If the lack of sunlight in this damp, gray shithole makes you regret moving to this damp, gray shithole--or, if you were born in this damp, gray shithole, and regret staying in this damp, gray shithole--these bars will help you forget that you live in this damp, gray shithole.


506 E Pine St


The tropics inspire visions of fun and relaxation. And nothing says tropics like a grass hut (save for maybe sandy beaches and blue water--but who's going to put those in a bar?). The Cha Cha Lounge--yes, that Cha Cha Lounge, which you've read about many times before--not only has a grass hut sheltering its bar, but the establishment's warm red lighting can, given copious intoxicants, make you feel as if you were standing on a shore as the sun was setting. Don't believe me? Down a couple Wild Turkeys and then tell me you don't feel as if your feet are buried in sand. BRADLEY STEINBACHER


96 Union St


When I visited the Islander, it was 21 degrees outside and the pebble fountain beside the entrance had frozen into disturbingly finger-shaped icicles. If there ever was a night that demanded a tiki experience, this was it. Inside, the Islander delivered on its tropical promise, and yet remained surprisingly low-key and weirdly sincere. A collection of ukuleles decorates one wall without a trace of irony, and the good-sport waitress wore a flower in her hair. The Islander has a decent wine list, but it's the perfect place to order a ridiculous cocktail--if you're trying to keep your chin up in the dead of winter, try the sunny-sounding Coco-Banana, or if you'd rather flaunt your depression, there's always the Dark & Stormy. None of your friends will be there to witness your lapse into froufrou, and your drinking companions, a scattering of tourists and fellow urban refugees, won't particularly care. ANNIE WAGNER


2253 N 56th St


Like a yearly flight to the tropics in February to escape the winter blahs, a trip to Luau Polynesian Lounge in Wallingford/Green Lake is practically guaranteed to lift your spirits. It is amazing how some candlelight, carved tikis, friendly service, and fruity drinks with umbrellas will improve your outlook on life when it's cold and wet outside and dark by 5:30 pm. The Polynesian motif is actually fun, and justifies ordering buzzy, expensive drinks you usually wouldn't touch, like a mai tai ($6) or Hawaiian punch ($5.50). Buckets of seven-ounce Coronas can also be had, five for $7, or seven for $11. The place gets packed and sort of hipstery weekend nights, which brings to mind one advantage the Luau has over a tropical vacation: If you ever get tired of the beautiful people and want to return to where the normal folks roam, you can simply walk outside and go to Leny's Place two doors down, a well-lit, unpretentious neighborhood tavern with two pool tables, darts, and a recently added selection of booze. SCOTT McGEATH


2226 Second Ave


One aspect of tiki/grass-hut bars that usually keeps me away is that the décor often inspires people to use pickup lines every bit as cheesy as the room they're drinking in. And grass-hut Polynesian bars often go overboard without being all that creative about it. What I like most about the Lava Lounge (at least on weeknights) is that it understates the grass-hut theme--so much so that I can't even remember if there's a thatched anything in sight. This isn't the place with the froofy drinks and Hawaiian sunsets painted on the walls; it's a punk rock bar with punk rock DJs that happens to have some Polynesian statue-like things on the walls and porthole windows. If there isn't a grass hut in the place, just shut your eyes and picture one. JENNIFER MAERZ


If the slow pace of life around here during the damp, gray months makes you regret moving to this damp, gray shithole--or, if you were born in this damp, gray shithole and the slow pace makes you regret staying in this damp, gray shithole--these bars will help you forget that you live in this damp, gray shithole.


