SEATTLE, Washington Yeah, I kvetch about the slaphappy fryer habits of Ray's Boathouse (oyster chunks in the yam fries: tsk). But whenever I crest 57th's slope, I always thrill to the restaurant's iconic neon tower, silhouetted against Puget Sound, where this notch of water wings northward. This hipster city needs an oasis for combovers and deck shoes, cranberry spritzers and tawdry conference affairs.
Ray's, so old-school, pushes back against Ballard's purse-dog invasion. As does The People's Pub, home of 2008 Best Deep-Fried Pickle. The Sloop with its wood-burned mermaids and lingering dive-bar-diva glamour. The Viking's shuffleboard, cracked scarlet booths and the state's smallest legal kitchen serving "Sloppy Svens" and slow-smoked pork butt. The bartenders even vend cartons of farm-fresh eggs there, the neighborhood watering hole is that down-home.
Ballard and neighboring Interbay still dock much of the Alaskan fleet: our bars should – must– retain brass "buy-a-round" bells and a wildcat edge. Otherwise the condos win. Forever.