It's always happy hour somewhere—and countries all over the world have their own favorite customs for drinking and snacking at the end of a workday. Read on for a culinary world tour through Seattle that touches on tapas, izakaya, aperitivo, street food, and other international drinking-food delights.
JarrBar owner Bryan Jarr was inspired by the tiny holes-in-the-wall he encountered on his travels to Spain. Tucked away behind Pike Place Market (1432 Western Ave), the cozy, pint-sized space (which used to be a storage closet) is bathed in a soft golden light, an ideal place to while away some time with a drink while the bartender plays vinyl records on JarrBar's turntable.
A leg of jamón ibérico sits at the end of the bar. During their happy hour (4–6 pm and 10 pm–2 am Mon–Sat, all day Sun), you'll find Iberian wines and cocktails, and Spanish snacks to graze on, like marinated olives, house pickles, cured meats, and a selection of fancy tinned fish ($2 off during happy hour), like octopus, Matiz sardines, and Jose gourmet trout in escabeche sauce—all served with lemon, Jacobsen sea salt, and espelette (French pepper).
Dining at Suika (611 E Pine St) is deliriously fun, like going to a theme park. You sit at a table with a bunch of friends and order plate after plate of izakaya (Japanese drinking food), and everything you try is unexpectedly delightful. Happy hour (5–6:30 pm Tues–Fri and 4–6:30 pm Sat–Sun) includes food like $6 uni shooters and $8 chicken wings in garlic jalapeño sauce, and drinks like $8 sake and $6 cocktails mixed with house-made ginger ale. Right across the street is Suika's equally impeccable sibling, Tamari Bar (500 E Pine St), where you can order items like tako wasabi (raw octopus with wasabi, eaten with sheets of nori) and wings off a happy hour menu with a daily rotating selection of food for $4.50 and up, $4–$6 beer, $6 sake, and $7 specialty cocktails (5–6:30 pm Tues–Sun, 9:30 pm–close Tues–Thurs, 10 pm–close Fri–Sat, 9:30 pm–close Sun).
This casually elegant Spanish restaurant situated in between Capitol Hill and downtown (1100 Pike St) serves all manner of cheap and cheerful tapas during happy hour (4:30–6 pm daily and all night on Mon), including $2 boquerone toast, $8 beef albondigas with sliced baguette, and best of all, some literal cheap dates ($2 dates wrapped in bacon with pickled red onion and balsamic reduction). To drink, there's $7 cocktails, $5 drafts and $3 cans, and $6 glasses of wine and red sangria.
Hidden away on Broadway, this dark, quiet bar resides above the wonderful Himalayan Nepalese restaurant Annapurna (1833 Broadway). A steady stream of Bollywood music videos flash on a big TV screen above the kitchen. All appetizers are $2 off during happy hour (4–6 pm and 9 pm–close daily). Get the heavenly crispy lamb rolls, which come with a house-made mango chutney for dunking, and the handmade chicken momo (Tibetan-style dumplings) with a trio of dipping sauces. There's also $5 shots of Khukri rum (a Nepalese favorite), and $2 off cocktails with house-made saffron-infused vodka, like the refreshing "Hot Night in Kathmandu" with lemon and mint.
The name of this unpretentious, industrial watering hole in White Center (9641 15th Ave SW) means "food eaten with alcohol" in Korean, and its menu revolves around the concept: gooey, crunchy, salty, craveable drinking snacks that provide an ideal base for local craft beers, cocktails like the glitzy Gold Flashin'd (Henry McKenna 10 Year Bottled in Bond Bourbon with bitters and Goldschlager Simple), or soju-based drinks. During happy hour (3–6 pm daily), all food items—like steamy kimchi fried rice with a sunny fried egg and chewy cubes of Spam, mandu (Korean dumplings), or glazed deep-fried Korean chicken bites—cost only $6; all draft beers are a buck off, Rainier and Hite cans are $3, select cocktails (like a "Bo-Mak" cocktail with iced barley tea, Jinro makgeolli, and vanilla bean syrup) are $6, and a rotating "bartender's choice" cocktail is $8. Try the "Koreadilla" (a felicitous fusion of oozy cheese, kimchi, and meat sandwiched between crispy flour tortillas), the poutine (a nontraditional update with fries doused in gravy with kimchi and cheese curds), and the deep-fried kimchi mac and cheese balls (enough said).
