As work continues on the new north Broadway home for the Seattle Consulate of Mexico, an excellent place for the coming diplomats to have lunch and entertain dignitaries is now open just down the street.
Añejo Restaurant and Tequila Bar opened Monday at 11 AM sharp on Broadway in the large space formerly home to Dilettante. Owner Edgar Pelayo says he hopes his customers taste the effort behind Añejo.
“We don’t like to throw some fancy ingredients on top of a tortilla and call it a day,” the veteran restaurateur said. “It may look good, but in our opinion it’s not worthy.”
Pelayo, who says he grew up in the family food+drink business and also operates a restaurant in Dupont, took on the challenge of the 3,000-square-foot commercial condo space left behind when Dilettante decided to shutter its Broadway presence last year after 41 years on the Hill.
Añejo’s recipe is based in traditional flavors and favorites with a generously apportioned tequila bar. Pelayo hopes to benefit from lunchtime crowds and Capitol Hill’s nightlife. It’s not a complicated equation.
“We have a fun atmosphere and ambiance,” he said. “The food is good and plentiful, and that’s a recipe to bring anyone in.”
And don’t expect a reinvention of Mexican food at Añejo. The menu is filled with the foundations of the cuisine: tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and, yes, margaritas.
“This is not a chef-inspired restaurant,” Pelayo said.
It might be bartender inspired, however. Pelayo hopes his bartenders push his cocktails up a notch. “I’m not a mixologist, but I know for a fact there is a lot you can do with tequilas, mezcales, sotols,” he says. “There’s different ways you can present them, different ways you can use them — they’re easy, useful, and coming from our culture, which is always about freshness with fruits, when you use that and pair it all together it’s a refreshing idea.”
Añejo opens amid a general slowing of the Capitol Hill restaurant boom. Though openings continue — 33 in 2017 — projects have generally been smaller and simpler ventures. Others like Añejo have involved taking over an already active space — though the restaurant’s buildout was plenty complicated, Pelayo said, thanks in part to the Brix condo building’s rules and restrictions and also the restaurant’s large footprint. Part of the extra room is hoped to help make Añejo more family friendly for people with kids in the surrounding neighborhood, Pelayo says.
The debut of Añejo also adds another choice Mexican-flavored destination on Capitol Hill and continues a small taco-rippling wave of new Mexican openings. In February, Rocket Taco set down on 19th Ave E while October brought the meaty D’ La Santa to 10th Ave E. Let’s toss in The Saint, too, which brought back its taco menu this month after closing its kitchen last year and Little Neon Taco’s April debut on First Hill.
With the newcomers and Capitol Hill’s strong batch of Mexican restaurant veterans, there seems to be plenty of business to go around. And there are always new demographics to pursue — like the Capitol Hill day drinker.
“I would say there’s a lot of midnight cocktail places around here,” Pelayo said, “but ours is all day. You can sip plenty and feel good still.”
Añejo Restaurant and Tequila Bar is located at 538 Broadway E. It is open 11 AM to midnight on Sunday through Wednesday, 11 AM to 1 AM on Thursday through Saturday. You can learn more on the Anejo Facebook page.
With reporting by Seattle Academy reporting intern Emily Piette
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