Two appetizers before our “main-course” appetizer – Anthony’s great bar burger!
Is it my age? It just seems happy hours provide a cost friendly way to get some good food, relaxation and time out of the kitchen. Especially this time of year when you are out and about running holiday errands and have lots of uses for your hard earned cash and free time. Our favorite is Anthony’s Restaurant…any Anthony’s will do! We particularly like the Ballard one on the patio on a sunny afternoon. There are locations all over Washington, in Oregon and Idaho. Casual with well-priced drinks and good fare at a great price. Usual hours are 3pm to 6pm some run a little later depending on the restaurant…Ballard’s is until 6:30pm. The restaurants usually have free parking.
I’ll be telling you about our recent happy hour experience but you can also use the happy hour finder for other ideas!
We were tired and hungry after running errands and were lured into Chinook’s at Salmon Bay (the Anthony’s restaurant in our neighborhood) by Fisherman’s Terminal for happy hour around four o’clock. This is a popular happy-hour and a favorite of many. The setting is beautiful…looking out at the many boats all recently returned from fishing in Alaska filling the piers on a clear, crisp day with blue sky and the pink tones of sunset…unexpected!
It was hopping, loud and full of hungry, thirsty dock workers and fishermen wearing all sorts of baseball caps with names of boats like Kodiak Star, AK. A working class crowd in jeans with sweatshirts that say things like: I vote fish! All sitting in front of the backdrop of the many large excellent photos of fisherman at sea.
This lounge has a large screen TV featuring sports and the place is loud. If you get there on the right day on the right hours you can participate in the oyster slurping contest and win good prizes. But, the competition is not for the faint of heart and you have to have a strategy. In the summer you can order from the happy hour menu and sit outside.
This day the food was its usual good standard. The $7 dollar menu (up from $5 a couple of years ago) has lots to recommend it: manila clams in a skillet with butter wine and lemon, fried three-bite oysters large and succulent 6 to a plate with a good tarter and of course ketchup. The fish tacos are good as are the shooters of shrimp cocktail. I can handle a bottomless lemonade seasonally flavored with fresh fruit – huckleberry and rhubarb are my favorites. Today’s strawberry one was very good as long as I squeezed the lemon wedge accompanying it to cut the sweetness. Kind of a reminder of summer now long gone. We also enjoyed a Diamond Knot Ale, the clams and oysters and split their generous, greasy and great bar burger for $6 (cheese $1 more). The burger comes with lettuce, onion, pickles and tomatoes on the side as well as a fair amount of very crispy and delicious fries…the kind you splurge on for high calorie special occasions…like during any hour you want to make happier. Beware: this is one of those burgers that is messy good!
For $47: two hours away, refillable strawberry lemonade, a beer, two cups of coffee, two appetizers, a burger and fries plus a generous basket of their specialty cannery bread $2 (which my East Coast kids crave) and the tip – we felt well fed – full enough to skip dinner.
We had a table at the window with a great view and the people watching was grand including the single older women reading her novel (and, people watching back), enjoying a glass of wine and a bar drink, happy hour appetizers and dinner. So conversation was not a must which was fortunate. For us there is always someone from the neighborhood here and if you know sign language it is fun to stop by their table and try to catch up. If you are just beginning to go deaf this will give you a taste of what that will be like!
The Final Word: Even if you go early it gets very loud and busy at Chinook’s. The waitresses handle the crowd well but there is no hurrying here. You may have to wait for a table or sit at the bar. The $6 burger is great and the prices of the other appetizers even at $7 is a good deal. If you love oysters this a good place to get them. You can order off the regular menu as well and salads are large, well-prepared and reasonable $5-7 as are their very good chowders – I love the New Jersey chowder which is half Manhattan (red) and half New England (white). Of course, their blackberry cobbler (the recipe) and (my favorite) their seasonal fresh fruit slumps (the recipe) are worth a trip to Anthony’s most anytime! Again, the seasonal huckleberry and rhubarb slumps are standouts for me and with that mountain of vanilla ice cream these desserts are really the specialty of the house…unless you really love fresh fish more! I don’t.
Anthony’s is a great place to do happy hour…find one that is quieter and go! The Ballard restaurant with a fantastic view of the Sound, Olympic Mountains and interesting boats coming and going from the Ballard Locks (oh, and the occasional seal bobbing in the water or laying on the little piece of shoreline next door) is better for conversation. Most of the Anthony’s have great water views!
Added Bonus: This location has fun places to visit by it. The Terminal itself is a great place for a long wandering walk…we figure if you walk all the piers it is about 3 miles. The Fishermen’s Memorial is a wonderful sculpture with bouquets and notes left at the name plaques of the local fisherman lost at sea. Little Chinooks is close by if the weather is good enough and happy hour is not your thing. The Anthony’s chain has small take-out fish and chip places and casual dining spots besides their dinner houses at most locations.
Next door is an unusual little printing shop Constellation & Co. where they work an old fashioned printing press to make cards and posters for their worldwide market. And, they have workshops where you can learn the process and make your own cards or poster. The place smells like an old print shop and I love that smell of wet ink and paper. I was exposed to it on field trips to the Seattle Times when I was a kid. Maybe that was part of the allure that lead me to being editor for my high school paper and subsequently loving journalism and writing! The cards and posters are clever, penned, and designed by owner Sara McNally. Her wood and linoleum block prints are really clean, crisp and artistic! They carry other little gifts and stationary items (if you are looking for a onesie with a crab holding a heart in its claw this is the place!). Atticus Finch the resident bird has a card with his picture on it!
On the other side is The Wild Salmon Seafood Market. It is a great place to get a great variety of fresh fish, clams and crab (not inexpensive though!). This market started out as a place for local fishermen to sell their fresh fish but has in the last 20 years grown into more. Grab some crab cakes for your holiday parties and the salmon is always truly fresh and always wild! They ship fish year around and this holiday may be the perfect one to send someone in the mid-land states or back East a taste of one of the reasons we so love the Pacific Northwest!