When you walk into Jude’s Old Town in Rainier Beach, you’ll wish this bar were in your neighborhood. Unless you live in Rainier Beach—then you just feel lucky. Jude’s is a perfect place to have nearby: comfortable,family friendly and fun, without pretensions—the kind of spot where you want to become a regular.
Opened by Rainier Beach resident Beau Hebert (owner of Columbia City’s Lottie’s Lounge) in a smallish space that used to house Cafe Vignole, Jude’s is across from Nate’s Wings & Waffles and next door to a nail salon. The place has an inviting retro character, thanks to the diner-esque booths, the swimming-pool-aqua-colored walls and the wooden bar itself, with its antique appearance.
Of course, coming into a comfortable bar is nice, but Jude’s also delivers on the drinks, with a regularly rotating signature cocktails list (designed by Hebert) that’s enticing but not overly expensive or fancy. My favorite is the Hustle & Flow, a refreshing salty, evergreenish mix of local Sound Spirits’ Ebb + Flow gin, celery bitters, Génépy Des Alpes liqueur (an herby number) and lemon juice, with a celery salt rim ($10).
Also offered are a variety of daily specials and drink activities, highlighted by Fishtank Friday, when a new house-infused spirit that’s been aging in a fish tank is unleashed. Last time I was there, it was a blueberry-infused rum that made for a swell sipper when mixed with soda, simple syrup and lemon. There’s an ever-changing draft beer list, and growler fill-ups for $10.
On Thursdays, Jude’s reveals the fresh-sheet specials, which change weekly and augment the regular food menu, and are full of pub hits done better than most. (I liked the “quichettes,” $6: one with chanterelles and Swiss; one with spinach, peppers, onion and Swiss). But the knockout food item is the Beecher’s cheese curds, fried in a peppery house-made batter ($6.50). These slightly gooey marvels are the finest fried cheese I’ve ever tasted. They’re one more item that should have not only locals, but folks from all over Seattle, making the trip to Jude’s.