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Originally published September 6, 2011 at 7:00 PM | Page modified September 7, 2011 at 2:39 PM

Rabbit Hole: relaxed atmosphere, full-flavored food

Rabbit Hole bar in Belltown that opened this summer is whiskey-and-skee-ball joint.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes LOL Belltown is no longer swanky! A very, VERY small handful of great places remain-... Read more

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Happy Hour | Belltown is swankier now, flooded with the stiletto-and-cosmo-barhopping set on weekends. But bar owner Marcus Johnson prefers the old Belltown, when it felt grungy and the 'hood looked more relaxed. So in June he paid his homage with the opening of Rabbit Hole, a whiskey-and-skee-ball joint.

Like bar owners Greg Lundgren and Jeff Scott of The Hideout and Vito's on First Hill, Johnson has created two distinctive and fun bars in Belltown.

Two years ago, Johnson started the speak-easy style bar Bathtub Gin in a Belltown alley.

Rabbit Hole looks more masculine and retro than Bathtub Gin, lined with hanging black-and-white photos of cowboys, old newspaper clippings and antique frames. There's a pinball machine and skee-ball, with weekly skee-ball tournaments planned for the coming weeks.

The bathroom in the back looks like a cabin, covered in timepiece décor. It rivals Canon: whiskey and bitters emporium bar on Capitol Hill for best looking bar bathroom in the city.

Happy hour caters to the old Belltown crowd that hangs out on Second Avenue, between Bell and Blanchard streets. They like their Jagermeister shots and $2 Pabst tall boys here.

But Rabbit Hole offers one of the best happy- hour deals on cocktails in Belltown — better than the cocktails offered at Bathtub Gin and cheaper at $5.

The bourbon Old Fashioned comes with a hint of maple syrup, but not too sweet.

The happy hour food? Mostly spicy and intensely flavored grub that comes in huge portions and all under $8 — a burger with Sriracha, jalapeños and chipotle mayo; bacon-wrapped jalapeños poppers stuffed with cheese and more cheese. This is not grub for the well-manicured, stiletto set.

Lots of Cajun-inspired grub offered, too, including a "deconstructed gumbo" (flavorless). Better, a meaty shrimp po boy banh mi, stuffed with big, meaty prawns, with side of fries.

Rabbit Hole, 2222 SecondAve., offers happy hour daily from 4-7 p.m., with $5 specialty cocktails and wine, other beer and booze specials from $2 to $3.75 and $2 off on food ($1.95-$7.95); 206-956-HOLE (4653).

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com

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