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Seattle's Most Interesting Bars

Any list of the most interesting bars in Seattle is sure to be idiosyncratic and incomplete. But here are some of the ones that most intrigue me. If you have thoughts on these or others, please drop me an email.

(Note: I've collected these photographs as a personal hobby, and while some have open licenses, I am not able to track sources or licensing info for many of them. If you believe any of these are used inappropriately or not given proper attribution, please email me at the address above.)

Click for details:


The Jolly Roger

The Black & Tan

The Casino Pool Room
and The Double Header

The Coon Chicken Inn

Some of the others I hope to get to soon:

  • The Jailhouse - The host would lock patrons in a cell, and the waiter would come unlock the cell to take their order
  • Shelley's Leg - Seattle's first major disco, a brazenly gay bar built with the procedes of Shelley Bauman's lawsuit over an errant parade cannon shot that forced the amputation of her leg.
  • Minnehaha Saloon - Owned by Mary Thompson (d 1893), "one of Seattle's wealthiest African American citizens at the time of her death. As the owner of the saloon and brothel, she earned a fortune in real estate, jewelry, and cash."
  • The Spanish Castle - Midway between Seattle and Tacoma, instrumental in Seattle rock scene of the 50s and 60s,and emergence of people from the Wailers and Sonics to Jimi Hendrix (who would hang outside with his amp and lend it to bands on condition he be allowed to play)
  • Doc Hamilton's Barbecue Pit - On 12th Ave across from where the Seattle University stands today, was the most famous of the prohibition hangouts, Seattle's equivalent of the Cotton Club. Doc opened his first speakeasy at 1017 1/2 E. Union, and later operated The Ranch, on highway 99 just north of the King County line. The Pit was elegant. "Limousines lined the curb out front, while Seattle's social elect, including the mayor, ducked in and out of the club. Downstairs was the action -- roulette and an all-night dice game. Should there be a raid, the Barbecue Pit was prepared. A complete alarm system of bells, bars, and pulleys, snaked through the building. A button convenient to the cashier at the lunch counter was wired to a buzzer at the triple-barred doors of the cabaret basement. (de Barros p15)
  • The People's Theater - John Considine's den of iniquity which dominated the "box theaters," precipitated the fatal gun battle between the Considine brothers and Sherrif Meredith, and may have basically established the police-payoff system that remained in effect from the late 19th century into the late 1960s
  • Union Club - (First & Union) - Owned by Wyatt Earp for a year+ in 1890s
  • The Vogue - The most influential alternative dance club of the 80s and 90s
  • Sneakers - Brought "Buffalo Wings" outside of Buffalo and pioneered the TVs-everywhere style sports bar