Somehow in the middle of a global pandemic with crippling local economic consequences, more than 30 new food and drink ventures were started in 2020 across Capitol Hill and the Central District.
Now, as we start a new year of challenges and opportunities, a new class of restaurants, cafes, bars and more is ready to join the scene.
Here is a look at the new places to look forward to in 2021. Hopefully in the year ahead you’ll get a chance to visit them — and the class of 2020 — in person as we get back to the people and things that we care about and make us happy in life in our neighborhoods. UPDATE: Added a few more to the list!
- Rey Amargo Chocolate Shop: A Mexican chocolate shop is ready to open soon on Capitol Hill with treats and drinking chocolate made with real cocoa. The new shop from the Jalisco-based chocolate company Rey Amargo will nestle up next to the temporarily shuttered Life on Mars bar on E Pike at Harvard as a construction project that started nearly a year ago finally enters its final phases. “We are a Mexican Chocolate Shop with more than 80 years of experience, seeking to conquer the palate of Seattle,” Rey Amargo promises. You can keep track of updates here @reyamargo_us.
- Kitanda: The global flavors continue with this Brazilian coffee concept set to open on Broadway across from Capitol Hill Station this month. Kitanda promised CHS it is bringing its cheese bread — pão de queijo — and Brazilian lattes made with sweetened condensed milk to the Hill when its new shop opens soon in the space formerly home to an American Apparel at Broadway and John.
- Capitol Hill Station H-Mart and more: There are still no firm dates but the construction is nearing completion and people are ready to move into the new mixed-use developments above Capitol Hill Station. At the center of the new retail will be a new Capitol Hill H Mart grocery along with a mix of small businesses planned to include a new coffee counter, a restaurant, and a cafe alongside the development’s large plaza.
- Union: Capitol Hill gay bar Union isn’t new but it will make a new home in 2021 after a classic four-block move. Construction permitting has just begun on the new Union where the LGBTQ bar will transform the space most recently home to Portland’s Sizzle Pie and join nearby neighbors including Optimism Brewing on the backside of Pike/Pine.
- Solid State: File this one under “high hopes.” CHS reported on plans for the 10th Ave pinball arcade bar in the heart of Pike/Pine last February. You probably remember what happened in March. Will the plans for Solid State finally come together in 2021? We’re checking into it and will let you know if the sure to be popular bar will materialize to be part of post-pandemic Pike/Pine. UPDATE: The dream is alive. Ownership tells CHS the folks behind the project are moving forward with their plans but with a “take it slow” approach to construction and the buildout. Another thing they’re working on is what to call the bar. Expect a new name when they get closer to opening.
Kobuta and Ookami Katsu and Sake House: By February this year, Kobuta and Ookami is planned to be open on 15th Ave E in new construction between Aviv Hummus Bar and Bakery Nouveau bringing katsu to this corner of the Hill.
Q Cafe: An entertainment and cafe concept from a Seattle area escape room events company is being readied for later in 2021 at 13th and Pike. Q Cafe will be part of the Solis development that has risen on the site where Fran’s Chocolates used to call the Hill home and will feature steampunk design, interactive games, and shiny desserts.
- Flight Wine + Chocolate: Speaking of Fran’s — and chocolate — Flight is hoping to add to Capitol Hill’s date night options with the cafe set to neighbor the Q Cafe in the Solis centered around flights of wine paired with chocolate.
- Ike’s Bottle Shop: Sometimes we run into project names that don’t stick. We don’t know exactly what is planned for potrepreneur Ian Eisenberg’s 23rd and Union bar space after the Neighbor Lady was shown the door but permit filings show an overhaul underway and an application with the state liquor board for a permit to operate a “beer/wine specialty shop” retail business at the location. Eisenberg has not responded to our questions about the project.
- Volunteer Park Cafe reboot: A new owner with architectural chops and a Yakima vineyard will restart the VPC in the new year with hopes of maintaining the cafe’s place as a community hangout while showcasing the wine of Freehand Cellars.
- Sea Wolf Bakers: Montlake will enjoy a new bakery and cafe in 2021 as Sea Wolf expands into the neighborhood on 24th Ave in the space where Capitol Hill gay bar ex pat Purr shuttered two years ago. The Montlake expansion is hoped to create a new bakery and cafe designed to achieve the openness and light of the Stone Way original, Sea Wolf’s Jesse Schumann said.
Standard Brewing: Also off Hill and not a new spot at all, Standard Brewing will see its food offerings take a new shape in 2021 as longtime Capitol Hill restaurant veteran Jason Stratton has landed in the kitchen of the Central District brewery.
- Ishoni Yakiniku: CHS first reported on the Japanese grill concept taking over a Broadway Tex Mex joint a year ago in January 2020. COVID tossed a few wrinkles in the plan but Ishoni Yakiniku and its tabletop grills are still the plan in the 600 block of Broadway E in the space Galerias once called home.
- Inside Passage: Capitol Hill rum bar Rumba is adding an undersea expansion with a neighboring bar accessed by descending through Rumba into a grotto of idols and South Pacific style designed by tiki bar legend Notch Gonzalez. “We’re still hard at work making Inside Passage a reality,” the Pike St. Rumba family posted this fall. “We are so excited to share our vision with you. Covid has delayed us, but it hasn’t stopped us!”
- Blotto: CHS told you here about the craft pizza pop-up Blotto showing up weekly in the Broadway Alley. Jordan Koplowitz is also on the hunt for a permanent home for his pizza creations and is lining up a spot on Capitol Hill. Stay tuned.
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