The Hideout

Elan Vital

It's perhaps Seattle's most appropriately named bar: Situated next to a Thai restaurant on sleepy Pill Hill, the Hideout—a watering hole/art installation opened in 2005 by Vital 5 Productions for a five-year-run—is easy to miss. But inside the unmarked doors, chandeliers sparkle, the jukebox is free, and you're meant to wonder if the patrons on a given night are actors or merely eccentrics. Absinthe isn't on the menu, but the Hideout's speakeasy vibe will plunge you down the rabbit hole nonetheless. Heavy drapery obscures the windows, and paintings by notable local artists are arranged salon-style on the dark red walls. Couches and a luxurious bar join a wall-spanning banquette that facilitates conversation between groups during happy hour. Likewise, you'll feel comfortable hunkering down with a book and a pint on a cold night. While you don't need knowledge of the art world to enjoy the ambience, it helps when selecting specials like the "Warhol" (a cosmopolitan and a Polaroid of yourself) and the "Hemingway" (a shot of Hornitos and a bottle of Mexican beer). If art is your scene, you can contribute a drawing, poem, or doodle to the Vital 5 Review, a quarterly zine of work made in the bar. All this to the tune of Billie Holiday, Outkast, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Although it has an expiration date, the Hideout continues to feel timeless, embodying the leisurely ideals of Baudelaire and Matisse: Luxe, calme et volupté. RACHEL SHIMP

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