Food & Drink

Seattle’s Best Fireside Bars 

Sip your way through winter at the city’s coziest spots

By Alicia Erickson January 23, 2024

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This article originally appeared in the March/April 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

Seattle is in the heart of its dark, damp, and gloomy stretch — a season that leaves you chilled from the inside out. With plummeting temperatures and near constant drizzle, it can feel challenging to work up the motivation to step outside. Admittedly, I am a fair-weather person and choose to spend my winters near the equator. This year, in the spirit of slowing down, I find myself staying in Seattle during its dreariest months to experience the city from a new perspective. What better way to warm the body and spirit than with toasty fireplaces during the cold winter months?

The beautiful fireplace at Hotel Sorrento is a great spot to warm up.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Sorrento

Fireside Room at Hotel Sorrento

On First Hill, Hotel Sorrento’s elegant Fireside Room, perfectly shaped for the piano tunes that fill the dim, circular space, offers a calming atmosphere. Complete with wood walls and plush green sofas, it invites you in on a cold winter’s night. The best seats in the house are the tall leather chairs in front of the flickering fireplace. Evenings can be passed slowly, sipping on libations and snacking your way through the menu. Fireside’s inventive cocktails, with an impressive selection of whiskey concoctions, are the perfect partner for frigid evenings. Do yourself a favor: order their Penn Cove mussels and goat cheese flatbread, set up a game of chess, and stay a while.

Take in the Seattle skyline at Mbar in South Lake Union.

Photo by Reva Keller

Mbar 

Few places in Seattle offer a more all-encompassing view of the city than Mbar, a vibey spot in South Lake Union. Rain or shine, summer or winter, Mbar’s rooftop, overlooking Seattle’s skyscrapers, is open year-round. The covered space keeps you dry, while the firepit keeps you warm and toasty. Mbar serves Middle Eastern-inspired plates and fun cocktails. Enjoy a hot buttered rum, grilled halloumi drizzled in honey, and spicy El Pastor-style mushrooms atop green chickpea hummus while the fire crackles.

In Ballard, cozy up by the fire with a glass of mead at Skal.

Skal Beer Hall

Skal Beer Hall is an ode to Ballard’s Nordic heritage. This cozy space, inspired by Vikings, specializes in a rotating selection of meads on draft. If you’re not a mead fan, Skal also offers draft beers and cocktails, as well as snacks like Smørrebrød — an open-faced sandwich topped with lox, beet, or venison — and a Nordic board. If you can peel your attention away from the Norse art on the walls, snag a seat in front of the fireplace. With a glass of blackberry mead in one hand and a pint of winter ale in the other, I sat beside the fire on the sheepskin rug — a perfect combination for a frigid winter evening.

 

Old Stove Brewing Co. 

No Seattle-area guide is complete without including at least one classic Pacific Northwest brewery. Luckily, Old Stove’s Ballard location has an expansive outdoor space filled with individual firepits. Order a pint inside, pick a table outside, turn on the gas, and voilà! You have a fire to keep you warm while you chat for as long as you wish — as long as the rain stays away.

Enjoy the warmth of the fire on Sabine’s patio until midnight on weekends.

Sabine

Whether you’re looking to brunch or enjoy an evening drink, Sabine has not one, but two firepits to keep you warm. For daytime affairs, pull up a chair around Sabine Cafe’s indoor stone firepit. As day fades to dusk, this Ballard establishment transitions to Bar Sabine, which sprawls across a back bar and a covered patio. On the patio, the fire roars until midnight on weekends. Plan to sip seasonal cocktails and fill up on Mediterranean small plates to your heart’s desire.

 

Four Seasons 

Cushy couches and tables are perfectly placed in front of an ambient fireplace in the Four Seasons’ lobby. This setup, adjacent to the Goldfinch Tavern, is inviting. You don’t need to be a hotel guest to enjoy the merits of the Four Seasons’ fireplace magic. Come for happy hour or a late-night libation. Order a drink at the Goldfinch and enjoy it fireside. Mezcal lovers can’t go wrong with “spicy last word,” a cocktail featuring chili-infused mezcal and green Chartreuse.

 

Venture Coffee

Just when I thought my fireplace tour of Seattle had come to an end, I was proven wrong. On a frigid January morning, I stumbled through the doors of Venture Coffee in Ballard to avoid the blistering cold and enjoy a book over a steaming mug of tea. And what did I see in the back but a small electric fireplace? Call it kismet or just sheer luck. Either way, I parked myself in front of that fireplace with a pot of mint tea and a flaky almond croissant for the morning, keeping warm from the winter wind.

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