The Best Dive Bars in Seattle

Suzi Pratt/Thrillist (edited)

From '70s-style beer bars to taxidermy-heavy spots that also serve burgers, these Seattle bars probably aren't the best places to take a first date, but they are some of the best places to get an unfussy drink (or six).

Flickr/Curtis Cronn
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The 5 Point Cafe

 
Neighborhood/Location
Belltown
Description

Its motto is “alcoholics serving alcoholics since 1929,” they’re pretty mean to anyone wearing Google Glass (they were the first bar in the country to ban them -- months before they came out), and every morning from 6-9am they (rather subversively) serve up bacon pancakes and quick-fried mini donuts, plus cheap wells, and $2 drafts during their morning happy hour, all of which actually make it, despite its dim black-and-white checkerboard interior, a pretty nice place to grab a drink at dawn, or anytime, really.

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Courtesy of Suzi Pratt
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Linda's Tavern

 
Neighborhood/Location
Capitol Hill
Description

For almost 20 years, LT's been a destination for musicians getting ready for a show (or bartending, serving, and working in the kitchen), and is supposedly the last place Kurt Cobain was seen alive. Also, some of their bathrooms are really nice. Just kidding, but the Cobain thing is true.

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Flickr/Travis Lowdermilk
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The Mecca Cafe and Bar

 
Neighborhood/Location
Queen Anne
Description

Opened a year after The 5 Point (1930) by the same family, the Mecca's two narrow rooms boast all the usual dive hallmarks: surly bartenders, delicious & greasy eats, and drinks that are so stiff they'll put anyone where most people who go to the city it shares a name with are: on their knees.

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King's Hardware
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King's Hardware

 
Neighborhood/Location
Ballard
Description

This taxidermy-heavy bar has some serious deals on Oly and 14 other drafts, 15 burger options (like the peanut butter/bacon-based After School Special), hot wings, onion rings, and other "sidekicks", a massive patio out back, bars games (Buck Hunter, skeeball, etc.), and bottled craft cocktails served at "beer speed," whatever the hell that means.

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Flickr/Jordan Schwartz
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The Grizzled Wizard

 
Neighborhood/Location
Wallingford
Description

Opened by a pair of bar and restaurant vets, this black painted Erotic Bakery-adjacent drink spot's serving signature old-timey cocktails (the Italian vermouth/dry gin/brandy/lemon Victor) under the kind of muted red lighting ideal for displaying their ironic graffiti-style wizard mural, and playing all their games, like pin-ball, free darts, and a gratis arcade-style console loaded w/‘80s classics like Galaga, Pac Man & Pole Position.

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Montana
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Montana

 
Neighborhood/Location
Capitol Hill
Description

Opened by a Montana-born industry veteran (La Bete, Matt's in the Market, etc.) and the entrepreneur behind Rachel's Ginger Beer, this 40-seater's serving better-than-usual beers and a few classic cocktails in a charmingly awkward space that used to house the Buck's, now transformed thanks to stained wood and highway signs (some bullet-riddled!) into the kind of intentionally divey space where you're encouraged to carve your name into the tables.

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Flickr/Panchenks
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Shorty's

 
Neighborhood/Location
Belltown
Description

Enjoy it while you can. This Coney Island-themed hot dog-and-pinball emporium will likely close soon to make way for a 124-unit housing development (there is a last ditch campaign trying to save the building, so fingers crossed), but in the meantime the 2nd Avenue mainstay is still serving a half-dozen dog options, and pouring stiff drinks in its festive but casual space.

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Blue Moon
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Blue Moon Tavern

 
Neighborhood/Location
University District
Description

Opened a mile or so from UW in 1934, when the law required bars to be at least that far from the school, this wood-heavy tavern spent the middle part of the century as a destination for literary figures like Roethke, Dylan Thomas, and Allen Ginsberg. Nowadays it's a destination for music lovers thank's to live shows almost every night.

