Ever since Kurt Cobain and Nirvana captured the smell of teen spirit on vinyl, the city of Seattle has become synonymous with the flannel shirts, ripped jeans, combat boots, and hipster hair that defined the late 90’s grunge era. However, it was more than a fashion statement that grunge rock represented, it was a musical one as well; one that so perfectly captured the grey city itself, that it was clear that only Seattle could give birth to such self-deprecating angst. Although Cobain himself may have passed, his spirit certainly continues in the Seattle lifestyle, especially in the nightlife scene that Cobain himself was such a vital part of.
Nirvana fan or not, there’s plenty of places for the Sleepless in Seattle, and, if you want to find yourself among them, here are a few suggestions.
1. The Pink Door
If you’re looking to get into the swing of things, come see what’s going on behind the Pink Door. The iconic Italian restaurant is known to keep things in full swing with its burlesque shows and trapeze artists, and get this; membership is exclusive. So does that mean you have to trade your flannels for bowties to get a table? Quite the opposite. In response to the fully booked evenings, the restaurant has launched a priority reservation option favoring locals, with membership limited to residents of Seattle and a few nearby islands. That doesn’t mean tourists aren’t welcome, its just the club’s way of saluting its bread and butter and keeping things real.
Come for the spaghetti, stay for the kinetic jazz, and rotating Tarot card reader, and make sure you can keep your eyes off your twirling fork to catch some acrobatic twirling above the dining room at The Pink Door.
2. The Pie Bar
Pick your poison. For some, its alcohol, for others, cigarettes, and for still others, its pie. Oh, the warm comfort of pie, so innocent, yet so sinful. If the sweet life is what you crave, you’ll find it at the Pie Bar in Seattle.
While good twin Alyssa Lewis was perfecting her pie craft, bad twin Natalie Delucchi was brewing some alcoholic concoctions designed to make consumers see double, and that had nothing to do with her having an identical twin. Together, the two united their intoxicating talents to create the Pie Bar on Capitol Hill.
Says Alyssa, “ Nat has managed to turn my pies into booze concoctions!” The Pietini combines distilled vodka with pie, while local microbrews are served in chilled glasses, and spiked coffee and hot chocolate are served warm and toasty. There’s also plenty for those who prefer their pies with drinks on the side. The baker recommends the Desserted Island paired with the Burning Apron but you may prefer the fluffy cloud of Peanut Butter Chocolate that goes so well with the hot chocolate and butterscotch Schnapps, topped with a dollop of whipped cream.
3. Radiator Whiskey
Looking for some reading material? The drinks menu on the Radiator Whiskey may take longer to read than most encyclopedias, and probably has just as much information. We’re talking some serious drinks here, as in if you don’t take your drinking seriously don’t bother coming, the Radiator will school you in alcohol.
After you choose between Bourbon, vodka, rye, Irish, gin, Scotch/single malt, tequila, rum, mezcal, draft beer, grappa, digestif, wine, draft beer, signature cocktails, and Manhattan project, you can find a literal laundry list of adventurous selections to choose from, but you don’t have to do all that drinking on an empty stomach. There’s plenty of meat to go with those potatoes. Just when you thought the Radiator Whiskey was all about the fermented fare, the meat menu is enough to make Carl’s Junior look like a vegan paradise, so belly up and get your fill.
4. El Corazon
If you’re one of the thousands of Nirvana followers making the pilgrimage to Seattle just to stand in the places where the Kurt Cobain may have once had stood, El Corazon should be your first stop. Not only did Nirvana play at this indie rock haven, they played their first Seattle show here.
With a name appropriately translating to “The Heart” in English, El Corazon is hands down the heart of the grunge explosion in Seattle, and Nirvana is just one of the legendary bands to get its start there. The club was also the venue for Pearl Jam’s first five shows, and Alice In Chains and Mudhoney are among the bands to have cut their teeth at El Corazon. While the grunge days may have put it on the map, El Corazon is nowhere done making its mark on music. Check it out; you may find more than Cobain’s memory there, you may find his reincarnation.
5. The Trinity
A little bit holy, a little bit irreverent, a little bit retro, and a little bit ultra-modern, the Trinity is the two-level multi-room dance club that has a little something for everyone.
If you’re looking for some fist-pumping, bass-thumping, the Main Room is one of the largest dance floors on the west coast. It’s also got rescued pieces from a dismantled local cathedral, keeping things old school, with all the amenities of the new.
The Blue Room is the mod-quarters of the club, with the old school James Bond feel and the new school computer controlled lighting. It’s all hot pant meets cool trance in the Blue Room.
East meets west in the Card Room. Serving as the Trinity Lounge, the Card Room features pieces from the Chinese Room rescued from the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, so drink up and get ready to share some ancient Seattle wisdom.
6. Central Cinema
Looking for a movie theater big on audience participation? If you’re tired of being considerate of your fellow audience members when you’re watching a film, the Central Cinema probably won’t even ask you to turn off your cell phone.
This interactive movie theater actually encourages a disruptive audience, and there are no spoilers in this theater. The films shown here are all cult classics, so if you don’t know how they end already, you’re probably better off getting them on Netflix. You’ll find yourself creating bonding experiences with your fellow audience members as you quote along to Monty Python’s Holy Grail, and the Ladies of the Eighties Night will have you donning your parachute pants while singing along to the times of Cher, Pat Benatar, and Michael Jackson. Don’t forget to load up on the drinks for a little Irish courage, and check out the organic popcorn for a new twist on an old favorite.
Updated: April 4, 2018