Tucked into an animated stretch of Capitol Hill’s East Olive Way, Montana (1506 E Olive Way; 206.422.4647; montanainseattle.com) is the kind of bar you expect and love on Capitol Hill: tabletops lovingly scarred by the carvings of many patrons, amiable staff, rollicking music just loud enough, and walls adorned with stickers, scrawled graffiti and photo-booth photos. It has an effortless punk-rock coziness that is hard to replicate (though many bars try—and fail).
It was the first place in town to serve cocktails on tap, starting a carbonating trend that’s continuing to spread. That wouldn’t mean much more than melted ice if they weren’t ace drinks. But they’re reliable, affordable and tasty, especially the Moscow mule ($7), which unites vodka, lime and the wondrously spicy and locally made Rachel’s ginger beer in one tall, refreshing pint. Rachel Marshall, the crafter of that eponymous ginger beer, is also the bar’s owner, along with Kate Opatz (previously of Lark, La Bête and Matt’s in the Market). In addition, beyond the mixed drinks, Montana has the Italian digestif Fernet Branca on tap ($7), in case you eat too much. (Its tummy-settling powers are legendary.)
Eating too much here used to be impossible, as Montana was solely a beer, cocktail and highball haven, with little in the way of nibbles, but that was before the recent opening of Malaysian takeout restaurant Kedai Makan next door. Now, you can place an order for duck egg gado gado ($6), for example, at the restaurant window, leave a number and then head to Montana. The restaurant will call when the food is ready, and you get to enjoy the lightly boiled veggies, egg and zingy peanut sauce at the bar. Also, Montana has been doing up a Sunday barbecue, with one recent highlight being a slow-roasted Cuban pork sandwich zipped up with a lime-ish mayo and served alongside elegantly thin and crispy plantain chips ($8). The food possibilities, combined with the tap drinks and the amiable atmosphere, make Montana one of the more agreeable spots to spend a Sunday afternoon in Seattle.