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After 38 years, time for some change on Broadway: La Cocina’s Cantina coming soon

Victor Santiago started working at Broadway’s La Cocina Santiago as a busboy in 1989. By 2001, he had risen the ranks of the Capitol Hill Mexican restaurant and taken over as owner, but not until later this summer will his hopes for the space finally come true.

La Cocina will be taking over the Starbucks next door to make space for a new tequila bar La Cocina’s Cantina. Currently, the restaurant features a small four-foot bar that sits in a little corner but larger drinking experience will soon be just one backdoor away.

“I always dreamed of having my own cantina bar,” Santiago, who grew up in a small mountain town in Mexico, tells CHS.

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La Cocina Santiago, which has been serving Capitol Hill patrons since 1980, is known for its margaritas, which Santiago was eager to boast are “famous.” The bar will feature a wide variety of tequilas. Beer and margaritas have always been a great companion to the restaurant’s hefty meals.

Over its decades of business, La Cocina Santiago has been slow to evolve.

Thanks to reader Todd for the tip and the pic!

“Santiago said he hasn’t made many changes since he’s taken over. The walls are a little brighter, but beyond that, the décor has remained the same,” CHS wrote about the restaurant on its 35th anniversary in 2015.

The restaurant was approached with the opportunity to expand and create a bar in the vacant space before Starbucks took over in the early 1990s, but the owner at the time, David Webster, wasn’t too interested in dealing with it, Santiago said.

In January, Starbucks notified the landlord that they planned to move out, and La Cocina seemed like the obvious fit to fill the space. Santiago quickly approached his landlord and the change was put in motion.

The project’s buildout has taken a little longer than planned but things are now moving forward at a more rapid pace. Santiago decided to put up a large sign letting the neighborhood know about the coming change at the corner. He’s hoping to be ready to open by the end of July.

When it opens, La Cocina’s Cantina will join Añejo Restaurant and Tequila Bar, which opened in April in the former Dilettante space, in supplying Broadway with its margarita needs. We’d also recommend a trip north up Broadway to 10th Ave E where D’ La Santa’s giant margaritas a highlight along with the restaurant’s meaty offerings. Add Rooster’s Tex-Mex offerings near Roy, and visitors to the soon-to-open Mexican consulate will have plenty of options to enjoy the nation’s cuisine.

Meanwhile, don’t expect more changes for the deliberate but long-lived Cocina. We asked Santiago if he was ready for more once the bar opens. “I hope not,” he said.

La Cocina Santiago is located at 432 Broadway E.

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11 thoughts on “After 38 years, time for some change on Broadway: La Cocina’s Cantina coming soon

  1. I have a Grandparent and several other relatives from Mexico. There are no restaurants on Broadway that have the cuisine of Mexico. Trust me on this. La Cocina is a bad version of Tex-Mex, and all the rest are hipster Mexican inspired cuisine restaurants! Try Arizona, Texas, and Eastern Washington for something close.

      • What do yuou mean by “authentic.” C&C are actual Mexicans, serving actual Mexican food. The regional foods of Mexico differ from region to region, there is no “one right authentic cuisine.” Also, contradicting yourself by way of trashing the “tex-mex” and suggesting Texas (from which the term Tex-Mex in cuisine was born). Food types evolve, and it sounds like you would benefit from a slightly more sophisticated view of the dynamic nature of food and culture.

        Also, you failed to mention California with the largest populations of Hispanic and Latino population, or heck, even Mexico! as a place to get close to “authentic” Mexican cuisine. Not sure why I’m even commenting on this, I guess the blanket stupidity of this comment compelled me to. Also, it seems counter-intuitive, you trashing a Mexican-family owned Mexican restaurant while simultaneously griping about the authenticity. Perhaps you might ask yourself this: “what exactly is my point (that is a rhetorical question don’t @ me) and does it matter?”

    • Thanks for spreading the word on what you’re currently not eating. If there are any other things you do not enjoy, be it restaurants, books, dating outside of your extended family, please do not hesitate to let us know.

      I like the food at La Cocina, especially the buffet. My Grandad lives in Spokane, for the record.

    • LaCocina is kind of refreshing on Broadway, because is it one of the few “non-hip” restaurants serving good food at affordable prices. Who cares that it is not purely authentic?

      Congratulations to Mr.Santiago, who is truly living the “American dream.”

    • Who cares that they’re not “authentic” enough for some? If people think the food tastes good and they eat it, then it’s a success. It doesn’t mean they think it’s “real” Mexican food. I love great authentic Chinese food and I love junky crap from Panda Express too. Do I think Panda Express is authentic Chinese? Of course not. But I eat it anyway. Give some people some credit. They probably know it’s not like they food they’d eat in Mexico. They eat it because it tastes good.

  2. Great news. Great restaurant. Great people. So grateful to the local business God’s that the Domino’s rumor swirling around that space didn’t come true.

  3. I’ve been eating at La Cocina since the summer they opened. Victor, his brother and sister are always welcoming and the food standards have been very constant.

    I get so tired of hearing that Mexican food is better elsewhere in the states. Are Irish cooking up the Mexican food here or something.

  4. I like la cocina just the way it is. I’ve always felt fine eating there by myself. Well taken care of.
    Good luck to the owners in their new addition