Oldest Bars in Washington

8 Oldest Bars in Washington

Washington is home to some of the oldest bars in the United States. These watering holes have stood the test of time, serving drinks to politicians, artists, and locals for generations.

Each establishment has a story: tales of Prohibition-era bootlegging, political scandals, and even ghostly encounters.

As you step inside these historic bars, you are transported back in time, with the d├ęcor, music, and atmosphere all contributing to the feeling that you are part of the city’s storied past. Join us as we tour the list of the oldest bars in Washington and explore the rich history within their walls.

8. Merchant’s Cafe

Year Established: 1890
Location: 109 Yesler Way, Seattle, WA
Founder: Charles Osner
Still Operating: Yes

Merchant's Cafephoto source: Merchants Cafe and Saloon

Merchant’s Cafe is a historic bar and restaurant in Seattle. The establishment has a rich history dating back to the late 19th century, and it is considered one of the oldest bars in Washington. Merchant’s Cafe has remained a popular spot for locals and visitors.

The bar features a vintage interior with dark wood paneling, antique light fixtures, and a long wooden bar. The menu includes classic American dishes like burgers and sandwiches, as well as a variety of cocktails and local beers.

Did You Know?

Merchant’s Cafe has survived several disasters, including the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 and the earthquake of 1965. Despite these setbacks, the bar has remained a popular spot for locals and visitors.


7. The Brick

Year Established: 1889
Location: 100 W Pennsylvania Ave, Roslyn, WA
Founder: John Buffo, Peter Giovanni
Still Operating: Yes

The Brickphoto source: freehubmag.com

The Brick was established in 1889 as a saloon in Roslyn, a thriving coal mining town. The bar’s interior has been preserved with its historic charm intact. The walls are exposed brick, and the floors are wooden planks.

The Brick is also notable for being one of Roslyn’s few remaining original buildings. The town was founded in the late 1800s as a coal mining town, and many of its original buildings have since been demolished or fallen into disrepair. The Brick, however, has been well-preserved and stands as a testament to Roslyn’s history and heritage.

In addition to its history and atmosphere, The Brick is also known for its impressive selection of beer and spirits. The bar features a rotating selection of craft beers on tap and a wide variety of bottled beers and spirits.

Did You Know?

The Brick has been featured in several movies, including the popular ’90s television series Northern Exposure.


6. Kuk’s Tavern

Year Established: 1889
Location: 400 Summit Ave, Northport, WA
Founder: Gary and Marian Kotzian
Still Operating: Yes

Kuk's Tavernphoto source: The Silverado Express

Kuk’s Tavern, formerly known as Skrobian’s, has a long and fascinating history intertwined with the development of Northport, Washington. The tavern was founded in 1889, the same year Northport was incorporated and Washington became a state.

At that time, Northport boasted about two dozen bars, and Kuk’s Tavern was unique in that it also served as a brothel. Despite its controversial reputation, the tavern had staying power, and when a fire destroyed most of the town in 1890, Kuk’s Tavern was one of the few remaining buildings.

Did You Know?

Many of the regular patrons have local roots that span multiple generations, and the tavern has become a cherished meeting place for friends and family members.


5. Jules Maes

Year Established: 1888
Location: 5919 Airport Way S, Seattle, WA
Founder: Jules Gustaf Maes
Still Operating: Yes

Jules Maesphoto source: South Seattle Emerald

The saloon was originally founded in 1888 by Belgian immigrant Jules Maes and quickly became a popular gathering spot for local residents and workers from the nearby Rainier Brewery. In the 1990s, Jules Maes Saloon underwent a major renovation that restored many of the building’s historic features while adding modern amenities like a commercial kitchen and expanded seating areas.

Today, the saloon offers a unique blend of history, charm, and modern comforts, with a diverse menu of pub-style fare, a rotating selection of craft beers on tap, and a full bar.

Did You Know?

The saloon has a rich history of hosting live music performances, with many famous musicians and bands having played there over the years, including Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden.


