20+ Capitol Hill bars and restaurants to look forward to in 2018

In 2017, CHS tallied 33 new restaurant, cafe, and bar openings around Capitol Hill. We noted that, in contrast with the big project-studded previous years in this round of the neighborhood’s food+drink economic boom times, the 2017 openings were a smaller, ambitious-er, gay-er group highlighted by CHS reader choice “rookie of the year” Queer/Bar. Number five in the CHS vote is a good starting point for a look ahead. Westman’s Coffee and Bagel didn’t open in the final weeks of 2017 so we get to double hype the E Madison walk-up counter concept with an entry here on our round-up of restaurant, cafe, and bar openings to look forward to in 2018.

  1. Lao Bar — Despite busy food and drink careers, restaurant veteran Carrie Bowen has never been able to work with her chef sister Oula Sakounthong. That changes with Bowen’s coming soon Lao Bar project destined for the squirreled away corner of the Broadway Alley mall below Tacos Chukis where Vaca Loca gave it a go before closing shop. “The Alley doesn’t have a full bar,” Bowen says and adds that “people will find something very different” at Lao Bar. “There’s a lot of Vietnamese. A lot of Pho. A lot of Thai.” She tells CHS that the new bar will specialize in authentic Laotian fare leaning toward street style preparations including skewers and lots of veggie dishes. Expect booze and, hey, Laotian brunch. Expected: February!
  2. Westman’s Coffee and Bagel — Can you forgive everybody for being excited? Monica Dimas was excited. Molly Westman was excited. CHS was excited. But excitement doesn’t go far when it comes to the logistics of opening a new walk-up bagel shop that can operate in a tidy 300 square feet. It’s coming people, trust us. Expected: Next week-ish!
  3. Lil’ Neon Taco — The first thing to know about yet another Monica Dimas project coming to the area is that Boren’s Lil’ Neon Taco will actually be pretty big. It will also be open for lunch. We wrote here about the original Neon Taco snuggled inside Broadway’s Nacho Borracho. Expected: January or February
  4. Rocket Taco — In another timeline, Rocket Taco was born on Capitol Hill. But fate lined up for a family project from industry veteran Steve Rosen and wife Jill Rosen to launch from sleepy Whidbey Island. Now the fast and efficient taco concept is touching down in the Rosen’s neighborhood on the sleepy side of Capitol Hill. Rocket Taco will put the overhauled bones of the old Kingfish Cafe to use with “quality, affordable, hand made food” with fresh, house-made tortillas and an emphasis on speed, consistency, and accessible pricing. Expected: January (hey, that’s like now!)
  5. Anejo — The enormous Broadway restaurant space left vacant when Dilettante pulled up stakes in its birth neighborhood and shuttered its chocolate martini lounge will begin a new life in 2018 as the Anejo Restaurant and Tequila Bar. Restaurateur Edgar Pelayo said he wasn’t planning a Capitol Hill venture but the finished restaurant space Dilettante created in the Brix condo building was too good an opportunity to pass up. The only catch? “It’s large — which translates to expensive.” Expected: spring!
  6. Full Tilt Capitol Hill — Full Tilt has sniffed around Capitol Hill before but in September, CHS was excited to report that the small ice cream chain was booting out the biggest of coffee chains and bringing its mix of crazy flavors, beer, and pinball to 15th Ave E. Expected: January! (UPDATE: Thursday, January 4th to be precise :) )
  7. Salt and Straw — The Portland-based chain made a March 2016 announcement that it was ready to expand to Seattle and give Molly Moon’s a run for its money in the long line for ice cream department. But the Pike Motorworks space sat idle until late winter. Work has been underway on the coming soon E Pike shop. You should probably get in line now. Expected: February
  8. Little Big Burger: Maybe they just do things differently in Portland. Another southern chain with Seattle expansion plans also let its retail space in new Capitol Hill construction sit quietly through 2017. The project on the ground floor of the Beryl Apartments project on the northeast corner of 12th and Pike will bring yet another dedicated patty purveyor to the neighborhood. Expected: “quarter one of 2018
  9. Petite Galette — Sara Naftaly already is a big part of the tasty things available in Chophouse Row. In 2018, she is adding crepes to the mix. Expected: January.
  10. Realfine Coffee — This West Seattle cafe is expanding to E Pine to take over the space left empty by the summer exit of Stumptown. Expected: “early 2018”
  11. Junkichi — In early December, CHS reported on a robatayaki restaurant project being lined up for the former Broadway home of the Einstein Bros. bagel chain. Liquor license tells us the name: Junkichi. Expected: ??? 
  12. A Pizza Mart2016 was the year for pizza on Capitol Hill. But A Pizza Mart pizza bar will look to continue the trend with a 2018 opening on 11th Ave. Expected: ???
