Your Neighborhood Doggy Daycare

It’s no surprise that Ballard’s hottest watering hole is called the Barking Dog Tavern.

The Barking Dog Tavern on a Friday night is packed like afterhours at Neighbours, only with babies, dogs, and fleece-wearing outdoorsy types with actual carabiner keychains. Where Neighbours is smack in the middle of Capitol Hill's highest-decibel-output area, Barking Dog is buried within the quiet residential streets of North Ballard—but it's the hottest spot around. There's no doorman checking IDs, though at least four dogs sprawl on the pavement in front and hop to hopeful attention anytime someone pops out with a to-go box. Inside, groups wait for wooden tables and booths filled with patrons that range from young parents and noodle-tossing toddlers to drunken couples on double dates. Solitary beer drinkers belly up to the bar to toss back wholesome alehouse grub, like hand-tossed pizzas and brick-thick bacon cheeseburgers, and watch the game on the wall-mounted flat-screen. While the food reigns supreme compared to typical pub fare, the clear draw here is the chance to guzzle one (or many) of the rotating microbrews and Belgian ales. These pints of delicious, hoppy magic afford the kind of drunk that sneaks up on you like Tom behind Jerry—you're suddenly happy, thick-tongued, and hazy. Only in an environment that somehow makes you feel like you've just gone hiking in the woods with some pink-cheeked cherubs on a trail cleanup expedition. 705 N.W. 70th St., 782-2974,

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