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Fearless Critic restaurant review

Daily 5:00pm–1:00am

Features Date-friendly, good wines, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Accepted


1501 Western Ave.
Seattle, WA
(206) 625-1146
The Zig Zag Café
Cocktails for the ages, and we forget the rest

What used to be a hidden gem on the Hill Climb (a set of stairs behind Pike Place Market) is now a perennial award-winner; most recently, Zig Zag nabbed the #1 spot on GQ’s “25 Best Cocktail Bars in America.”

It’s the bar where everyone knows the bartender’s name: Murray Stenson is a Seattle legend (his co-workers are pretty talented, too). The Zig Zag has a long list of specialty drinks with humorous names like “Satan’s Soulpatch” (Bourbon, sweet and dry vermouth, Grand Marnier, and orange bitters) and the “Drink Without a Name” (vodka, Cointreau, green Chartreuse), but regulars know the best thing to do is let Murray and crew whip up something based on whatever you’re craving. Whether the base is Bourbon or Lillet, you’ll get a subtle drink free of the seasonal fruit juices and house-infused liquors so often abused by younger mixologists.

There’s nothing gimmicky about the Zig Zag. It’s not a speakeasy or an ultralounge. The room, though comfortable, isn’t anything special: a few wooden bar stools, a few curved booths, chandeliers, and amber mood lighting. It attracts a diverse crowd: office workers, hipsters, Belltown clubgoers, firemen.

The short menu has bar snacks like olives, flatbread pizzas, sandwiches, and a few daily seafood specials. The food’s satisfying if you need something to soak up the alcohol, and the kitchen sources from Pike Place, so everything is very fresh-tasting. But the best things here come in cocktail glasses, not on plates.

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