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The interior of Zaika, with purple walls on the left, along with artwork, and a blue-tinted bar on the right.
Zaika’s decor was inspired by peacock feathers.
Suzi Pratt for Eater

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Capitol Hill’s Splashy New Indian Restaurant Is Ready for Its Debut

Zaika will officially open on Pike Street next week with thalis, fish moili, eggnog lassis, and lots of vivid decor

One of the busiest blocks in the city is about to get a colorful new dining destination. After some final prep to its peacock-hued space, Zaika — from the owners of the now-closed Chutney’s in Queen Anne — will debut on Pike Street soon with a parade of creative Indian-American fusion dishes and drinks, including apricot chicken seekh kebabs, sesame cheese-stuffed eggplant, and eggnog lassis. The restaurant will preview its dinner service tomorrow, roll out thali lunches by Monday, and plans to officially open with a full menu — including happy hour specials — by next Friday.

Zaika takes over the location formerly occupied by Tango, the popular tapas mainstay which closed earlier this year. Knowing that this neighborhood gets lively after hours, co-owner and chef Nitin Panchal aims to have a robust drinks list, with twists on classics (such as a chai old fashioned with cardamom) and small bar bites (such as tuna papdi chaat with tamarind and mint gel).

A thali with naan, rice, and a variety of small bowls filled with sauces and vegetables. Suzi Pratt for Eater
Cheese-stuffed mini eggplants in a small dish with coconut sauce.
Roasted cauliflower on a bed of creamy sauce with smaller purple cauliflower and tomatoes.
A glass of eggnog lassi on the left, and a gin cocktail on the right on a wooden bar.

Clockwise, from top left: meat thali with garlic naan; sesame cheese-stuffed eggplant; eggnog lassi next to a Sapphire gin shikanji; and dahl jeera cauliflower.

But the chef is also developing a deep dinner menu with seasonal ingredients that mix Pacific Northwest flavors with classic Indian dishes. Patrons can expect pumpkin soup with coconut cream to pop up on the list of initial offerings, along with goat cheese potli, fish moili (baked seabass), and dahl jeera cauliflower with cashew, yogurt, and cumin. “I didn’t want it to be too fine-dining, like butler-service style,” says Panchal. “But at the same time, I want customers to have an upscale experience.”

As far as the atmosphere goes, Panchal and his team gave the Tango space a significant makeover, which includes a purple and aquamarine color scheme, along with striking artwork along the walls — refreshingly colorful in a city that sees a lot of plain white or metal slate in new restaurant designs. The dining room and bar area are separate, but roomy enough to allow for walk-ins. There’s also a private room that can be reserved for events. And with the aforementioned thalis planned, Zaika hopes to take advantage of the Capitol Hill brunch crowd as soon as possible.

Zaika’s dining room, with large floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the street.
Zaika’s main dining room looks out on Pike Street.
A blue wall features paintings with a human eye and a blue flower, with the foreground showing the purple-painted accents near a walkway.
The restaurant’s design team wanted the artwork to make a dramatic impression.

Dinner, happy hour, and brunch seem like a lot to tackle all at once in the first few week or two of operations, especially with the holidays coming up. But Panchal seems undaunted, saying he’s “excited” for the challenge. Zaika’s versatility may, indeed, prove to be a selling point. Many Indian restaurants near the Washington State Convention Center or further Downtown tend to lean into bargain buffets or business lunch demands.

Meanwhile, Annapurna Cafe on East Broadway offers a variety of Indian, Nepalese, and Tibetan cuisine, but is known best for its dumplings, and the mobile operation Spice Waala brought its wildly popular kahti rolls to Capitol Hill earlier this year, yet is still mainly a fast-casual spot with a limited menu. Zaika hopes to stand out from the pack, one thali at a time.

A dining room with abstract paintings on the walls, wooden tables, and lots of blue and purple accents.
Zaika revamped the former Tango space.
The exterior of Zaika, with rust-colored accents on the windows and the restaurant’s metal purple sign on a lamp post to the left.
The restaurant has a prime spot on the corner of Pike Street and Boren Ave.
Suzi Pratt
Four fried cheese sticks dipped in shot glasses holding chili celery sauce.
Cottage cheese sticks, with mozzarella, panko, and a chili celery sauce.
Suzi Pratt
A plate of apricot chicken kebabs (without the sticks), with steamed carrots and broccoli on a plate, with a streak of yellow sauce.
Apricot chicken seekh kebabs, with steamed vegetables.
A look at the blue backlit bar at Zaika, with empty chairs, rows of bottles, two TVs, and a painting to the right of a human eye.
Happy hour deals will be a key component of Zaika’s menus.
Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle

Zaika

1100 Pike Street, , WA 98101 (206) 432-9355 Visit Website

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