Foundation Nightclub in Belltown Turk Photos

MUSIC VENUES

Chop Suey

Capitol Hill

Following an ownership changeover, Chop Suey has gone from oddly-Asian-themed bar and secret live-music powerhouse underdog to still confusingly decorated music venue that now has a side bar and second stage in its "Den." It also has pinball machines, a mostly functioning (as opposed to previously never functioning) photo booth, and a kitchen window from which to buy chicken and other fried delights. What remains the same is its eclectic array of fairly priced live music, from hiphop to metal to singer-songwriter types, almost every night of the week.


Columbia City Theater

Columbia City

This beautiful midsize theater located in the heart of Columbia City was originally a vaudeville theater—the oldest in Washington State, having opened in 1917—and is rumored to be one of the first venues to host the Seattle-born Jimi Hendrix. Since reopening in 2010, it has played host to burlesque shows, a variety of local musicians from all backgrounds, and other fun things (visual art vignettes, belly dancing, and folk music showcases among them) most nights of the week.


Crocodile

Belltown

One of Seattle's favorite music venues since the beginning of time (or at least grunge) got a swanky makeover back in 2009, with skylights, a proper mezzanine, dark red walls, and marble countertops in the bathrooms. Their impressive résumé of former gigs includes Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Macklemore, and Alabama Shakes, and their calendar runs the gamut from hiphop to metal and folk. Also: wood-fired pizza in the Back Bar, seven nights a week.

El Corazón and the Funhouse

Eastlake

Focused on hardcore, punk, screamo, and metal, El Corazón ("The Heart," a reference to the fact that the space has been a live music venue, bar, or club since 1910) has a show nearly every single night. The beloved punk dive Funhouse has also been resurrected (after losing its lease near the Space Needle in 2012) in a second room and features more "intimate" head-banging bills. And if punk music gives you a craving for waffles or wings, the Eastlake Waffle Window is open from 3 to 11 p.m. on weekdays and occasionally on weekends.


Highline

Capitol Hill

Highline is Seattle's preeminent spot to get vegan comfort food and tinnitus. It's the only place where you can consume sandwiches like the Weedeater (marinated portobello mushroom cutlets), soy fish tacos, gluten-free poutine, and drink cocktails named after the world's heaviest rock groups... and hear some of the world's foremost death-metal bands.


Highway 99 Blues Club

Downtown

The Highway 99 Blues club, housed in a building built in 1909, offers music Wednesday through Saturday nights, Southern food, and drinks in an awesome juke-joint atmosphere.


Jazz Alley

Downtown

This famous joint is on the border between downtown and Paulallentown, dispensing dinner service, cocktails, and world-renowned jazz and fusion acts for all who wander there. Hot tip: It's also all ages, all the time (just not in the bar, sorry).


Little Red Hen

Green Lake

This honky-tonk dive bar has live country music most nights of the week, karaoke, and free country dance lessons on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, taught by a really nice lady.


Nectar

Fremont

Offering a strange brew of live music, relatively new space Nectar was built in 2004 and tends toward reggae, hiphop, bluegrass, and EDM in a nicely airy space, including a patio and multiple levels indoors.

Nectar Lounge in Fremont


Neumos and Barboza

Capitol Hill

One of the most respected and reliable venues in the city as far as booking talent goes, Neumos is one of the hubs around which Capitol Hill rotates. Its main show room is invariably packed to capacity as people dance or sway to the latest mega-hyped act to roll through town. Located in the Neumos basement, Barboza is a sweaty, intimate little shoebox-shaped room that hosts a wide range of up-and-coming local and touring talent. If you need a drink break from all the dancing, just walk down the Neumos hall to The Runaway, their newly revamped bar filled with '70s classic decor markers and signature drink specials.


Re-bar

Downtown

Re-bar has something for everyone: booze, theater and arts performances, dancing, rock 'n' roll, drag queens... and a great, rare live-and-let-live atmosphere. If you're experiencing the "Seattle freeze," head to this eminently friendly, welcoming, weirdo dive.


