This historic dive bar has been serving hot bowls of greasy chili ever since it first opened its doors in 1939. When years of selling chili along the ship canal paid off for Greek immigrant Mike Semandiris, he was finally able to open his own place.
Four generations of the Semandiris clan have followed in Mike’s footsteps in running this hole-in-the-wall eatery, which still sells Mike’s classic chili recipe and not much else. The menu basically consists of meat-heavy chili served in a variety of sizes over a handful of items along with an assortment of cold local beers. Chili comes in the cup, bowl, pint, quart or gallon, over hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries or pasta. And that’s about it.
Mike Semandiris first immigrated from a small village in Northern Epirus on the Greek-Albanian border to Chicago, where he spent a spell working as a cook in a Mexican restaurant. In 1922 Semandiris made his way to Seattle and the maritime neighborhood of Ballard, known at the time for its plethora of mills and fishing fleets employing an abundant population of Scandinavian immigrants. He began selling his chili to boat laborers and eventually was able to lease a small neighborhood storefront before opening his own tavern in 1939.
While Mike’s Chili Parlor had an undeniably humble start, it eventually funded the immigration of first Mike’s son and then the rest of the Semandiris family following World War II. It may be nothing fancy but Mike’s is an old-school, family-run, historic neighborhood joint.
1.For a building even more surrounded by Ballard Blocks, check out Edith Macefield’s house on the south side.
2.Or go east of the Blocks to find the Salty Dog Pottery Studio.