Food & Drink

The 8 Oldest Bars in Seattle

Published On 03/05/2015 Published On 03/05/2015
Chona Kasinger/Thrillist

Getting older can actually be a good thing: you can say whatever you like, eat dinner at 4:30pm, and... um, that's about it really. But if you're old AND a bar, you could also make our list of Seattle's oldest bars, just like these eight spots, where instead of making a bad decision, you'll be taking a journey through the 206's booze-soaked history...

Jules Maes Saloon

Jules Maes Saloon

Opened: 1888
Georgetown
Pre-prohibition, the Jules Maes in Georgetown was serving up that good ol' firewater. Today, this grungy old bar at the corner of Airport Way and Nebraska serves up stiff drinks, Tiger Wings, and frequently hosts live music. If you’re on the hungry side, Jules Maes' menu touts all kinds of dishes you might not expect to find in such a bar, like rabbit-stuffed ravioli, pork wings, and much more.
Fun fact: In its early days, the clientele here consisted largely of mariners and lumberjacks.

Flickr/josh

The J&M Cafe

Opened: 1889
Pioneer Square
The J&M has outlasted pretty much everything in its whopping 126 years. Located just off 1st in historic Pioneer Square, this place hosts live music, game screenings, and a happy hour that sees half off all drafts. Raise your glass to the many men who have filled your seat before you and make yourself at home.
Fun fact: In it's history the J&M has served as a Gold Rush flophouse, a Prohibition speakeasy, and an illegal brothel.

Flickr/rioncm

Central Saloon

Opened: 1892
Pioneer Square
Yet another bar that pre-dates Prohibition: The Central Saloon in Pioneer Square. A lot about the neighborhood has changed in the days of this old watering hole, yet this place has stood amidst the chaos of the city.
Fun fact: In 1992, The Central Saloon celebrated its 100th year of business and state Governor Booth Gardner even declared the fateful day in April “The Central Day” in the state of Washington.

The 5 Point Cafe

The 5 Point Cafe

Opened: 1929
Belltown
Since 1929, The 5 Point Cafe has been dishing up breakfast around the clock. Very few 24/7 establishments remain in Seattle today (RIP Hurricane), and this occasionally rowdy hang just under the shadow of the Space Needle carries the torch with dive-y excellence.
Fun fact:  The 5 Point Cafe is the longest family-run eatery in Seattle.

Flickr/¡Carlitos

The Mecca Cafe

Opened: 1930
Queen Anne
A year after The 5 Point opened, entrepreneur Dick Smith also opened The Mecca. Step into this place today and you’ll immediately appreciate the old time-y charm it has retained, along with its loyal clientele. Much like The 5 Point, the full menu here is served around the clock. Hello 8pm pancakes!
Fun fact: When jealous neighbors got their license taken away in the '30s, one corrupt member of the State Liquor Board offered to "fix-up" the Mecca's alcohol license for a thousand dollars.

Chona Kasinger/Thrillist

Blue Moon Tavern

Opened: 1934
U-District
Home to beat poets back in the day, the Blue Moon’s the first and oldest bar in the U-District. By state law, the bar had to be at least one mile away from the UW, locating it precisely where it is, just off the freeway. Crack into some peanuts and throw them on the floor and enjoy a cold one with some of the coolest ghosts in town.
Fun fact: In the late '80s, the Blue Moon was nearly demolished. Lucky for us, it stands today!

Chona Kasinger/Thrillist

Duchess Tavern

Opened: 1934
Ravenna
Planting its roots in Ravenna far before the era of parking lots, this large, yet cozy UW bar not too far from the U-Village has seen its fair share of rowdy scholars getting down on a Saturday night. Decked out with two fireplaces, an outdoor smoking area/patio (remember when you could do that inside?) and more Husky regalia than one could possibly imagine, the Duchess has been home to a good time since at least 1934.
Fun fact: The building the Duchess inhabits was built in 1926.

Chona Kasinger/Thrillist

The Tin Hat Bar & Grill

Opened: 1936
Ballard
In 1936 the space that is now called The Tin Hat opened up for business -- then under the name of the 65th St Tavern. Nowadays, the delightfully dive-y bar serves cheap tacos every Tuesday and also hosts daily specials on things like spaghetti and happy hour microbrews.
Fun fact: Its bathroom has a salacious surprise for you.

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Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Jules Maes Saloon 5919 Airport Way S, Seattle, WA 98108 (Georgetown)

Pre-prohibition, the Jules Maes in Georgetown was serving up that gool ‘ol firewater. This grungy old bar at the corner of Airport Way and Nebraska serves up stiff drinks and frequently hosts live music.

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2. The J & M Cafe 201 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104 (Pioneer Square)

Vigorously beautified by the former Fenix owner, the oldest bar in Seattle has a mammoth wooden main bar and an open kitchen to go with the old charms (its name in stained glass above the door, the antique plaster ceiling, the charmingly cavernous interior), all in an attempt to set the iconic night spot "as it should be", which given its history as a gold rush flop-house, prohibition speakeasy, and illegal brothel, was a pretty risque proposition.

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3. The Central Saloon 207 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

This casual saloon opened in the 19th century and serves tons of excellent American pub food.

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4. The 5 Point Cafe 415 Cedar St, Seattle, WA 98121 (Belltown)

It's hard to argue with this quirky's dive's tagline: "Alcoholics serving alcoholics since 1929" -- these guys have been serving boozy concoctions way under the radar since just before the end of prohibition, and it shows. The same goes for its heaping breakfasts of chicken & biscuits, plate-sized pancakes, and vegetarian hash and endless selection of classic burgers, sandwiches, and classic American comfort foods that make an ideal pair for a pint or specialty cocktail.

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5. The Mecca Cafe & Bar 526 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109 (Queen Anne)

Any bar with a motto like "alcoholics serving alcoholics since 1929", all-day breakfast, and a jukebox playing Coltrane, The Pixies, Tom Waits, and... um, Wham, is probably the place for you. So why aren't you at Mecca Cafe & Bar right now?

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6. Blue Moon Tavern 712 NE 45th St, Seattle, WA 98105 (University District)

Home to the beat poets back in the day, the Blue Moon’s roots extend far beyond that decade. In fact, it’s the first and oldest bar in the U-District. By state law, the bar had to be at least one mile away from the UW, locating it precisely where it is, just off the freeway.

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7. Duchess Tavern 2827 NE 55th St, Seattle, WA 98104 (University District)

Planting its roots in Ravenna far before the era of parking lots, this large, yet cozy UW bar not too far from the U-Village has seen its fair share of rowdy scholars getting down on a Saturday night. Decked out with two fireplaces, an outdoor smoking area/patio (remember when you could do that inside?) and more Husky regalia than one could possibly imagine, the Duchess has been home to a good time since at least 1934.

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8. The Tin Hat Bar & Grill 512 NW 65th St, Seattle, WA 98117 (Phinney Ridge)

The Tin Hat is one of Seattle’s older bars… and a magical time machine back to an easier, simpler time. After all, any place whose motto is “Shut the F Up and Drink” is a place we want to be at.

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