Posts Tagged ‘Long Island Iced Tea’

Mike’s Chili Parlor – 12/17/11


Location: 1447 NW Ballard Way


Mon-Thurs: 11am-11pm

Friday: 11am-12am

Saturday: 12pm-8pm

Cash Only

Mike’s Chili Parlor is a 72 year old Ballard institution. The distinctive Art Deco building has stared down modernity and continues to survive in new Ballard. A dive bar/diner that specializes in chili for decades to the point that even the Food Network has recognized their longevity in an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Mike’s is a tiny, one room bar with an old school diner counter running along one wall with a view of the huge pot of chili simmering on the stove. Along the opposite wall are booths with sagging red vinyl benches and in between are a couple of tall tables. Also crammed in to the small space is a pool table. How anyone can play pool without hitting everyone nearby, I do not know.

Their specialty is chili. Meat chili served over beans in bowls. Scooped over pasta, fries, hot dogs, and burgers. Sure you can order a plain burger or hot dog but why would you go to a place called Mike’s chili and not order chili? This is East Coast chili, with a Greek pedigree.  Not a vegetarian/vegan friendly place. They have a full bar, draft beer, and wine as well.

The Service:

Probably the fastest service we’ve had over the course of this project. We had barely sat down before the server came over to ask for our drink order. Friendly, too.

The Drinks:

I had a Manny’s Pale Ale, my default beer when there’s nothing else on draft that I’d like to try.

J ordered a Long Island Iced Tea. The quintessential, dive bar Long Island. Neither terrific nor horrible. Perfectly serviceable with just a hint of tequila.

The Food:

I chose the traditional Bowl of Chili, served over beans with cheese and onion. The first thing I noticed was how dark red it was. They must add a hefty portion of paprika to the spice blend. After a couple of bites, I found it to been very spicy, a little greasy, and way too salty. So salty, in fact, that I ended up drinking a couple of glasses of water afterwards because I was so thirsty. I did like the texture of the finely ground beef though. It made me nostalgic for taco salads. I liked the fact that they pour it over the beans so they stayed firm rather than turning to mush. I think I would have enjoyed the depth of spicy flavor of the chili more had it not been so salty.

J ordered an East Coast/Midwest favorite, Chili Pasta with cheese and onion. He loved his chili so much so that he lamented the fact that he’d ordered a small rather than a large. The pasta apparently helped cut the spiciness and saltiness of his chili because he didn’t have any complaints. He liked how finely diced the onions were so they ended up being a condiment rather than a feature of the chili. All in all, he thought it hit the spot.

The Price:

Manny’s Pale Ale: 4.25

Long Island Iced Tea: 8.00

Bowl of Chili: 5.50

Sm. Chili Pasta: 6.75

The Verdict:

J and I are kind of split on Mike’s Chili Parlor. He loved his chili pasta, partially out of nostalgia, I think. There aren’t many places in Seattle that serve chili over pasta. I thought my chili was way too salty. I would be willing to give Mike’s another chance to see if it was just a freak, salty batch of chili since I did like the texture of the meat.  Perhaps on some cold winter night, we’ll go back.


The Viking Tavern – 10/8/11


Location: 6404 24th Ave NW


Mon-Sat: 11:30am-2am

Sunday: 11:30am-12am

On the window of The Viking Tavern, it proudly announces “Opened in 1950”. Walking through the door feels a bit like going through a time warp. Vinyl booths line one wall with a row of mirrors and black and white photos of the Viking over the years above them. The bar runs along the other side with old school, spinning bar stools under the chipped counter. The Viking is another piece of Old Ballard that has managed to survive. On one wall near the entry is one thing I, as a former library worker, can appreciate, a shelf of spy, detective, and romance novels.

The Viking Tavern is a bar with food rather than a restaurant that serves booze. While their specialty is house-smoked meats, preparation isn’t of primary import since the food is warmed up in a microwave.

The Service:

When we came in, the bartender was acting as server as well. He was friendly and bus but the food came out fairly quick.

The Drinks:

I ordered the Silver City Hefeweizen, which was pretty good even though it had a slight, musty flavor that I’ve noticed in a few other Hefeweizens.

