Ballard is awash with great places to sip, swig, and swirl. So, when you're making your Friday (or Tuesday, we don't judge) plans, we're here to help you pick your next spot to pop a squat. Whether you're looking for a classy place for a date, a raucous room for a riotous night, or just a darn good cocktail, here are some of our favorite spots to enjoy a drink.Read More
Where to Drink in Ballard, Whatever Your Mood
Ballard Smoke Shop
People-Watching: In business since long before you were born, plenty of bartenders from back in the day are still behind the stick. Expect strong drinks and plenty of side eye if you step out of line. Bring dollars for the juke box and enjoy the free soup that might come out after the night gets a little sideways all around the bar.
Classy Snacks: While some may think of it as a waiting room for neighboring hotspot The Walrus and the Carpenter, Barnacle stands on its own as a great destination. Drinks skew toward amaro-based cocktails and the Lays potato chips are complimentary. Tins of the best sardines from Italy and Spain are served up simply, sometimes topped with a little salsa verde or accompanied by curls of butter.
Bastille Café & Bar
Unlikely Game Spot: You might not think of an upscale French restaurant when you’re picking where to watch the game, but the Bastille back bar is a solid choice. Brunch-time games are met with deals on a sandwich and a beer, the seating is plentiful, and the drinks are always on point. The other six days a week, belly up to the long, sweeping front bar for a martini or get (just a little) rowdy in the back bar or on the stand-up tables outside.
Draft Drinks: Not to be outdone by big brother Delancey next door, Essex is a lovely landing spot all in itself. The wood-fired burgers made in the same pizza ovens as next door are TDF, and cocktails are creative and lovely. Look for rotating cocktails on tap or stop in for Tiki & Taco Tuesdays, featuring great Mexican nods and bright, flavorful, boozy libations.
Secret Dance Parties: Slip past patio smokers and into the slim Market St. bar to try one of their long-tested menu favorites and some tunes. DJ-curated dance parties are frequent, thanks to a lovely loft and an open (albeit itty bitty) floor plan. Just don’t spill your well-made drink mid-bacchanal.
Big Screen Fun: Game days are popular at Hilliard’s big warehouse space. A projector is surrounded by beer lovers who bring their own chairs and order in food or eat from the food trucks that show up in the lot. A large outdoor area plays host to events or just a regular night out with friends.
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Tiki Time: Albatross gives the impression of an expat bar, plopped into the center of Ballard. Drinks are heavily tikied, and might come in a coconut — or on fire, with enough straws for a group to share. It functions like several bars in one, with a tiny front bar, small outdoor seating area, and plenty of tall tops and tucked in tables in the main bar.
Swipe Right: If there’s any bar in Ballard more likely to shepherd a follow-up date for more skee ball and wings, it would be a surprise. The long-time Derschang Group favorite is full of taxidermy and single people chatting up a storm on the outdoor patio. Don’t overlook the great cocktails and wide range of beer offerings.
Beer, Beer & Beer: 99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles… all for sale. Grab a sandwich from Kiss's super long menu and try to work your way through nearly 100 bottled beers to earn a spot on the Ballard Drinking Team — and a personalized glass. Friendly service and an easy to understand concept are tantamount at the Locks-adjacent dog-friendly cafe.
The Noble Fir
Outdoors, Inside: Food focuses on charcuterie and cheese, while the real draw is the enormous array of beer and cider. Here, you’ll find rare sours, fresh hop brews when they’re in season, and one of the biggest bunches of locally made beers and ciders. Bonus: The owners are big into the great outdoors, so if you've been thinking about taking a hike, stop here first for great advice.
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Intimate Hideaway: For years, Ocho has served up an enormous menu of flavorful Spanish tapas on the anchoring corner of 24th & Market. Great for a snack, brunch, or long night of small bites and good conversation, it’s a comfortable place to linger. The cocktail list is simple and solid, with highlights like sangria and the delightful Sagrada Familia, with pear brandy, lemon, and cava rosé.
Percy's & Co.
Year-Round Porching: It can be hard to catch the bartender’s attention at the greenery-heavy Ballard Ave bar. But your best bet is to grab a crew of friends and a spot in their covered outdoor back patio. Servers swoop through frequently and the drink list is plentifully stocked with great picks.
On Site, On Tap: One of the best of a great group of Ballard breweries, Reuben’s Brews' recently opened taphouse finally has more room for all the folks who love their great beers. With daily food truck visitors, the kid-friendly destination is a favorite for families.
Brunch & Boozes: One of the best brunch destinations in town thanks to great Southern twanging bites, a lazy morning spent tucked into one of the benches here is a day well spent. The food translates well into night, and drinks have gotten a recent burst of life thanks to a new bar program.
Dinner & Drinks: It’s rare to find a gorgeous bar where you can drink beautifully composed cocktails and eat an incredible meal, but Stoneburner nails it every time. The ideal date spot, perching on a swiveling high-backed stool here is a true pleasure. Bet on your bartender or choose one of the well-executed classic cocktails with little twists like custom blended rum.
The Tin Hat Bar & Grill
Real Ballard: Tater tots, pinball, beer, and plenty of history are on the menu at the refreshingly unchanged Ballard classic. Keep your drink order simple and take a seat to enjoy daily deals, like tacos on Tuesdays, spaghetti on Wednesdays, and attitude every day of the week. The easily offended should probably go elsewhere, as the motto written right on the check is “Shut the f**k up and drink.”
Karaoke Diving: There’s nowhere else quite like The Waterwheel, with its reputation for being “better than you expect.” Drinks are strong and there are plenty of beers in cans that will withstand your jubilation. Karaoke nights (Tuesday, Friday, Saturday) lead to crazy parties that spill out onto the oversized patio. Trivia and bingo nights are a bit less nutty, but just as fun for groups.