Airport Way South

Georgetown: Where no one's around to complain about the noise.

Georgetown is really not so far south of downtown, and though many consider this neighborhood to be the hip new place to hang, it still feels, charmingly, like a bit of a backwater. The Nine Pound Hammer (6009 Airport Way S., 206-762-3373) is the hot spot on the strip, an easygoing joint where people seem comfortable to come as they are. If you can, grab a seat on the saggy couch in front—from this ideal spot, you've got a view of the whole place. Next door, Smarty Pants (6017 Airport Way S., 206-762-4777) is equally casual, with concrete floors and a no-nonsense menu. Its to-go food often ends up next door, or at least on the outdoor patio, which is labeled "The 25-Foot Club" (you smokers know this is meant for you).

Jules Maes Saloon (5919 Airport Way S., 206-957-7766) often charges a cover for a band you've never heard of, but the people-watching can be great. Just like the bar, which dates to the late 1800s and exhibits an Old West feel, the retro-punk crowd offers a bit of nostalgia with a modern edge. The liquor license application posted in the window of a cute, old-fashioned spot a few blocks north of this strip reveals that it's slated to become a lounge/restaurant named Calamity Jane's. It does feel a bit like the Wild West down here: lots of denim, not a lot of pretension.


Bear in Mind

Who you're likely to encounter: The Georgetown scene is eclectic, so you may spot middle-aged men in hoodies and two-day stubble, greaser boys sporting slicked-back Mohawks, thirtysomething women in puffer vest and jeans, and blond-dreadlocked hippie chicks outside for a smoke.

Place to head after 2 a.m.: Sadly, you have to leave the neighborhood. Hop a ride downtown to 13 Coins (125 Boren Ave. N., 206-682-2513), a great old-school hangout that will be happy to feed you at any hour.

Rowdiest spot: On a recent weekend night, Smarty Pants was packed with women in biker jackets and spiked hair performing loud, sloppy karaoke for Breast Fest, a fund-raiser for breast cancer research.

Average cocktail price: $6.

Best booze-soaker-upper: Smarty Pants serves an enormous cheese quesadilla with sour cream and salsa, the perfect thing to pad your belly against a night of too much beer.

Best place to escape the crowd: A five-block trek north of the strip, the cozy, family-run Stellar Pizza & Ale (5513 Airport Way S., 206-763-1600) offers pies and pints with sweet service. While you're waiting for your dinner to arrive, take your beers to the back room and enjoy a few rounds of pinball.

Survival tip: If it feels like you're in the middle of nowhere, well, you are. Make sure to pack cab fare or designate a driver, as the buses are sporadic—when the bars close at 2 a.m., you may suddenly feel like you're a long way from home.

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