The Five Point Cafe: It's a Dive and It's Good
The Five Point is inarguably one of Seattle's—indeed, the world's—best dive bars. It is most famous for its men's room, specifically the view from the urinal: There is a window into a janky kind of periscope, providing a startlingly close-up look at the top of the Space Needle. This rectangle of present-moment outdoors, seen through what looks like an old heating duct, serves as a brief reminder that the outdoors exists, which is easy to forget here. Then a gentleman returns to the eternal twilight of the Five Point and another drink.
The Five Point has black-and-white checked floors, duct-taped upholstery, and a moose head festooned with slingshotted brassieres (notably a gigantic, dangling pink one). The lighting, such as it is, comes from colored Christmas lights, the lurid glow of the jukebox, and the flickering of television. The walls offer many notices like "JESUS LOVES YOU/Everyone else thinks you're a dumbass" and questions like "What would GG Allin do?" A license plate—IWNTOFU—donated by a regular occupies a prominent spot ("If you get three complaints," a woman at the bar says helpfully, "they make you take it off your car"). The music is Stevie Ray Vaughn, briefly, then nothing for a long time.
The Five Point has floppy, salty fries that've never seen the inside of a freezer, and if you like an old-school open-faced turkey sandwich with gravy and mashed potatoes, you've come to the right place. It's diner food done right: a treasure.
A man walks into the bar and says, "Anybody else hot?" Everyone laughs inexplicably hard; it's not hot, but it's not all that cold. "What, did you smoke a bowl of crack before you came in here?" the bartender asks affectionately. "I wish I still smoked crack!" he says, then takes out the toy trucks he's bought as a gift for a child one by one, driving them around his neighbor's drink.
The bartender saw a TV special about rich people's yachts; coincidentally, a patron once was on Paul Allen's yacht, the Octopus, to do some work. Allen's yacht has a state-of-the-art recording studio with special wake-correcting software ("It's amazing—U2 recorded an album on it"). Another woman's father used to own a jazz club and barbecue joint on Capitol Hill; Miles Davis played there, and her dad would take him to a boxing gym in Tacoma, where he'd beat any comer. "Yeah, he's a boxer, and he's good," she says in unsettling present tense. A fight almost breaks out between an immense man in a Mariners jersey and a non-immense man in the clothes of someone about to lose a fight. In dispute: why the small man didn't say whatever he had to say to the giant's face. After a few tense moments, they end up hugging.