Rumor has it the folks who run some of the Ballard Avenue businesses were concerned about the clientele their new neighbor, the Ballard Loft, might draw. True, the Loft advertises itself as a "sports bar," but it stays true to the vibe of the street. First off, the clientele are just the IPA-and-baseball-cap types you run into at Modest Mouse and Built to Spill shows (translate: They dig basketball and soccer, but have KEXP bumper stickers on their Jeeps and at least a handful of Sub Pop albums loaded onto their iPods). Second, the interior of the place is gorgeous, with windblown fir serving as the bar and plenty of exposed beams and steel railings (the place is so new, it stills smells of varnish and wood shavings). And third, Ballard has been in sore need of a bar like this one, serving sports fans. Not only does the Loft have a rustic-chic air hockey table upstairs, but I counted more than a handful of flat-screen TVs all tuned to either the Sonics game or some kind of soccer match. (I've known folks who've headed to the Spitfire in Belltown to watch the Sonics, only to have the employees turn it off in favor of a trivia game. Something tells me that won't happen at the Ballard Loft.) Not to mention the service was perfect and the food was exactly what I've been looking for on Ballard Ave.: I had a hefty platter of no-bullshit nachos ($8) smothered in cheese, pico de gallo, etc., but the Loft specializes in an array of "Doggs," each one offering a veggie dog substitute. Oh, and how many places on Ballard Ave. offer streetside outdoor seating like the Ballard Loft? You might not care during these frigid months, but come sunshine, you can bet that patio will be packed shoulder to shoulder with, well, IPAs and baseball caps.