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Belltown Favorite No Anchor Plans Sporty Transformation into Trade Winds Tavern

Big changes are coming to the neighborhood bar this May

A Seattle Mariners bobblehead doll sits to the left, in front of a vintage baseball mitt; next to that are three cocktails and a can of Schmidt beer; behind the can of beer is a mounted deer’s head.
The decor at the Trade Winds Tavern will feature vintage sports memorabilia.
Courtesy of Chris Elford

No Anchor is about to undergo a spring metamorphosis. After months of a temporary closure, the popular five-year-old Belltown beer destination will reopen in mid-May as Trade Winds Tavern, leaning into sportier dive bar vibes.

According to co-owner Chris Elford, the Trade Winds Tavern will have a Midwestern 70s feel, with a name that’s an homage to a Seattle tiki bar that used to exist decades ago around the corner. While the physical space will remain mostly the same as before, the nautical decor will make way for vintage beer and liquor ephemera, Seattle sports memorabilia, neon signs, and a bathroom wallpapered with over 2,000 baseball cards from Elford’s childhood collection.

Customers familiar with No Anchor’s much-heralded bar menu — which earned it three James Beard Award nominations — likely won’t be too disoriented by the new beverage selections. The Trade Winds Tavern will have 20 taps (10 for local beer and cider producers, five for natural wine, and five for cocktails), along with some playful twists on old school concoctions, such as a Rusty Nail variation with tonka bean and a chai Sazerac.

But the food side will be a more drastic shift, going for more standard pub fare than the fancier offerings before (think smash burgers, fish and chips, and cheese curds, instead of glazed lamb sweetbreads). “We are as nerdy about low-brow dishes as we are about the high, so I think we will retain a following with the food fanatics here in town, but the plating will be less precious, and the focus on familiarity and value will be a little more apparent,” Elford says.

Another big change: TVs. Even though No Anchor used to be more of a hangout spot devoid of the usual sports bar distractions, the Trade Winds Tavern will have a few screens showing games. “We think you should be able to drink something really great while you watch a Sounders match,” says Elford.

As No Anchor gets its sporty overhaul, sibling Belltown bars Navy Strength, Rob Roy, and Vinnie’s continue apace, all reopened in various capacities during phase 3 of Washington’s reopening plan (the latter became more of a natural wine bottle shop during the pandemic, deviating a bit from its initial raw bar roots). They will all soon be joined by Here Today, a massive pub and brewery overlooking the waterfront at 10 Clay Street, which plans to open sometime this summer.