The fact that I live in Ballard and write about spirits, cocktails, and (on occasion) vegetarian food and haven't yet visited the No Bones Beach Club—a vegan tiki bar also in Ballard—definitely makes me both sad and shameful. But I recently remedied the situation, and stopped in this hopping Hawaiian-y spot. Below are three impressions from the visit.
The Drinks: Like the restaurant itself, the menu of six specialty drinks leans heavily in the tiki way, which means you’ll find refreshing classics that match the vibe, including a tall Mai Tai with light and dark rums, fresh orange juice, the needed almonding, pineapple and lime juice, and fruit, all served up in the perfect hula girl glass on my visit. But the list also has some nice unexpected options, like their Bro-Hattan, which switches whiskey for Parce rum, Montenegro amaro (one of that herbally digestifs from Italy) for sweet vermouth, and keeps the Angostura bitters. It’s a rich heady mix, which may not scream of island living, but certainly tastes dandy. You’ll also find an assortment of draft beer (including locals like Reuben’s) and bottled and can choices.
The Food: The menu’s all vegan. But don’t let that keep you away, even if you’re a carnivore, because the edibles are inventive and mouth-watering. To start, the Northwest Nachos are a creamy and zingy delight: queso made from cashews and smoked poblano peppers are layered on chips with a black bean and corn salsa, as well as a flavorful charred tomato salsa and a cilantro crema. You’ll also find swell sandwiches (my pick: the Bahn-Dot-Com, a twist on the Vietnamese sandwich, with organic scallion-seared tofu, veggies, and a smooth Sriracha aioli), and larger plates like the Tempeh Kabobs, marinated in a coconut milk, turmeric, and ginger. Also on the snack side, if you like a little heat, don’t miss the cauliflower wings.
The Space: While the space is small, it’s jumping with locals and those traveling in for a tiki fix – and finding it here, with thatched grass and bamboo walls (one area of tables has a grass “roof,” too), beach-y totem poles, wooden tables, and surf boards on the wall with drink specials, draft beers, and DJs (who spin for Saturday brunch). Also, you’ll see on one board one of the coolest things about No Bones: the Non-Profit of the Month. Each month, it picks a worthy local animal rescue and donate a percentage of its profits to it. Tiki drinks, an island-vacation-feel, delicious food, and helping support great animal causes? Don’t be like me and wait around – get down to the No Bones Beach Club.