4. Horseshoe Cafe

Year Established: 1886
Location: 113 E Holly St, Bellingham, WA
Founder: Rowdy Buckaroo
Still Operating: Yes

Horseshoe Cafephoto source: horseshoecafe.com

The Horseshoe Cafe has a rich history dating back to 1886 when it opened its doors in downtown Bellingham, Washington. At that time, the area was booming due to the growing logging, coal-mining, and fishing industries, and the Horseshoe Cafe was established to satisfy the appetites of the tough, ornery folks who worked in these industries.

Originally, the Horseshoe Cafe was more than just a restaurant and cocktail lounge. It also sold smoking accessories, fishing licenses and tackle, hunting supplies, gifts, and novelties. However, by the early 1900s, the Horseshoe Cafe had become known as one of the best places in the area for great food, fine tobaccos, and a place to meet friends over a good beer and some fine spirits.

Did You Know?

The Horseshoe Cafe and the neighboring Beaver Inn were among the first licensed bars in Whatcom County, Washington.


3. Bluebird Inn

Year Established: 1882
Location: 121 Goldendale Bickleton Rd, Bickleton, WA
Founder: CE Flower, Doctor Hamilton Blair
Still Operating: Yes

Bluebird Innphoto source: Seattlebars.org

Throughout its history, the Bluebird Inn has had many owners and operated under several names. The Bickleton Club was used for twenty-five years and was the longest-used name until the current name was adopted in the late 1970s. Renovations took place in 1987 when a deck and a brick barbeque were added to the west side of the building.

Today, the Bluebird Inn is a testament to the enduring spirit of hospitality and community that has characterized Bickleton, Washington, for over a century. It remains a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike, offering comfortable accommodations, delicious food, and a glimpse into the rich history of this charming town.

Did You Know?

The Bluebird Inn is over 130 years old and has a rich history as a drug store, dwelling, saloon, and tavern.


2. Frontier Tavern

Year Established: 1873
Location: 111 W 4th Ave, Ellensburg, WA
Founder: Unknown
Still Operating: Yes

Frontier Tavernphoto source: Seattlebars.org

The Frontier Tavern has a long and colorful history and has been a popular gathering place for locals and visitors. It is known for its friendly atmosphere, live music, and delicious food and drinks. The establishment has undergone several renovations and updates over the years but still retains much of its historic charm.

In 2015, the Frontier Tavern was acquired by Michael McNeight, an Ellensburg native whose family owns the neighboring Tav. McNeight stated that his family learned that the Frontier Tavern was up for sale, and they couldn’t resist the opportunity to acquire it.

The acquisition of the Frontier Tavern by Michael McNeight and his family has ensured that this beloved establishment will continue to be a gathering place for locals and visitors alike. With its rich history, and renewed focus on local craft beer, the Frontier Tavern is a true Ellensburg institution that will remain a beloved fixture of the community for years to come.

Did You Know?

Under the new ownership, the tavern underwent some cosmetic changes, but the historic charm and ambiance of the establishment were preserved. The bar remained in its original location, ensuring the tavern’s character remained intact.


1. Oak Harbor Tavern

Year Established: 1852
Location: 940 SE Pioneer Way, Whidbey Island, WA
Founder: Edward Barrington
Still Operating: No

Oak Harbor Tavernphoto source: TripAdvisor

Oak Harbor Tavern was established in the 1850s, making it the oldest bar in Washington. Over the years, the tavern has undergone several name changes and ownership transitions, but it has remained a beloved gathering spot for the local community.

Its owner, Peplinski, purchased Oak Harbor Tavern in June 2019. However, after operating the business for approximately nine months, the tavern was forced to close in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 regulations implemented by the state.

The closure has been difficult for the Oak Harbor Tavern and its patrons. Still, Peplinski remains committed to reopening and restoring the historic establishment once it is safe.

Did You Know?

Over the years, the Oak Harbor Tavern has hosted numerous events and celebrations, including weddings, birthdays, and other special occasions.


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