Seattleites who've been meaning to eat at Cafe Juanita but haven't made the drive to the Eastside are in luck: While her beloved Kirkland restaurant is remodeled, James Beard Award winning chef/owner Holly Smith is bringing Juanita to Capitol Hill during a two-month-long dinner popup at the just-vacated original Lark space on 12th Ave.
Smith tells Eater, "I couldn't let my staff go without work for three months and I knew that the original Lark space was going to be free and clear...John, JM and Kelly [Lark's owners] have been very sweet and easy going about us working out of the space." The first official night of Cafe Juanita at Lark on 12th is Wednesday, February 4, although Smith is planning a popup dry run/winemaker dinner with Renato Vacca from Cantina del Pino in Barbaresco for members of her email list on January 30.
The $135 tasting menu will be offered on Wednesday through Saturday nights from 5 to 10 p.m. Smith says a tasting menu is the only thing that makes sense in the space with her cooking and style of service, and "with being vagabond," as she calls it. She'll fill out the menu with supplemental options each night for an additional cost.
Beverage pairings will be available, as well as by the glass pours. Smith says that while staff can't cart around Juanita's extensive wine list, she wants to give diners the option of checking the website for a bottle they'd like. With a few day's notice staff should be able to pull any bottle from storage and deliver it to Lark.
Juanita's popup is scheduled to run throughout February and March—and possibly the first week of April depending on when the contractor finishes up the remodel of Juanita's space in Kirkland.
Smith was considering selling tickets for the dinner series, "but the online model is just not quite there yet and I felt it was a bit against our culture," she says. Instead, she's using OpenTable, with a seven day cancellation policy.
Smith says she's planning to be back in Cafe Juanita's "beautiful new and improved space" by her 15th anniversary at the restaurant on April 10th. Thanks to Eater reader Bryan for the tip.