When the doors to cavernous beer hall Beer Star swung open in May, with its 48 taps of predominantly local brews, White Center rejoiced. The space—3,300-square-feet, including a kids’ area with enough bench seating for parents to lounge and drink—illustrates the progression (and gentrification) happening in the long-ignored ’hood. With an influx of young families to the neighborhood—likely priced out of more expensive areas like Ballard—comes a wave of new restaurants and bars opening on and around the 16th Avenue SW area, whose owners are also chasing cheaper rents.
“We really wanted to create a more family, community vibe, rather than a late-night drinking one,” says Galen Krohn, the winemaker for Long Road Winery and owner of Beer Star with partners Deveaux Hill, Patrick Riggs and James Weimann (who bought the building) and Deming Maclise.
Weimann and Maclise are the duo behind Poquitos and Rhein Haus on Capitol Hill, and Bastille and Stoneburner in Ballard. Although initially unsure about White Center as the destination for their beer hall, the partners are digging the new neighborhood, participating in summer’s Jubilee Days and hoping to bring a farmers’ market back to 16th Avenue SW.
To keep patrons well fed, the Beer Star building also houses the newest location of Seattle burger favorite Li’l Woody’s—try its Epicure ($9), a thick-cut roast beef sandwich new on the menu—and a counter called Chinese Takeout (or CTO), which specializes in Americanized Chinese staples like General Tso’s chicken ($12) and lo mein ($11)—though neither are particularly notable.
Across the street, Drunky Two Shoes BBQ, which also has a Frelard location, set up shop last spring with a bigger spot that looks like it’s straight out of Disneyland’s Frontierland. Noble Barton (from the owners of The Tin Hat and Jules Maes) slings drinks and internationally inspired pub food a few doors down; and diners line up for the Korean fried chicken at Bok a Bok (chef Brian O’Connor helmed Skillet and Roux) around the corner.
More beer-and-bites destinations are coming: Unified Brewing (a collective of local brewers, including Elysian Brewing Company) plans to be open in early 2018 in the former Big Al’s space over on 14th Avenue SW.
Drunky Two Shoes BBQ’s telltale facade (similar to the original in Frelard) now stands sentry over the area.
You may be among the visitors to White Center who come to try these new places—and that’s a great thing. But while you’re there, don’t miss exploring some of the flavors that have long made this community unique: Khmer (Cambodian) food at Queen’s Deli, inexpensive street-style tacos at Carniceria El Paisano, colorful sweets from Salvadorean Bakery and spicy seafood at Creole Crawfish House.
Beer Star is encouraging visitors to try the local spots by showcasing neighbors’ menus along the front countertop. We hope you’ll stay awhile and explore.
White Center, 9801 16th Ave. SW; 206.453.3088.