Fremont Quest: Pubs & Bars

My 2017 goal is to visit every eating/drinking establishment in my neighborhood of Fremont, Seattle, updating my reviews from 2014. Here are my reviews for the pubs and bars I visited. See more reviews.

**** One of my faves!
*** On my regular “go to” list
** I’d go if a friend wanted to
* No thanks

*** (2017) The Dock  This has been a regular spot for me since I discovered it in 2014. My fave is the French dip, but when I went in last night for an updated review, the French dip was really not good. Lots of stringy, dry, unappetizing beef. It’s been a favorite for so long, I’ll go back at least once to make sure it wasn’t a one-night fluke. But really disappointing. (34th Street)

(2014 review)  Another surprise place. It is totally a sports bar, which is not really my thing (there were about 10 TV screens broadcasting six different sporting events the night I was there). But they had a killer French dip sandwich (and I am VERY fussy about French dip sandwiches) that I would totally go back for. Service is so-so (fast to bring me food, then completely disappeared from view when I tried to get my bill and pay). But a good French dip sandwich gives any place 3 stars in my book.


** (2017) 36 Stone  Positioned between a gym and a yoga studio, this place makes one feel a bit guilty about going into a bar. Or I can congratulate this apartment building for providing such a diverse range of services for their tenants. I’ve always thought this place seemed a bit dark and murky, but it wasn’t any murkier than any other bar. Didn’t try the food but the menu looked okay. Since it was practically empty on a Friday evening, it’s clearly not a hot spot. But I could be persuaded back. (Stone Way)


** (2017) The Barrel Thief  A dark, red, velvet, bordello atmosphere could be cozy, but just feels stifling to me. I could get over that with other excellence, but alas. They DO have good wine. And their nibblies aren’t bad. But when it took 15-20 minutes to get our order of almonds (with the excuse that the kitchen was backed up….how is the kitchen even involved in pouring almonds into a serving bowl?), well, I can find good wine elsewhere. Too bad, I keep wanting to like this place. I’ve been to wine and Scotch classes taught by the owner and he’s very knowledgeable and personable. But, well, stifling bordello just doesn’t speak to me. (Downtown Fremont)

(2014 review) The most fun way to experience the Barrel Thief is by taking a wine or Scotch class. The owner and his teaching partner (darn, I’ve taken two classes from them and I should remember their names, but don’t) are knowledgeable and entertaining. I can vouch for there being a large variety of good wine selections; I’ll have to take someone else’s opinion on the Scotch options. The food options are limited and only so-so, but at least they give you some sort of base for sipping on wine or Scotch.


** (2017) George and Dragon  Well, my first recommendation is not to come in on a Monday night. It was pretty quiet. Just me, my friend, and the bartender. I think it’s a bit livelier when there’s a soccer match on, just a typical British pub in the middle of atypical Fremont. The Scottish ale was a hit. Charming, cozy place to stop for a wee dram. (Leary Way)

(2014 review) Best option is to go there for a beer (which they do well). I don’t know what to say about the food. I’d hoped to try their Yorkshire pudding, but they only serve it with their Sunday roast. (Which is not just a type of beef, but is a whole Sunday meal tradition in the U.K.) In the absence of the Yorkshire pudding, I tried the fish and chips, which were very much standard pub grub. Not bad, but not something I need to make a special trip for.


** (2017) The Ballroom  Not terrible on my last Fremont Eatery Walkabout visit, but nothing drew me back until this year. It’s a heavy, fried appetizer sort of place. But on a sunny afternoon, it was pleasant to nibble on some hummus (the only thing that on the menu that didn’t scream cholesterol) on the outdoor patio with a friend. (Downtown Fremont)

(2014 review) I’d sort of dreaded going to this one as it exudes a trendy pickup joint atmosphere. But a friend and I went in and it was just sort of an average bar. (It probably helped that my friend and I went there on a Sunday afternoon, not exactly prime pickup time.) I don’t feel compelled to go back, but I’m not so repulsed that I need to stay away.


** High Dive (2017)  I’d been here exactly once before, on my 2014 #FremontEateryWalkabout. Not impressed. Quality of the music was dismal, not many people so it had a deserted dive tavern atmosphere. It was so much more fun this year. I went with a friend, and her husband and son to an evening of protest music, mostly from the civil rights era. In the heat of needing to #resist President 45 as he tries to submerge the U.S. into a misogynistic, racist, totalitarian regime, it was an evening of hope listening to the music of other protest eras that had successfully inspired change. And my friends told me the food was decent, too (actually from the Red Star place next door … they share a kitchen). Definitely worth coming here if there’s good music to be heard. (Downtown Fremont)

(2014 review) Not quite as divey inside as I’d expected, and the house red wine was pretty darn good. My friend and I chose a night (to meet my end-of-year goal) based more on the calendar than the band … a mistake. When the lead singer started taking his shirt off during the first song, my friend whispered to me, “Stage antics to hide his lack of talent.” Still, if a decent band were playing, I’d go back.


* (2017) Bar House  It used to be a clothing store in a little house. It now seems to be an opium den masquerading as a bar. Seriously, much of the clientele seemed to be tech workers, pounding on tablets over an after-work drink. And the bartender couldn’t have been friendlier in recommending beer choices. But the hallway that leads to the bathroom and photo booth (not the same room) and the dark, draped alcove around a fire pit makes you wonder what sort of dark incantations you might interrupt if you come in at the wrong time. (Downtown Fremont)


From the porch of Bar House, you look across the street at a funeral home. Staring death in the face.