Reckless Noodle House
The menu at this new Central District restaurant (2519 S Jackson St) incorporates a medley of flavors and spices from all around Asia in a way that feels like sampling street food from different countries without leaving the comfort of your booth, barstool, or chair. The scope grows even wider when you consider the cozy bar, where owners Bryce Sweeney and Mario Eckert's collective cocktail mastery (and fondness for mezcal) has spawned one of Seattle's most inventive drinks lists. During happy hour (4–6 pm and 10 pm–close Mon–Fri, 2–4 pm and 10 pm–close Sat–Sun), starters like the roast duck crispy roll (with scrambled eggs, vegetables, and duck folded into a crispy spring-roll wrapper) and papaya salads (lightly dressed with peanuts, lime, long beans, introductory levels of chili, and your choice of black crab, shrimp, squid, or pork belly) are offered for a mere $4. While for $6, you can get hot sake bottles, select cocktails (including the house martini, Moscow mule, and margarita), glasses of red or white wine, and all draft beers ($4 Kirins). JEN SWANSON
Don't be scared off by the business crowd at this bar in Pioneer Square (501 Stadium Place S)—to do so would be to miss out on an excellent happy hour (4–6 pm in the restaurant and bar, 9 pm–close in the bar) replete with Korean drinking snacks. You can get little ssam cups, lettuce wraps with ssamjang (a thick, spicy sauce), garlic, chili, and your choice of filling: kalbi beef short ribs, grilled pork belly, or seasonal grilled vegetables. There's also a ground short rib burger topped with pickled red onions, kimchi, and ssamjang; crispy-edged kimchi pancakes; and glorious glazed spicy-sweet gochujang wings. It all pairs swimmingly with a $1 off beer, $7 glass of wine, $7 cocktail like a Japanese longball or an old-fashioned, or the $6 house-brewed makgeolli, a traditional Korean fermented-rice liquor that comes in a little golden bowl.
When you walk into Ba Bar (Capitol Hill, 550 12th Ave; South Lake Union, 500 Terry Ave N; U-Village, 2685 NE 46th St), the air is redolent with spices and the funk of fish sauce, and the atmosphere is lively and bubbling with conversation. Chalkboards announce specials, and copper mule mugs dangle from the well-stocked spirits library. The Southeast Asian street food inspired happy hour menu (3–6 pm Mon–Fri and 3–5 pm Sat–Sun at all three locations with a $5 minimum drink purchase; late night hours vary by location) features crispy honey-glazed wings (just 50 cents each on Tuesdays), steaming bowls of pho ($9), and crispy imperial rolls with pork ($8.50). To drink, there's $5.50 beer, $9 wine, and $6.50–$7.50 house cocktails, like the bright and spicy Ginger Pop with vodka, Routin Blanc, house-made ginger syrup, fresh lemon juice, soda, and basil seeds.
Italy has its own version of happy hour—the grand tradition of aperitivo, where friends gather for a nip of something boozy and a light meal after the end of the workday to stoke their appetites before dinner. Artusi—a "modern aperitivo bar" on Capitol Hill (1535 14th Ave) with white hexagon-tiled tabletops and long, cylindrical paper tubes dangling from the ceiling—translates that experience to the Northwest. And there's no better time to take advantage of it than their happy hour (5–7 pm and 10 pm–close daily), where you can order a $6 spritz (your choice of Aperol, Campari, Cynar, and Gran Classico with prosecco and soda), Cynar Collins, gin or vodka martini, old-fashioned, Americano, or Fernet Branca, and munch on light bites like salumi ($7), cheese ($5 for one, $8 for two, and $11 for three), and roasted hazelnuts with controne chili and muscovado sugar ($3), all the while pretending you're on a sidewalk in Rome.
Dynasty Room / East Trading Company
Oasis Tea Zone and Eastern Cafe owner I-Miun Liu and former Ba Bar manager Michael Chu teamed up to create a long-term pop-up craft cocktail bar called the Dynasty Room (714 S King St). With stunning design by "artist-powered design studio" Electric Coffin, the bar is papered with pages torn from vintage karate magazines, and a towering wolf structure beckons guests inside. The menu features several craft cocktails and bites, like popcorn chicken (a favorite borrowed from Oasis) and Liu's mom's comfort-food recipe for cold peanut noodles tangled with egg, carrots, cucumber, and Spam—and everything's discounted a few dollars during happy hour (4–7 pm daily). Over on Capitol Hill, Liu and Chu have partnered again to open the Chinese-zodiac-inspired East Trading Company (514 E Pike St), which features a spinning zodiac wheel and a gift shop with sundries like lime-flavored Lays chips and wasabi peas. The late-night happy hour (10 pm–close) includes items like $7 Crown Royal shots with a "kimchi back" chaser; $4 fancy instant Shin ramen dressed up with egg, green onions, and fish cakes; and $4 crispy shiitake mushrooms.