Rendezvous

Belltown

Now over 90 years old, the Rendezvous oozes character and history. Its decadent glamour is evident in its restored 1923 Jewelbox Theater, the Red Velvet Lounge, and its downstairs Grotto, thought to be the venue's original speakeasy. The entertainment schedule includes a variety show from local celebrity Emmett Montgomery on Mondays, the female-focused Comedy Nest on Tuesdays, what they claim is "Seattle's only all-improvised comedy open mic" on Saturdays, weird music, and burlesque. It all seems more momentous amid the Rendezvous's comfy confines and fading elegance.


The Royal Room

Columbia City

A wood-bedecked space with great acoustics in Columbia City, the Royal Room made its name on jazz bookings (it is partially the brainchild of musician and composer Wayne Horvitz), but has since expanded into folk, world music, and multimedia events.


Showbox

Downtown

The Showbox is a great place to see a show, even when it's sold out. There's hardly a bad sight line in the house, it's got two bars, and the room has the classic charm of an old theater. Their summer calendar ranges from Digable Planets (May 27) to Corinne Bailey Rae (June 6) to Taking Back Sunday (Aug 4).


Sunset Tavern and Tractor Tavern

Ballard

Dropping in on a quality live music set is easy in central Ballard, with the Sunset and Tractor Taverns down the street from each other. On the north end of Ballard Avenue Northwest is the Sunset, a former Chinese restaurant that's now a fun, divey rock-and-roll bar with a recent decor overhaul, plenty of live music across all popular genres, a photo booth, and friendly bartenders. The Tractor holds court just two blocks away, with gritty saloon-esque decor, tallboys aplenty, and the best selection of live local and national rock, pop, alt-folk, and blues in town.


The Triple Door

Downtown

The Triple Door is the swankiest sit-down live music venue in Seattle—lush darkness and twinkling lights, an antique gold-framed stage with plush red curtains, and great semi-circular booths with table service from the Asian-fusion Wild Ginger restaurant. Upstairs, there's the Musicquarium Lounge, a soothing grotto of a room with a giant fish tank, a great happy hour, and free live music or DJs nightly.



DANCE CLUBS

Aston Manor

Downtown

Inspired by the fake legend of 1920s Seattle bootlegger Roy Aston, the Aston Manor caters to the well-dressed weekend-specific set, with a richly furnished lounge, EDM and trap-heavy dance floor, and Prohibition-era inspired cocktails.


Baltic Room

Capitol Hill

The Baltic Room hosts top-shelf DJs and occasional live acts with superb sound, an intimate dance floor, and plenty of seating room. The place is swank without being stuffy, and when the dance floor fills up it feels more like a house party than a nightclub.


Club Contour

Pioneer Square

For those who embrace the late-night Pioneer Square scene (that is to say, the dense fabric of dance-centric clubs and DJ spots littering the neighborhood with high energy and loud sounds), Contour regularly stays open well past 2 a.m. on Thursdays and Fridays with a frenetic DJs-and-dancing scene. Cheapskates know Contour as the place with the shockingly inexpensive, pretty darn good happy-hour food menu.


Foundation Nightclub

Belltown

Foundation has made a quick name for itself as a destination hot spot for Belltown bar-hoppers and luxury condo types alike with a top-notch sound system and an international roster of heavyweight DJs stopping through. Their resident talent includes such local luminaries as Darrius and Johnny Monsoon.


Havana

Capitol Hill

With its high ceilings, mirrored bar, and vintage Cuban decor, Havana is airy and elegant, and they serve mojitos for as long as you want them. Every night has a different DJ, usually a good one, and themes including old school 1990s on Tuesdays and rare and popular soul on Thursdays.


Kremwerk and Timbre Room

Downtown

Known for hosting excellent and eclectic live electronic sets, DJ nights, drag competitions, and queer artist showcases, Kremwerk is a futuristic bunker of a club, situated in a blue-tinted basement in the heart of downtown. Just above is Kremwerk's sister venue, Timbre Room, an attached showroom and patio that boasts equally diverse bookings as what's going on down below. Timbre Room really shines in the summer when its patio is used to the full advantage for early evening dance parties in the warm open air.


