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Capitol Hill food+drink | Chino’s sticking with Pike/Pine for now, a Travelers call for help

Are you a savvy insider with access to the deepest secrets from the Capitol Hill food and drink economy? Me neither! We’ll have to work together! Send us your tips.

  • Sometimes it’s about what you don’t write. A few weeks back, there was a bunch of drama swirling around E Pike’s game but struggling Chino’s as a soon-to-be former employee starting getting chatty on social media about the restaurant’s impending doom. The Seattle Weekly was the first to sort out some of the mess here recently. The bottom line is husband and wife and first-time restaurant owners Mari Tiscareño Lee and Walter Lee say they hope to find a new location with lower rent to re-start their efforts. In the meantime, Walter tells us, no deals are in the works and Chino’s is digging in for the long, or, at least, medium haul.

Chino’s opened its doors late last fall with a Taiwanese and Mexican fusion menu inspired by Los Angeles and street food. It is the first restaurant the Lees have operated and the project quickly revealed some of the challenges the couple would face from their Pike/Pine competition:

“We’re feeling a little lost in the sauce right now,” Mari, 29, said. “We’ve had to start in square one with everything … In all ways, we are out of our league. Look around us. You have Café Vita, Quinn’s, the Unicorn, Poquitos. They’re all very established, with tried and true business models. It can be a little demoralizing being next to them sometimes, especially when you see they’re always packed.”

Before Chino’s, Oasis Cafe closed at the location last June when it failed to find a buyer.

  • Another Capitol Hill food and drink business struggling to keep ahead of things is E Pine’s Travelers. Having existed under a “for lease” sign for more than a year, the owners of Travelers are now facing expensive medical bills, according to this “chipin” donation page:

This is a plea for Allen and Leon. Long time community members who have devoted years of service to so many in need, right now.

Allen is in the hospital and has been for over a week now.They are keeping him for tests. When he is able, he can share if he wishes his medical issue. Know that this is a time for us, as community and good people to give backto such a beautiful soul.

Allen and his family are in need of that change in your pocket. If you have just a dollar, great. A good thought or even a prayer, if you are so inclined. 

Prayers for gentle healing are covered. What Allen and family need in the immediate is abundant positive cash flow. If you cannot spare a dime…these are tough times, send good thoughts of prosperity for Allen and Leon.

Please share this plea with others.

If you had benefit from the Peace and Healing atmosphere created by Allen and, his numerous talents. Please, sharewhat you can. Again, even if its a quick note of love now’s the time to share.

In Deep PeaceNamaste

Friends of Allen and Leon 

CHS has been told that Allen is recovering from a successful surgery last week.

Last spring, CHS reported the market and cafe was branching out to Beacon Hill in a bid to start a second location as things became uncertain with their new landlord on E Pine.

  • In happier news, Heather Earnhardt tells us the windows are in as construction on The Wandering Goose heads into the final stretch before the planned opening late this month. You can follow along here.
  • The Capitol Hill expansion of Eat Local is nearing its debut. Sign says you won’t need to cook at home as much starting June 15th.
  • Meanwhile, Marcus Lalario’s 95 Slide won’t be ready in time for the start of the European Championships but we’re hearing you should be able to catch the finals at the new Capitol Hill sports bar.
  • Karam’s is shutting down on 15th Ave E later this month.
  • This map shows 14 places around Capitol Hill where you’ll be buying booze this summer. In the meantime, we have a couple questions. 1) Was it weak distribution or higher than expected demand that left so many grocery store spirits shelves bare by weekend’s end? 2) With concerns about rising prices, did CHS miss the Capitol Hill cocktail price surge? Perhaps we should all stock up. Or, like CHS Vino Verite says, drink more wine and beer.
  • Just in case you missed our freakish midweek food+drink column, 12th Ave’s Local Vine is no more.
  • Seattle Times offers a few — this and this — reasons to venture across I-5.
  • Seattle Met was kinda all over Capitol Hill in the past week. The Hill is well represented in this list of “only in Seattle” outdoor seating that is actually indoors. Skelly and the Bean got love. Artusi’s first birthday — and five days of special happy hours — is celebrated.
  • Another birthday at Porchlight Coffee and Records will be celebrated Springsteen style.
  • More love for Little Uncle. This time, Seattle Magazine with the sloppy kisses.
  • An economic analysis of the successful recipe behind Crumble & Flake. “Seattle has a cornucopia of blogs devoted to neighbourhood food and happenings. Articles about Mr Robertson’s designs started sprouting months before Crumble & Flake’s opening, more as it loomed closer.”
  • 8oz Burger Bar has rolled out a new menu including a $17 “The Hill” with braised short rib.
  • The overhauled Manhattan now offers lunch:
  • Where do Major League Soccer keepers eat on Capitol HIll? Not Subway.
  • Dinette’s “Summer Sandwich” bar is back:

