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Capitol Hill’s Mexican restaurant count drops to 17 — Ooba Tooba está muerta

(Image: Andrés)

(Image: Andrés)

With a successful string of Eastside locations, Ooba Tooba has closed its Broadway restaurant after less than one year in business on the busy — and sometimes brutal — retail and restaurant strip.

“They’re moving out as I type this,” tipster Andrés told us Tuesday night as the eatery was packed up and carted away.

(Image: Andrés)

(Image: Andrés)

We’ve asked the restaurant’s management for more information about the closure in a space that has seen a recent succession of relatively short-lived restaurant plays. Whatever the causes, Ooba Tooba’s attempt to join the growing Capitol Hill food and drink economy and especially its nightlife-focused opportunities seems to have proven unsuccessful in near record time.

CHS reported last June on Ooba Tooba’s plans to open what was to be its fifth location with the Broadway venture.

By our count the Ooba Tooba closure coupled with the recent passing of Broadway’s Taco Del Mar and opening of Chipotle brings Capitol Hill’s current Mexican restaurant population to 17 — Mezcaleria Oaxaca will make it 18 later this summer. It also comes in the wake of news the Broadway Alley-perched Tacos Chukis will be expanding in its space.

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32 thoughts on “Capitol Hill’s Mexican restaurant count drops to 17 — Ooba Tooba está muerta

  1. Frankly I’m not surprised. I ate there once and the food was nothing special. Plus honestly why would i pay $10 for a burrito when I can get the same or better for less money at one of the other spots offering Mexi fare?

    • Not surprised either. Whenever I walked by it was pretty deserted–in stark contrast to Tacos Chukis nearby, which is kind of amazing considering Ooba Tooba’s right on the street and Chukis is way hidden. I guess the food makes all the difference, and I agree Ooba Tooba wasn’t too special. For burritos Guaymas is at least as good, and used to be a lot cheaper although they raised their prices when they moved.

      Are there other good burritos I’m missing? I like Tacos Chukis’ (of course) but those are a whole different concept. Rancho Bravo’s are ok but kinda small. What else?

      • I almost forgot. One night last fall around 9:15 (after Tacos Chukis closes) I went into Ooba Tooba to give it another shot. It was completely deserted–no customers or employees in sight. I walked up to the counter and I still couldn’t see anyone (keep in mind you can see the entire kitchen from there), but I could hear a voice or two that sounded like they were waaayyyy in the back. I said “hello?” a couple times (probably not loud enough) and waited for a minute or two debating what to do. Finally I gave up and went to Rancho Bravo.

        See if you ever see that at Tacos Chukis! Even back when they were still pretty new like that.

      • Rancho Bravo burritos are small? Holy crap, they’re like friggen cowpies. I think it’s interesting that mostly only white kids eat the burritos there. The customers I guess to be Latin I see eating tacos, tamales, tortas, and pozole. Maybe I’ve just missed it, but the times I’ve been to Mexico, I don’t see burritos anywhere.

      • Well, they’re smaller than Guaymas or Ooba Tooba or Chipotle or whatever. But I usually get tacos at Rancho Bravo anyway.

      • I believe they’re a northern Mexico thing and they’re thinner, not these bean/rice(filler) laden behemoths.

    • It used to be! Wait, was this tongue-in-cheek? Thai Go used to be there..then I think another Thai place opened there. I swear this is the 7th restauraunt in 7 years in that space. It’s cursed.

      • You know you laugh, but Pho would probably do well. It seems we just can’t get enough of it. Even a by-the-slice pizza place that stayed open past bar closing time would do very well there. There’s a pretty good handful of bars around that intersection, and the only option at that time is (*urp*) Dick’s, or a street hotdog.

  2. I used to work at Jup Jup, the space itself is great, but the building owner is not updating or even allowing updates to the facade to allow a unique non-strip-mall look to the street. Also, it’s hard for independent business to work out in this space.

  3. The curbside appeal of the space is not so good. It obviously has a dated look to it. With high rents the building owner can’t plead poverty on not updating it.

    • the places DOES look a bit too much like 1990 on the outside. Would it really matter though if what’s on the inside isn’t so great?

      • Even in 1990 that facade looked dated. And wasn’t that particular space a Burger King back then? I know Trendy Wendy was already in its spot – kudos to that store for navigating huge shifts in fashion trends and Capitol Hill denizens to stay active in a prime retail spot.

  4. Too bad, but not surprised. Ate there a few times and it was decent, but totally dead every time I went in there. I hope something exciting goes into that space.

  5. I never went in .. Ooba Tooba? What the hell, people, did George Jetson name that place? Does it say Mexican food to you? Speaking of other awkwardly named businesses in the area, is Total Coelo still thriving?

  6. I never understood why it was always empty. The food was delicious, the drinks were cheap and strong, and the manager was really nice. Too bad.

  7. I’m so bummed. Don’t know what most of the the other commenters were ordering, but for me the chipotle pork burrito was the best burrito I’ve ever tasted, anywhere. My friend and I have been ordering that burrito once or twice a week ever since this place opened — though admittedly we ordered takeout, so not exactly helping the place look less empty.

    When I worked in downtown Bellevue, the Ooba’s there was always way crowded during lunch hour, usually with people lined up out the door. Hopefully it still is, but it sounds like that location just got sold out from under them for probably another generic office tower. So I was thrilled when Ooba’s opened over here on Broadway. Just a shame they weren’t nearly as successful here as they are on the Eastside.

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  9. I went there once, and it was good, but not enough to keep me away from Chukis or other options.

    When they first opened up, the first thing I could think was….”huh?”

    How could anyone walk up and down Broadway, and think to themselves “yeah, we could use another Mexican restaurant right here.”? How is that possible? Who is the person that reaches such an obviously boneheaded conclusion?

  10. Oh well… I have to say this Ooba Tooba was not the same as the one in Bellevue, where they have excellent service. The Cap Hill location left something to be desired. There is always Tacos Chukis – now that place kicks ass! Amazing food & great service. Love the news that they are expanding. When I was there last, they had knocked down the wall, but hadn’t gotten any new table as of yet.

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  12. weird-named restaurants never survive. Some marketing person with a brain needs to tell these restaurant owners that “weird” does not survive in the real not even on capital hill and the wealthy do not eat in these places so their wealth does not “trickle down” to local food joints. the only thing surviving in this area are rental units and grocery stores. throw in the towel on trying to make restaurants survive. capital hill is a sterile but violent place. there is no fun in it and it seems to be run by old ghouls who want to recreate their college days but they keep failing.

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