NFT Seattle Nightlife

Seattle / Nightlife

Seattle may be small by metropolis standards, but we use our space very efficiently. From quaint dives to swanky Belltown wine bars, punk rock to hipster kitsch, in Seattle, anyone can find their scene.

Find Your Thrill on the Hill
If you don't know what kind of vibe you're in the mood for, Capitol Hill has a wide range of destinations, from the sexy red lighting of Cha Cha (Map 4) to the hunting lodge chic of Redwood (Map 4), you'll find a cool place to hang out. The Hill is often pigeon-holed as a hipster/homo ghetto, but as long as you're open minded, it really can be all things to all people. At Pony (Map 4) every day is Pride Day, meaning you're probably going to see a lot of genitalia and party your ass off. The wing to Pony's wang is the Wild Rose (Map 4), a fun and inclusive lesbian bar with plenty of love for both genders and a haunted bathroom. Smith (Map 4) is another hunting lodge-style bar with an enterprising gastropub menu. Seattle loves its speakeasy-style bars what with cagey entrances and enthusiastic cocktails. They're like well-decorated clubhouses. Knee High Stocking Co (Map 4) is in an unmarked building on a weird triangular island between two busy streets. But if you feel like making the effort, your palette will be richly rewarded. There are only a handful of tables so reservations (by text) are recommended. Tavern Law (Map 4) has a speakeasy-within-a-speakeasy called Needle & Thread with extra hoops to jump through for entry. Pie Bar (Map 4) wants you to have your pie and drink it too. Sun Liquor (Map 17) and Sun Liquor Distillery (Map 4) will serve you the greatest cocktails of your life using fresh squeezed juices and their own hooch and they are more than happy to customize. The Unicorn (Map 4) is a carnival-themed den of iniquity with an adult arcade called Narwhal in the basement. Both floors serve sugary beverages, an array of corn dogs (with veg options) and more deep-fried junk food than you can shake meat on a stick at. Experience Steampunk salvage chic at Grim's (Map 4) and soak up your mason jar cocktails with inventive and reasonably-priced sandwiches. After last call, on the weekends, find the Off the Rez food truck squeezed into a doorway on Pike and they will hook you up with some incredible hangover prevention in the form of frybread tacos.

It's a Live!
The grunge days of flannel and hype may be long gone (thank goodness), but Seattle still has a thriving live music scene. Ground zero for alt-country and twang fans can be found at the Tractor Tavern (Map 23), but if you prefer turntables over pedal steel, then make it over to Chop Suey (Map 4) for "live" music. Nearby, Neumo's (Map 4) rivals the Showbox (Map 3, 39) for booking the latest indie rock sensations, but their sound is definitely more on the dirty side. The Crocodile (Map 1) features shows small in size but big in rock. The Sunset Tavern (Map 23) is Seattle's best small venue, a friendly joint with red velvet interior that consistently books great up and coming local acts plus a succession of superior touring rockers from abroad. Try Shadowland's (Map 35) Tuesday open-mic night to be the first to discover the next Bon Iver. The bands at Slim's Last Chance (Map 39) are eclectic and smalltime but usually play something to get you up and dancing off that bowl of chili. Blue Moon Tavern (Map 25) conveys a down-and-dirty vibe, booking punk, honky tonk and everything in between. Fremont's High Dive (Map 24) is another good spot to check out new (though not necessarily stellar) local talent.

Dive On In
Whether ironic or earnest, one thing Seattle excels in is dive bars. We really know how to make the best of a dark drink hole. Coney Island-themed pinball bar, Shorty's (Map 1), is on the NFT shortlist. Its hot dogs and boozy slushies have the Anthony Bourdain stamp of approval. The Kraken Bar & Lounge (Map 26) is very metal, very dirty and your best bet on the Ave for avoiding students. Ballardites would love to keep the Tin Hat (Map 30) to themselves, but the word is out about this marvelously mellow bar home to a handful of regulars and some of Sea-towns best tater tots. The Comet (Map 4) has been the Prom King of dives since 1948. They have live music and karaoke, but the real show comes from the customers. The only thing you can expect there is a memorable night. Eastlake Zoo (Map 20) is perhaps so called because of the eclectic clientele it attracts. Every inch of this vast space is covered in kitch, making it the perfect place for a smashed scavenger hunt. Georgetown's diamond in the rough is the 9lb. Hammer (Map 39) offering free pool and a peanut shell-covered floor for added authenticity. The same owner also graced South Park with Loretta's (Map 38), a cozy, friendly and economical restaurant and bar with an air of grandpa's rec room. West Seattle's best kept secret is the pirate/nautical themed Benbow Room (Map 35) which is tucked into the back of a mid-western comfort food restaurant.