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Flickr/Erin Resso
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Redwood Bar & Grill

 
Neighborhood/Location
Capitol Hill
Description

Boasting low light, a low ceiling, slightly sticky surfaces, and a floor covered in the shells of free peanuts, this genuinely divey Cap Hill institution is another beloved bar that may soon be torn down by developers, but will remain a can't-miss establishment until its seemingly inevitable demise.

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Steve Baldwin
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Comet Tavern

 
Neighborhood/Location
Capitol Hill
Description

Everyone thought it was curtains for this well-loved bar in 2013, until new owners stepped in and launched a new, more polished version of the former venue/bar in 2014. Though music doesn’t happen quite as often as it used to, they've still got a solid booze selection -- and $4 pitchers -- plus the bar connects to Lost Lake next door so you can grab a late-night breakfast/plate of tater tots.

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Thunderbird Tavern
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Thunderbird Tavern

 
Neighborhood/Location
Ballard
Description

All you really need to know is that the TT's connected to one of Seattle's best strip clubs, but if that's somehow not enough for you, this iconic dive reopened in 2014 (after shuttering the year before) with some help from the guy behind the Secret Sausage food truck. Meaning you can always score a hotlink with house-made cream cheese to go with their better than average beer selection.

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Bradley Foster is a former Thrillist editor who is traumatized by the fact he'll soon have to buy peanuts instead of getting them for free at The Redwood.
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1. The 5 Point Cafe 415 Cedar St, Seattle, WA 98121

It's hard to argue with a motto like "Alcoholics serving alcoholics since 1929" -- or this diner's/dive bar's tasty American bites (burgers, sandos) and breakfast drinks.

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2. Linda's Tavern 707 E Pine St, Seattle, WA 98122

A classic pub in Seattle, Linda's prides itself on being "a nice place for nice people".

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3. The Mecca Cafe & Bar 526 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

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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4. King's Hardware 5225 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107

This heavily taxidermy'd boozer's got seriously sweet deals on Oly and 14 other drafts, 15 burger options (like the peanut butter/bacon-based After School Special), plus hot wings, onion rings, and other "sidekicks".

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5. The Grizzled Wizard 2317 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103

Opened by a pair of bar/resto vets, this black painted Erotic Bakery-adjacent drink spot's got muted red lighting ideal for display of its ironic graffiti-style wizard mural; they're featuring signature old-timey 'tails (the Italian vermouth/dry gin/brand

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6. Montana 1506 E Olive Way, Seattle, WA 98122

Opened by a 'tana-born industry vet (La Bete, Matt's in the Market, etc.) and the lady-preneur behind Rachel's Ginger Beer, this 40-seater's serving better-than-usual suds and a few classical 'tails in a charmingly awkward space that used to house the Buck's, now transformed thanks to stained wood and highway signs (some bullet-riddled!) into the kind of intentionally dive-y space where you're encouraged to carve your name into the tables.

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7. Shorty's 2222 2nd Ave., Seattle, WA 98121

This Belltown boozer is combining your favorite things all under one roof: arcade games, hot dogs, and plenty of drinks. Stop in for pinball and a cocktail... at the same time.

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8. Blue Moon Tavern 712 NE 45th St, Seattle, WA 98105

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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9. Redwood Bar and Grill 514 E Howell St, Seattle, WA 98122

With sticky surfaces and peanut shell covered floors, you know that Redwood is a true dive bar. With cheap drinks and greasy bar fare,

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10. Comet Tavern 922 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122

Though music doesn’t happen quite as often as it used to, the booze flows aplenty and the bar connects to Lost Lake next door so you can grab a late-night breakfast/plate of tater tots.

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11. Thunderbird Tavern 7515 15th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117

With some help from the guys behind Secret Sausage Food Truck, Thurnderbird reopened in 2014, giving back Seattle its much needed dive bar plus strip club joint. Plus now you can order a hotlink with home made cream cheese with your beer.

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