The Athenian is smack-dab in the heart of the Pike Place Market, next to another historic icon, Lowell's, and just a few booths from one of the fish vendors (not the tossing fish guys, who are at the south end of the main arcade). I come for three reasons: great view, great service, great happy hour prices.
Their happy hours are more generously long than most, and the prices are incredible considering what a martini costs in most places near downtown Seattle. A huge variety of draft beers can be had for $4, wine for $3.50, and well drinks for $3.25. Unlike most pubs and anything remotely trendy, beer here is served in old-fashioned frosty mugs with handles. Can you say historic? Plus, they serve one of the better Bloody Mary's around. To truly see the value, order something "on the rocks" and witness one of the most generous pours north of Mexico. Seriously - the bartender put at least three shots' worth of whisky in one rocks glass. They must make their profit on the draft beer!
A word about the service: it's great. Because the place is over three floors, you might not immediately see your server or the bartender. Not to worry. The staff looks out for the guests even if you aren't "their" table and will grab you condiments or water refills while your server is commuting from the far-off kitchen.
The happy hour food menu is a true bargain. I last ordered the fish & chips basket, which came with two thick pieces of juicy cod over a pile of perfect fries -- under $4! I started with a cup of clam chowder ($4.50) and would pay twice the price. This was simply the best New England-style clam chowder I've had in this state. This is cream-thick version that clearly had a base of intense clam broth, lots of chopped clams and wasn't overly stretched with potatoes.
The happy hour food menu includes an interesting mix (calamari? elk sliders anyone?) all at silly-low prices. It's truly hard to imagine why anyone would want to eat in the "regular" restaurant ($22 pasta?). Well, maybe because it's quieter.
One of my favorite things about these historic restaurants in our Pike Place Market is the interesting mix of people. You've got your tourists, business people, couples (the couple next to my table were gently asked to "get a room"), down-on-their-heels working stiffs, and sports fans. The bar has TVs perpetually tuned to the game of the moment, but, blissfully, the TVs are at one end of the bar and not actually OVER the bar so that those who don't give a darn can simply soak up that magnificent view.
This isn't gourmet. It's a bar with a good restaurant. It's been in a staring role in a wildly popular movie, when Tom Hanks and Rob Reiner dined at the counter on the first floor. This is an important part of Seattle's immigrant story, because this 104 year-old restaurant was started by Greek immigrants, who, like the Italians, Japanese, Norwegians, Irish, Swedes and Chinese, settled and built Seattle in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Wander around Pike Market and you will see the gorgeous immigrant faces of those who came after: Turks, Moroccans, Koreans, SE Asians, the Hmong, Bosnians, Sudanese, Somalians, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Latinos, heck, even Californians have added to the marvelous diversity that is Seattle, fully reflected in Pike Place Market and its many vendors.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.