1600 Melrose Ave


The dark walls, the funereal candles, the solemn stone bar: Other grownup liquor establishments try to convey messages of sophistication and sexual possibility, but the only message Chapel conveys is, "You're going to die." Not a bad thing to be reminded of in this young, unserious city. It's dead serious inside Chapel. It's a recently converted funeral home--according to one waitress, construction workers demanded an officially conducted exorcism of the premises before they would begin their work--and ghosts of the site's history are all around you. The stone bar, for one, is a fragment of the old mausoleum, with numbers carved into it marking the slots where bodies would have been entombed. So a sense of very real mortal dread pervades the place, as does a sense that this kind of bar belongs in another city--a city full of fashion and life and deathful history, a city like New York, where the ground is heavy with graves and the bars are full of drunks in their early stages of willful embalmment. (Closed on Sundays. Naturally.) CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE


600 W Crockett St


It is mere blocks away from one of Seattle's swankiest stretches of real estate--the glossy, many-windowed mansions of Highland Drive--but you'd think you discovered a little bit of rural Montana. Not in any kitsch sort of way (there are no buffalo heads, no fake-log furniture), but in a middle-of-nowhere kind of way. Targy's enjoys such rural anonymity that it remains "that bar on Queen Anne"; I can never remember its name. The atmosphere is genial, but not intrusive; everyone sits at the big U-shaped bar and either does or doesn't contribute to the general conversation. The drink is beer. The drunks are drunk. The pool tables are cheaper than other pool tables in town (which almost more than anything suggests you might be somewhere else). The main décor element is sports trophies; an air filter struggles mightily with the smoke. I don't long for the rural life, but when I need to feel I'm in some other fucking place, any other fucking place, Targy's soothes me for a while. EMILY HALL


1522 6th Ave


Some people go to Vegas for the gambling. Others go for the 24-hour drinking and gambling. And while the Fox Sports Grill does not offer games of chance (other than their Filet Mignon Chili--kapow!), it does offer booze, and it offers that booze in an atmosphere that is decidedly Vegas-like, especially in the bar, where two dozen flat-screen TVs are tuned to any number of sporting events. And the bar itself, which is large and square, changes colors from green to white to purple to blue, like so many bars in Vegas. Visit Fox Sports Grill and you'll feel like you're in a casino--a bar in the MGM Grand, perhaps. It is a feeling only enhanced by the lack of both natural light and clocks in the bar, giving drinking in the Fox Sports Grill that timeless--as in, "What the fuck time is it?"--feeling Vegas inspires. The only thing that's missing is the constant, annoying "Wheel of Fortune!" chant that pervades every casino in Vegas these days. BRADLEY STEINBACHER

TRAVELLER'S V (Formerly the Aurora Family Restaurant)

8800 Aurora Ave N


Straight out of Aurora Avenue's 1950s automobile-driven heyday, Traveller's V won't take you to another place, but it will take you to another time. In the front, grab a seat at the counter or in a booth, and eat the greasiest breakfast north of the ship canal, served with thick coffee in chipped mugs. In the back, check out the big bar in what used to be a meeting room (ironically, I'm told, for Alcoholics Anonymous). The bar's got the same comfortably shabby aesthetic of the main diner, but with a dance floor and a full offering of drinks. Like the classic menu up front, the back bar's offerings are strong and cheap--the way things on Aurora should be. AMY JENNIGES


The Middle of Nowhere


In his essay "The Eiffel Tower," Roland Barthes recounts that the celebrated short-fiction writer Guy de Maupassant regularly dined at the restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower not because the food was great but because it was "the only place in Paris where [he] didn't have to see [the Eiffel Tower]." The same can be said of drinking atop the Space Needle. It is the only place in town where one can drink without having to look at the Space Needle. The view of Seattle from the Space Needle--the view of Seattle absent the Space Needle--could be Any City, USA, which allows you to fantasize about all the other midsized American cities you would rather live in while you get drunk. But this pleasure comes with a high price. The Space Needle's Sky City restaurant has a $25 minimum (Per person! Not including drinks or dessert!) for dinner, and $15 minimum for lunch. CHARLES MUDEDE


611 E Pine St


I love Cafe Compagne, the comparatively inexpensive--compared to Compagne, that is--French bistro in the Market. The food is good, and it's awfully pretty in there, and they spent a lot of money to make it look like a bistro in Paris. And it does, I guess, but it looks like the bistros in Paris that are filled with tourists drinking Cokes and complaining about the size of their ice cubes and wondering aloud if they're supposed to tip or not. For a taste of funky Paris, the bar the owners of 611 Supreme recently opened in a tiny space next door captures the feel of young, urban Paris. Dark, stylish, and tucked into a tiny, awkward space, 611's bar looks like one of the hundreds of bars in Paris where you never, ever see an American. Or a Seattleite. DAN SAVAGE


If you've been treating your case of SAD with food, the pounds you've been packing on in this damp, gray shithole during the damp, gray months may make you wish you didn't have to look at your big, damp ass. These bars are so dark that you'll have a hard time seeing the drink in your hand, much less the enormous ass in your pants.


