Your City Embodied in a Public House

Toronado - Kevin Tao

It was May. It was sunny and comfortably warm. The year was 2008 and Jeff and I were in San Francisco. The Mariners had not yet sucked our souls out entirely. We hoped that season would be the low point for them. Over the course of the weekend, we would see some exciting stuff in the field of baseball research, I would give Jeff a glimpse of my database (literally), and we would watch Stephen Strasburg highlights for the first time.

We had met there to attend the first Pitch F/X* conference hosted by SportsVision, but the presentations were over for the day and we found ourselves lounging in our makeshift lodgings for the weekend with some free time.

* they call it PITCHf/x, but I don't like the way that looks nor do I like typing that many capital letters in a row.

Having spent the previous day exploring the San Francisco sights and walking around its many hills, we didn't feel much like subjecting our sore legs to more exploring. What we wanted was beer and we wanted it near us. Not knowing the local scene, we turned to yelp and asked it for the closest bars.

By sheer coincidence, the top result was Toronado a bar I soon found amazing and later discovered to be well known and respected nation-wide. At the time, I just found it amusing it was on a place called Haight Street.

We walked over and I was blown away first by the many and varied tap choices and then later by the atmosphere, formed from the no-nonsense tattooed, gruff, indifferent tenders and eclectic group of customers. A notable bunch of them were sitting next to us. They were yuppies and would not stop talking about Twitter — remember this was early 2008 — in sentences that I recall being comprised of about 40% buzzwords.

I was reminded of all this very recently when I went back to Saint Francis and stopped in again at Toronado. This time I shared the bar with a mix that included what appeared to be newly minted Giants fans, a couple that figured it was kosher to openly smoke marijuana, and a guy that I'm not sure had bathed since the last time I had stepped foot in Toronado.

In short, I feel like I've had the full San Francisco experience — worldly, yuppie, hippy, proud, and techy — all within the confines of one bar.

Which got me thinking, what such bar would I nominate for such an experience in Seattle? I don't mean what is the closest match to Toronado in Seattle; rather, what bar in Seattle is the most stereotypical "Seattle" of drinking establishments?

Such a question is fraught with personal bias. My version and view of Seattle is not objective. Neither is yours, or anyone's. We all have our own social circles and tend to assume that everyone else is just like the sort of people in our own circles.

For that reason, I did not consider any wine or cocktail bar even though both types are big and growing things in this region, I like them both, and they definitely represent a large and stereotypical swath of the people here. But not the people I typically socialize with.

My initial thoughts led me to Beveridge Place Pub, on California Ave, in West Seattle. I think it nails a few key Seattle traits:

- It's inconvenient unless you live in that neighborhood.
- The parking sucks.
- They have an inward focus, often highlighting local WA products.
- Dogs.
- Board and table games, something I've found more often in Seattle bars than anywhere else.

There are hundreds of other worthy choices for the most Seattle drinking experience, including the aforementioned neglected wine and/or cocktail bars. And this could be had about anything. Which park, which building, which ingredient on a hummus plate, and so on.

But this is what's on my mind today so what are some of your ideas for the most wherever-you-live bar, be it Seattle or elsewhere?

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