Monkey Loft

Downtown

Monkey Loft is a surprisingly intimate cocktail bar and DJ venue in Sodo, with an attempted industrial aesthetic and a destination vibe for dance music enthusiasts. Placing them above the competition is their "Deck," an outdoor after-hours patio with a fireplace, several seating areas, and pretty incredible skyline views.


Q Nightclub

Capitol Hill

Q's interior is sort of like where you'd expect the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to party—a wavy collection of pillars and rounded walls in a cavernous but beautifully lit space with lights and a huge wall for visual projections. Their bathrooms are next-level bonkers. They also host world-renowned DJs, local house music talent, and have an all-around solid crew of resident spinners.


Trinity Nightclub

Pioneer Square

This is a massive two-tiered, three-room nightclub that features different music in every room, dim sum, and serious partying (like weekly-beer-pong-tournaments-style partying). Plus, it has a stringent dress code, summed up on its website as "No effort, no entry."



BARS

Add-a-Ball

Fremont

Hidden beneath the Piece of Mind tobacco shop, Add-a-Ball is a retro-style arcade and pinball joint that serves booze and snacks to its quarter-laden patrons. It's like the basement you wish you'd had when you were 14, if you were 14 in 1983. They also have a huge back room named Point Break with a whole wall of diner-booth tables so you can hang out forever playing weird and awesome pinball.


Blue Moon Tavern

University District

With us since 1934 (soon after the repeal of Prohibition in December 1933), the Blue Moon is dingy but well-loved, and pretty much everyone is welcome on its bar stools (Richard Hugo and Allen Ginsberg have even been on them). Plus, it hosts a wide variety of local talent, from stand-up comedians to live music, almost every night of the week.


Bush Garden

International District

The Japanese food at Bush Garden isn't anything special, but the place itself sure is. The foyer is the strangest in Seattle: Fantastical, dark, coiled tree branches dangle from the ceiling, and an elaborate fountain that appears not to have seen water in many years is crossed by a tiny bridge, on its shore a dusty bonsai. The bar has rolly-aroundy upholstered chairs and a faux pagoda roof; it is not too bright, not too dim; the temperature is always perfect; one of two completely wonderful, raspy-voiced bartenders is always working. The bar menu never changes, and a warm towel is brought to you in a little basket upon the ordering of food. Karaoke here (held daily at 9:30 p.m.) is especially marvelous.


Cafe Mox

Ballard

Card Kingdom—a game store with an impressively large and varied selection, bright and airy interiors, and a long history of hosting everything from board game competitions to official Magic: The Gathering set releases—is home to what is widely considered the default nerd bar: Cafe Mox. It has large tables, borrowable games, sixteen taps, good food you can eat without ruining your cards, and friendly staff that won't judge you for nerding out for hours.


Garage

Capitol Hill

Come to the Garage for bowling and billiards (cheap during the daily happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. and late night, 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. happy hour on weeknights) in a pretty, late 1920s setting with unusual and above-average pub food that includes truffle potato chips, poutine, and garlic kale. Dogs are allowed on the patio!

Garage Bowling and Billiards in Capitol Hill Steve Sonheim


Hattie's Hat

Ballard

With stiff drinks and good food, 100-plus-year-old Hattie's is one of Ballard's most beloved dives. The all-American menu has everything from classic burgers with sweet-potato fries to smoked-salmon club sandwiches and buttermilk-soaked fried chicken (with good stuff for vegetarians, too). There's also karaoke on second and fourth Thursdays and, occasionally, other live music in the bar.


Linda's

Capitol Hill

Under the baleful watch of a taxidermied buffalo, Capitol Hill has hung out at western-themed Linda's with shots and pitchers of beer for two-plus decades now, with the additional benefits of a pool table, a good jukebox, comfy booths, and a-okay burgers. Weekend breakfasts are served till the generous-to-the-hungover hour of 3 p.m., and the back patio is pure summertime awesomeness; get there early to stake out a table on sunny days. (Tourist note: This is reportedly the last place Kurt Cobain was seen alive.)