* (2017) Woodskys  I want to like this place more. The ski and snowboard theme speaks to my schussing soul. It was an okay place to have a beer with friends, but not someplace I want to hang out. Maybe if I were 20. Maybe not. (Downtown Fremont)

(2014 review) As a skier, I loved the snow sports-themed interior and that the benches for the outside tables were made out of snowboards. But the massive margarita machine (that apparently mixes a powerfully alcoholic margarita) was a throwback to après ski in my 20s.I enjoyed the place on a sunny summer afternoon, but suspect it transforms into party city later in the evening (which I don’t find as much fun these days as I might have in my 20s. Okay, I’ll admit it, I wasn’t even a huge partier in my 20s).


* (2017) 4B’s  On my last Fremont Eatery Walkabout, I rested on my laurels of having been here a few decades ago in college. I decided I had to go in this time. The smell of beer hanging in the air (or rising from the carpet), the neon flashing above the bar, the carnival games in the corner, the guy with the bad pickup line … yes, it met all my expectations. (Leary Way)

(2014 review) My goal was to visit every eating/drinking establishment in Fremont by the end of 2014, not necessarily in 2014. So I decided that it counted that, in my college days, we used to go here for lunch and play Pac Man. Today, it looks like such a rundown, seedy place (graffiti, plastic sign above the door broken so you can’t read the name), I wasn’t that interested in re-visiting. Funny thing, as soon as I told a friend of mine this, she told me that her fiancé loves this place. So I guess I’ll be visiting in 2015. I’ll let you know if I up my rating. (Leary Way)

Not yet reviewed in 2017

*** (2014) Fremont Brewing  Good beer and a great beer garden to hang out in on a warm summer day when a cold brew tastes good. They don’t serve food, but do have munchies. Another plus—when they’re brewing, the smell wafts up to my house. Mmmm…. (34th Street)

*** (2014) Schilling Hard Cider  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect here, but I loved their hard cider (probably more than beer, but not as much as wine). They have a LOT of varieties available (the rhubarb cider was killer). I can totally see hanging out here and sipping with good friends or a good book (or my laptop to sink into my writer persona). (Downtown Fremont)

** (2014) Outlander  Quaint house with lots of small rooms to work your way through to find the bar. They actually brew their own beer there, but I was more in the mood for a hard cider, which was really good (not brewed there, I don’t think, but good). Probably a cozy place for a drink on a cold winter evening. (Downtown Fremont)

* (2014) Nectar Lounge  Although the one time I went there, it was actually fun (I was there with a friend, some of his friends, and he knew the headline band), but I can’t think of much that would compel me to return. I knew we were in trouble when the lead singer of the starter band was taking his shirt off by the second song (obviously trying to hide his lack of talent) and then walked around shirtless the rest of the night. The drinks were so-so, smoke (both cigarette and pot) was obnoxious, and it was obviously the place for the 20-something crowd to see and be seen (based on the outfits people were wearing). One positive was the large outdoor area (so you didn’t have to jam into the hot, sweaty interior with too many bodies on a hot summer night. But overall, I’ll pass, thanks. (Downtown Fremont)

* (2014) Mischief Distillery  Quaint-looking tasting room with peeks into the main distilling area (and I think they give tours, too). But the vodka (my favorite spirit) was harsh-tasting. Give me Polish potato vodka any day. (Downtown Fremont)

* (2014) LTD  The corrugated metal exterior that makes it look like a temporary building thrown up in the oil fields of North Dakota should have been my first clue. The atmosphere reminds me of a place in the Midwest where men who work hard like to go to drink hard. Lots of fried stuff on the bar menu. (Downtown Fremont)

* (2014) Bad Jimmy’s Brewery  Nothing bad to say, nothing great to say. The beer was fine, atmosphere was okay (though nothing to draw me back there). They apparently have movie nights. There are more interesting breweries in Fremont, but this one isn’t terrible. (Leary Way)

CLOSED (*** in 2014) Odin Brewing  I really liked the ale I had there, and it was a cute little place. I probably won’t hang out there a lot, but if a friend said, “Let’s go have a beer, where would you suggest?” it’s a place that would come to mind. (Extra credit, 34th Street)

CLOSED (* in 2014) The Dubliner  No doubt it’s lively and interesting on St. Patrick’s Day, but it felt like the kind of place I might have gone to in college. But emptier. Much, much emptier. (Downtown Fremont)

CLOSED (* in 2014) Always Happy Hour  Have you ever been in an eating establishment that only has one printed menu for all customers to share? Neither had I until this place. Even though the pub was practically empty, the bartender paid no attention to me until I went to the bar myself. (Even if they don’t offer table service, with only 4 people in the place, she might have called out from behind the bar across the 6 feet that separated us to ask, “What can I get you?” Surely that would have been more productive than staring aimlessly at the cash register, which is what she was doing.) When ordering, I was told “Oh, that will take a long time.” (I suppose it’s good she was managing my expectations, but I was ordering a panini, not a slow-roasted pig, so it didn’t inspire confidence in the service.) The topper was that the curtain that hid their storage area was wide open, giving me the unappetizing view of shelves of cleaning supplies.

Yelp reviews praised their paninis. Meh. Mine was fine, but nothing I feel the need to ever eat again. (Downtown Fremont)


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