Belltown's Innkeeper is Plenty Hospitable

This rustic abode serves up satisfying drinks and Mexican-Caribbean cuisine.

With lighting on the dim side, the Innkeeper could at first be confused with the type of lounge that caters to those who sip serious cocktails while contemplating life’s mysteries. But the bustling happy hour (3–6 p.m. and 10 p.m.–midnight daily), and the friendly staff soon reveal a different personality: rollicking neighborhood joint.

The atmosphere (and I mean this as a compliment) echoes a small-town New Mexican VFW hall, with folksy paintings, two TVs, sturdy tables and a long wooden bar. The drink list features favorites such as the Blood and Sand (Johnny Walker Red, Cherry Heering, Italian vermouth, orange juice, $9), an impressive array of bottles in wooden box shelves, and cold Tecate and various stock and rotating beers on tap.

The Innkeeper’s food is worth sampling, with bold flavors that roam south of the border and into the Caribbean. Accompanied by a cold Moscow Mule (the drink that made vodka famous is served in a traditional copper cup, $5 during happy hour), the grilled Padrón peppers tossed in sea salt ($5) quickly turn a Friday fantastically fiery, while the grilled Mexican cheese smothered in a resonant vegetarian green chili ($7) starts a weekend or evening with an oozy warmth.

Belltown, 2510 First Ave.; 206.441.7817;