The Mecca Cafe & Bar

Lower Queen Anne

On one side, the Mecca is an old-timey counter-and-booth-style diner for those times when only dependable diner food can hit the spot—and dependable it is. On a bad day, one of their good greasy breakfasts or hot, open-faced turkey sandwiches might just save your life. On the other side, there's one of the world's best dive bars—narrow, noisy, well-loved, serving cheap and strong drinks with a no-nonsense attitude. The bar is always dark and timeless and weatherless, like an alcoholic submarine; you can still smell the scent of cigarettes past.


E. Olive Way bars

Capitol Hill

The downhill swing of 1351-1355-1361 E Olive Way includes an array of bars for many interests. Start at Pie Bar, an identical-twins-owned establishment that combines your two insatiable cravings—alcohol and baked goods—in one tiny hamlet. Next door is Speckled & Drake, a duck-themed dive with occasional DJ nights that caters to those who just want some whiskey and a dark corner (and a surprisingly high-functioning photo booth). Last on the block is John John's Game Room, the perfect spot for anyone looking to blow $50 in quarters on Golden Axe, or at least $20 on cheap beer and congenial arcade company.


Orient Express

Sodo

The Orient Express is a karaoke bar and Chinese and Thai food restaurant (try the crab rangoon), inside of a series of antique refurbished train cars. If you need more than that to have a good time, you're on your own.


Pacific Inn Pub

Fremont

The Pacific Inn Pub is an unpretentious place to drink with cheap beer, a jukebox, and superb fish 'n' chips. Located in the Stone Way crawlspace between Fremont and Wallingford, this true neighborhood dive is sure to please all old-school Seattle enthusiasts.


Pine Box

Capitol Hill

Headed by Ian Roberts (a founder of Seattle Beer Week), the Pine Box enlivens its (gorgeous) mortuary setting with more than 30 beers on tap and pretty good pizza. Mostly, the Pine Box works marvelously as a beer hall. It's loud and lovely and a lot of fun.


Slim's Last Chance Chili Shack & Watering Hole

Georgetown

Slim's has a great country-time roadhouse vibe; in summertime, bands play on the bed of an old Ford F-600 in the big backyard while happy people lounge at picnic tables. Regardless of season, though, Americana, punk, and rock groups play the Slim's stage all week long year-round. The chilis range from traditional Texas Red (all beef, no beans) to alternative (turkey and white bean). They're all good, and served either straight-up or, ingeniously, ladled over your choice of white cheddar grits or jalapeño mac 'n' cheese.

Slim’s Last Chance Chili Shack & Watering Hole in Georgetown


Unicorn and Narwhal

Capitol Hill

The Unicorn, with its absurd name, rampant stripes, salvaged carousel panels, and menagerie of taxidermy, is insane. The bar serves Jell-O shots, and the place gets wild. The food is carnival-style deep-fry, including various corn-dog configurations, unicorn balls, and elephant ears, as well as good, inexpensive burgers made with Painted Hills beef. Additionally, you may have them DEEP-FRY AN ENTIRE HAMBURGER. Downstairs lies Narwhal, Unicorn's secondary bar, which hosts additional sources of alcohol, as well as arcade games, extremely dark corners, and a stage from which small glories like the weekly Mimosas with Mama drag brunch are recurrently presented.


Vermillion

Capitol Hill

Vermillion is an art gallery in the front, while in the back there's the world's pleasantest surprise of a bar—a room that feels both cavernous and comfortable, with no natural light but perfect lighting. A jukebox plays great old 45s, an assortment of board games is on offer, wine is inexpensive, and simple, delicious snacks are available. Vermillion possesses the massive virtue of being wonderful without trying too hard.


Vito's

First Hill

After a sad absent spell, Vito's reopened in the fall of 2010 and returned to its old-school 1950s Italiano-style glory, with dark-red vinyl booths, central bar, a grand piano, and lounge-act entertainers including some great jazz (and never a cover charge). Where mobsters and mayors and priests (and doctors getting smashed and gangstas shooting guns) once convened, a cocktail and a plate of pasta wait for you. The ace bar staff, looking dapper, mix a perfect martini. recommended