Are you planning to relocate to the Seattle area? Have you been browsing for Seattle homes for rent on real estate sites, maps, apartment finders, etc…only to find your mind going numb from endless clicking, pop-up ads, and pointless maps that do you no good because you don’t even know the area well enough to make sense of them? And how about all those scams and SPAM responses from Craigslist? It’s so hard to make any progress, even if you already know your way around. Add to that a tight time frame to find the right place before you start that new job, or the kids have to start school….or your lease expires. You need help!
This article was written by my friend and colleague, Annette Grupido, with whom I work in West Seattle. My witty comments are in italics. Just like this. Enjoy.
1. The water! Less than a mile away is the peaceful and gorgeous Beach Drive. Just far enough from the bustle of Alki, yet close enough for a great run /walk with numerous scenic viewpoints and parks along the way. There is even a lovely Italian restaurant, La Rustica, for those nights you’d like to take a leisurely stroll to a memorable dinner.
If you liked the volleyball scene in Top Gun, you’ll LOVE Alki Beach in the Summer!
2. The Alaska Junction offers a plethora of restaurants and pubs. A huge variety of foods are represented here. Mexican, Sushi, Steaks, Thai, pub fare and more! Not to mention our thriving nightlife. Monthly art walks feature local artists, there is live theatre at Artswest, as well as a handful of Karaoke and live music venues.
My favorite is Lee’s Asian Restaurant, home of the 7-flavor beef, which is worth the drive regardless of anything else you see over here…
It is no secret that it rains in Washington. Sometimes it rains a lot…for days and days. That is just the way it is. And while to some that may seem like a downside to living here, it is, in my opinion, a perfectly reasonable trade-off when you consider the lack of poisonous bugs, snakes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, locust swarms and dragons, etc. so prevalent elsewhere in the country. The reward is reaped in the Spring, Summer and Fall, when the mild temperatures and unparalleled beauty of the natural landscape make life in the Northwest feel like a well-earned privilege. Still, it is important to know how to cope with those dreary, cloudy days, and so I give you….
It seems fitting to be writing this the day before Halloween, given the cringe-inducing nature of this topic. However, I feel compelled to write about this as a Public Service Announcement.
Bed bugs, like the ones your Mom used to warn you about, are becoming a serious nuisance in metropolitan areas like Seattle. They first came to my attention a couple of months ago, and my initial reaction was something along the lines of a guffaw. “What’s next?”, I laughed, “an invasion of unicorns?” Sadly, and disturbingly, bed bugs are real, and they are nasty little bastards.
Recently, I was wandering the Ballard Sunday market with my friend Alan. We were taking pictures of Old Ballard and reminiscing about the many great times we’ d had there over the years. While wandering down Ballard Ave. ( which is blocked off during the market) we saw a pair of boots nailed to a phone pole. As I paused to take a picture, a family walked past. I overheard their young son inquire of his father, “Daddy, why are there shoes stuck to that pole?” The answer, which became an instant catch-phrase, was, “because it’s Ballard.” After pausing for a brief moment to reflect on the simple perfection of that statement I yelled back, “That is a great answer!”
Having spent several years living in and around Ballard, I am excited to present my favorite Seattle neighborhood to the world, in all of it’s funky, unique and beautiful glory. Why, because it’s Ballard.
Ballard offers some of the most lively and diverse nightlife in all of Seattle. A night out in Ballard can easily turn into a weekend, a week…or a month. There is that much going on. As a nightlife connoisseur, I have come to love the unparalleled diversity that Ballard, and in particular Old Ballard, has to offer. Reminiscent of the famous 6th street in Austin, Texas, the motivated explorer can wander through Ballard and find tastes to suit every palate, from raucous rockabilly taverns to swanky, modern lounges. There are late-night pizza joints, Irish pubs and not-quite-pretentious wine bars. These are my favorites…in no particular order…
1. The Matador: Known for it’s ridiculously awesome happy-hour food menu, the Matador is one of Seattle’s pre-eminent boutique chains. The decor is southwestern classy, with high-backed booths and an elaborate fireplace centerpiece. Dos Equis Amber on tap and cadillac margaritas are my favorites.
2. The Sunset tavern: The quintessential dive bar (in the best possible sense), the Sunset has nightly live music performed by up-and-coming local bands, cheap beer and a vibe that says, “we’ve been here forever, we know we’re awesome, and we don’t care what you think!”
