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Unsung Pub Grub: Onion Rings at Old Town Alehouse

Reviewed by Jessica Voelker, Seattle Metropolitan Magazine

Onion rings are not an everyday food. They are a holy-crap-I’m-starving, every once in a while kind of food. At least for me. [Read more...]

Reservations

For parties of 8 or more and take-out orders please call 206.782.8323

Parties of six or more will be presented a single check with an 18% gratuity added.

We gladly accept Cash, Visa & MasterCard. No checks please.

We regret that we cannot accept groups larger than eight on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Work at the Old Town

We're always looking for a great addition to our crew.

Feel free to download this application and drop it off between 2 and 5 on weekdays.

 

History of the Old Town Alehouse

The building located at 5233 Ballard Avenue Northwest has been occupied by a licensed bar for nearly its entire 110 year history. Built in 1898 our edifice shares the same vintage as much of our historic strip as the street was virtually rebuilt “overnight” following the great fire in 1895, which consumed most of what was then the Ballard Commercial District. Originally occupied by The Ballard Bar, this local landmark ran continuously up until Prohibition when all the bars on the street either closed their doors, turned to other livelihoods or merely closed their front doors and opened their “backdoors”. Percy’s Men’s Furnishing opened up shop when the venerable Ballard Bar closed its doors. Percy was however the owner of the Ballard Bar so who is to say what went on in the back of the house. After the black curtain of Prohibition was lifted our little building was resurrected as The Silver Spot Beer Parlor. Red shag carpet and windows blacked out with paint brought the debauchery of “The Ave” back with a bang. Following the passing of the much beloved owner of the Silver Spot, Enger’s Fish Knot Inn opened to fill the empty hands and bellies of the thirsty patrons. In 1995 The Old Town Alehouse signed on as the newest occupant of the building at 5233 Ballard Avenue.

The boomtown of Ballard was built on the vast business of the cedar shake milling which lined the Salmon Bay area just south of Ballard. This waterway had been recently made available to the seaways via the Hiram Chittendon Locks. Scores of huge shake mills opened all employing thirsty migrant patrons with pockets full of pay. Ballard Avenue once boasted the largest number of taverns per linear foot of boardwalk anywhere west of the Mississippi. As the families entered the area a city ordinance was passed mandating that a house of worship be erected for every tavern door opened. This is evidenced today in the great number of church buildings in the Ballard area.

Inside the Old Town we were lucky enough to secure pieces of Ballard history with the inclusion in the bar of our two beautiful matching Spanish Red Oak cabinets. These two pieces were originally part of the bar at the Old Home located next door to our east. These towering twins were used as cigar humidors. When Hattie’s Hat remodeled the long corridor style bar and added the dining area in the back the cabinets were just too big. They have since found an appreciative home as the central pieces for our back bar. Another feature of note at the Old Town is our largely hidden second front door. To the right of the double glass front doors you will notice a side door painted red. This was the family entrance, which you will find at many of the oldest taverns in Ballard. It was inappropriate for “ladies” to enter through the front door of licensed establishments but once inside they were an integral part of the entertainment. Tired fathers also sent their youngsters to fetch a pail of their favorite ale. These side doors were for them.

At the Old Town we keep things simple in the hope that we can do them right. Our menu includes standard pub fare all served with style: soups, salads, sandwiches (wedges), pasta dishes and our much-heralded fish and chips. On the beer side we take things even more seriously. We offer as our core draft selection, ales and lagers of distinction from Washington breweries with annual production of less than 10,000 barrels per year. These are the smallest of the small craft brewers. We offer fresh cask conditioned ales from only local breweries to ensure the peak of freshness. Our beer engine pumps away every day of the week not just on the weekends or for special events so you can rest assure that you are always going to receive a cask pint at its peak. In addition to our regular line-up, rotating handles and bottled beer list we maintain an excellent collection of both bottle conditioned and draft Belgian beers. These beers are made available on a separate list so be sure to ask about them. Although the mood is generally always happy at the Old Town we do provide a designated time to be happy in Ballard. From 3:00 to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday, all our regular draft pints are $3.00. We also offer a service to our customers that allows for draft beer to be sold by the ounce in our container or yours to take home. Beer to go is available by the quart, half and full gallon. Since the tap selections that we carry are generally draft only offerings with the “beer to go” option you can enjoy your favorite draft pint even when you are unable to make it down to the Old Town. So don’t forget to grab a “jar” to go!

On a stroll down Ballard Avenue you will find galleries, restaurants, record stores, and taverns side by side with industry representing cabinet makers, wrought iron designers, furniture builders, and shipwrights to name but a few. Our street is alive with businesses new and old and we are as proud of our history as we are of present and future. You are invited to come down and explore our neighborhood and when you do please make time to drop by Old Town Alehouse for a bit of refreshment.

Please contact us at OldTownAlehouse@gmail.com

Thanks for your patronage,
John and Cecile Burreson, Proprietors

 

Celebrating 17 Years: 1995 - 2012

Staff Holiday Party 2007