It’s not often a neighborhood is made overnight. But next week, when Tallulah’s, Hello Robin, and (a little later) Cone and Steiner open in the new cedar-and-steel construction on the corner of 19th Avenue E and E Mercer Street, the tiny eastern Capitol Hill enclave formerly known for neighbors Kingfish Cafe, Monsoon, and Fuel Coffee will double in deliciousness.
To recap months of anticipation: On the corner, Tallulah’s (opening officially December 26, softly before then) is the newest restaurant from Linda Derschang, the reigning queen of Capitol Hill, and the first that she’s been able to build and conceptualize from the ground up. The menu will be heavy on the veggies, the bar big on cocktails. Next door, Cone and Steiner (opening sometime between Christmas and New Year’s) will be a carefully curated mercantile from Skillet’s Joshua Henderson and Fuel’s Dani Cone, whose great grandfather ran a grocery also called Cone and Steiner 100 years ago in SoDo. Further down, Hello Robin (opening with a limited menu in the next couple of days, full menu in early 2014) is a joint venture between cookie-baking extraordinaire Robin Wehl Martin and Molly Moon Neitzel—think ice cream and cookies and ice cream sandwiched between cookies.
Did you catch all that? It’s a lot of big names in a relatively tiny space. Obviously, there are more than five reasons to get excited, but here are our top picks:
They’re neighborhood businesses built by people in the neighborhood. Derschang has long been a resident of the ‘hood, and she’s lived within blocks of the Tallulah’s intersection for the past seven years. When planning this latest venture, she consulted friends on what they’d look for in the sort of neighborhood haunt that you return to again and again—she found that their answers coincided with her own vision for a welcoming space serving simple food. Cone lives in the same building as Fuel, just a block away, and said she wants her store to be “a community space, with convenience, and a friendly face.” Neitzel and Martin also call the neighborhood home.
Families are welcome. Because there’s a distinctly neighborly vibe—and probably because there’s so many entrepreneurial mothers on board—these places will welcome the ‘hood’s youngsters. Hello Robin was an idea born during Neitzel’s maternity leave, when she would sit on a barstool in Martin’s kitchen, eat cookies, and dream how the shop would look (I’m told the resulting space looks much like Martin’s own kitchen). They hope it’ll be the sort of kid-friendly space the neighborhood needs. And though it’s been more than 20 years since Derschang has had to worry about where to drink with a young child in tow, she says she remembers wanting a place where you could bring a kid and have a good cocktail—Tallulah’s is named after her daughter.
A one-stop shop for dinner, dessert, drinks, and your next day’s hangover (and home projects). Imagine a dinner of lamb burger and winter vegetables with a basil rickey on tap, enjoyed at the sexy retro bar inside Tallulah’s. Dessert is a couple of decidedly grown-up habanero orange chocolate chip cookies, maybe with a scoop. You swing by Cone and Steiner to pick up some wine for later, a pound of coffee for morning, and a new mug to enjoy it in. I don’t even live in Capitol Hill, but I see this kind of accessibility and all-in-one evening destination worthy.
Parking—in Capitol Hill. Not that this little stretch of Capitol Hill is as busy a thoroughfare as, say, Broadway and E Pike, but for anyone planning to drive over, this is huge: there are 12 guest parking spots behind the building.
Someplace besides your local Chinese restaurant to hang out on Christmas.Martin will be peddling cookies on Christmas Day. Merry snickerdoodles to all!