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The Best Bars On Capitol Hill

The best Capitol Hill bars, from dives to hidden cocktail spots.

The Best Bars On Capitol Hill guide image

Experiencing Capitol Hill nightlife is like fiddling with a faulty remote control car: you never know which way it’s going to go, but it’s a really eventful time regardless. Plan any big night out that involves bar-hopping, and chances are you’ll decide on Capitol Hill—and with good reason. There’s a quality mix of cocktail bars where you can host your knitting circle alongside places where you’ll feel the need to yell, “Down the hatch, people!” That’s why we love it. Here are our favorite places to drink on the Hill.

The Spots

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Canon

You might already know that Canon is home to Seattle’s best cocktails. After booking an online reservation and putting down a $25-per-person deposit, you’re in for an experience that feels like a trip to Willy Wonka’s Factory—only there are no irritating children, and you’re sampling outstanding drinks in theatrical vessels (like ceramic bathtubs or IV bags) instead of candy that alters your chemical makeup. Order from the encyclopedic menu book, or trust the bartender to whip something up from the wall of liquor so massive that they need a ladder to get to the top-shelf stuff.


La Dive’s location used to be a sandwich shop, but now it really feels more like…a club. This natural wine bar serves frozen Campari-spiked Beaujoulais slushies, fun canned bubbles, and fancy flavored soda if you’re in the market for something non-alcoholic. Despite the fact that Chambongs are on the menu, La Dive is a very relaxing space to hop over to a table with a few friends and snack on Eastern European small plates like sardine toasts and spicy potato pelmeni. While, you know, also casually gulping glass bongs full of grapey carbonation.


The Best Dumplings In Seattle guide image

SEA Guide

The Best Dumplings In Seattle

This dark, cavernous, mahogany-hued bar is the perfect place to let your imagination run wild, since it feels like an alternate dimension in which you’re the protagonist in a secret agent movie. Only, instead of somersaulting across the bar to avoid your sworn enemy’s attacks, the only real obligation you have here is to order delicious tropical drinks (the passionfruity, apple brandy-packed Expat Punch is our favorite) and standout snacks. Specifically, the cheeseburger bao with a special sauce dip that should be sold in bottle form.


To get into Needle & Thread, you have to make a reservation online, enter through Tavern Law (their sister bar), and pick up a vintage phone in the back corner. After chatting with the person on the other end of the line, a door will unlock. Walk up the rickety stairs into a dark antique parlor greeted by a cocktail wizard who will whip you up something delicious based on whatever you like since there’s no menu. The bartender will jot your preferences down and then produce something outstanding, whether it’s a daiquiri with banana and cinnamon bitters or a Campari spritz with pomegranate and raspberries. You can also get food from Tavern Law downstairs, and we’d like it to be known that the cheddar corn cracklins with serrano fondue is the best bar snack in Seattle.


Rose Temple is one of those fun hangout spots that has a drink for everyone. There’s a guava-strawberry vodka shooter involving edible glitter and a gummy shark, trash can cocktails, alcoholic slushies, and, of course, cans of Rainier. What makes this place feel even more fun is the jungle-meets-Clue-mansion decor—only instead of figuring out “whodunit” in the study with the candlestick, you’re sitting around downing daiquiri shots. Pile your friends in a booth among the bookcases and chandeliers, and order something tasty from one of the various pop-ups that serve food in the bar.


Hopefully you like going to bars during the weekend because Flight is only open Friday through Sunday. We imagine that’s not a problem. Booking a tasting at this aviation-themed wine bar is a great way to explore some new wines and eat some standout chocolate in one sitting. It’s relatively easy to secure a table of any size by emailing the bar in advance, though it’s not as easy to refrain from bringing boxes of bonbons home afterward. They serve charcuterie and a delicious gluten-free snack mix, but you can’t miss their phenomenal bark strips, a.k.a. dark chocolate sticks studded with olive oil, salt, and black pepper-toasted Rice Krispies. They pair fantastically with the port that’s served with them.


Drinking at The Doctor’s Office is the closest thing to having a fresh cocktail poured by a hospitable friend at their place. Exhibit A: sometimes you’ll receive some Champagne as a welcome present. Exhibit B: we’ve also been handed a full liquor bottle with a glass of ice and told, “you know what a pour looks like.” The space feels exclusive, since it’s a small, dark room with a marble bar and a sofa, and though we’ve been able to walk right in before, you should definitely make a reservation. The menu is a bit complicated to decipher, but if you just let the staff know what you’re in the mood for, they’ll provide the perfect… prescription. If you don’t like going out, this is the place where you should go out. And while we won’t share any specific spoilers, we highly encourage you to visit the restroom at least once during your visit.


Bait Shop feels a little bit like a tiki bar and a little bit like a lakeside tackle shop. They have nautical decor, painkiller slushies, board games, incredible triple-dipped french fries, and movies playing on a massive projector. The mood here is ideal if you’re in for a good, loud night but also feel like being seated the entire time. There are few things better than intense rounds of Uno, with slushie-induced brain freezes and burnt tongues from hot potatoes.