Make Your Own Kind of Music
Seattle is filled with wannabe rock stars, some of which lack the wherewithal to form a band. That's where karaoke comes in handy. And we're not talking about that Gwyneth Paltrow "Duets" crap. Our karaoke is balls out. Some folks even occasionally don costumes add a little choreography to the mix. Often, this sort of dedication makes even the most tone-deaf performances entertaining as hell. Bachelorette parties and other karaoke dabblers usually start at Ozzie's (Map 15) or Hula Hula (Map 1). Capitol Hill's Crescent Lounge (Map 4) has one of the more colorful crowds and sings it loud and proud every damn night of the week, much to their neighbors' chagrin. Everybody loves a karaoke room, but Rock Box (Map 4) takes it to the next level with their clean and classy rooms to accommodate nearly any party size from a huge birthday gathering to a single, solitary crooner. Whet your whistle with their Japanese-themed food and drink menu and don't forget to make advanced reservations, especially on the weekends. West Seattle's go-to is Tug Inn (Map 37). Sing at Monkey Pub (Map 26) every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. This beloved dive has a gritty, punk rock vibe and is refreshingly light on student infiltration. The Twilight Exit (Map 5) has moved their 70s dive shtick three times and their loyal patrons have always moved with them, singing their hearts out every Sunday night. Greenwood's Baranof (Map 33) has karaoke every night of the week, attracting ironic amateurs, intense regulars and everyone in between. If you get hungry, they have jello shots.

Pleased to Meat You
Do you love waiting in line while a power-mad bouncer hold the fate of your evening in his hands? Does your idea of a good time involve bumping genitals with strangers and rolling the dice on roofied drinks? In that case, you'll want to head straight to the breeding grounds of Pioneer Square where any bar can turn into a club at the drop of a white baseball cap. For those who prefer dancing on a bar or table top, check out Cowgirls, Inc (Map 7) or any number of bars in the dude-happy Pioneer Square triangle. The other white stretch-hummer lined strip is along 1st Avenue in Belltown. Tia Lou (Map 1) and Foundation Nightclub (Map 1) will make sure you don't go home alone, even if you want to. Aston Manor (Map 39) brings Vegas nightclub elitism to SoDo.

Come Dancing
If the frat party annex isn't your scene, but you still have happy feet, join the welcoming party scene at Neighbours (Map 4) This captain of the Capitol Hill Old Guard breaks out 80s, house, funk and mashups providing the opportunity to get your freak on any night of the week. ReBar (Map 2) has some very sexy dance nights in addition to cabaret, fringe theater and other alternative variety shows so check their calendar for details. Mercury @ Machinewerks (Map 4) is a private, invite-only goth club. So if your feet only get happy to Joy Division or Skinny Puppy, you might want to strike up a conversation with that pierced-up guy on the bus who wears his black trench coat year-round. Lo-Fi (Map 2) has a non-exclusive goth night on occasion but is best known for its super fun Emerald City Soul Club on second Saturdays. Want to hone your skills before hitting the town? You can take tango or swing lessons at the Century Ballroom (Map 4).

The Kids Are Alright
When your old uncle NFT was a youth, there wasn't much in the way of an all-ages scene. But thanks to the efforts of The Vera Project (, the oppressive Teen Dance Ordinance was repealed in 2002 and since then, the under 21 crowd has been able to enjoy a nightlife outside of their dorm room or house party. The Vera Project (Map 15) has its own venue with shows as well as arts programs and plenty of other activities that keep little hands from getting idle. Major venues like Key Arena (Map 15) and the CenturyLink Field Event Center (Map 7) are always open to all ages as are The Moore Theatre (Map 3) and Paramount Theatre (Map 3), but their calendar isn't always geared toward a younger crowd. Bumbershoot ( is an annual music and arts fest that allows you to get in a year's worth of live music over Labor Day weekend. El Corazon (Map 2), Neumo's (Map 4) and the Showbox (Map 3, 39) have loads of all ages shows, putting the grumpy legal drinkers in booze-dispensing bullpens while the kids have direct access to the stage. The Crocodile (Map 1), Dimitriou's Jazz Alley (Map 2), and Skylark (Map 36) have occasional all-ages shows as well. Neptune Theatre (Map 26) adds alternative comedy shows to their terrific entertainment calendar. Of course there's always a wealth of good cinema, make-out opportunities at the Seattle Laser Dome (Map 15) and allowance squandering at GameWorks (Map 3) to make keeping curfew a challenge.

24-Hour Party People
Seattle can be tough on night owls. But if you're still raring to go at three am, there are a few options, most of which involve greasy spoon grub. The 5 Point (Map 1) has a solid 24-hour breakfast menu as well as a famous view of the Space Needle from the men's room urinal. The Mecca (Map 15) is the 5 Point's nearby little sister. Georgetown's Square Knot Diner (Map 39) isn't the best breakfast food you can get at 3 a.m., but it'll do in a pinch. Beth's (Map 30) 12-egg omelets and bottomless hash browns might make you sicker than the booze you're trying to soak up, but you'll have fun drawing dirty pictures on their paper tablecloths. For a classier after-hours meal, try 13 Coins (Map 2) for some surf-and-turf that is guaranteed to bring on weird dreams. Lost Lake Cafe & Lounge (Map 4) is Capitol Hill's long overdue replacement to Minnie's, serving an incredibly diverse menu with a Twin Peaksian ambiance.

