Food and Drink

The Absolute Best Dive Bars in Seattle

Take a break from $15 cocktails.

Suzi Pratt
Suzi Pratt
Suzi Pratt

It’s fun to be in the know. To say, “Yeah, I’ve been there!” when someone asks about the hottest places to eat in the city. But sometimes it’s better to go someplace that isn’t in right now-someplace timeworn and rough around the edges, that inevitably has cheap tile and wood paneling and very little natural light, that has more than craft beer on tap, that has some history. And we don’t mean, “Oh I used to get cheap drinks there when I was in college,” kind of history. We mean bars that opened almost a hundred years ago and haven’t closed since. That’s why we’ve assembled a list of Seattle’s best dive bars-some may or may not be haunted, some serve peanuts and sell drinks for peanuts, but all of them guarantee a good time, anytime.

Dottie’s Double Wide

White Center 
The facade of this relatively new White Center spot is clad with the side of a retro blue and white mobile home, through which you enter what-thanks to the Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling, the funky furniture, and ironic nude paintings on the wall-feels like the kind of basement where the kids from Dazed and Confused would have felt right at home. And where you will probably will too after partaking in their excellent and adventurous Tex-Mex menu highlighted by a fried chicken burrito, which is reason enough to stop by all by itself. 

Photo courtesy of Jupitar Bar
Photo courtesy of Jupitar Bar
Photo courtesy of Jupitar Bar

Jupiter Bar

Like some of its’ neighbors (Shorty’s, The Rabbit Hole, etc.), Jupiter Bar feels like an unassuming dive at first-like it’s been there forever, casually serving drinks to regulars while modern Belltown sprang up around it-but there’s actually a lot more going on once you look around. Inside Jupiter Bar is a sort of art-meets-arcade bar that features a riotous collection of murals and other artwork up front and 29 retro pinball cabinets in the back. That fun combination earned it a place on our list of best Seattle bars for singles, but really it makes for a good night out whether you’re trying to score a date or just get the high score on Hardbody, a pinball machine tribute to ’80s-era aerobics instructors.

Woody’s Bar

Formerly the Echo Lake Tavern, Woody’s location on hard on the side of Aurora give it a sort of roadhouse feel in the best possible way, especially since you can occasionally find live music to go with the usually array of games and other attractions, plus a solid pub menu highlighted by a surprisingly good hot dog, served by a friendly staff that does its best to make you feel at home, even if like a certain someone who writes for a website that rhymes with “illest,” you only stopped there one day to avoid the traffic on your way back to your actual home. 


The relationship between a regular and their dive bar is a sacred thing. Every dive bar lover remembers the first time they bellied up to the bar and ordered a 7-and-7 in what would soon become their new favorite spot. This July 7, head to your local in celebration of National Dive Bar Day. Raise a glass of Seagram’s 7 to all the memories you’ve made there (even the ones that look a bit fuzzy) and all the memories yet to come.

Back Door Pub

Lake City
Not to be confused with The Backdoor (one of Seattle’s best speakeasies), the Back Door Pub is a boisterous little spot in the heart of of Lake City, where the mom-and-pop shops and neighborhood restaurants lining the street make just going there feel a little like stepping back in time, only to get inside and find a kind of timeless, laid back bar with a slightly older, culturally diverse crowd and a bar staff with more than slightly heavy pours. 

Photo by Chona Kasinger
Photo by Chona Kasinger
Photo by Chona Kasinger

Pacific Inn Pub

The unpretentious spot’s stubborn resistance to change earned it the late Anthory Bourdain’s approval on an old episode of Parts Unknown. But why would they want to change? They’re like, a block from the northshore of Lake Union, they’ve got a nice little patio out back, and they serve a spicy and extra crispy take on fish & chips that just happens to be one of the best in the city.

The Caroline Tavern

North Seattle
This lively neighborhood joint in a funky, pitched-roof building awkwardly located on the backside of a golf course is known for its’ diverse crowds (and we do mean crowds-sometimes it’s hard to find a seat), friendly staff, and the fun things you want in a bar, including a pool table, pinball, and a jukebox.

The Siren Tavern

We’ve met some interesting people at The Siren over the years, but that’s not the only reason we keep going back. No, we do that because we still can’t quite figure it out. Is it called The Siren because it’s so close to the port? But then why does the logo look like a fireman’s emblem? How does it feel like it’s in the middle of nowhere when it’s on one of Seattle’s busiest streets? Unclear. But what we do know is that despite its sort of hardscrabble appearance, it’s the perfect place to grab a drink after a hard day at work.

Photo courtesy of Merchant's Cafe
Photo courtesy of Merchant’s Cafe
Photo courtesy of Merchant’s Cafe

Merchant’s Cafe

Pioneer Square 
Purported to be the oldest bar in the state, Merchant’s Cafe, with its tin ceiling, and worn polished wood bar, certainly looks like it from another time. A time that was apparently much more interesting: Not long after opening, the owner famously (infamously?) hosted “seamstresses” in a makeshift brothel he ran in the rooms upstairs. Today, paintings of some of said ladies still hang in the back of the bar-one of them is even supposed to be haunted, which has turned this popular game day spot into a bit of a tourist destination for people who are into ghosts.

Linda’s Tavern

Capitol Hill
For almost 30 years, Linda’s Tavern has been a destination for… well, everybody. From Capitol Hill locals, to people looking for an “authentic” place to drink, to musicians getting ready for a show (or bartending, serving, or working in the kitchen). That last one is evidenced by the fact it’s supposedly the last place Kurt Cobain was seen alive. 

Thunderbird Tavern

First, you should know that Thunderbird Tavern is connected to one of Seattle’s best strip clubs. After shuttering in 2013, this iconic dive reopened the following year with help from the guy behind the Secret Sausage food truck. Meaning you can always score a hotlink with housemade cream cheese to go with their better than average beer selection.

Bradley Foster is a former Thrillist editor who goes to the Thunderbird because it’s close to his house, and not ’cause there’s a strip club next door. He swears!

Food and Drink

Red Rooster Is Serving Free Chicken and Piping Hot Cash This Christmas in July

Get your early dose of festive cheer.

Red Rooster Christmas in July
Instagram / @redrooster_au

The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.

From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.

Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.

Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.

Terms and conditions apply. Visit Red Rooster’s Christmas in July to see all the deals.


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