Dinette is pleased to announce our Summer Sandwich bar is back! We will have a daily changing menu of seasonal & delicious sandwiches to choose from along with a few sides to accompany them.Cubano, Porchetta, Truffeled Eggwich, Tortilla Espanola, Italian Cured Meats, Braised Chicken Kimchee, Lamb Merguez Meatball, St. Paul Sandwich, Italian Broccoli Melt 

and many more in the summer rotation. New to the lunch bar…we will be offering homemade ice cream sandwiches too!

Grab one to go or enjoy lunch on our patio or in the lounge.


“10th used to be a dead zone with offices and a KFC, but we really worked to get Molly here,” Ms. Derschang says, “and when Elliott Bay arrived, a deceased street resurrected into a destination not just for residents, but for tourists walking up from downtown hotels. Even cooler, the old KFC recently became Rancho Bravo, a sit-down Mexican restaurant born out of a taco truck’s success.”

  • The state liquor board has nixed Seattle’s proposal for flexible liquor service hours by a vote of 2 to 1. If you have another example in the history of man of a decision reached via a three-person vote, let CHS know.
  • Mentioned this last week. Now we’ll mention it again. Plum hosts a benefit for the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group tonight.
  • The Narwhal, as any good underground bar space should be, is facing construction delays. She’ll probably be ready by this coming weekend. Probably. Though you never know where the Wheel of Drink will land.
  • Food porn from the Flickr pool:


This week’s CHS food+drink advertiser directory

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12 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Chino’s sticking with Pike/Pine for now, a Travelers call for help

  1. I feel sorry for restauranteurs. No love. Everyone or at least someone at any given time is taking shots at you from every direction. Seems like a thankless business.

  2. Maria: How do you fire this gun Chino? By pulling this little trigger!? How many bullets are left Chino? Enough for YOU? Or YOU? All of you!! You ALL killed him! And my brother! And Riff! Not with bullets and knives! With HATE! Well, I can kill now too, because now I have hate!!! How many can I kill Chino? How many — and still have one bullet left for me?

    I gotta agree. It ain’t a great restaurant name.

  3. Tried 3 times to go to Chino’s to try it out, but each time encountered the door sign saying they were closed and/or having a private function — was never clear which it was each time since there did not seem to be much happening.

  4. There is a sign in Travelers that has been there for over 2 years. “If you love this store please buy something”. Yet 90% of the time I attempt to buy something I get service so bad I do not want to return. After staying away for some months I attempted to buy a Samosa a few days ago. The employee ignored me for over 5 minutes while talking to a friend. I eventually walked away. The employee was unconcerned and kept talking. Does Travellers not realize that is why business it bad? I know I am not the only one with these experiences.

  5. Also Samui Thai on 15th has become The Patio and apparently is under new ownership. They’ve redone the inside a bit, given it a fresh coat of paint, etc. Haven’t tried it out yet myself.

  6. Believe it or not, some people actually work near Pike/Pine during the day, and there is a surprisingly low supply of reasonably priced, interesting, and fast options for lunch there.

    Also, Chino’s is in direct competition with Marination Station (I realize that they are not exactly the same thing, but broadly, they kind of are) and MS is a well-established brand. And awesome.

  7. Ha! I was unaware of the all-male state prison, but I remember when the sign went up thinking that’s a terrible name for a restaurant. I am rather indifferent about Chino’s. The drinks are good, the food is good, but there’s nothing particularly special about it. Not that there’s anything super special about the Unicorn or Cha Cha or Moe, but whenever I go out those are the places that come to mind.

  8. Heh, didn’t know that about the prison. The name makes me think of pants people wear to work to sit in a cubicle, not too inspiring. I don’t get how it relates to being a tiki bar.

    I’ve never stopped in, but if they had more appealing vegetarian options, I’d be into trying it.

  9. I love the So Cal mash-up they are going for, although I agree it can come off confused/confusing. But the mix of cuisines, the car theme, the tiki drinks are evocative of spending time in Eagle Rock or South Pas or the valley.

    Seriously, Cha Cha and Moe Bar and Unicorn never get tired? I like those places but if they’re the only ones that come to mind when you go out, you’re sporting a pretty serious lack of imagination and curiosity. Go on, leave the nest!