J had a Long Island Iced Tea that he could smell before even lifting it to his lips. It was so well mixed that he dubbed it the third best Long Island in Ballard.

The Food:

I chose The Number One, hickory smoked, thinly sliced beef brisket, with house sauce and served with Tim’s Cascade chips and a pickle. The brisket was fairly tender and nicely flavored, even if it was warmed up in the microwave. It was okay but I like my brisket a bit moister and in thicker slices. I liked the onion roll on which it was served. The sauce was just the right consistency, with a nice, delayed spicy kick. A good barbeque sandwich for the price.

J had The Number Two, slow-smoked, shredded pork butt with house pork sauce on an onion roll. He thought it was really good barbeque. The pork was less shredded and more like moist, flavorful chunks of meat. He was kind of surprised how good it was.

The Price:

Silver City Hefeweizen: 4.75

Long Island Iced Tea: 7.00

The Number One: 8.75

The Number Two: 8.75

The Verdict:

The Viking Tavern provides good barbeque and drinks at a very reasonable price in a neat piece of Old Ballard. We liked the barbeque better than what’s sold at the Lock & Keel, the only other barbeque we’ve had thus far in this project. The meat was smoky, fairly moist, and flavorful. The sauce was really good. Their Long Island Iced Tea, surprisingly, comes in at third best in Ballard.

Our opinions of the remaining Ballard barbeque joints (Smokin’ Petes and the maybe opening before the end of the year, Bitterroot) will determine whether we return to The Viking. It is a bit out of the way from where we live in Ballard but if it’s the best, we’ll be back.

Shelter Lounge – 9/30/11


Location: 4910 Leary Ave NW


Mon-Fri: 4pm-2am

Sat-Sun: 11am-2am

Happy Hour:

Mon-Sat: 4pm-6pm

Sunday: All Day

Shelter Lounge is located on the south end of Leary, near the Ballard Bridge, in a building that once housed a garage before being converted into a small bar called The Station, for a short time. When The Station went under, the building went through an extensive renovation, adding a large, glass enclosed seating area to the previously small building. The wood and stone lined interior features a cozy row of booths at one side, the bright enclosed patio on the other side with a huge circular bar separating the two. They serve beer, wine, and a full bar with a creative specialty cocktail menu. The food menu is rather small, with a few interesting appetizers, sandwiches, and just three entrees.

J and I had never gotten around to visiting Shelter Lounge. It’s in a weird spot, off the main drag of Ballard’s food scene with only the 2 Bit Saloon, across the street, to keep it company. It always seemed the sort of place where douche bags and frat-boys would hang out, which added to the reasons we avoided going there. According to one of the servers we spoke to, our assessment is correct at least on Friday and Saturday nights when the place becomes something akin to a club.

We decided to go early on Friday night, expecting it to be crowded. Instead, we found a comfortable, friendly place that, much like the Bal-Mar and Ballard Loft, turned out to be a huge surprise. So surprising, in fact, that we took a couple of friends back to Shelter Lounge on Sunday afternoon to try the food and watch the end of the Seahawk game. For the first time in this project, we’ll be reviewing two visits to the same place in one post.

The Service:

On Friday, we arrived just before a second server came on shift, so service was a little erratic but friendly. On Sunday the place was nearly empty so service was quick and the server was friendly and chatty.

The Drinks:

On both visits J, as usual, ordered a Long Island Iced Tea. In his opinion, Shelter’s is now tied with Shiku’s WMD for the best Long Island in Ballard. Both times it was mixed perfectly.

There were a number of interesting selections on their specialty cocktail menu, so I tried a different drink each time. On Friday, I chose the Ballard 75, Aviation gin, fresh lemon, agave nectar, shaken, and topped with champagne. It was cool and refreshing with a nice contrast between the piney gin and the crisp, dry champagne.

On Sunday, I decided to try the Jalapeno and Cucumber Margarita, Hornitos tequila, lime, chopped jalapeno peppers and cucumbers topped with Sprite. The spiciness of the jalapeno and the coolness of the cucumber played off each other quite well. Unlike some pepper infused drinks, the jalapeno did not overwhelm the other flavors.

