The Quest for the Holy Grain - Best Beer Bars
Washington

 

 

Seattle

Walla Walla

 

Red Monkey Lounge
25 West Alder
Walla Walla, WA
509-522-3865

The Red Monkey Lounge...I may be banned for life from the this place, I am not sure.
The goddam monkey is black. Plain as day it is a black monkey that greets you at the Red Monkey Lounge. No one could justify that to my satisfaction
All the same, head here for the 26 taps. 21 st Amendment had four beers on tap and I had three of them, all nice beers—Brew Free or Die IPA, Back in Black Black IPA, and Bitter American, because I am one! Red monkey my ass.

This is a lounge. Think Bill Murray on SNL and you have the atmosphere. We left when the MC arrived for team trivia. He had a microphone that could have been used to evacuate the state of Rhode Island.
The prominently displayed mission statement here is “Eat, Drink, Connect!” Puh-lease. We could not connect with our waitress who grew tired of us 30 minutes into our visit, despite the fact she could not explain why odd numbered addresses switched sides of the street in Walla Walla.
Nor did she care that the very excellent appetizer did not look exactly like the one on the website.
She was also unimpressed with the new baseball stat I invented while there—the Offensive Assists Award (OA). It is awarded when you move a runner, who subsequently scores, into scoring position. Hey, it ain't easy to invent new baseball stats. She was only moderately amused by my harangue about hamburgers. Hey I was trying to connect, it was their idea.
So maybe I was banned, maybe I just left.

Here is what I do know.
They have really good food. They have 26 taps and some of them are good.
It ain't a bad place to go and our waitress was actually fun.
But the goddam monkey is black.

 

 

 

Tap House Grill
1506 Sixth Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98101
(206) 816-3314

It was raining. It's Seattle, what did you expect? We wanted a place nearby and the Tap House Grill, no one's first choice, fit the bill. Just up the hill (Q: What isn't? A: Anything that is not just down the hill.) from the Arctic Club hotel and a few blocks over sat this thoroughly modern watering hole.
You enter at street level on 6th Avenue and go down the stairs to a modern characterless tap room and restaurant. Do not lose heart. This place has 160-count ‘em-beers on tap. Good beers. Damn good beers. Goddam good beers. Check out their sample list: http://www.taphousegrill.com/pdf/main_beer_print.pdf I started with a Russian River and damnation I never left it all evening, but my colleagues drank their fill of Rogues and German beers, and a variety of local Washington brews, and we had not even scratched the surface.
The bar undulates against one back wall with taps protruding from a sheet metal bar back. If you sit at one end of the bar you cannot see the other end because of its undulating wave shape. What knucklehead barchitect thought that was a good idea eludes me.
The wait staff looked like a collection of 30-something extras from a daytime soap opera where the women wear bikinis and the guys wear no shirts. Our waitress looked like she could have played the lithe Nubian queen of Themyscira, a very disconcerting effect after a few Russian Rivers. I would have left her two golden bracelets as a tip had I had the means.
Let's summarize so far:the ambience sucks and the beer list is superb. We need a tie-breaker. The food.
The calamari and hummus appetizers were okay, nothing special. Let's be honest, some nights the food just gets in the way of the beer drinking. Not at the Tap Room Grill. There is something to be said for the Grill because I had the best meal I have had in a long time. Mahi-mahi encrusted in macadamia nuts served with pineapple pico de gallo and a sinfully delicious helping of coconut rice and a small medley of vegetables with lime butter...I was tempted to say I'll have another.
Tie breaker goes to the Tap House a must-stop place if you want food to go with your beer.

 

 


 

 

Hudson
5000 East Marginal Way S.
Seattle, WA 98134
206-767-4777

Hudson is for lunch.
Located in a small, old industrial building, two walls of ceiling-high windows give imbibers a view on the world they probably do not want. That is one more reason to look at the half dozen beer taps. There is a Miller Light and five local Washington beers from different breweries. If you live in Seattle there is no reason to go here for beer, especially with Two Beers just down the road, but a beer with lunch is a nice option if you have that kind of job.
The barmaids are industrial to match the neighborhood and the sandwiches are good. If the Quest had more material on Seattle we would not need this lame review.

 

 

Collins Pub
526 Second Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 623-1016

Collins Pub is not going to show up on anyone's top 50 bars of Seattle, but maybe it should. It is an utterly soulless place that was probably very modern in 1970. Now it is just brown and unattractive. If art deco had not been already defined I'd be inclined to invent the term for this pub. Some uses of metal and wood are charming, this one is not, it is disturbing. Let's call the style art decrepit.
Our waitress asked if we'd like a drink.
“What do you have on tap? I asked with low expectations. “We have 20 beers on tap,” she said.
My hopes rose. “What do you have?”
“What do you like?”
Is this what fencing is like, I wondered?
“I'd like to know what beers you have.”
“Do you like light or dark?”
Clearly I was in over my head and up against an expert. I switched tactics.
“Do you have a beer list?”
“There is a black board by the bar at the front.”
“Thanks, for the help.” (20% to 15% and dropping. )
I trudge to the board and, son-of-a-gun, there are 20 nice western beers heavy on stouts, porters and IPAs with one red and one lager for variety. I had Great Divide Oak-Aged Yeti on tap and it is even better fresh.
The waitress must have been auditioning for a different career because she just did not have the idea of service down. Each time I wanted a beer I got up, took a half-day's rations of calamari and schlepped to the front of the place which had now cleared out quite a bit, save for a blonde goddess, to see what I wanted next. Sadly, the blonde goddess was not a beer.
(Note to self, take cell phone picture of the beer board-save time.)
If you're looking for a nice cheap meal, keep looking. The menu was probably modern in the 70's as well. Desperate, I went fish and chips. The coleslaw was made with lettuce, that is right, lettuce. Is that legal? The fries were wrapped in a used newspaper cone. My hopes were dashed until I ate the fish...that schizophrenic little joint surprised me again. But not enough to ever go back or recommend it to you unless you get caught in a 2nd Avenue Seattle shower—always a good possibility.