First, the bittersweet news: Wiley and PK Frank are closing their Little Uncle walkup window at 1509 E Madison. There are a variety of reasons, says PK, including the demands of running a new full-service restaurant just a half block away, plus her desire to focus on her Peeks Pantry produce line (which is great; try the bun jam).
That space, a rather seminal spot in Seattle’s food evolution, is in very good hands. Namely the hands of Manu Alfau, of Manu’s Bodega. He'll reopen the window in early July as Manu's Bodegita (yes, as in "little bodega") and serve some of the favorites from his Pioneer Square den of hearty Latin food.
That includes empanadas and the insane puerco asado, Alfau's signature sandwich of tender roasted pork. The Cuban dip, a relatively recent arrival at Manu's Bodega, will also make an appearance on Capitol Hill: it's a pressed sandwich of ham and that same puerco asado with a sidecar of the pork's braising liquid for dipping. In summer, the Bodegita will have a few ceviches; in the winter it will serve some soups.
Though Manu's Bodega does a serious lunchtime business (with more and more evening customers) down in Pioneer Square, it began life as a popup outside Montana on Olive Way. "Capitol Hill is our crowd," says Alfau. He got to know the Franks when Alfau was working at La Bete: Little Uncle's popup had relocated there, right before settling into the space on Madison. Later, when Wiley and PK started scouting sit-down restaurant spaces, Alfau beseeched them, "Whenever you even think about selling that window space, call me first." And they did.
In addition to being a friend, says PK Frank, Alfau will continue their tradition of bringing affordable food to Capitol Hill. That starts in the morning, with coffee from the highly legit Honor Society Coffee and Alfau's own breakfast tacos. Did I mention this guy is an Austin native? He's been quietly making breakfast tacos for catering gigs for a while; they come in combos like chorizo, egg, and cheese or potato, egg, and cheese.
This is a big year for Alfau, who is also planning the food menu for the new Flatstick Pub, his neighbor in Pioneer Square. Meanwhile, look for La Bodegita in early July, and keep tabs on the Manu's Bodega Facebook page for more details.