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Kells Irish Pub Post Alley Downtown Seattle Pike Place Market Hidden Passageways In The Great Wide Travel Blog Thirsty Thursdays

Kells Irish Restaurant & Bar

We found Kells Irish Restaurant & Bar listed as the most haunted place in Washington, and when we realized that it’s within walking distance of several other places we wanted to visit, it was a no-brainer to come check it out!


Where is Kells Irish Restaurant & Bar?

Kells Irish Pub is located in an alley just outside of Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA. Pike Place is a huge tourist attraction not just because it's filled with food stalls, but also because it’s the birthplace of Starbucks. The original Starbucks faces Pike Place, but right behind that building (which is on a steep hill), is Post Alley. If they were on even ground and that Starbucks had a back door, it would face directly at Kells.

The physical address for Kells is: 1916 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101

How to Get to Kell's Irish Restaurant & Bar

Pike Place Market is located just 2 blocks away from the Waterfront Park, which hosts the Seattle Aquarium, the Seattle Great Wheel, and numerous boat tours of the bay, and Kells is just a block behind that. Beware though: Seattle is VERY hilly, so be prepared for steep inclines if you intend to walk like we did.

I’m not going to lie, Seattle’s public transit system seems like it’s a bit of a mess. We stayed in Chinatown and walked everywhere we wanted to go, except for taking the monorail up to the Space Needle and back. From the downtown station of the monorail (Westlake Center), it’s only about 3 blocks to Kells, so it’s easy to get to from most of the major tourist attractions in the city. Just make sure you use Google Maps as you’re going because we would not have found Kells if we didn’t know exactly where we were going.

Kells Irish Pub Entrance Post Alley Pike Place Market Seattle Washington In The Great Wide Travel Blog

Reservations at Kells Irish Restaurant & Bar

Kells Irish Pub is open 7 days a week for dinner, plus lunch Wednesday-Sunday, until “late”. They even have happy hour Monday-Friday from 4-6pm, but we haven’t experienced that for ourselves yet.

Their Yelp page claims they take reservations, but there’s no information about it on their website unless you’re reserving their second floor private room (which has its own bar) for a large group. And when I say a large group, I mean this room can hold up to 100 guests. It’s unclear if they take everyday reservations for the main restaurant space or not, but we didn’t need one when we went in.

History of Kells Irish Pub

The history of the building that now houses Kells is what makes this pub so fascinating! Originally built in 1903, the building was the first purpose-built mortuary in Seattle.

That’s right. It was a MORTUARY.

It was built to house Butterworth & Sons Mortuary, which took up all 5 floors with the morgue, coffin sales, a funeral chapel, and even living quarters where family members could stay with their deceased loved ones until they were buried. What is now the entrance into Kells Irish Pub was once the basement entrance where they brought the bodies into the mortuary. The floor above that was used as a “stock room” with fireproof vaults where bodies could be stored indefinitely when the next of kin was undecided about what to do with the remains of their loved one who had passed on. And for those of you really paying attention, YES, this is the same second floor room that is now the event space of Kells that you can rent out for private events.

Haunted Irish Pub Seattle Washington Kells Irish Restaurant and Bar Review Pike Place Market In The Great Wide Thirsty Thursdays Travel Blog

A few other fun facts about the building:

  • From First Avenue, the building appears to only have 3 floors, but because of the steep hills of Seattle, the building actually has 5 floors, only visible from Post Alley.

  • The Butterworth Building had the first elevator on the west coast, which they needed in order to transport corpses up and down the multi-level mortuary.

  • Family members who wished to stay with the bodies of their passed loved ones until they were buried were able to stay in the private living quarters on the top floor of the building at no extra charge.

  • The building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places

While this whole set-up is fascinating to us and there are people who claim that it’s because of Butterworth & Sons that funerals are what we know them as today. However, there unfortunately are also stories of malpractice within the mortuary, although it cannot be said whether or not it’s true. There are rumors of the mortuary selling bodies for profit and burying empty caskets, as well as a doctor who “treated” her patients by starving them, and they would then end up at the mortuary.

Ironically (because the building was literally built for them), the mortuary was only in this building for 20 years before moving on to a larger space, and it has been difficult to find information about who occupied the space after that. The only hint we’ve found is a single photo on Wikipedia referencing an engineering consultant firm in the building in the 60s, that is until Kells was opened in 1983 by the McAleese family, who now own the whole building.

And of course, because of all the death this place has seen, there’s bound to be ghost stories too, and that’s just how we found out about this place. We found it listed as the most haunted place in Washington state, and it was even featured on an episode of a TV show called Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel in 2010, which you can still watch if you have Discovery + on Amazon Prime.

