Home > Restaurants > Ballard Loft – 6/11/11

Ballard Loft – 6/11/11


Location: 5105 Ballard Ave NW


Mon-Sun: 11:30am-2am

Happy Hour:

Mon-Fri: 4pm-6pm, 10pm-12am

For two weeks J has been craving a hot dog. Not a bratwurst. Not a sausage. A good, old fashioned hot dog. I did some research to find someplace in Ballard that served regular hot dogs and came upon the Ballard Loft.

The Ballard Loft sits at the dark, once unpopular end of Ballard Ave. Bad Albert’s was the only restaurant down there until the Ballard Loft moved in across the street a few years ago. The restaurant sits back from the street behind one of the largest outdoor seating areas in Ballard. The lower level of the restaurant proper is rather small with a few booths and pub tables. Up a flight of stairs is a loft with a few more tables, a pool table and a shuffleboard table along one wall.

To be honest J and I have avoided the Ballard Loft since it’s technically a sports bar. During soccer games in particular the place tends to be packed with loud, boisterous fans watching the game on the multitude of flat screen TVs. We’re not sports fans. The closest we get is watching random Pittsburgh Steeler games and the Kentucky Derby once a year. The night we went there was a Seattle Sounders game on so we were not sure whether there would be seating available. The lower level was pretty packed but we found a table upstairs in the quieter loft.

The Service:

At first neither of us were sure if anyone had seen us go up the stairs but after a couple of minutes a guy, who may have been the owner, came up to see if we’d been waited on. He then took our drink order and within a minute a server arrived to take our food order. Once the order was in, the service was very quick and friendly. They also had no problem with my request to exclude the orange liquor in my specialty house cocktail.

The Drinks:

J, of course, ordered a Long Island Iced Tea, which was “Very tasty”.

I chose the Jalapeño Margarita from their specialty drink menu. Most Jalapeno Margaritas I’ve had were far too spicy. The Loft’s margarita was perfect. Instead of the spiciness and flavor of jalapeno overwhelming the tequila, it came through as a distinct aftertaste that melded with the lime and tequila perfectly. Very, very good and something I would not mind ordering again.

The Food:

As an appetizer, I decided to try their Bavarian Pretzel Stix with honey Dijon dip. These buttery, yeasty pretzels were tasty, especially when paired with the sweet, tangy dip. The only element missing was a sprinkling of coarse salt to compliment the butteriness of the pretzel.

J ordered Jimmy D’s BBQ Hot Dog, an all beef frank with mayo, melted Colby cheese and spicy BBQ sauce, topped with chopped bacon, red onion and jalapenos with a side of beer battered French fries. His reaction to it was “Great. Simply great. A little messy but not too spicy. Definitely not something I could eat everyday but great.” The fries were good as well but not amazing. He was totally blown away by this hot dog.

I have a confession to make. When J and I went to Chicago for our honeymoon, I failed to try a Chicago style hot dog. My only excuse is that I chose a wild boar sausage at Hot Doug’s over the typical Chicago Dog.

Anyway, the Ballard Loft offers their version of a Chicago Style Hot Dog, an all beef hot dog topped with diced onions, fresh tomatoes, a kosher pickle spear, sport peppers, celery salt, yellow mustard and neon green relish. The only thing they didn’t get right was that the dog did not come on a poppy seed bun. It was a good dog although it was missing the “snap” of a well-cooked hot dog. The mixture of condiments, while a bit messy and unwieldy, combined well with the sweetness of the relish evening out the more savory elements. Although the sport peppers were a bit too hot for my taste.

For a side, I chose a Caesar salad which turned out to be one of the better Caesars I’ve had in Ballard. Perfect amount of slightly salty dressing to fresh romaine.

The Price:

Long Island Iced Tea: 8.00

Jalapeno Margarita: 9.50

Bavarian Pretzel Stix: 7.50

Jimmy D’s BBQ Dog: 9.00

Chicago Dog: 9.00

The Verdict:

The Ballard Loft turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Ever since it opened, J and I had it pegged as a douchey sports bar to be avoided at all costs. Instead we found a place with a great atmosphere, especially up in the loft area, really good drinks and an interesting menu. I wouldn’t mind going back to try some of their other specialty hot dogs and sausages. It did seem a bit pricy but that really is the only negative I can come up with for the Ballard Loft. We’ll go back whenever J craves a good old hot dog.

If this project has done anything so far, it has been to force us to reassess our own judgments about restaurants in Ballard. We totally misjudged this one.


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