3. Hazlewood: Rumored to be owned, at least in part, by one of Seattle’s most luminary musical figures, Hazlewood occupies a narrow loft space with dim lighting, artsy decor and excellent cocktails. The upstairs has comfy seating in a tight cozy space that almost forces you to mingle with the other hipsters who’ve been lucky enough to find their way up there. The lights have a soft vibe that makes you feel like you’ve spent some of your happiest nights in their glow. Don’t forget to check the peephole above the couch in the back of the upstairs area… Hazlewood is located next door to Snoose Junction, which has awesome pizza, late into the night.
4. King’s Hardware: Located toward the southeast end of Ballard Ave., King’s is located in…wait for it… an old hardware store. King’s has, in my opinion, the best outdoor drinking area in Ballard. There’s a huge deck out back with it’s own bar. Inside, King’s looks the way a really cool bar in Montana would look if it was full of Rainier swilling Seattleites. There are animal heads adorning the walls and Skee-ball in the back… it feels like a redneck vacation hideaway, but in a cool way that doesn’t actually involve killing anything. Also, they have some of the best burgers in Seattle.
5. The Tractor Tavern: The home of Ballard’s best live music, famous across the far reaches of the hipster galaxy, The Tractor is old, wooden, and utterly awesome. Inside it’s worn and faded doorway, you will find a warm, happy place featuring tall-boys of Rainier, bathrooms about which your mother would complain, and a guarantee of excellent live tunes.
6. The Lock & Keel: Situated across the street from the Tractor, the Lock & Keel has the unique distinction of being the first pub I ever visited in Old Ballard. With long tables, cheap pool, and a wide range of beers on tap, this is a great place to take a large group of drinking buddies. I like to go there immediately before and after shows at the Tractor.
7. Conor Byrne: One of Ballard’s two Irish pubs, Conor Byrne rounds out the trifecta at the corner of Ballard Ave. and 20th Ave. NW, next door to the Lock & Keel and across the street from the Tractor. Conor Byrne features a dark, cozy atmosphere, replete with Irish beers and live Irish music. The crowd here is usually lively, and the cover is reasonable. M0re than almost any other place in Seattle, this is a where I commonly run into old friends I haven’t seen since who-knows-when. That, in itself, is a great reason to show up…
8. The Loft: One of Old Ballard’s newest pubs, The Loft has endeared itself to me greatly. The feel is difficult to describe. It is everything Ballard stands for. A perfect blend of the best of the old, and the best of the new. Located in one of Ballard’s oldest buildings, The Loft features great beers (extra-large glasses of Oly!), great food and that ultra-cool brick construction that gives Old Ballard it’s real character. Known for it’s crowds of football and soccer fans, as well as it’s upstairs that caters to private parties, The Loft is a perfect example of the way Ballard is creating a hybrid of classic and modern.
9. The Old Pequliar: The other of Ballard’s Irish pubs, The Old Pequliar is one of the larger venues in the area. Located on Market Street a few blocks east of “Old Ballard” the Old Peq has two pool tables, a rarity in the area. They also feature live music and an outdoor drinking area. The crimson exterior grabs the eye and attracts the liver. It’s location makes it perfect for the adventurous pub crawler to hit on either the attack or retreat from Old Ballard. Or both, if you know what you’re doing. Also, the relatively large size makes this a preferred venue for St. Patrick’s day, though it is still advised that you get there early. February 23rd has worked quite well for me….
10. The Copper Gate: One of Ballard’s most unique establishments, the Copper Gate features Scandinavian brews and cuisine. The bar itself is fashioned from on old wooden ship, and the floor is tiled in white. The walls and shelves are adorned with early 20th century “self-help” contraptions and black-and-white “artsy” pictures… I wouldn’t suggest taking your kids here, lest they be irrevocably scarred by the sight of devices and pictures your great-grandparents might have gasped at. Then again…it’s a bar. Delight your senses in the exotic Scandinavian and European beer selection, most of which you’ve never heard of. Don’t be shocked by the $12 bottle of beer. Trust me, it’s worth it…and you won’t remember the cost anyway…
That’s it….for now. There are several bars that did not make this list that are definitely worth checking out. I will update this post periodically as new reviews are written and new watering holes are added to Ballard’s growing landscape.
Thanks for reading! Please leave your comments below. I appreciate your feedback! If you have any questions about Ballard bars or Seattle real estate in general, please feel free to email Rob LeRoy directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 206.883.6668