It’s NCAA College Football opening weekend! If you’re anything like me then you’re excited about this. Even more thrilling this year, for me at least, my alma mater will be traveling across the country here to Seattle for their opening game. Thursday night, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University take on the Washington State Cougars in their annual Seattle game. Much excitement surrounds the Rutgers’ football program this year as they transition from the Big East to the BIG10, and they hope to carry the conference proudly when they debut here in Seattle. This will also be the first time ever that Rutgers and WSU play one another; the second time will be next year in Piscataway, NJ. Anyway, we’ll leave any football analysis to the pros and get on to the good stuff.
Rutgers does have a reasonably sized alumni base in the city, and there are many others coming to town to take in their first snap as a BIG10 team. The pre-game tailgate at Pyramid Alehouse adjacent to Century Link has been sold out for weeks, which means that fans who didn’t register in time for the event will need to head some place else before the game. Thankfully Seattle has no shortage of great spots and fans will have a number of options if they’re turning the game into an excuse for a long weekend vacation.
Our recommended spots to grab a burger:
Blue Moon Burgers – one of our most frequented places in town, locations in Fremont (our favorite), Capitol Hill, and South Lake Union. Try the Code Blue, Blue Bayou, or El Diablo Azul. If you’re feeling bold, go for the Big Bertha. It’s a task, but if you can handle a Fat Sandwich then this should be a piece of cake. Vegetarian, or traveling with one? – you can sub a black bean or veggie patty in any of their burgers (go for the Blue Hawaiian with the black bean patty, you will not be disappointed).
Brouwer’s - located in Fremont, Brouwer’s serves a dual purpose on our list. This is a phenomenal place both for food and beer. The lamb burger with roasted red peppers, chipotle mayo, and pearl mozzarella is one of our favorite meals in the city. They also have 60+ taps of some of the finest beer you can find, many sourced from the best craft breweries in the PNW. And if that isn’t enough, they still have 300+ bottled beers, many of which are extremely hard to find.
Lil Woody’s – located in Ballard and Capitol Hill recently documented by us was their “World’s Best Mac & Cheese” Burger. Though time has run out on your chance to get one of those glorious burgers, they still have plenty of other options that will more than satisfy you. In the mood for a more basic burger, go for the Lil or Big Woody. Want to be adventurous, go for The New Mexican with chile peppers and queso.
Sam’s Tavern – up in the trendy capitol hill neighborhood, possibly a better joint for the recently graduated alum. We typically venture here during the day on the weekend, especially whenever we’re in the mood for a Bloody Mary (they make one of the best in the city with a mini-burger garnish). If you’re in the mood for something more substantial then we suggest the Jalapeno Reno or the Sammy’s 50 Burger (a patty made of 50% angus beef and 50% hickory smoked bacon, topped with avocado and bacon ranch).
Lunchbox Laboratory – located in South Lake Union, steps from the REI flagship store (a tourist attraction in its own right, seriously, it’s awesome). Lunchbox Laboratory makes some great burgers and signature cocktails. We recommend the Burger of the Gods (crumbled bleu cheese, candied balsamic onions, and super gorgonzola spread) or the Tear Jerker (super beef topped with pepperjack cheese, jalapenos, habanero mayo, and Satan’s tears ketchup).
Brave Horse Tavern – located across from Amazon in South Lake Union. The burgers themselves are fairly standard, but all of them are really good. They make one of the finest black bean burgers I’ve ever had, so if you’re a veggie or traveling with one, this might be the place for you. Aside from burgers they have plenty of delicious (as you’d expect from a Tom Douglas restaurant) tavern fare. Their brick oven pretzels with multiple dipping sauces are excellent. Bravehorse also has a fantastic beer selection, both draft and bottled, to go along with darts and other tavern staple games.
Breweries we recommend:
Reubens Brews - located in Ballard, this brewery has been frequented by Rutgers fans and alums in the past (primarily because this is the first place I bring most visitors). Reuben’s has steadily built an exceptional reputation since first opening their doors just over two years ago, you can see a lot of their awards hanging in their taproom. At the 2014 US Open Beer Championship they tied for 4th Best Brewery out of more than 300 breweries from 20+ countries, in 2013 they placed 6th. There are so many excellent beers that it’s hard to recommend just one or two. In the mood to try a defining NW style IPA? – go for the Blimey That’s Bitter Triple IPA – you’ll realize that the NW does not mess around when it comes to the hop content of their beers; it also recently got ranked as one of the 20 best IPAs in America. Want something a bit less extreme? – go for the Roggenbier, a unique rye-hefeweizen style with banana and clove tones and excellent spice character. If on tap, try their award winning Robust Porter (ranked as one of the ten best in America). All of their beer is available in tas
The Pike Brewing Company – it’s rare that anyone visits Seattle and doesn’t make a trip into the world famous Pike Place Market. So we couldn’t possibly ignore the only brewery located within it. The Pike Brewing Company is also a full service pub, so it’s a great option for lunch or dinner while in town. Go with the Kilt Lifter or Naughty Nellie.
Fremont Brewing – located in Fremont and quickly becoming one of the most popular breweries in Seattle. This brewery has one of the best setups you’ll find in the area, especially for the summer. Their recently expanded outdoor beer garden plays nicely in the warm summer months and their beer is always great. Try the Wandering Wheat or Summer Ale and a seat outside in the sun; you might find yourself wondering if rainy Seattle weather is a myth. Want something darker? – go for the Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout (one of the best beers you’ll ever have).
Odin Brewing’s Asgard Tavern – located a short diagonal walk from Fremont Brewing. This a smaller and more intimate taproom, but there is outdoor seating if it gets crowded (which isn’t very often – we think many people still haven’t discovered it yet). This is one of our favorite places to go when looking for a good beer and to relax. Their Abbey Single is a fantastically spiced Belgian beer and their French Saison has been a summer favorite of ours.ters if you are feeling ambitious and want to try more than a few.
Elysian Brewing – Probably the most widely known Seattle brewery (other than Redhook and Pyramid); you can actually find some Elysian beer on the east coast. Their location in Capitol Hill would be considered their flagship. However, Elysian’s location (Elysian Fields) next to Century Link Field might be the ideal choice for game day if you want to get near the stadium ahead of time. Go for the Immortal IPA or the Men’s Room Original Red, both excellent beers and two of the most popular. Plenty of others will be on tap, including rare draft-only brews. But if you want one of their standards, those are the two to go for.
Other places to consider:
Beveridge Place Pub - in West Seattle, considered one of the 100 best beer bars in America according to Draft Magazine. Take a trip across the West Seattle Bridge and you’ll find yourself with a vast array of options. You can choose local, domestic, or import from their 36 drafts and 150+ bottles.
The Pine Box - also on the Top-100 List. Located in Capitol Hill, this renovated funeral parlor has over 30 beers, mostly locally or regionally sourced, of an uncommon variety on tap. No matter when you stop by you’ll always find something new and interesting to try.
Chuck’s Hop Shop – there are two locations, one in Greenwood and one in the Central District. You can’t go wrong either way. Chuck’s is also known as the “land of 1000 beers,” and they’re not exaggerating. Having 35+ beers on tap at both locations and over 1000 bottled beers to choose from, there is truly something for everyone.
So there you have it fellow Scarlet Knights, our guide to the best places to grab a burger or a cold pint while you’re in town. Hopefully that’s enough to satisfy you for this trip. Let’s go R-U!