Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bar #12: Eastlake Zoo Tavern - Eastlake

On a rainy Sunday, my friend Trevor suggested we head over to Eastlake for a neighborhood bar crawl. The thing is, there aren’t many bars to crawl to in those parts. There's the Eastlake Bar & Grill (a place neither of us wanted to visit) and Pazzo's (a pizza place with a bar that I felt didn't qualify), but the only pure drinking spot is the Eastlake Zoo Tavern.

I'd heard about the Zoo since I moved to Seattle almost five years ago, but this was my first time. I don't get to Eastlake much. The only things I'd heard were that it was a legendary dive bar run by hippies and that they have some of the filthiest draft lines in town. For more on the history of the Zoo, check out a piece from the Seattle P-I in 2007.

The bar is big, dark and full of character from all the years it's been around. There’s a long, L-shaped bar, several pool tables, a snooker table, shuffleboard and darts. The walls are lined with pictures from back in the day and posters with Johnny Cash telling you how to pay the bartender.

The Zoo was pretty dead. Trevor and I heeded the advice to avoid tap beer and stuck with Rainier in bottles. We shot a few games of pool, which I shot with the bartender's special Miller Lite stick, since the dude took a liking to us. Maybe it was because we were two of only five customers. Or maybe it was because we started drinking the tavern's equivalent of shots--$5 blasts of Viking Blod mead (they also have sake bombs). Having drinks like that is a clever way for a tavern to keep the attention of liquor-drinkers who are disappointed when faced with the prospects of only beer, cider and wine.

Even though we didn't get a feel for what the bar's like when it's full of regulars, I liked the Zoo enough to want to come back. It may not be what it once was, but the place has character, even on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon in June.

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