5 Reasons to Get Excited About La Bodega
It's finally happening — Manu Alfau's Dominican bodega will (likely) open doors on Thursday.
We first got excited about former Blind Pig Bistro (and Anchovies and Olives, and La Bête) chef Manu Alfau’s Dominican eatery way back in August of last year. Since then, a lot has happened: Alfau found a space; lost the space; won the city’s diners over through a guerilla-style series of popular popups; and, in a true Hollywood ending, landed in the original location at 100 Prefontaine Pl S that he’d fallen in love with a year ago.
Buckets of blood, sweat, and neon green paint later, La Bodega is (nearly) ready for its debut. Alfau’s shooting for a December 19 opening, pushed back a month from his original estimation due to some electrical issues, with daily hours from 11-7. But as always, this date is subject to change.
Here are just five reasons to get excited about La Bodega:
Finally, the promise of real Latin American food. Californians and Texans have long begrudged Seattle for its lack of good Mexican food—Alfau rightly called out La Carta de Oaxaca as the best in the city—but the drought includes all of Latin American food in general. The young chef, who’s admittedly never professionally cooked the flavors of his Dominican heritage, is hoping that his food will fill that void. Alfau’s plan for La Bodega is to toe the line between mom-and-pop ethnic restaurant, ripe with authentic flavors, and the sort of buzzworthy dining destination the Seattle restaurant scene loves. Look for a menu that ranges from Dominican-style street food bites to more substantial plates of braised chicken or pork sausage with rice, beans, and plantain chips.
A sandwich to rival Paseo’s legendary roasted pork. Much of the buzz already surrounding Alfau’s menu is his signature puerco asado sandwich, featuring roasted pork served alongside chimichurri, cabbage, and pickled onions. There’s no arguing that Paseo does their version deliciously (albeit sloppily), but Alfau promises his roasted pork will utilize the more flavorful marinade typical of the DR. Do we smell a showdown? (Speaking of which, send us your vote for Seattle's best sandwich here.)
Take-out now, delivery later. Since the place only seats about 15, Alfau has already figured out a system to beat the sure-to-be-long lunch lines: quick-service takeout for now, with online ordering and delivery (for the folks within a to-be-determined lucky radius around the shop) coming soon. There’s also talk of doing game-day picnics baskets, with food for two and a half-bottle of wine to go.
Happy hour—now, with more dominoes! Alfau admits it will take some time figuring out the hours—i.e., if we demand dinner service, he’s open to the idea—but his opening plan is to serve the same menu all day, aside from a happy hour menu of half sandwiches and smaller, tapas-style bites available from 3-6. The big draw: $14 for an entire bottle of Spanish garnacha that will serve as the house red. That should adequately fuel games of dominoes—Alfau’s got a table he’s excited to haul out for the afternoon/evening hours.
A tropical oasis awaits. It actually helps that La Bodega is only 800 square feet—the island vibe and merengue riffs engulf you the moment you step out of Pioneer Square. And the legions of DR expats who have found Alfau on Facebook are as excited about having a place to hang out as the chef is about having them there. “That’s been the real surprise from this project,” he says, joking about the fact that he was sure he was the only Dominican in town. “They’re just so happy that someone’s finally ballsing up and doing this kind of food. I want these guys to be the regulars, playing dominoes in the back. That’s when you’ll feel like you’re in another country.”