The life of a dive bar is always a tenuous one, the fortunes of any affordable drinking spot endangered by things like gentrification, rising rent costs and aging landlords. Seattle’s Thunderbird Tavern succumbed to those pressures in 2013 but was mercifully brought back to life by new owners Madison Eckendorf and Ian Smith in 2014. Renovations were made, naturally, but the integrity of the bar remains, a counterpoint to some of the upscale Ballard neighborhood offerings nearby.
One welcome addition to the Thunderbird Tavern arsenal is Secret Sausage, the food cart turned house menu brought into the fold by Smith. The signature dog is a link covered in house-made cream cheese with an optional layer of similarly custom hot sauce. The space sits under a nondescript white sign, about as stark as a dive bar sign can be. A massive PBR mural lines one wall and a surprisingly attractive patio extends the space. Inside, a curved bar serves as centerpiece to the room, a handful of tables sitting among pleasantly wood-lined surfaces.