Morfire’s hot pot will warm you up on 12th Ave

CHS took a summer news break last year after ten years in the business. We’ve mostly caught up but there are a few stories from that dark period in Capitol Hill history that need to be told. One warm story we’ll shine some light on this dreary, drizzly January happened on 12th Ave, where Monchaya “Taup” Paitoonnerarmit opened Morfire with its “do it yourself” hot pots and Thai specialties. We caught up with Taup and made a recent visit to check out what we had missed.

“In the past couple decades, Thai food has made its way into one of the common cuisines in the US, especially in Seattle where there are hundreds of Thai restaurants,” Taup says about the proliferation of Thai in the city. “But there’s been one type of the Thai cuisines missing from the area, Thai hot pot.” Continue reading

Two Central District cafes facing closure point finger at Seattle City Hall

They both have become familiar faces whenever Central District small businesses are being discussed — usually in the context of the next big development or the next big infrastructure project promised to bring change to the neighborhoods their cafes have called home. Neighbors are now saying their goodbyes to Felix Ngoussou’s Jackson St. Lake Chad Cafe and Sara Mae’s 701 Coffee.

The 23rd and Cherry cafe owner Mae said she takes personal responsibility for 701’s closure but said she also lays blame with Seattle City Hall and District 3 representative Kshama Sawant for what she predicts will be a wave of Central District closures:

701 is just one in a line of real small businesses in the Central District that have been forced to close. We aren’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last. I firmly believe this trend will continue. There’s certainly no elected official—Kshama—that is going to give two shits about the plight of Central District Small Businesses. We have an elected official in the Central District who isn’t willing to devote some of her time and political capital to assuring that there is prosperity on the horizon for Central District small businesses. Instead she has created a movement that is based on resentment, and divisive political rhetoric that serves no purpose but to hold power, and keep people who are struggling trapped in a cycle of spinning their wheels, waiting for her precious cake. Frankly, all we have received in the aggregate from Kshama in all of this is Central District small business circumstances that has worsened under her reign.

Continue reading

New owners, new chapter at Capitol Hill classic the Canterbury

Just under four years after reopening with new owners and a major overhaul, 15th Ave E medieval dive bar turned medieval not-so-dive bar the Canterbury Ale House has new ownership.

Business partners Pavit Jagga and Ryan Lewis are taking over the 15th at Mercer watering hole. You might hear Capitol Hill favorite yo, son Macklemore on the sound system but, no, it’s not that Ryan Lewis.

Entrepreneur Jagga tells CHS that this Ryan Lewis is the owner behind Belltown’s Amber and that the two friends will be working together to bring new energy to the “one of a kind” 15th Ave E bar that Jagga has long coveted. Expect a new food menu soon and a wider selection of beer, wine, and booze.

The new owners take over from two big players in Capitol Hill nightlife. Continue reading

First Look: With a line up E Madison, Westman’s Bagels and Coffee opens

A long line at Westman’s. The good news? Lines for “Seattle-style” doughnuts were shorter than usual Friday.

Molly Westman

Just down the Hill from Temple De Hirsch Sinai and 2,800 miles from Brooklyn, Westman’s Bagels and Coffee opened for business Friday to a long line on a dark and drizzly morning in Seattle.

CHS wrote here about the project and quest to create a Capitol Hill “morning culture” from small-space food and drink entrepreneur Monica Dimas and baker Molly Westman. The duo spent the past year researching and perfecting recipes. “We now can tell a good bagel by just looking at the crumb,” Dimas said. The bagel arts, apparently, are closely guarded. “There are lots of secrets in the bagel industry,” Dimas told CHS in December, “and lots of disinformation from other bakers.” Continue reading

Price of pop from Capitol Hill’s Mystery Soda Machine hits $1.00

A can of sugary, delicious Coca Cola, or Mr. Pibb, or Orange Crush from Capitol Hill’s Mystery Soda Machine(tm) now costs $1.00.

The latest bump in price for the E John vending machine comes along with Seattle’s new soda tax — 1.75 pennies for every ounce of sugary drinks purchased. Gatorade shoppers are appalled — though there is no reason the excise tax has to be passed along to consumers. The soda industry is now worried the tax might spread to the entire state and mystery soda machines in cities from here to Pullman.

The secret organization that stocks and operates the Capitol Hill machine could not be reached for comment.

