My City's Filthy: Geeking Out in The Emerald City

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written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)

Lifted Geek is Seattle at its core. While our growth this past year has been exponential, our readership has extended to all over the US and to some folks in countries like the Philippines and Canada. We haven't forgotten where we came from, and that is why we are Seattle to the core. Local Seattle rapper Macklemore made waves with such nationwide airplay riding hits like "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us" but his de facto anthem to this city we love "The Town" sums up our thoughts exactly, from lines like "this is our city, town pride, heart, blood, sweat, tears, I-5 North, South side, vibe live, ride down these city blocks, and never will be stopped" all the way to "but my, my, my, my city's filthy". So when it comes to representing the town, where is my Seattle? My geeky heart thrives in this city and amongst the hipsters and the haters, the lovers and the fighters, there are some spots that are decidedly and unapologetically geek to the core. One of the traits of a "Lifted Geek" is to be the type to step out from the norms of what folk expect a geek to be like, so when you've just got to get out in this city, here are the spots I highly suggest you make a night of it.

If you are attending one of the cons right in the heart of the city, hitting Gameworks on 7th & Pike makes for a good night out. It's right across the street from the Washington State Convention Center, home to cons such as Sakura Con, Emerald City Comicon, and Penny Arcade Expo. If you stay in any of the hotels right by the convention center, it's an easy and convenient night out. A fully stocked bar and a restaurant boasting such pub favorites like burgers and chicken strips. May not be the best spot for the more health conscious, but if you want a good beer and a night of arcade gaming, this is a pretty dope spot to make a night of it. A very wide selection of arcade games from the Street Fighters to the House of the Deads to retro favorites like Asteroids and PacMan, there is something for literally everyone. While it is usually an all ages sort of venue, come nighttime the arcade becomes an 18+ facility so you can at least get away from some of the kiddos. A few miles up the road is the Capitol Hill neighborhood; this hood has become one of the most bustling neighborhoods for the discerning party goer, divey bars to chic gastro-pubs line the Pike/Pine corridor. A few spots beckon to my geeky heart.

Gameworks, a super lively super arcade...

Gameworks, a super lively super arcade...

 ... and also a super lively bar!

 ... and also a super lively bar!

hands down one of my favorite places in the city! Love a night at the Rock Box!

hands down one of my favorite places in the city! Love a night at the Rock Box!

"On a corner by a well lit alley right next to CalAn (Cal Anderson Park) sits this chic bar and karaoke box"

If you see yourself a karaoke King or Queen and want to put your crown to the test, I can't imagine a nicer spot to hit than Rock Box. On a corner by a well lit alley right next to CalAn (Cal Anderson Park) sits this chic bar and karaoke box. You can sing in the bar with the crowd around you as the audience or you can reserve one of the many well furnished karaoke rooms available. If you have a large group, it's advisable to make a reservation and rent a room for a few hours. That way you can comfortably enjoy some of the pub snacks they offer like the Japanese Mac n Cheese (a classic favorite with a Nippon twist) or the Yukkari Pop (popcorn popped in duck fat and tossed with salt and yukkari). The drink menu is just as robust, I highly suggest the J-Pop (vodka, amaretto, peach schnapps, and cran) or Blood Orange Shiso Mojito (vodka, blood orange liqueur, fresh mint, fresh Shiso, like, sugar, and soda muddled in the rocks). Many other inspired libations line the menu, so pick your poison and belt out a rousing rendition of "Don't Stop Believing" or one of my personal go-to jams, "Alone" by iconic Seattle rockers Heart! Done singing? There's a few dope gaming related bars to hit on the Hill.

If you've ever been to the circus themed bar The Unicorn, you'll most likely know exactly what the first spot is. Right in the basement of this bar is The Narwhal, featuring a plethora of retro games and pinball.It is the spot to see and be seen for the geeky bar hopper. As I stated earlier, this is in the basement of The Unicorn so you have access to all its goodness from their own inspired cocktails (the cucumber mojito is a personal favorite of mine) to their circus themed snacks (get some elephant ears).

the view from the Narwhal. THEY HAVE TRON!

the view from the Narwhal. THEY HAVE TRON!

John John's exterior

John John's exterior

Not far away is a more chill spot, not as big as The Narwhal but also not as loud. John John’s Game Room is a simple concept; a small bar with pinball and retro arcade games and most of the coin operated games are half the cost of The Narwhal so a roll of quarters does go a long way here.

Tabletop gaming more your speed? Check out The Raygun Lounge, nestled right in the heart of Capitol Hill, this friendly and inviting venue is owned by the folks over at Gamma Ray Games. Here, you can find a good selection of tabletop card and strategy games, from Cards Against Humanity all the way to Settlers of Catan. It’s a personal favorite of mine and one of my go to spots in the city. Beyond just the city proper, one of Seattle’s outskirt neighborhoods has a pretty geeky scene. Venture to Ballard, a neighborhood wrought with Nordic history. In the early days, this hood is where many of the fishermen lived, and the hood continues to thrive as a hub for the commercial fishing industry in Seattle. In recent years, Ballard has become decidedly “hip and sexier” and a bar scene started popping up amongst the cafes and chic restaurants. One such bar is a spot called Cafe Mox, owned by the folks over at Card Kingdom. Much like Raygun on the Hill, you can grab a brew and play some table top games with your friends. This spot is quite a bit more luxurious than Raygun, featuring big booths with plenty of space to dig your heels in and play a few rounds of MTG (Magic the Gathering for those not in the know). I love this spot! They have rooms in the back you can rent out for a few hours; this is great especially if you have a large group of people in your party and cramming 9 people into a booth is no easy feat.

Cafe Mox... huge tables for gaming and great beer! Winning combination if you ask me

Cafe Mox... huge tables for gaming and great beer! Winning combination if you ask me

Pinball machines line the wall at this unique ice cream parlor

Pinball machines line the wall at this unique ice cream parlor

If pinball and ice cream sound like your cup of tea, check out Full Tilt. I can’t imagine anything better than that, I love ice cream... I love pinball! The ice cream selection is robust and in true Seattle fashion, they feature some vegan ice creams for those who are either vegan or lactose intolerant. Not too far off from Ballard is Asgard Tavern  in Fremont, owned by the folks over at Odin Brewing Company  while not inherently geeky, if you are a fan of Thor  or even just Norse Mythology, you may be tickled pink to enjoy a few beers like Thor's Equinox (a strong dark Belgium beer) and Odin's Gift (a Nordic amber ale). I'm a huge fan of the beers here and urge you Seattle folk to check it out.

The 90’s may have painted Seattle as the grunge capital of the US. Plaid flannel shirts and self made screen printed t-shirts. That may have been the case in movies like Singles and Say Anything, but Seattle has become such a diverse city. From the music scene to the tech scene, nature lovers and microchip lovers, and especially geeks. Macklemore declares with all confidence that the word “filthy” (as a positive adjective) is Seattle colloquialism to its core. To us, “filthy” is synonymous with being “tight” or “dope” or “fresh”. When I think of Seattle, and especially when I think of being a geek in this city I Iove so very much, that shit’s filthy... ya dig? 

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