The Best Bars in the Western U.S.
1. Brouwer's Cafe
In the funky Fremont area, this active-lifer hangout is swimming in Belgian suds—and is situated just off Lake Union, along the multi-use Burke-Gilman Trail. The sailors and kayakers out on the deck know from good, and with 63 brews on tap, 400 in bottles, and a 70-strong Scotch selection, food pairings make for a different kind of adventure.
2. Cowgirl BBQ
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Two blocks from our HQ, Santa Fe's movie-star dive bar, staffed by hipsters in cute western outfits, is the city's most unavoidable institution. The food's good (pulled pork and green-chile-cheddar fries), the beer's cheap, and the music is live. We're not saying you need to make a point of going there; we're saying that, when you drag in off the Winsor Trail after hiking Lake Peak, you'll just end up there.
3. Haleiwa Joe's
Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii
Yes, it has other outlets now, but the original Joe's sees as many surfers as tourists, thanks to its proximity (swimming distance) to Haleiwa, the first of the world-class breaks on the North Shore. The bamboo chairs on the patio are really comfy—but you might just be feeling the effects of barkeep Cliff's famously stiff mai tais.
4. Highlander Steakhouse
Every summer weekend, out-of-town climbers and UV-baked guides from nearby Mount Rainier pack this Formica-and-foosball loggers' den to toast their summits with the locals. "That's when things can get out of control," says Peter Whittaker, co-owner of Rainier Mountaineering. "Climbers and loggers breaking down cultural barriers—and occasionally practicing indoor archery in the early-morning hours."
5. Hopworks Urban Brewery
Hit one of Velo City's ubiquitous cycling events and you're sure to encounter Hopworks' custom cargo bike, a two-keg bar on two wheels. HUB, the home of this rolling rathskeller, is a carbon-neutral saloon where you'll often find crews of filthy, race-ragged cyclocrossers (the owner among them) clogging its looong bar—yes, that light fixture is made of 42 bicycle frames—for tasty organic beer and burgers.
6. Iron Door Saloon
This Yosemite National Park pit stop started serving swill to miners in 1852 and has been a perennial favorite of tourists and climbers like Conrad Anker ever since. Photos of John Muir and pre-dam Hetch Hetchy share the schist-and-mortar walls with taxidermy, and dollar bills hang from the ceiling like bats.
7. Le Chamois
Olympic Valley, California
How easy is it to meet a bona fide ski-film star? With more locals per square foot than any place in Squaw, all you have to do is amble onto Le Chamois's slopeside (and usually sun-drenched) outdoor patio. The barbecue-chicken-and-basil pizza is our favorite, and the beer's surprisingly cheap: A $40 Buddy Pass gets you 20 pints of Budweiser.
8. The Minturn Saloon
The thing that sets it apart from other creaky Old West ski bars is the price of entry: On any winter day, everyone drinking with you in this temple to Vail's ski history has skied the Minturn Mile—a mellow backcountry run out the gate from Vail's Lost Boy—to get there. Order the charbroiled quail with enchiladas.
9. Oskar Blues Grill & Brewery
The birthplace of Dale's Pale Ale, the first microbrew in a can, attracts a similarly full-flavored yet down-home mix of bikers (Harley and full-suspension) and river people (paddlers and fly-fishermen). The Kansas City–style barbecue pork and gumbo are almost as impressive as the national blues acts that regularly play here.
10. Ray's Tavern
Green River, Utah
Near the banks of the Green River, Ray's has long been the first stop for thirsty rafters taking off Desolation and Cataract canyons. The John Wesley Powell museum is just down the street, but the kitschy seventies-era raft-company T-shirts and photos lining the walls of the ramshackle barroom tell a more interesting story. Get the burger.
11. Salty Dawg Saloon
In an old lighthouse near the end of the Homer Spit, this sawdust-floored hideout is where the cannery workers go when they get off at 2 A.M. Beer is Foster's in an oil can, and the surfaces are plastered with dollar bills (along with some bras and underwear). It's also where commercial fishermen unwind. If they had a great catch, they'll ring the bell, which means you're in luck: They're buying the whole place a round.
The bathrooms are dirty and the waitstaff can be surly. We don't care. And neither do the scenesters, cyclists, and tech wizards who flock to this classic Mission dive for cheap Bloody Marys and Niman Ranch kielbasas. The outdoor patio—with its bike hooks, communal picnic tables, and nightly visits from the tamale lady—is our happy place.