If the cosmic forces above this quiet side of Capitol Hill have felt out of balance lately, the launch might help. The next stage in the long, hard-loved history of the Kingfish Cafe restaurant space is ready for a new adventure.
Rocket Taco — with its “quality, affordable, hand made food,” house-made tortillas, and an emphasis on speed, consistency, and accessible pricing — is set to make its debut Friday on 19th Ave E. CHS stopped by a test run earlier in the week and found all systems “go.”
The project from neighborhood residents Jill and Steve Rosen is an expansion of their Whidbey Island-born, fast-casual taco joint concept. But concept isn’t quite the right word. Though Steve Rosen is an industry veteran who helped create Blue C Sushi and Boom Noodle and whose current ventures include Elemental Pizza, the Rosens call Rocket Taco their family restaurant.
Now there are two.
Last year when CHS broke the news of the new 19th Ave E project, we told you the story about how Rocket Taco very nearly started here. The opportunity on Whidbey was too good to pass up and the island became the start point for Rocket Taco.
The Rosens have found opportunity again — only this one comes only blocks from home. The 19th Ave E location where Rocket Taco will do its thing was home to the Coaston sisters and their legendary Kingfish Cafe for 18 years before the restaurant closed to start 2015.
After an extensive — and expensive — overhaul, Ernest Loves Agnes lasted just one year in the space before shuttering to start 2017. Owner Jason Lajeunesse’s attempt to reboot the project with a collaboration with Brian Clevenger called Contadino lasted only six months.
The rebuilt restaurant and bar space still has the Kingfish shape but the big investments in infrastructure have created a ready-made launchpad for Rocket Taco.
“It’s beautiful,” Jill told CHS last year. “It looks like Rocket Taco inside. Colors, tiles. This is meant to be.”
Taco Updates — A few news bits of Mexican food and drink updates around Capitol Hill: Edgar Pelayo tells CHS his Anejo Restaurant and Tequila Bar is aiming for an April opening on Broadway in the old Dilettante space… watch for the El Costeño food truck now at Uncle Ike’s 23rd and Union… and, yup, Tacos Chukis is *indeed* coming to 23rd and Union’s The Central building this summer… finally, don’t forget about out of the way but deliciously meaty D’ La Santa which opened last fall on 10th Ave E.
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Rocket Taco Capitol Hill — or Rocket Taco Seattle, if you prefer — is a lunch and dinner place with counter service and a casual feel similar to the Freeland original. The Kingfish’s old bar is still in place and demands your attention. Now, instead of Red Stripe and mint juleps, it will hold your margarita for you.
Basic tacos — including carnitas, fish, chicken, or quinoa lentil — run three for $9 or get them deluxe with a side of beans for $12. There’s also quesadillas, a taco salad, or tortilla soup, and a few different chips and dip selections to choose from. Check out the menu for a better, more mouth-watering rundown of offerings and phrases like “spice-rubbed cod” and “coconut crema.” By the way, there’s also dessert including churros with chocolate dipping sauce. And you’ll find margaritas, micheladas, and Mexican mules behind the bar.
Rocket Taco is located at 602 19th Ave E and is open 11 AM to “close” on Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 AM to 10 PM on Mondays through Thursdays. You can learn more at rocket-taco.com/seattle.