The Food:


On Friday night, out of sheer “WTF???” curiosity, we ordered the Avocado Fries appetizer, slices of avocado breaded with panko, deep fried, and served with chipotle aioli. Surprisingly delicious. The texture contrast between the crunchy panko and the creamy avocado floored us. The spicy aioli gave the fries a flavor punch that melded well. I will admit that I’m a fan of People’s Pub’s deep fried pickles but I would choose these avocado fries over them any day of the week. These were so good, we ordered them again on Sunday in order to share the wonder with our friends.

On Sunday, J ordered the PB&J Jalapeno Poppers, panko breaded jalapeno peppers, deep fried, stuffed with cream cheese and peanut butter and served with a sweet, spicy jelly. J loved these, especially the above-average peanut butter used. I’m not usually a fan of peanut butter but I soon found the flavor combination oddly addictive, especially the sweet jelly that gave them a spicy, fruity kick.

Entrees & Sandwiches:

On Friday, J ordered the Carne Asada entrée, marinated steak with pico de gallo, corn on the cob, and mashers. When it arrived, he said the loaded plated looked like something you’d get at someone’s home. The carne asada was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, tender and flavorful. The marinade gave just a hint of spiciness while the well cooked side of corn on the cob, dusted with cayenne pepper, added another note of spice. J loved the mashers. Perfectly mashed potatoes that were neither lumpy nor pasty. The huge portion tasted extremely creamy from either the addition of tons of butter or, perhaps, a cheese or some sort. Even though he was full, he forced himself to finish the mashers because they were so good.

I chose the Rum Marinated Chicken entrée, chicken breast rubbed with cumin then marinated in Sailor Jerry’s rum, served with pico de gallo, corn on the cob, and mashers. The chicken was moist, its flavor a lovely mix between spicy cumin and caramel sweet rum. I took half home since the portion was so big. My corn was just a touch tough but that was barely noticeable through the spicy cayenne pepper and cilantro flavor. The delicious mashers went surprisingly well with the spoonful of fresh pico de gallo included on the plate.

On Sunday, J and I shared a Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwich, pepper jack cheese, avocado, red onions, and chipotle aioli on grilled sourdough bread and served with shoestring French fries. The sourdough was perfectly toasted, retaining just a bit of softness. The avocado added a cooling note to the creamy, peppery cheese and the spicy aioli. The fries were awesome as well, staying crispy and hot the entire time.

The Price:


Long Island Iced Tea: 8.00

Ballard 75: 8.00

Avocado Fries: 6.00

Carne Asada: 15.00

Rum Marinated Chicken: 14.00


Long Island Iced Tea: 8.00

Jalapeno & Cucumber Margarita: 9.00

Avocado Fries: 4.00 (Happy Hour price)

PB&J Jalapeno Poppers: 3.00 (Happy Hour price)

Spicy Grilled Cheese: 5.00 (Happy Hour price)

The Verdict:

Considering J and I went back on Sunday, with friends in tow, our opinion of Shelter Lounge is overwhelmingly positive. Over the course of this project, we have had few meals that were, across the board, as good as both of the meals we had here. The drinks are great and well priced, including a Long Island Ice Tea that is one of the best in Ballard. The menu may be small but the quality and portion size is worth every reasonably priced penny. Creative touches, like the avocado fries, are deliciously well executed. Though it sounds like weekend evenings are hopping, the atmosphere during the day and early evening is genial and relaxed.

Shelter Lounge has been added to the list of our Ballard haunts. No question. We have been singing its praises to everyone who asks how the project is going. I will not be surprised if it ends up on the project’s top ten list at the end of the year.

Wingmasters Sports Bar & Grill – 9/23/11

No Website

Location: 5811 24th Ave NW


Mon-Fri: 11:30am-2am

Sat-Sun: 10am-2pm

Wingmasters Sports Bar & Grill felt like an old school sports bar. The type found all over the United States where the only things to tell you what city/state you’re in are the posters on the wall, the games on the TV, and the theme of the menu. Dark wood paneling. Worn and torn vinyl booths. A couple of pools tables. A big elk shooting game in one corner. Pull tabs at the bar and peanuts by the handful for a quarter from a defunct gumball machine. It’s the type of place that has a bunch of regulars who hang out at the bar, watching ball games. The night we visited, a college football game, a Mariner’s game, and a soccer game were showing on the multitude of TVs.