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Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

The Cozy Nut Tavern
Greenwood's aptly named joint delightfully evokes Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox. Thanks to the reclaimed wood interior and soft lamplight you'll feel like you are enjoying your cocktails or streamlined selection of local and imported brews inside the nicest damned tree trunk imaginable. Every minute spent there is a pure joy from their adorable anthropomorphic forest creature silhouettes to their build-your-own charcuterie plates. The delightfully toothsome texture of their warm, house made corn nuts (complimentary with every drink order) shatteringly transcend the commercial variety. Even the taxidermy seems pleased to be part of it all. Bring a deck of cards and settle in with friends.

Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

The Burgundian isn't Seattle's only destination for chicken and waffles. But the malt batter and bourbon maple syrup makes it one of the best. The classic pairing is only one of numerous reasons to become a brunch regular. The wood-laden, 21+ establishment gives discerning grownups a comfortable place to recharge on a late weekend morning. Dishes like the veggie-laden winter hash, bruleed oranges, or fruit-filled steel cut oatmeal prove you don't need a grease-bomb to satisfyingly soak up the previous night's indulgences. Bread accompaniment options include brioche or a biscuit. Enjoy your meal with a hair-of-the-dog cocktail or a flawless latte.

Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Do you love beer, but find yourself let down by the paltry 10-12 options you usually find at a bar? The California-originated Toronado has your back with 40 rotating taps and a giant LCD menu that's just begging for you to make a night of it. View the live beer board on their website so you're not so overwhelmed once you get there. They've got equally massive lists of bourbon, whiskey, scotch and tequila for the more spirited folks. Somehow, they also find time to maintain a farm-to-table menu full of decadent sandwiches and charcuterie plates. Or just get a plate of bacon for $10.

Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Vittles Neighborhood Bistro & Bar
This up-and-coming bistro in Belltown is poised for stardom. The soft brown décor makes it ideal for dates and parents alike. The classed-up comfort food and thoughtfully crafted cocktails have something for everyone. For me, the star attraction is the generously portioned Crispy Green Beans with Broccoli, tempura breaded with a truffle aioli drizzle for dipping. Make a meal out of one or two apps or share the love. Also notable: Crab and Corn Beignets and the House Poutine, which uses a cheesy sauce in lieu of traditional toppings. For even heartier fare, venture into the surf and turf laden entrees. The service is just how I like it--attentively laid-back. Things get even cheaper at happy hour.

Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Zayda Buddy's
Thank you Zayda Buddy's for bringing deep fried cheese curds and Leinenkugel's Summer Wheat beer to Seattle. But sauerkraut on pizza? No offense, but I could have lived without. And I think the last time I had Pringles was sometime in the mid-80s, although I had forgotten how strangely wonderful they really are. Thanks to ZB, Midwestern comfort food has found a Seattle following. Wisconsin style beer cheese dip and tater tot casserole always helps of course. The menu is rounded out by other old school favorites like tuna casserole, fish sticks and gravy smothered french fries. The other big draw -- Minnesota style pizza, which is rolled precariously thin and cut into little square pieces. You betcha, it's tasty. Oh, and ladies, say hi to the vintage Burt Reynolds poster in the bathroom.

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13 Coins
9lb. Hammer
Atlantic Crossing
Bar Ferd'nand
Barking Dog Alehouse
Blue Moon Tavern
Central Cinema
Chuck's Hop Shop
Clever Dunne's Irish House
Comet Tavern
Crescent Lounge
Eastlake Zoo Tavern
Georgetown Liquor Company
Hula Hula
Kate's Pub
King's Hardware
Loretta's Northwesterner
Lost Lake Cafe & Lounge
Marco Polo Bar & Grill
Moon Temple
Neptune Theatre
Nitelite Lounge
Oddfellows Cafe & Bar
Oskar's Kitchen
Pacific Inn Pub
Palace Kitchen
Paramount Theatre
Pie Bar
Rock Box
Showbox at the Market
Single Shot
Skyway Park Bowl
Solo Bar
Sun Liquor
Sun Liquor Distillery
The 5 Point Café
The Benbow Room
The Cozy Nut Tavern
The Crocodile
The Hideout
The Hurricane Café
The Kraken Bar & Lounge
The People's Pub
The Pub at Third Place
The Stumbling Monk
The Sunset
The Twilight Exit
The Vera Project
Tin Hat Bar & Grill
Vittles Neighborhood Bistro & Bar
Wild Rose
Yen Wor Garden
Zig Zag Cafe