A departure from date nights and tapas, Zaika hopes to bring Indian food and drinks with a modern twist to Tango’s former space and the rest of Capitol Hill’s happy hour scene.
“I want to introduce more Indian drinks to this area, as other Indian restaurants do not focus as much on drinks,” said Nitin Panchal, the owner of Zaika. “We have a sizable bar, and I want people to come, hang out, and have a nice time in addition to enjoying Indian food.”
Zakia will replace Tango Restaurant and Lounge on the corner of Pike and Boren, as the tapas joint closed after its 19-year tenure at the base of the Hill. Panchal plans to get creative, knowing Zaika has big shoes to fill. “This will be an American restaurant serving Indian food,” Panchal said, hoping to adapt a variety of traditional Indian dishes and drinks to happy hour tastes of today.
According to Panchal, introducing Indian food to happy hour will require a significant departure from a typical Indian restaurant’s aesthetic and menu, incorporating traditional recipes and popular spices into cocktails and happy hour bites.
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“We want to include the spices into our drinks. We will have a cocktail, which will have cinnamon base to it. Our Moscow mule will have more of an Indian feel added to it,” Panchal said.
Zaika isn’t Panchal’s first restaurant project. His other Indian joint has roots connected to Capitol Hill. Panchal is also the owner of Chutneys, a restaurant serving a more traditional take on Indian cuisine in Queen Anne. Capitol Hill old timers will remember the Chutneys on 15th Ave E that eventually shuttered and was demolished to make way for a mixed-use development. That Indian standard was a cousin to Panchal’s Queen Anne restaurant after the original small chain split up.
Closing his business on Queen Anne, now Panchal does, indeed, find himself on Capitol Hill. But he won’t be bringing Chutneys with him.
“I took moving as an opportunity to give this location a completely new look. We already have a huge clientele at Chutneys, but we are educating them that we are going to be in Capitol Hill, and it’s not going to look like Chutneys,” said Panchal. “Even though the brand and menu will be different, the basic taste is going to be the same.”
Consistency in the taste of his restaurants’ food and drinks is of the utmost importance to Panchal — “Zaika” means taste in Urdu.
Zaika will not look like Chutneys or Tango, for that matter. Expect a more modern interior overhaul that Panchal believes is necessary to distinguish Zaika from typical Indian restaurants.
“Capitol Hill is a place for all Seattle’s foodie stuff, and it is the place where millennials are,” said Panchal, “Most of the Indian restaurants around here have a very different, old, dated ambiance. At this restaurant, we are working with a designer closely to make sure the architecture inside the restaurant is suited to the Capitol Hill demographic, and the look we are designing is very modern.”
Panchal plans to open Zaika in the beginning of September after a soft start next month. Panchal hopes the soft openings will be a source of honest and friendly feedback before Zaika attempts to introduce Indian food to happy hour on the Hill.
Zaika is planned to open in September at 1100 Pike. You can learn more at zaikaseattle.com.