ports to collect curios. Stopping into No Anchor—despite its location at the base of a run-of-the-mill Belltown office building—allows me to indulge in this fantasy while sipping delicious drinks, thanks to its shelves of curiosities: a death mask of Keats, old letters, obscure bottles and other exotic ephemera. The beer selection is just as varied and intriguing, with unusual brews like the “superfunky” Holy Mountain Sortition ($4/$7) and the not-to-be-overlooked cocktails (start with the pre-bottled Galaxy-hopped G&T, $12), which combine science, good taste and beery connections like a well-tied bowline. The food by recent James Beard Award nominee chef Jeffrey Vance is also a reason to visit.
All in the Family: Belltown is now home to three bars from Chris and Anu Elford: No Anchor, the legendary Rob Roy and the most recent addition, tiki bar Navy Strength. To truly call yourself a seasoned Seattle bar traveler, you’ll need to make a port of call to all three. Belltown, 2505 Second Ave., Suite 105; 206.448.2610
With a mom from New Orleans and dad from a small town in North Carolina, Gregg Holcomb has the South running through his veins and into his bar. Witness’ Southern disposition is evident in booths made from 106-year-old North Carolina church pews, the back-porch-worthy Son of a Preacher Man cocktail (bourbon, tea, lemon and a honey liqueur; $9) and the always welcoming hospitality. But this establishment also transcends the South, as seen in its popular St. Christopher cocktail ($11); the recipe of gin, basil, lime, simple sugar and St. Elizabeth’s allspice dram is more English Caribbean than Deep South. The food celebrates the South, too: chef Jesse Elliott’s rave-worthy house-made coppa ($13) leans Italian, accompanied by molasses-pickled cipollini.
Sermons on the Hill: The Witness brunch makes any weekend better (I’ll never forget the cheesy, creamy white corn grits). Saturday nights are when server Alana Edmundson and bartender Daniel Pagard preach short “sermons” on all topics; one of Edmundson’s speeches was recently featured in a Planned Parenthood video. Hallelujah! Capitol Hill, 410 Broadway E; 206.329.0248
No Bones Beach Club
Just as frankie avalon followed Annette Funicello, vegetarians and vegans have trailed No Bones Beach Club from its time as a food truck to where it now parks its surfboards: an original Ballard location and newer Portland one. And it’s now looking for a second, bigger Seattle location. The amazing vegan food starts on the coast (the North Shore Sky Dive sandwich with grilled pineapple and seared tofu, $12), then roams the world (the Northwest nachos with cashew “cheese,” $13, are my number-one nachos citywide), all accented by palm thatching, surfboards, leopard print skirts, classic beach-movie atmosphere and tall, rummy tiki drinks. The piña coladas ($9) from the new slushie machine save many from overheating in summer, but the coconut mojito ($11)—with rum, mint, house-made sour and a dash of coconut cream—continues to ride atop the club’s drink wave.
Veggies Unite: No Bones owner MacKenzie DeVito’s other favorite meatless dish? The mighty Pig Destroyer sandwich at Capitol Hill’s Highline. Ballard, 5410 17th Ave. NW; 206.453.3233