Hidden Watering Holes of South Kitsap Peninsula, WA

by Marcie Young

Gig Harbor locals know a secret that people visiting Washington’s South Kitsap Peninsula may not. The place to sip on an ice cold IPA or glass of cabernet is not only at the well-known bars in town. There are new, hidden bars cropping up all over the area. The locals gather with neighbors and friends in the back rooms of some local corner stores, enjoying new old-world-style traditions in their neighborhoods. These bars are new additions to local neighborhood markets and are reminiscent of the small, hyperlocal pubs found in places like Ireland.

On Fox Island near Gig Harbor, the facade of the combination Shell gas station and convenience store gives no hint to the lively watering hole it houses in the back. In fact, unless you happen to walk to the rear corner of the store, you would miss Zog’s altogether (located at 587 6th Ave., Fox Island). When you pass through the door to the bar, you realize instantly that you are somewhere special. The woodsy interior, the covered outdoor fire pits, waterfall, music stage, and the friendly banter of the patrons all speak volumes to the good times that Zog’s offers.

Through the back door of tiny Island View Market, near Raft Island, you will find a tasteful wine and beer room. The locals gather to visit, sip, and enjoy the beauty of Carr Inlet on Henderson Bay. You can even arrive by boat when the tide is right.

Forza (5275 Olympic Dr NW, Gig Harbor; forzacoffeecompany.com), a coffee house in the uptown section of Gig Harbor, appears to be a typical place to stop in for a cup of joe. But in the evening it transforms into a happening hangout with a vast selection of beers on tap and an extensive wine list. You can enjoy great food, live music, and trivia nights.

Lakebay Marina (15 Lorenz Rd Kp N, Lakebay; lakebaymarina.com), on nearby Key Peninsula, is another surprising find. With the appearance of a gently weathered, sleepy marina, it is much more than it seems. Throughout the year you can catch live music on the weekends and, in the summer, outdoor concerts directly over the water on the large deck. The marina is a great place to stop and sip on a cold beer anytime. It’s an easy drive and short boat ride away from many places around Gig Harbor.

Even historic Finholm’s Market & Grocery (8812 N Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor), a small market in downtown Gig Harbor, has caught the wave and now offers a selection of local draft beers to taste and seating for a bite and a cold brew with friends.

Are hyperlocal pubs popping up in your neighborhood? Look around. Open a few back doors. You might be delighted at what you discover.

To find out more about visiting Gig Harbor, go to gigharborguide.com; for the Kitsap Peninsula, go to visitkitsap.com.