  13. Core BistroThe Taco Time disappointment likely upstaged the news that this downtown Vietnamese cafe is coming to E Madison. We’ll make sure Core gets a Taco Time nostalgia-free post soon enough. Expected: ???
  14. East Trading Company — Taking over the space left empty when Sun Liquor’s distillery left the Hill, this bar project from Oasis Bubble Tea owner I-Miun Liu is coming along slowly. If it’s anything like the two-year expansion of his bubble tea cafes to Capitol Hill, get ready for a bit of a wait. Expected: ???
  15. Tamari Bar — The folks at Suika are expanding across the street into the space left empty when 500 East — born World of Beers — shuttered in 2016. Expect “Japanese-based global cuisine inspired by years of cooking, eating and traveling” including “Japanese Battera box Sushi, Ramen and Japanese street foods.” “Our bar creates many original cocktails by using Japanese whiskeys, sake and Sho-chu.” Sounds good. Expected: Soon. They’re hiring.
  16. 516 E Pike Donuts — Reading between the lines, we’re not sure the man behind the concept knows exactly when he’ll open it — whatever it is. All we know is a legendary Capitol Hill doughnut entrepreneur is probably possibly getting back in the game on E Pike. Expected: ???
  17. Tully’s 19th/Aloha replacement — While we’re throwing things up against the wall and waiting for a doughnut or two to stick, please unleash your full speculative powers on what will come next for the old Tully’s. The plan is for the property to go back into motion — not be sold for redevelopment… yet. The property’s agent is collecting proposals from interested businesses this month. We hear all sorts of rumors — including one involving one of the players listed…. below. Expected: ??? plus an extra ?!
  18. Macrina Bakery and Pagliacci Pizza project — We listed this project on the 2017 anticipation roster and it never budged. It looks pretty much in the same place to start 2018. But, somewhere out there, these two sister companies have a plan for E Pike. Expected: Don’t hold your breath!
  19. Colman Automotive rooftop restaurant — OK. One more for the speculation pile. The Hunters Capital-owned Colman Automotive building that was once home to E Pine’s best window shopping at Area 51 is having its first floor overhauled to become a new showroom for furniture retailer Blu Dot. There are also plans for a restaurant and bar on the auto row-era building’s roof. Whatever was lined up for the building apparently fell through but recent real estate listings indicate the search continues for a tenant to build the project. Here’s your shot. Expected: You tell us!
  20. Heritage Distilling — You think bagels are exciting?! What if we told you there are items from the 2016 list of new openings to look forward to that stilllllll havennnnn’t opennnnnnnnned. One of those is finally getting set to spring to life. A Capitol Hill tasting room for Heritage Distilling has been lined up for the dormant former home of a Canadian sandwich chain inside the Central Agency building on the backside of Pike/Pine since November… 2016. The new tasting and sales room will join Heritage’s Gig Harbor main distillery and a tasting room facility on the South Puget Sound city’s waterfront. Expected: We don’t know but we’re told the project is in motion again!
  21. Noren — Holy smokes, we first wrote about this project in March… 2015. But it can take time for an independent owner to raise the funds needed to build out a new place — especially when it means turning the corner bodega into a new sushi joint. Construction began in October to transform the former E Pike’ Benson’s Grocery into Noren Sushi. Expected: “spring”
  22. Bamboo Sushi and QuickFish Poke — More Portland imports. And this counts for two. The company is bringing both its sustainable sushi concept and its new poke concept to Capitol Hill with locations just a block away from each other on E Pike. Bamboo will take a corner space of The Cove apartment building at 601 E Pike while QuickFish is set to take up one of the last remaining commercial spaces on the south end of the Pike Motorworks project. Expected: “Late spring” for Bamboo
  23. Intrigue Chocolate Co. — This one won’t take three years. We’ve seen the construction with our own eyes. Aaron Barthel and Karl Mueller are expanding their Pioneer Square-born chocolate venture with a 15th at Madison “chocolate and coffeehouse.” Intrigue is all about chocolate as an experiment. “Aaron likes to use chocolate as a medium to express what he knows about flavor,” Mueller told CHS. Expected: early 2018!
  24. BONUS UPDATE! Dingfelder’s Delicatessen — A new deli project is coming to the corner of 14th and Pine by spring or summer, reports Eater Seattle. You can start looking forward to “authentic Old World Delicatessen with plenty of Corned Beef and Pastrami , Knishes, Whitefish, Smoked Salmon, cookies and more!” We’re not sure exactly how it fits into the building home to Aria Salon and a commercial kitchen operation that has been utilized by area restaurants and food trucks but will check in and report back soon. Expected: by summer!

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