Ballard Avenue may be packed with baby strollers and shoppers by day, but it's a playground for drunks by night. There are two main foci of rowdiness. The first is around the tattered but cool Sunset Tavern (5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206- 784-4880), and the second is between the new Linda Derschang hangout, King's Hardware (5225 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-782-0027), and live-music venue and rockabilly haven Tractor Tavern (5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-789-3599). In the past few years, the late-night scene has expanded along the length of the avenue, up to Northwest Market Street, where quirky chic Hazlewood (2311 N.W. Market St., 206-783-0478) resides. The DJ upstairs at nearby Bal-Mar (5449 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-297-0500) spins radio- friendly dance music. Scenesters and regulars at the well-established Hattie's Hat (5231 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-784-0175) soak up the booze with burgers, fish and chips, and Guinness meatloaf.
Check out the Nightlife in your neighborhood.
A Nightlife Worth Living
Airport Way South
Ballard Avenue N.W.
Fremont Ave. and 36th St.
Second & Bell
Around Occidental Park
At the eclectic Chinese-apothecary-themed bar Fu Kun Wu,inside Thaiku restaurant (5410 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-706-7807), you can look for health tonics to rev you up or cure your next-morning hangover. After an aphrodisiac there, you might try the toasty fireplace at Matador Ballard (2221 N.W. Market St., 206-297-2855), which sees some pickup action. Careful—the cutie you mash with at the back of the bar could be the same one you push a stroller with someday.
Bear in Mind...
Uniform, male: Either jeans, hoodie, and army-green canvas driving cap, or nice pants, oxford, and black Banana Republic shoes.
Uniform, female: Jeans and heels with straightened hair, or dyed-black hair, skinny black jeans, tank top, and shoulder tattoos.
Where to drink in style: The mod newcomer Di Vino (5310 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-297-0143), which mixes up Cosmo Italianos with prosecco, and serves salumi along with Italian wine by the bottle and the glass.
Most memorable sight: A police car rear-ending Matt's Gourmet Hot Dogs, the culmination of a high-speed chase.
Where to go after 2 a.m.: Grab a taxi to Beth's Cafe (7311 Aurora Ave. N., 206- 782-5588) for a 12-egg omelet or trek to the Sunset Bowl (1420 N.W. Market St., 206-782-7310) if you're an early-morning lane hound. And there are always the Dante's Inferno hot dog carts.
Where to meet Mr./Ms. Right Now: Walking down Ballard Ave. to the next bar.
Insider tip: Watch for a new lounge called Copper Gate, opening on N.W. 63rd St. and 24th Ave. N.W. in November. The bar manager and cocktail-list developer will be Perryn Wright, late of Fu Kun Wu.
Survival tip: Big Gulps and Fritos await you at any time of the night or early morning at the 7-Eleven near the Locks (3200 N.W. 54th St., 206-783-7279). It's a 10-minute walk from Ballard Ave.— the fresh air and salty snack food will help sober you up.