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The best lesbian bars in Seattle 

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Jun 05, 2023

The best lesbian bars in Seattle 
  • Here’s the thing. Most places in the US don’t have enough lesbian bars to fill a proper list. 

    But Seattle is where it’s at. This time, I have a proper list of brick-and-mortar venues that cater to queer women and nonbinary folks, though only one of them — Wildrose, or as the gals know it, The Rose —is a dedicated lesbian bar. 

    I’m also deeply in love with Bosco, and you will find me searching for her high and low in all queer spaces in Seattle. She is the sexiest woman alive and my future wife. 

    Seattle has a rich LGBTQ history, much of it centered around the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It was also the home of what some people consider the first queer bar in the US, the Double Header, which was open from 1934 to 2015. The scene has a wide range of options — from grungy dive bars to performance art spaces to over-the-top nightclubs. There’s a little bit of everything here. 

    And if all else fails, you can always go on a hike in the woods and look hot and confused until a sexy lesbian with lots of tattoos comes up to talk to you. 

    Check out these spots known as WLW and trans-friendly spaces. 


    Source: Capitol Hill Seattle

    The Wildrose is one of the oldest lesbian bars in the country, opened on New Year’s Eve in 1984 by a collective of four women. 

    “Opening night, there was a line around the block, and it was only word-of-mouth advertising,” co-founder Bryher Herak told The Seattle Times in 2014. “People wanted so bad to have a place like the Rose open, it was just such a naked celebration.” 

    That quote hurts my heart because it sounds the same as what we see today. But the Rose is still standing, even after the pandemic. They came back at full capacity in 2022. 

    “I’m from a state with no lesbian bars, and it meant so much to me to be able to come here. […] They have an all-gender bathroom, and I felt very safe and accepted as a non-binary lesbian.  […] We need lesbian bars, and this is an excellent one. Please come out and support Wildrose on my behalf!” Wrote V, after visiting this magnetic spot.

    The Rose has a full bar, a good selection of beer and wine, and some basic bar food options like pizza and hamburgers. 

    The Rose definitely gives dive-bar energy, so if you’re looking for Instagram-worthy pics, go back to Los Angeles, you poser! Just kidding, this is a safe space. Just be ready for the grunge. 


    Source: Yelp

    Queer/Bar is a wonderful performance space and home for queer people in Seattle. They’ve hosted some amazing shows, from drag superstars like Willow Pill to magicians, go-go dancers, and burlesque artists. 

    And it’s a favorite spot of THE LOVE OF MY LIFE, BOSCO! They have a mural of her, where you can find me all night, admiring her beauty. 

    Not convinced, yet? Maybe this review can help: “The DJs are always on point, the online reservations have always worked, the dance floor is always full and fun, and the staff is very kind. This venue has brought us some truly talented Seattle cabaret and drag performers, and it’s a very special place to visit,” wrote Danielle, a Seattle native who loves to frequent Queer/Bar.

    They have a full menu, including plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, cocktails that start at $13, draft beers for $7, and wine starting at $10. 

    The Cuff Complex

    Source: The Cuff

    The Cuff Complex is another queer bar with her-story — she’s been around for 30 years. It’s literally a complex with multiple floors, a patio, a kitchen, a huge dance floor, and four different bars. It’s also known as a spot for leather and kink communities if that’s your thing. 

    “Me and a friend went here last night for karaoke. We reached around 9 and it was pretty quiet. People started coming in after 10. My karaoke experience has been great as well. The staff is very nice too. My friend ordered some food which was pretty good quantity for the price we paid. Would recommend this place for karaoke,” wrote Sindu after visiting.

    The food is Mexican-adjacent, and they also have a happy hour Monday through Friday from 4 pm to 7 pm with $2 off drafts, $1 off wells, $1 jello shots, and $8 house wine cans. And the drinks are strong. 

    The Cuff Complex is explicitly for all members of the queer community. But the vibe is definitely leather, so do with that what you will. 


