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Originally published Friday, July 11, 2014 at 6:17 AM

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Lock & Keel: Pregentrification pub food on Ballard’s main drag

Lock & Keel is an old-school dark bar in the heart of gentrified Ballard, with tasty and affordable barbecue eats and friendly service.


Seattle Times staff writer

The Lock & Keel

Barbecue and bar

5144 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; 206-781-8023; www.thelockandkeel.com

Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Wednesday, 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday

Etc: 21 and over; street parking; major credit cards; no obstacles to access

Prices: $-$$

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Even if you’re in a district vying for the title of New Restaurant Capital of Seattle, with fashionable eateries of various cuisines sprouting up everywhere, sometimes you just long for a friendly dive where you can grab a barbecue sandwich and a brew at pregentrified prices.

The Lock & Keel in Ballard is that kind of joint. A corner oasis on Ballard Avenue for those in the mood for a little funk, it has a well-worn bar, a nautical motif, a tiny back patio and an on-site smoker and serves nearly a dozen microbrews on tap and satisfying cheap eats.

And look out for the regular specials, which are sort of amazing price-wise: half-price sandwiches (with a side) on Wednesdays, a buck-a-rib Tuesdays, 50-cent chicken drumettes and $2 cans of beer on Mondays, and dollar Baja-style mini-tacos on Thursdays. And there’s a daily 4-7 p.m. happy hour to boot.

The menu: Carnivore comfort food is the focus here, with well-smoked brisket, pork, turkey and chicken sandwiches ($7-$8) and plates ($9). There are also several kinds of mac ’n’ cheese, chili dogs, nachos, salads and more, most priced from $6 to $9, complemented by a full bar. (This is a 21-and-over establishment.)

What to write home about: The classic barbecue sandwiches, at half or discounted price, served on pillow-soft buns with savory-sweet or zesty sauce on the side, are a smokin’ deal, especially the yummy brisket and chicken with shredded-apple varieties. The cheap pork ribs are plenty meaty and succulent. Among the sides, we were partial to the tasty baked beans and the house-made potato salad and coleslaw.

The setting: Time-honored dark bar, with unfancy table and stool seating, a pool table, TVs set to sports channels, boat paraphernalia for decoration and a small outdoor patio.

Summing up: A brisket sandwich and a chicken sandwich ($14), a taco salad ($8), two ribs ($2) and a Bubba’s Feast plate (several kinds of meat, two sides and bread for $15) totaled $39 before tax and tip, and fed three very well.

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com



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