It's been one month and change since we shared our picks>"/>
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It's been one month and change since we shared our picks for the area's outstanding suburban neighborhood bars, which should have given curious drinkers sufficient time to explore the best watering holes that Kirlkland, Kenmore and Maple Valley have to offer -- and measure how well they stack up against the city's best.
*See Also Seattle's Top 10 Milkshakes
Here, our picks for the best neighborhood bars within city limits. As always, Erin Thompson compiled our contributors' comments, and there's no significance to the bar's ordering (although we've saved the top slot for our winner.)
With the timbered exterior, sprawling castlelike layout, and full suit of armor that greets you upon entry at Capitol Hill's Canterbury Ale and Eats, it's not a stretch to feel as though you've slain dragons or crossed a spike-filled moat just to get through the door. Once safely inside the gates, reap the rewards, for the feudal destination provides more than just an ideal locale for fantasy games. Stocked with shuffleboard, foosball, pool tables, televisions, and one of the best jukeboxes in town, it's a spot where jocks, hipsters, and D&D lovers alike can find common ground.
9. Eastlake Zoo Tavern
Tables engraved with pocket knives; dusty, homemade show posters; and photos of bearded and bell-bottomed patrons make it clear you're in a place with a lot of history. And, in fact, The Zoo is one of Seattle's oldest taverns. The Zoo's like a carnival for big kids, dominated by pool tables, shuffleboard, darts, pinball and skee ball. In keeping with the stripped-down spirit of the place, it's not just beer-and-wine-only--it's also cash-only.
Turn off Queen Anne Ave. on Upper Queen Anne, drive past some parks and residential zones, and you'll eventually stumble upon the nondescript Targy's Tavern. Targy's may not be much to look at--its most notable décor includes aging Budweiser posters and a few softball trophies--but it's a hugely popular neighborhood favorite. Regulars drawn to the tavern's ultra-chill atmosphere gather around the horseshoe-shaped bar for Rainiers and then gradually spread out to take advantage of the pool tables, the electronic darts, or the jukebox.
Years after everyone's been forced to take their cigarettes outside, The Quarter Lounge is one of those places which will never quite lose its smoky aura. This well-loved First Hill watering hole offers happy-hour from 3 to 7 p.m. and again from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. including $3 PBRs, $3.50 wells, and $4 micros. Bar fare is bare bones--pizza, corndogs, and popcorn--but patrons regularly (and are welcome to) bring their own grub from home, be it fried chicken to birthday cakes. With pool tables, sports on TV, and '70s funk on the jukebox (including vintage TV theme songs like "Good Times"), the Quarter (as in French Quarter) is home to a younger crowd who like to, as they say in the big easy, let the good times roll.
6. Al's Tavern
Easy to miss if you don't recognize the silver stars painted atop its stretch of NE 45th St. in Wallingford, Al's Tavern is a true old-school dive with character that the Puget Sound mural on its walls echoes. The cash-only watering hole has been open for seven decades, and its prices for food, microbrew pints, or generous pours don't seem to have risen much since its inception. For entertainment, regulars haunt the pool tables and the vinyl-stuffed jukebox.
Across the street from the Jackson Park public golf course sits this unassuming little corner tavern that, if not for a few neon beer signs, could be confused for a Bavarian-style private home. Caroline's has one small, carpeted room usually full of blue collar regulars. Prices are low: A draft of Georgetown Brewing's Lucille IPA and a Tanqueray and tonic are, combined, less than $10. Some beers are served in mason jars, there's a fair amount of Steely Dan on the jukebox, and the only barrier to entry are a pair of Nutcracker sentries guarding the door.
There's no way not to have a good time at the Twilight Exit, one of the Central District's few neighborhood bars--and certainly the only one that cures its own bacon. The Twilight is your uncle's rec room, only with a better beer selection. Hanging globe lamps light up the velvet oil paintings and motocross trophies lining the walls. There's shuffleboard in the front, pinball in the middle, ping-pong out back, and happy hour every day from opening to 8 p.m. Plus: tater tots--golden, delicious, fatty tater tots, the perfect foil for a $3 pint of Dick's Danger Ale and a catfish po'boy or meatloaf sandwich.
A sign at the front register of the Broiler explains its three-martini limit, clearly a necessary measure to counter the rowdiness and table dancing that might otherwise occur. Here you can order an ur-Atkins meal (a ground beef patty with cottage cheese and fruit) or a steak dinner. Notable sides include clam strips and delicious onion rings: Crunchy, golden, greasy, and in no need of ketchup. And the shadowy back lounge is dark enough to slip in a fourth or fifth martini unnoticed. The Wedgwood Broiler, bless its heart, is the real McCoy. May it live at least as long as its septuagenarian regulars.
2. Tug Inn
Tell the average West Seattleite that you've actually entered the Tug's doors, and his or her natural response will be, "Ooohhh, I've always wondered what it's like in there." Once you get your bearings, it's not scary at all. The "house party" description is spot-on; everyone here seems to know one another really well (maybe too well), and the decor is reminiscent of a garage refurbished to serve as a party room, with the driveway doubling as a sundeck.
1. Hattie's Hat
Much has changed in Ballard since Hattie's Hat served its first thirsty roughneck in 1904 (for one thing, the streets are no longer made of dirt; for another, there are way more condos), but you get the feeling Hattie's has stayed pretty much the same. The place no longer opens at 6 a.m. to serve a graveyard shift's worth of dockworkers looking to take the edge off, but the setup of roomy booths along the aisle inside the door, more intimate ones on the other side of a "brawl wall," that magnificent old wooden bar, and Aunt Harriet's dining room in the back remains the ideal watering hole. Amicable bartenders, two prime-time happy hours (3-7 p.m. and 10 p.m.-midnight), a hangover-curing brunch on weekends, a menu that features smoked ribs for $1.50 each . . . there are as many reasons to love Hattie's as years the place has been in business.