    Source: Pony

    “A very queer bar” located in the heart of Capitol Hill, Pony is a home for the queerdos. 

    This is the place where the legendary Jinkx Monsoon found a home. It’s weird. It’s wonderful. It refuses to lose its grunge as the neighborhood around it grows more gentrified. 

    The About section on their website is equally as iconic as the venue itself. Pony claims they “ specialize in entertaining the discerning homosexual, and we take our music selection very seriously!” I’m a discerning homosexual! I take my music selection very seriously! 

    And the reviews are just as optimistic. Liz from Seattle wrote, “Good lord I love this place. It really warms my little gay heart to have all the weirdos together.” So, in conclusion, now I’m looking up flights from Chicago to Seattle. 

    The space was once a gas station and now has an outdoor patio, a fire pit, electric heaters, and cheap drinks. You never know what you’ll get with the music — punk, disco, new wave, indie rock — but it will be very gay. 

    Changes Bar & Grill 

    Source: Eater

    Okay I’m one of those gay women who really can’t hang sometimes. I need somewhere with comfortable seating, bright lighting, and comfort food if I’m going to leave the house. 

    Changes Bar & Grill is located in Wallingford, across the water from Capitol Hill. It has trivia once a month, karaoke on Thursdays, and happy hour seven days a week. And it has little aquariums! Watch the fish while you get drunk. 

    “This bar is an awesome local haunt! Bar staff are wildly friendly, drinks are inexpensive and strong. The vibe is just your classic cozy dive bar with good dim lighting! Pool! Karaoke! Tuesday burgers and Friday steaks with a GREAT cook! I’m missin’ my home away from home from the other side of the country! Go get a shot for me!” Wrote Liza about this special spot.

    It’s a great place to take your softball team after practice and sit in the sexual tension because you’re all hooking up with each other. You knew this would happen! 

    Union Bar

    Source: Union Bar

    Union is another place if you’re looking for a low-key vibe — it’s more of a restaurant/bar rather than a nightclub. They have a great patio and fireplace lounge. 

    It’s definitely more of a male-centered spot, lesbians are known to frequent often, and you shouldn’t have an issue finding another wlw (or bringing your HER date) to this spot. 

    Stephen said it better than I could’ve, “Are you gay or an ally? Do you live in Seattle or are you visiting? Do you like dangerously strong drinks? Good music? Cute guys? Check out Union. It used to be up around the corner, but it’s better here.”

    As far as food goes, they have bar options with sandwiches, flatbreads, burgers, and tacos, and they serve brunch Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 pm. 

    They have a fabulous happy hour Monday through Friday, 4 pm to 6 pm, with $4 White Claws, $5 Stella Artois draft, $6 cocktails, and $16 bottles of wine. 

    Crescent Lounge 

    Source: TripAdvisor

    This is a total dive bar with karaoke, strong drinks, and in the words of Leslie Knope, “everyone being who they are — and who they are is just stone-cold gay.” 

    Crescent is in, you guessed it, Capitol Hill and it’s been open since 1948 and advertises as the “oldest gay/dive/come as you are/karaoke bar.” (My identity also includes many slashes — gay/witch/lesbian/bisexual) 

    No, I really mean it when I say it’s very karaoke-centered. Check out what Imani said, “love this bar. Karaoke is always fun and the bartender is always ready to bring me the GOODS! Great dive bar vibe for karaoke lovers!” 

    Karaoke starts at 5 pm on Friday and Saturday and 4 pm on Sunday, open until 2 am. 

    Seattle’s LGBTQ community is fighting to keep its spirit. Capitol Hill is facing its own challenges with gentrification and rising rent costs. Go out and see your friends at one of these bars to keep these queer spaces alive. 

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    Catherine Henderson is a journalist based in Chicago. She has worked at a wide variety of newsrooms, including The Denver Post, Chalkbeat, Business Insider and In These Times, covering education, career development and culture. Catherine holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling, exploring Chicago, reading LGBTQ lit, and analyzing internet trends.

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