88 Yesler Way


When one is feeling ugly or overweight, a bar with a lot of shadows and as little light as possible is the perfect spot. Marcus' Martini Heaven has an abundance of shadows, which gives it a gothic atmosphere. Walking down the steps from Yesler, you leave the exposure to the street lamps and enter the cool cover of this dungeon/bar. I have no idea why it is called Heaven; here, you are in delightful, subterranean Hell, watching from your concealed corner as forms and figures imbibe mysterious martinis. You kind of see them and they kind of see you, monsters all sipping something small and neat. CHARLES MUDEDE THE BALTIC ROOM 1207 E Pine St


I once went with a friend to the Baltic Room when she got some bad news about her sister. Heading to the bathroom together, I sat with her while she bawled her eyes out, only to return to the bar, get drunk, and hit the dance floor with no one the wiser. Why? Because the swank club is so dimly lit you would've practically had to burn her face with one of the bartop candles before you'd notice the mascara that stained her cheek. The same lighting used to make the chic look sleek can hide scars of all varieties, and when the right DJ's in the house, it's too crowded for anyone to give a shit what you look like. JENNIFER MAERZ HOOTERS 901 Fairview Ave N


Okay, it's pretty brightly lit. But no one is looking at you--you're at Hooters, after all. If you're not wearing orange shorts and a tube top, you're basically wallpaper. And, really, when you're depressed about the pounds you've been packing on, you'll feel better after you plunge your face into a warm, tasty, supple pile of meaty white flesh. I'm talking, of course, about Hooters' heaping plates of "nearly world famous" chicken wings. Beer, chicken wings, and breasts of all races keep the guys grinning at the South Lake Union outpost of America's most titillating beach-themed chain. In its 20-year history, the company (whose franchises reach from Aruba to Australia) has hired more than 200,000 Hooters Girls--or, put another way, 400,000 individual hoots. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE


If living in this damp, gray shithole has you thinking about suicide but you can't quite muster up the courage to do the deed, there is hope. Four depressing bars that will push you over the edge.


315 Seneca St


Perhaps tagging Bernard's as suicide-inducing is a tad unfair. It is, after all, just a bar--a small, smoky watering hole, friendly to regulars and free from pretensions. But while the place is a fine establishment to catch a drink in during cheerful times, its depressing, tattered ambiance may be enough to send a wrong-thinking person clamoring for a fistful of pills. Located just off Seneca Street, at the bottom of a long flight of stairs, Bernard's can be gloomy and isolating, and, if someone was so inclined, it could very easily tip him or her from procrastination to action. Oh, if you decide to take action, the #358 bus stops near Bernard's front door, and it will take you directly to the Aurora Bridge. Happy landings. BRADLEY STEINBACHER


1517 Pike Place Market


To be honest, the Athenian's bar, which is located deep inside the Pike Place Market, is not depressing. It is comfortable, warm with wood, and has an excellent range of beers. The bar is frequented not by creeps but by adorable old men. These aren't the sorts who visibly harbor dark desires, or on whose faces one can read bitter line after bitter line. They seem content enough, spending their final years enjoying cheap beer in frosted glasses. What makes the bar perfect for those who are in the mood to exit existence is the dramatic view that the bar commands. From a bar stool, you can see the cold waters of the bay, the slow ferries, the frozen mountains, the phantom-huge cargo ships, sleeping West Seattle, and above it all an approaching nightmare of clouds. It is a perfect place to have a final drink, and bid farewell to the gloomy city of Seattle. CHARLES MUDEDE


507 15th Ave E


Why would a friendly place like the Hopvine Pub fall on our list of places that have the je ne sais quoi to tip the scales toward pulling the trigger? Well, in part, because it's so damn friendly. It actually defines the forced friendliness and forced congeniality and forced contentedness that can make 15th Avenue East a nightmare for the SAD sufferer. Why is everyone else on this damn block so damn cheerful when you're feeling so damn blue?

