Look around. Seattle is getting more and more sterile with its prefabricated buildings, gentrified neighborhoods, and predictable cement-floor-and-exposed-pipe taphouses. The new wave of hangouts in this city are elaborate but often underwhelming. Where is the unique, the halting, the rugged? If you’re a beer drinker, where can you go to have a frosty pint that’s not out of a glossy magazine? Well, Beer Hunting has you covered with five great local dive bars (all of which also offer live music) where you can feel like you’re in an old-fashioned saloon.
The Shanty Tavern Why be open seven nights a week when you can be open only Friday and Saturday? That’s the philosophy of this Lake City hangout, a perfect hideout for a beer and a swinging rock tune. Hardly anyone knows about it, so keep this just between us, OK? 9002 Lake City Way N.E.
Slim’s Last Chance One of the best places to get a bowl of chili in Seattle, SLC is also a favorite of ’90s-era rockers, who sometimes perform impromptu secret shows. Not too long ago, the Presidents of the United States of America put on an unforgettable night with the local band Stereo Embers. So belly up to the bar, order a lager, and sip your cares away in this SoDo hole in the wall. 5606 First Ave. S., 762-7900
The Blue Moon One of Seattle’s most historic bars (rumor has it Jack Kerouac used to drink here, if Beat poetry is your thing), this U District watering hole offers multiple IPAs and red ales, along with myriad other local concotions. TBM is also one of the city’s best places to hear emerging bands; neo-jazz group Industrial Revelation used to blow the roof off here. The booths have Emerald City history scratched into their tabletops, and the ceiling is festooned with embedded playing cards. 712 N.E. 45th St., 675-9116
Darrell’s Tavern Shoreline’s quintessential roadhouse juke joint, DT has a long tap list behind its horseshoe bar and curates an excellent selection of locally made microbrews. This north-end gem also offers a regular rotation of live indie rock, and despite its modest size is equipped with a rich sound system that booms all the way out to the outdoor patio. 18041 Aurora Ave. N., 542-6688
The Little Red Hen A combination neighborhood dive and square-dancing hub (they offer weekly lessons, too), Greenlake’s LRH will satisfy your shot-and-beer cravings and might just leave you with a bit of sawdust on the soles of your boots. If you have a 10-gallon hat, wear it. If you enjoy spurs jangling, flaunt ’em. Pro tip: Visit the spot when Seattle’s Country Lips are playing a full set long into the beer-swilling night. It won’t disappoint. 7115 Woodlawn Ave. N.E., 522-1168