Wingmasters, as one can guess from the name, specializes in chicken wings, offered with a choice of sauces. The menu also includes the usual array of bar food, salads, burgers, and fish and chips along with beer and a full bar.

The Service:

Our server was the only one, other than the bartender, working so service was pretty slow. Once we had finished our meal, J eventually had to stand at the bar for a few minutes before being able to pay our bill since our server never came over to cash us out.

The Drinks:

I had a pint of Widmer Hefeweizen, which turned out to be rather smooth with very little bitterness. Quite nice, actually.

J ordered a Long Island Iced Tea, which packed a punch but had too much tequila.

The Food:

I chose the Buffalo Chicken Strips and Fries. The chicken strips were of uneven quality. Some were moist while others were bone dry. The Buffalo sauce tasted pretty good with a spiciness that crept up on me. I also liked the extra crispy breading that covered the strips. The French fries that weren’t directly under the chicken strips were crispy but as the fries cooled, they turned greasy and limp.

J ordered 12 Chicken Wings in Buffalo Sauce. It should be mentioned that J has been to the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York where Buffalo wings originated, so his bar for chicken wings is set very high. He took issue with how the wings were made. It seemed like they poured the sauce in the bottom of the paper-lined basket, and then placed the wings in it, without tossing the wings in the sauce. He said the wings on top were too dry while the ones in the sauce were merely okay. He was not impressed.

The Price:

Widmer Hefeweizen: 4.25

Long Island Iced Tea: 8.00

Buffalo Chicken Strips and Fries: 7.95

12 Chicken Wings with Buffalo Sauce: 12.95

The Verdict:

There were a number of things about Wingmasters that didn’t impress us. The atmosphere of the place was very insular. J especially felt this when he went up to the bar to pay our tab. It took him a few minutes to get someone’s attention, and when he did he felt like he was intruding on a private club. The wings were really pricey for the quality and quantity. King’s Hardware offers tastier wings for a better price, especially on Mondays when wings are .28 cents apiece. Really the only thing that was good was my beer.

Neither of us sees a reason to go back to Wingmasters. We can get better wings elsewhere and I can get Widmer Hefeweizen at the grocery store.

For those who might be wondering, in J’s opinion Norm’s, in Fremont, offers chicken wings that are the closest to the Anchor Bar’s original Buffalo wings.

Kelly O’Briens – 9/18/11 – Closed


Location: 5410 17th Ave NW


Mon-Fri: 4pm-2am

Sat-Sun: 12pm-2am

Tucked in a tiny space in the shadow of the Leva condos, Kelly O’Briens is one of the few bars located at the east end of Market street. It’s an Irish bar complete with Irish football jerseys, flags, and posters on the walls and a menu that includes shepherd’s pie and fish and chips. Along one wall is a huge, wood bar and on the other is high benches giving the place a cozy, pub feel.

The Service:

The bartender/server/owner? gets brownie points for commenting on J’s D&D t-shirt, having played Vampire: The Masquerade and reading fantasy authors like George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss. Service was friendly and quick.

The Drinks:

I ordered a cider, which turned out to be a Magner’s Irish Cider. Not one of my favorites since I prefer a dry cider to a sweet one.

J, as usual, chose a Long Island Iced Tea. After a sip, he said it was more like a Long Island Lemonade. J liked the lemonade quality but it just wasn’t a true Long Island.

The Food:

I had the Shepherd’s Pie, ground lamb, peas, onion, and carrots topped with mashers. The tidy bowl of shepherd’s pie came out piping hot and remained so throughout our meal. The mashed potatoes were a bit dry and not nearly buttery enough for my taste. The stew part, though, was pretty good, with lots of lamb. The rich gravy needed a little salt due to the sweetness of the lamb and nowhere near as greasy as other shepherd’s pie I’ve tried … The Old Pequliar, I’m looking at you.

J ordered the Fish and Chips, Guinness battered cod with batter tossed French fries. The cod was merely okay in both flavor and portion size. The fries, on the other hand, were great. Hand-cut potatoes tossed in a little batter to give them extra crispness. Crunchy on the outside and creamy inside.