After ‘nightmare’ arson fire, Med Mix returns to the Central District

Tuesday, we found out just how many people love tacos and broke some news about the future of food and drink at 23rd and Union. Today, CHS has good news on a sad part of 23rd and Union’s restaurant past. Five years after an arson fire destroyed its 23rd and Union shop, Med Mix is open again in the Central District.

Owner Otmane Bezzaz dropped CHS a note earlier this week to announce that, “after years of trying to come back,” his new location just off 23rd and Jackson is now open. Continue reading

Powered by Capitol Hill Station enthusiasm, investor plans transformation of Broadway retail building

Rendering of the planned renovation

The plans reverberating from a big Broadway real estate deal last fall will mean new life for a building just a block from Capitol Hill Station. Those plans are powered by some of the same energy and enthusiasm Capitol Hill residents might feel when they get to walk or ride light rail off the Hill as the rest of the city grinds through traffic and a crawling I-5.

“It’s an incredible part of the city with the new light rail station opening,” Dhruv Agarwal tells CHS. “As the light rail network expands and traffic gets worse in Seattle, the Capitol Hill Station is going to be a hub for entertainment and neighborhood shopping.” Continue reading

Broadway-born Tacos Chukis set to join the community at 23rd and Union

A taco joint with one of the humblest starts on Capitol Hill is ready for yet another Seattle expansion. The good news for fans of Tacos Chukis: This one is within walking distance.

“It’s a community we’d love to be part of,” Chukis owner Beto Salmeron tells CHS about the early plans for a late summer opening of a new Central District Tacos Chukis at 23rd and Union.

Tacos Chukis, born on Broadway in 2011 and known for its affordable and near perfect street-style tacos, will be taking on a relatively massive restaurant space in The Central, the first of a wave of development around 23rd and Union from Lake Union Partners. The apartment building is also home to e-bike dealership Electric Lady and coffee shop + hair salon Squirrel Chops. The project opened in 2016 but the quest to fill its large, anchor tenant-style restaurant space has been a long one with more than a few big players bowing out along the way. Continue reading

Baking for both sides of Capitol Hill’s Gluten Divide: Q&A with Toby Matasar

Toby Matasar is rapidly diversifying her mini-empire of baked goods on Capitol Hill.

A second-generation pastry chef trained in New York and Paris who moved here in 2000, Matasar gained a loyal following running Eats Market Café in West Seattle for a decade. Following the cafe’s 2015 closure, Matasar started a new venture, the Niche Gluten Free Café and Bakery on 12th Ave across from Seattle U, which coincided with her own transition to a paleo diet. In 2017, she bought Crumble & Flake on E Olive Way from acclaimed baker Neil Robertson.

The two daytime eateries are now doing brisk business serving both sides of the gluten divide. Matasar continues to expand and adapt their menus, and she speaks with enthusiasm about her evolving craft and growing clientele. I asked Matasar a few questions about her upcoming plans (French ice cream! Candy!) and the challenges she faces balancing decadence with dietary restrictions.

Is baking a science, an art, or some sort of alchemy? It’s both a science and an art. Those are good words to describe it. There’s definitely a science side to it—you have to be willing to be very technical and the procedures have to be the same every time. There’s definitely an art to it, too, because it’s very visual—you have to know what the bubbles are supposed to look like on your caramel, what the batter should look like. You can’t just look at the picture in a book and expect to get it right if you’re not aware of the ripeness of the fruit or the humidity for certain cakes and cookies and whatnot. Also, a lot of art goes into the techniques for plating, which is the beautiful part because I’m the worst artist. This is my only medium—I can’t draw at all! Continue reading

Machine House taproom will be E Jefferson neighborhood pub with cask ales and football on the telly

(Image: Machine House)

If you want to do it right — create your own cask ales, “served through beer engines and at cellar temperature” — you’re going to have to do it yourself. Georgetown-born Machine House Brewery is building a cozy tap room and soccer pub to showcase its English-style beers amid the growing food and drink scene along E Jefferson because it’s a bloody shame to waste great beer.

“Very few pubs can serve it properly,” Machine House co-founder Bill Arnott tells CHS. “We’ve found we need to control the experience. We need bartenders who can explain and present it.”

“It’s this kind of thing that doesn’t have the best reputation if you get it wrong. When it’s done right it’s completely exceptional.” Continue reading