And the saccharine perkiness isn't the only thing that can drive you to wits' end at the Hopvine. The final straw is the horrible folk music that booms from the stage into the tiny space. Why do performers in tiny venues such as the Hopvine feel the need to use microphones? JOSH FEIT


If living in this damp, gray shithole has you thinking about suicide, these bars will give you some reason to live.


4006 University Way NE


We love the College Inn Pub. And, yes, we mention this fact all the time. But here's the thing: During these thoroughly depressing months when the days are painfully short and your outlook on life is painfully bleak, a place like the College Inn--with its warm atmosphere and friendly staffers--can help pull you away from the razor blades. And while booze is never the answer, it can be an answer, especially when one is teetering on the edge. Feeling gloomy? A pint at the College Inn is sure to cheer you up, especially on a weekend night when the place is packed with students. They are, after all, the promising future of this great nation--at least until they graduate and realize, as we all have, that things are pretty damn grim. BRADLEY STEINBACHER


1928 Second Ave


One of the worst parts of the holidays being over--besides being broke, physically wrecked, and having gotten into it with at lease one person who shares your DNA--is taking down the Christmas decorations. Nothing hammers the final nail harder into the coffin of the end of the year's biggest party season than removing those soft white lights from around the house, and I have a few friends who keep their Christmas lights up for months just to savor the glow. If you long to be surrounded by the twinkling of Walgreens' finest Italian lights, head to the Nitelight, and between their stiff drinks, the Christmas lights they leave up year-round, and the model trains, it'll make you feel like you can live through this. JENNIFER MAERZ


1516 Second Avenue


Some people go habitually to church on Sunday; I go to Noc Noc instead, but for many of the same reasons. The downtown club throbs on Fridays and Saturdays, but I prefer the sanctuary of Sunday night when the crowd is thinner and faces are friendlier--less desperate and more relaxed at weekend's end. A doorman sorts the Second Avenue riffraff from the rest of us and collects our offerings. Inside, the atmosphere is warm and candlelit, spiked with dark dance music and colored strobes courtesy of an intuitive DJ. Owner Jesus Escobar serves benevolence, strong cocktails, and ridiculously cheap beer from behind the bar. A few bucks buys enough liquid sunshine and fellowship to steel me against any gray Monday morning. And on the dance floor, I am saved. AMY KATE HORN


731 Westlake Ave N


Remember Chuck E. Cheese's? Jillian's is just like that place, only minus the pizza, and plus liquor. There's air hockey, video games (including a basketball hoop-shooting game you can play against a couple of other people), and pinball downstairs, plus rooms full of pool tables upstairs. Toss in a handful of big-screen TVs, usually tuned to the big game, and you've got a playland for grownups. Well, for some grownups--the kind of grownups who like pool, beer, and football. AMY JENNIGES


1315 E Madison St


For years, the Madison Pub was a grubby little hole in the wall filled with smoke and hard drinkers. But after its recent expansion/remodel, the Madison has been reborn as a big, gay Cheers. Four times bigger and twelve times cleaner than its earlier incarnation, the new Madison is the perfect hangout for gay guys weary of the über-cruisy boy bars, who just want a nice friendly space to drink booze, play darts, and mingle with their bent brethren. DAVID SCHMADER


2108 N 45th St


Why are people so happy at the lounge of Wallingford's Moon Temple Restaurant? After all, it's just another dark smoky bar in another run-of-the-mill Chinese joint. Is it the many varieties of pull-tabs available (with names like Gold Digger and Slot Blast) or the efficient but unremarkable service? Perhaps it's the wall hanging depicting a stern Chinese emperor, or the jukebox loaded with overplayed classic-rock tunes of the '70s. In the end, no one knows why the poets and drunks, trannies and jocks, college kids and oldsters who regularly frequent the Moon Temple are always so happy. Like prayer or good barbecue, some mysteries can't be understood, only experienced. SCOTT McGEATH

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