The Price:

Magner’s Irish Cider: 4.00

Long Island Iced Tea: 8.50

Shepherd’s Pie: 8.00

Fish and Chips: 8.00

The Verdict:

We really liked the neighborhood bar feel to Kelly O’Briens even though the food was just typical pub fare. We’ve had better and worse in Ballard. They could definitely improve on some of the food … J likes the fish at Market Arms better … But the French fries were great.

Considering that Kelly O’Briens is nearer to our apartment than most of Ballard’s bars, we’ll go back at some point. J and I are curious about the happy hour menu which includes a few items, like mini corn dogs, curry fries, and lamb sliders, not found elsewhere in Ballard. And the bartender is a fantasy, gamer dude, which automatically gives the place extra points in our book.

Hamburger Harry’s – 8/20/11


Location: 2409 NW Market St


Mon-Thurs, Sun: 11am-10pm

Fri-Sat: 11am-2am

In our continuing search for the best burger in Ballard, J and I chose to try Hamburger Harry’s. Located just west of the Market Street and 24th intersection, Hamburger Harry’s is one of the bigger burger joints with ample outdoor seating and a large, open interior. A long bar lines one side of the interior, a large screen TV used for karaoke and sports dominates one wall and the other walls are covered in huge collection of autographed sports photos. Our server explained that the owners have collected memorabilia over many years. J and I wondered between ourselves which of the photos was the most rare and/or the most expensive.

Hamburger Harry’s, as the name suggests, specializes in burgers, though they offer salads, chicken and sandwiches as well. Their menu included a number of burger toppings I’ve not seen elsewhere in Ballard. For beverages, they have the usual suspects (soda, coffee, tea) along with milkshakes, beer, wine and a full bar.

The Service:

We had dinner around 5 o’clock on Saturday so the place was pretty empty. Our server was very friendly and the food arrived quite quickly.

The Drinks:

I ordered a Manny’s Pale Ale, a tried and true draft beer you can find practically everywhere in Seattle. I like it because it’s not too bitter and goes well with a lemon wedge.

As usual, J had a Long Island Iced Tea, which he declared was “Quite good”. He said the proportions of the ingredients were a prefect mix with neither the sweet and sour or tequila overpowering the drink. He could barely taste the liquor in it, his test of a good Long Island.

The Food:

I chose the Gyro Burger, a beef patty topped by lettuce, tomato, red onion, feta and house made tzatziki sauce, with a side of garlic fries. When it arrived, the burger was stacked about 8 inches high with a skewer stuck through it to keep it from toppling over. It was a pretty good burger. The beef was flavorful, moist and just slightly charred. The ingredients were all fresh, especially the salty feta which contrasted with the sweet red onion nicely. The bun was too flimsy to hold the burger together and the tzatziki sauce was a little lost in the other flavors though. In the end, I felt like the burger needed an extra punch of flavor to take it beyond merely pretty good. I think adding pepperoncini or some garlic aioli would have improved the burger.

The garlic fries were just okay. The garlic was fresh and tasty but the fries seemed limp and greasy. Not that good.

J ordered the Jalapeno Popper Burger, topped with roasted jalapenos, cream and cheddar cheese, guacamole and garlic aioli. He really liked his burger, finding it interesting that they chose to top it with the components in a jalapeno popper rather than taking the easy way out by just putting a real popper on top of the burger. The garlic aioli was especially good. To him, his side of fries was just an afterthought. He ignored them so he could finish his burger.

The Price:

Manny’s Pale Ale: 4.50

Long Island Iced Tea: 8.50

Gyro Burger: 11.79

Jalapeno Popper Burger: 11.99

The Verdict:

Hamburger Harry’s presented us with another Ballard restaurant surprise. These were, thus far, the second best burger in Ballard, just behind King’s Hardware … mostly on account of the limp French fries. Interesting toppings, flavorful beef and, at least in J’s opinion, one of the better Long Island Iced Teas he’s had so far on this project, make Hamburger Harry’s some place to which we will return whenever we’re craving a burger and King’s Hardware is too crowded.

It’s also nice to know that Hamburger Harry’s is open late on Fridays and Saturdays. It may become a choice for dinner after an evening movie at the Majestic Bay Theatre.

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.