A sports bar where women’s sports is prioritized across all screens has arrived in Seattle.
Rough & Tumble Pub in the Ballard neighborhood (5309 22nd Ave NW) opens for business this weekend (grand opening is this Friday afternoon) and Ride of the Valkyries attended its soft opening on Thursday evening. You may have been eagerly anticipating the opening of Rough & Tumble ever since owner Jen Barnes announced her intention to establish Seattle’s first women’s sports-focused sports bar, much like Portland has The Sports Bra.
Rough & Tumble is an upscale sports bar with 16 TVs (soon to increase to 18) that wants to be the place for you to watch OL Reign and the Seattle Storm on the road, because there will be no question about whether the games will be on. No need to ask for it, nor worry that a TV will be changed over the moment an NFL game starts. Yes, they will still show some men’s sports, but their priority will be the NWSL, WNBA, and any other women’s sports which are being broadcast. During the soft open, screens were showing NCAA women’s volleyball, NCAA women’s basketball, a replay of Manchester United vs. Aston Villa from England’s Women’s Super League, and replays of USWNT friendlies from years past.
The distinction of being Seattle’s first women’s sports bar is one thing, but there is still the core question: How are the food and drinks?
Attendees of the soft open were presented with delicious sampler sizes of staples you’d expect to find at sports pubs and some creative twists and vegetarian options, with most items on the menu named after women athletes locally and from beyond the greater Puget Sound region.
LJ’s Jalapeno Bites (named after Seattle Storm legend Lauren Jackson) $12
Bacon, pepperjack, cream cheese, chipotle ranch
The Stewie (named after Seattle Storm’s Breanna Stewart) $15
Mixed kale, green apple, fennell, almond, pecorino vinaigrette
The Reignstorm Burger $19
Grass-fed beef, stoneground mustard aioli, pickle, sharp cheddar, iceberg lettuce,. sweet onion, brioche bun
Beet Everybody Burger $18
Stoneground mustard aioli, arugula, pickles, sweet onion, brioche bun
Cheyenne’s Skillet Cookie ala Mode $11
Milk & dark chocolate, flake salt
The pub also offers the option to make any of their burgers/sandwiches gluten-free, or to sub an Impossible burger, for a slight upcharge. The Beet Everybody Burger is their twist on a veggie burger, with a beet instead of a black bean burger, which is a common non-meat alternative at other restaurants. And while it wasn’t offered at last night’s soft open, one just has to appreciate the fish & chips being named after OL Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock, along with a kid’s portion aptly titled, “Little Fishlock & Chips.”
- Rough & Tumble Pub’s covered patio Nikita Taparia
- Samplers of Rough & Tumble Pub’s beef burger, beet burger, and jalapeno popper Nikita Taparia
- OL Reign players Laurel Ivory, Sam Hiatt, and Angelina pose with cutouts of teammates Lauren Barnes, Jess Fishlock, and Megan Rapinoe at Rough & Tumble Pub’s soft open Nikita Taparia
“I could see myself editing photos there all day surrounded by 18 screens of women’s sports and taking in the open environment,” said Ride of the Valkyries photographer Nikita Taparia, praising the open layout of Rough & Tumble. Once you climb the stairs at the entrance (there is also an elevator for those with mobility concerns) your vision is immediately drawn to TVs hanging from the ceiling. To your left is the bar, which will eventually have four TVs mounted on the wall. To your right is a big view of the kitchen. Further along there are two pool tables and a photo booth in a corner next to the kitchen. Past the bar is patio seating, which features garage doors that surely will open up when the weather calls for it, giving views of nearby Salmon Bay. Rough & Tumble’s layout basically has no bad seats in terms of being able to see some of their TVs, so you can keep track of as many games as you can handle from wherever you might find an open seat.
The Barnes’ full vision and the vibe that Taparia spoke about may not hit full strength until next spring, when OL Reign and Seattle Storm’s seasons have begun, but the boxes were ticked in terms of setting a solid, promising first impression. Like any new restaurant opening, there are sure to be things that get tweaked to improve processes, and everyone has a different palette for food, but sports fans looking for their own place where women’s sports will be shown without reluctance and not just as filler to pass the time until the men are on, can appreciate that Rough & Tumble Pub will welcome you with open arms, flowing drinks, and tasty food. It’s sure to be a popular destination for the NCAA Women’s March Madness next spring, and the Women’s World Cup next summer.
Rough & Tumble’s grand opening is Friday, with doors opening at 2 PM through 1 AM. Hours for their grand opening weekend are 9 AM to 1 AM on Saturday, and 9 AM to 11 PM on Sunday. While there’s excitement about the doors finally opening, they are not taking any reservations for grand opening weekend. As of publication, additional days and hours of operation have not been announced. Rough & Tumble is a family-friendly sports pub, with guests under 21 years of age welcome until 10 PM.