Georgetown is really not so far south of downtown, and though many consider this neighborhood to be the hip new place to hang, it still feels, charmingly, like a bit of a backwater. The Nine Pound Hammer (6009 Airport Way S., 206-762-3373) is the hot spot on the strip, an easygoing joint where people seem comfortable to come as they are. If you can, grab a seat on the saggy couch in front—from this ideal spot, you've got a view of the whole place. Next door, Smarty Pants (6017 Airport Way S., 206-762-4777) is equally casual, with concrete floors and a no-nonsense menu. Its to-go food often ends up next door, or at least on the outdoor patio, which is labeled "The 25-Foot Club" (you smokers know this is meant for you).
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Around Occidental Park
Jules Maes Saloon (5919 Airport Way S., 206-957-7766) often charges a cover for a band you've never heard of, but the people-watching can be great. Just like the bar, which dates to the late 1800s and exhibits an Old West feel, the retro-punk crowd offers a bit of nostalgia with a modern edge. The liquor license application posted in the window of a cute, old-fashioned spot a few blocks north of this strip reveals that it's slated to become a lounge/restaurant named Calamity Jane's. It does feel a bit like the Wild West down here: lots of denim, not a lot of pretension.
Bear in Mind
Who you're likely to encounter: The Georgetown scene is eclectic, so you may spot middle-aged men in hoodies and two-day stubble, greaser boys sporting slicked-back Mohawks, thirtysomething women in puffer vest and jeans, and blond-dreadlocked hippie chicks outside for a smoke.
Place to head after 2 a.m.: Sadly, you have to leave the neighborhood. Hop a ride downtown to 13 Coins (125 Boren Ave. N., 206-682-2513), a great old-school hangout that will be happy to feed you at any hour.
Rowdiest spot: On a recent weekend night, Smarty Pants was packed with women in biker jackets and spiked hair performing loud, sloppy karaoke for Breast Fest, a fund-raiser for breast cancer research.
Average cocktail price: $6.
Best booze-soaker-upper: Smarty Pants serves an enormous cheese quesadilla with sour cream and salsa, the perfect thing to pad your belly against a night of too much beer.
Best place to escape the crowd: A five-block trek north of the strip, the cozy, family-run Stellar Pizza & Ale (5513 Airport Way S., 206-763-1600) offers pies and pints with sweet service. While you're waiting for your dinner to arrive, take your beers to the back room and enjoy a few rounds of pinball.
Survival tip: If it feels like you're in the middle of nowhere, well, you are. Make sure to pack cab fare or designate a driver, as the buses are sporadic—when the bars close at 2 a.m., you may suddenly feel like you're a long way from home.