Kells patrons have reportedly seen mirrors spontaneously crack and pint glasses slide off the bar counter on their own, but the mother of the current owner also claims to have been pushed down a flight of stairs, narrowly avoiding any serious injuries, even though there was no one else present who could have pushed her.

However, the two most frequently seen ghosts at Kells are both generally considered to be friendly. The first is a young, red-headed girl who likes to come out during the day while kids are allowed to come into the pub for lunch with their parents. She supposedly is just looking for someone to play with but will steal the kid’s toys if they aren’t paying attention. No one actually knows who she is, but the prevailing notion is that she died during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.

The second most frequent ghost seen at Kells is an older gentleman known as Charlie, who appears in the large Guinness mirror in the bar wearing a derby hat, usually while bands are playing in the pub. It’s possible that he just enjoys live music, which Kells has every Friday and Saturday night.

Kells Irish Pub Brunch Potato Farls Bangers and Mash Food In The Great Wide Travel Blog Thirsty Thursdays

Our Experience

We arrived in Seattle in the mid-morning after spending 46+ hours on the Amtrak Empire Builder train coming all the way over from Chicago, so we were super relieved to be out and about, exploring the city and walking everywhere. We dropped off our bags, grabbed a cup of local coffee, and headed down to the waterfront to use our City Passes to visit the Seattle Aquarium. After an hour or two, we wandered up through Pike Place Market to find Kells for a late lunch, which is how we learned just how hilly Seattle is. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable walking shoes!

Even though Pike Place Market is a huge tourist destination, it was as if we were in a locals-only area as soon as we stepped into the alleyway where the entrance to Kells is. Without knowing it was back there, we definitely would not have found it, but it was a trip seeing someone’s bare feet hanging out of an open window above us, bouncing along to the Ciara/Missy Elliot song they were blaring. We laughed and made up stories about who the person might be. Ha!

We got to sit down immediately when we got into Kells, and the staff treated us like locals even though I obviously had my professional camera out. One thing that we learned about Seattle: there is a clear divide between locals and tourists there, but if you act like a local, they’ll treat you like one. We received warm, friendly service everywhere we went in Seattle that wasn’t a tourist hot-spot, but were sorely disappointed by the one restaurant we tried that had been touted on the waterfront as having great seafood at affordable prices. The moral of the story is: go to the restaurants the locals go to!

Even though it was just past the 2pm cut-off for their weekend brunch menu, our server convinced the kitchen to make the potato farls with bangers and mash for me, which I greatly appreciated. I’m always curious to try new foods and potato farls were a foreign concept to me. They turned out to be a kind of cross between a pancake and a tortilla, but made out of potato. Adam ordered a classic corned beef sandwich with fries and we were both satisfied with our first full meal since we had left Chicago on the train.

The other cool thing about Kells is that they brew their own beer! Their brewery is in Portland, OR, where they have another pub and a family farm that provides fresh produce for this pub in Seattle. (They also have a third pub in San Francisco.) They brew 8 beers, including a lager, pilsner, pale ale, red ale, IPA, hazy IPA, and a stout, as well as a seasonal selection and their own cider, which are the only beers served in their pub. We’re certainly adding their other locations to our list for future trips!

Kells’ motto is “If you can’t go to Ireland, come to Kells”, because they pride themselves on providing an authentic Northern Ireland experience, and the decor delivers. It’s nothing fancy, but has lots of dark woods and mahogany, plus memorabilia on the walls. Add in the live music on the weekends and you could feel like you’re in Ireland!

Kells Irish Pub Stout Beer at Pike Place Market Seattle Washington Haunted Bar Review In The Great Wide History Travel Blog Thirsty Thursdays

Our Verdict

We would go back to Kells in a heartbeat! There’s such rich history to the building; it’s easy to get to from most of the major tourist attractions in Seattle; the beer was good (and brewed by them); the food was great; and the service was warm and friendly. Do yourself a favor and save this pub for your next trip to Seattle!

Quick Reference Guide



How to Get There

King County Metro buses run through downtown, but we walked everywhere in Seattle. It’s only 3 blocks away from the downtown station of the monorail that takes you to the Space Needle too.

Time Commitment

Stop by for an hour for lunch between other activities or hang out for hours listening to live music on Friday and Saturday nights


$8 for a pint of beer, around $13 for a sandwich, and around $16 for an entree like Shepherd’s Pie

Reservation Info

No reservations needed, but does serve large private parties for special events

Our Verdict

We love this pub! Fascinating history, good beer, great food, and friendly service, all easily accessible from major tourist attractions without the touristy feeling!

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Travel Blogger Phoebe Meador From In The Great Wide Couple Travel Blog


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