Bar Openings

New Bar Alert: The Shop Agora

The gourmet food store is serving up more than just olive oil and hummus to go, and Capitol Hill appears enthusiastic.

By Jessica Voelker August 8, 2011

The bar at the new Shop Agora on 15th Avenue East.

Photo: Jessica Voelker

After learning from Phinneywood that the Capitol Hill location of The Shop Agora opened late last week on 15th Avenue, I popped in on Saturday to see what was what.

The front of the new shop is divided into two sections. On one side are the gourmet food items, mostly focused on Northern Mediterranean imports: balsamic vinegars of Modena, olive oils, sea salts, dried pasta, truffle honey. There’s also an olive-oil-and-bread-tasting table. On the same side, closer to the back, are a rack of Macrina Bakery offerings, a popcorn machine, and a cooler with to-go items like hummus, olives, and eggplant spreads, plus deli meats and cheeses.

The other side of the shop includes a wine section made up of bottles from Greek, Italy, and Spain.

All this probably sounds familiar to anyone who has visited the original emporium on Phinney Ridge. But what distinguishes the new Shop Agora is what sits behind the wine racks. And that, dear friends, is a bar. This bar is open from 10am to 10pm, (the same hours as the shop), part-owner Nikos Spiliopoulos says it’s designed to "compliment the retail space." Early in the day, customers can stop by for snacks, sandwiches, and soup; two soups are offered daily, Spiliopoulos was particularly psyched about the decadent-sounding French onion made with duck stock.

Later in the evening, the bar offers up small plates (French cheeses, prosciutto-wrapped figs) to be eaten alongside a glass of wine or beer. The current beverage list includes selections from—this shouldn’t surprise—Greek, Spain, and Italy (with a couple of French beers), but Spiliopoulos hopes to eventually include wines from around the globe. And down the road he plans to use the bar to host tastings with winemakers, wine dinners, and other events.

That road may be a long one, however. Spiliopoulos said the bar was overwhelmed on its first Friday night in business, selling out of some items early in the evening. He appeared enthusiastic on Saturday but also slightly shell-shocked, and told me he plans to expand his menus slowly as he and partner Alexis Saloutos adjust to the demands of the neighborhood. Meantime: French onion soup made with duck stock.

The new Shop Agora is located at 346 15th Avenue E, next to Palermo.

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