The Best Fish & Chips In Seattle guide image

SEA Guide

The Best Fish & Chips In Seattle

Stay far away from Unicorn if you want a subdued evening discussing nonfiction literature. This place is a mystical carnival-themed sensory overload where you’ll eat corn dogs, play arcade games, and knock back cocktails that have names like “Americorn″ and come loaded with bubblegum vodka, Sprite, and other things containing high fructose corn syrup. If it’s someone’s birthday, order them some “Unicorn Tears″ and make them wear “the hat” (a.k.a. a bedazzled baseball helmet with a two-foot-long horn hot-glued to it). You can expect at least one ridiculous thing to happen at Unicorn whenever you go.


One of the best sushi spots in the city also happens to be one of our favorite bars on the Hill. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a spot at one of Liberty’s sofas where you can sip your way through the massive menu of terrific and creatively-named cocktails. Try the “JG Wentworth” or the “Strawberry Manilow” and order a couple of spicy tuna rolls and salmon nigiri to snack on.


Maybe your friend’s work schedule changed and now they have a Saturday off for the first time in three years. Celebrate at Redhook, a versatile brewery devoted to experimental beers like malty Mexican lagers and guava milkshake IPAs. The space is in a very slick, new building where you can watch the entire operation churn out their small-batch brews. There’s even a backroom with a hand shuffleboard table that pretty much nobody uses.


The Best Brew Pubs In Seattle guide image

SEA Guide

The Best Brew Pubs In Seattle

The only thing prettier than Boat Bar’s white and seafoam green dining room during the day is the same scene lit by creamy yellow candles at night. Make this your spot for a date or small gathering where you’d like to hear each other speak, but still drink some elegant cocktails like boulevardiers, sazeracs, and tart gimlets. Food-wise, the place is great for anything from a few oysters to a full meal involving things like clam croquettes, steak tartare, or a burger covered in green goddess. But if anything else, come to Boat Bar because you can order steaks from Bateau next door, which is a legendary hack to take advantage of when you couldn’t snag a reservation there.


The Belmont has a lot of good things going on: It’s a bottle shop, a wine bar, and a meat and cheese tasting room where you can sample everything from triple cream brie to Iberico chorizo. It’s ideal for low-key meetups with your Jane Austen book club, but could also work for a wild night out with a bunch of friends (and if that still means book club, more power to you). Their frozen rosé tastes like a goblet of fresh watermelon sorbet, so you’ll want one of those during the spring and summer when it’s on the menu.


The Best Wine Bars In Seattle guide image

SEA Guide

The Best Wine Bars In Seattle

Linda’s isn’t exactly a dive bar, but it’s also not where you bring your country club friends who wear plaid golf pants. It’s the perfect spot for everything from a shot-and-beer combo to a lovely local cider to boozy slushies made with Mountain Dew. There’s a big back patio, taxidermy, arcade machines, jukebox tunes that don’t stop, and a fun crowd at all times.


Rachel’s Ginger Beer is the only bar in the neighborhood where the non-alcoholic options are just as delicious as the boozy ones. The ginger beer flavors in this beautiful plant-filled space range from caramelized pineapple to passionfruit vanilla, but if you’re here for a proper cocktail, go for a frozen mule, a spirit-topped soft serve float, or a porch swing with gin and Aperol.


Where To Go Out In Seattle When You’re Not Drinking guide image

SEA Guide

Where To Go Out In Seattle When You’re Not Drinking

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Rhein Haus

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Rhein Haus is located in a huge space that’s packed to the brim with long wooden tables, bratwurst, and college students. If you can get past the fact that the line to the bathroom may take longer than a sitcom episode, and that most of the people here are basically children, swing by and slurp liters of German lager served in glass boots. You can also eat things like schnitzel sliders, one of our favorite kale salads in town, and comically large pretzels with tasty beer cheese, all while paying 10 dollars an hour to play bocce extremely competitively until your friends hate each other.


The Best Restaurants On Capitol Hill guide image

SEA Guide

The Best Restaurants On Capitol Hill

Bar Vacilando is a beautiful bar complete with giant ceiling fans, plants, and a hidden back patio that looks like the setting of an Anthropologie catalog photoshoot. It works to your advantage for any situation where you need a reliable, calm neighborhood spot: first date, last-minute group hang, or after-dinner drinks with your parents. The cocktails are also great—get the Honey Badger, which is a bubbly sipper mixed with gin, honey, lemon, and lavender bitters.


Captain Black’s is pretty plain on the inside, but that doesn’t matter, because you’re coming here when the weather’s warm for draught cocktails and fried pickles on the rooftop patio. In fact, “Captain Blacks later?” is the first thing to fly through cyberspace in our group text whenever fake summer hits on that random 65-degree day in January. It’s the perfect place to day drink on a Sunday afternoon, and to take phone photos of your Manny’s pint held up toward the cerulean sky while all of your friends groan.


Capitol Cider feels like being 16 years old and hanging out with your friends in a basement playing board games. Except there are no mildew smells and the alcohol you’re drinking is obtained legally. If you’re lucky enough to get a table, break out the Cards Against Humanity and grab a pint of something semi-dry if you’re into the classics, or a funky apple mead if you’re feeling like a medieval court jester.


We love this Filipino speakeasy for a surprise party. That’s mostly because it’s a great place to drink, but also because it’s fun to lead the oblivious guest of honor to a spooky, unmarked door. When you have a reservation here, you’re in for incredibly bright and citrusy cocktails alongside Filipino snacks like lumpia, grilled paneer with gingery mushrooms, and a tangy steak sandwich with Velveeta that’s so good it surpasses nachos and/or macaroni as the best thing involving melty processed cheese.


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