The last week has seen a flurry of restaurant closure news in Seattle as many owners decide the financial math is not working out in their favor, cut their losses, and close up shop. Restaurants that announced their ends include the award-winning and controversy-stained JuneBaby, the Ballard Korean spot WeRo (a recent Eater Award recipient), and vegan Jewish deli Ben and Esther’s, whose owners explicitly blamed the high cost of labor and rent in Seattle for their decision to shut down.
But we’re about to go on a mini-break for the next week — except for a few end-of-year roundups that will appear on the site — and don’t want to leave 2023 in a negative energy haze. To cleanse the vibes of the site, we’re going to highlight three recent openings that we’re pretty excited to visit in early 2024:
The owners of Fremont’s Le Coin, a French-style bistro where it’s difficult to have a bad meal, have planted a new restaurant into a space on the corner of 24th Avenue and Market Street in Ballard. Called the Garrison, it’ll specialize in the three Cs: Champagne, Chartreuse (a Le Coin specialty), and C-food.
The address (2319 Market) was most recently the home of the quirky Hotel Albatross, which was actually a restaurant that invented a fake historical backstory for itself involving a Gilded Age love affair, a shipwreck, etc. In real life, the space was the original location of the Azteca Mexican chain, which is just as cool.
Right now, only the lounge area, which seats about 20, is open, but owners Jordan Melnikoff and Joshua Delgado tell Eater Seattle that within a few months they hope to have the larger space open, which seats around 150. They also plan to soon open the takeout window to sell whatever they feel like — on any given day it could be tacos, or fried chicken sandwiches, or chicken and waffles.
The Garrison is only open Friday through Monday from 4 to 10 p.m., though it will likely start opening on Thursdays very soon. Since only the lounge space is available at the moment, reservations are strongly encouraged.
The Outer Rim
On the opposite end of the dining spectrum — or at least the other end of the galaxy — is this newly opened Magnolia cafe, which is a sci-fi-themed coffee shop with a particular love for Star Wars. (If you were like, “Duh of course it’s Star Wars–themed! The Outer Rim is a direct reference to...” then this is the cafe for you.)
The space is more minimal than Mos Eisley, but framed Star Wars and Star Trek prints add a splash of color. Our favorite piece, though, is in the bathroom — an AT-AT drinking dog-like out of a toilet.
The Outer Rim is not to be confused with Distant Worlds, a Roosevelt sci-fi coffee shop. And before you ask whether Seattle can support two separate cafes catering to nerds, remember, this is Seattle. The Outer Rim is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
Ahmed Suliman’s eponymous pop-up is putting down roots at Melrose Market on Capitol Hill, with a brick-and-mortar restaurant serving an ever-changing menu based on the cuisines of North Africa and the Arab world. (Suliman is a Sudanese national who grew up in Persian Gulf states.)
Cafe Suliman is sharing the space with longtime wine maven Marc Papineau’s wine bar, Cantina Sauvage. Papineau was a co-owner (with restaurateur Matt Dillon) of Bar Ferd’nand, which used to be in Melrose Market before moving to nearby Chophouse Row, then closing in 2020. Papineau and Suliman worked together at Dillon’s restaurants and are bringing a casual attitude to the Cap Hill dining scene. Papineau is the kind of wine dude who writes stuff like, “Suli and I will be working side by side dishing up tasty treats and glasses of authentic UNFUCTWITH BADDASSERY!!!! SO STOKED!“
“Everybody likes the vibe of the place,” Suliman tells Eater Seattle. “With us being there, there’s a bit of a feeling that the market is coming back.”
Cafe Suliman doesn’t take reservations and is open from noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays. It also sells pantry items including spices, tinned fish, coffee, and wine, of course.