It is not exactly conflict at the scale of Spain invading the New World but changes underway across Capitol Hill might, in a poetic kind of way, evoke visions of the conquistador. He did well in his armor. He also learned to love his pulque. How’s that for a too grand introduction to Sur 16, replacing the emptied, former home of 15th Ave E long-timer, The Bagel Deli.
The conflict and resulting clashes and harmonies between the Old World and the New World are the themes behind first-time restauranteur Javier Dalzell’s new venture.
“Sur 16 will be about natural America — all the recipes are a clash of the culinary techniques from when Spain conquered Mexico,” Dalzell says.
Sur 16 is also hoped to successfully clash, if not mix up, stir and stew, the flavors of melting pot, mestizo food with local ingredients and seafood of the Pacific Northwest.
“During the Viceroyalty of the New Spain (XVI century), the culinary mestizaje crossed all the different social levels, from the worker people’s to the tables of the royalty where surreal dishes born like the chiles en nogada and the mole,” Dalzell’s description of the restaurant reads. “All these dishes, sparkled with the influence of the Spanish, Arabic, Asian and French cuisines.”
Don’t expect tradition to reign. Dalzell said the bar’s planned signature drinks will be mezcal-tini type concoctions considerably more cosmopolitan than a shot glass with an orange slice. History will play an important role, however, and mezcal’s place in the history of the mestizo is a key piece of Sur 16’s identity.
“For our name, in the16th century — mezcal is said to have been invented,” Dalzell said. “It took 100 years for that fusion to happen.”
It has taken a little less time for the food and drink culture of 15th Ave E to have shifted to its new world. Sur 16 joins a commercial village that has held onto a few of its longest running favorites while transitioning to include new originals like Smith, Ada’s Cafe, The Wandering Goose and the also numerically named Rione XIII. Maybe we can expect a hyperlocal trend in teen numbered restaurant names. 22 Doors, now shuttered, was off by a count, apparently. Soon in May, the overhauled Canterbury with new owners will reopen on the north end of the 15th Ave E core.
The change hasn’t been pleasant for all. The Bagel Deli closed to start the year after serving the neighborhood for more than three decades. We never heard the exact details of the departure but were told by a few regular customers that they had been told about higher rents in the 1947-built Greenlind Building following the 2013 death of longtime landowner Irwin Treiger.
But with change comes opportunity. Dalzell and wife Mariana Martos had been scouring the city for a place to start their dream. Dalzell comes to the venture as a Microsoft veteran and says he plans to play a behind the scenes role. Martos, on the other hand, will run the front of house and be a major presence in the Sur 16 experience. Given the challenges of getting a new restaurant off the ground and surviving beyond your first year, life partners becoming food and drink partners is a classic combination in the food and drink and small business world. Still, Dalzell knows as a first time restauranteur he has a huge challenge ahead.
“Most of the restaurants die,” Dalzell said. “It’s not because they are not good in the kitchen.”
The equation behind Sur 16 of a modern approach to an ethnic cuisine reminds CHS a little of our first conversations with Wassef Haroun about his vision for Mamnoon. Sur 16’s probably won’t be quite as upscale and the buildout sounds likely to be much less ambitious. But the hopes to do something new — and the involvement of a tech veteran and spouse jumping into the food and drink arena for a first-time effort on Capitol Hill — ring familiar. Mamnoon’s ambitious buildout took nearly a year. Dalzell said he expect to have Sur 16 open in four or five months. By the way, in another bit of Latino-themed numerology, Sur 16 will make, by our count, 16 Mexican and Central American-flavored eateries and bars on Capitol Hill.
Starting a restaurant in 2014 in Seattle also will also mean Dalzell’s forecasting spreadsheets had better be nimble. On Friday, CHS reported on what appears to be a very small business and restaurant/bar-friendly framework for a $15 minimum wage emerging from City Hall. Still, Dalzell is ready — and willing — to be part of what will likely be a swiftly tilting business environment.
“This is very important,” Dalzell says of the $15 minimum wage debate and the many sides coming together to bang out a plan. “We can find a really good point in the middle.”
The minimum wage fight, then, is yet another conflict Dalzell and Sur 16 is ready to embrace on 15th Ave E.
Sur 16 is planned to be open by the end of summer at 340 15th Ave E. You can learn more at facebook.com/sur16.
Capitol Hill food+drink notes
- Marination Station birthday: Harvard market’s popular, born on the streets Marination Station counter is holding a birthday party Monday as the CHS advertiser and purveyor of excellent Aloha-style chow celebrates its third anniversary:
We’re having a BIRTHDAY PARTY!!! Marination Station is turning 3 this year and we want YOU to come celebrate with us on Monday April 28th!! The quick party deets are as follows…*It’s an ALL DAY kind of party!! (11am-8pm)
*Music and outdoor seating to enjoy the sun!
*$3 STOUP drafts ALL DAY!
*An off the menu special for $3.33 from Head Chef Angie!
*FREE DESSERT! (while supplies last)
*FREE raffle prizes every hour on the hour!!
- Yes, Kedai Makan, yes you do…
- Seattle Spoken Wheel — “Reviewing ADA wheelchair experiences in Seattle” — Nice work, Poppy: “Five wheels for excellent accessibility”
- Broadway’s Than Brothers is moving into a shinier, brighter, newer home across the street.
The Hello Robin and Molly Moon’s shop in the 19th and Mercer building got this walk-up window installed just in time for this week’s expected burst of 80-degree weather:
Our newest micro shop will serve scoops, shakes & sundaes out of our new walk-up window at Hello Robin. Opening day isthis Thursday, with free kid scoops (for the 12-and-under set) from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Ice cream sandwiches (made with Robin’s delicious cookies, of course) are available inside of Hello Robin. Shop hours will beNoon to 10 p.m., every day and we’re located at 522 19th Ave East.
Cherry Street’s Laila Ghambari was named 2014 United States Barista Champion over the weekend:
For her signature drinks, she combined coffee cherry jam & coffee flower blossom honey with espresso, and added smoke from coffee tree wood, ignited and captured live on stage with a smoke gun. Every last component of her sig drink–the jam, the honey, the wood, and the coffee–was grown on the grounds of El Manzano in El Salvador.
- Did you attend Caffe Vita’s “secret” Bean Room party? The E Pike cafe celebrated decades of Capitol Hill coffee culture over the weekend.
- Sam’s Tavern street sign panels — yay or nay?
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