Ethan Stowell was just looking for a commissary kitchen in SoDo and he landed himself a whole restaurant instead. The guy with so many restaurants we've lost count linked up with San Juan Seltzer founder Katy Enger and her crew to bring San Juan Seltzery Taproom, Kitchen, and Bar to SoDo. And it opens today.
The former Schooner Brewing space inside SoDo Urbanworks now evokes a casual Northwest island-style appeal, and foodwise, says Stowell, "that means a good amount of seafood." Indeed the menu bears oysters on the half shell, roasted beets with trout roe and creme fraiche, and chowder—ooh, I bet it's good with those salt and vinegar fries with dill aioli. Larger dishes are likewise seafood standards: cod and chips, dungeness crab cakes and crab rolls; there's a steak salad and a big burger, too. It all should make good sense with the fizzy-clean crispness of seltzer.
Much like La Croix's ubiquity—it's damn near criminal if you don't offer a houseguest a Croix—alcoholic seltzer has boomed as of late. Breweries are canning versions. Bars are starting to stock a few in fridges. So it makes total sense that San Juan Seltzer has grown into a big production facility after having debuted in 2018. Here at the taproom (hours are 11 to 9 daily) those fizzy beverages, the likes of which comes in several Pacific Northwest–inspired flavors, will appear in cocktails made with such things as bourbon and Aperol, or amaro and lemon, or rum, lime, and orgeat. Good ol' beer and wine? Definitely. And non-boozy tipples too (coffee, soda, Rachel's Ginger Beer)—this place is kid-friendly, after all, with its own play area and kids menu.
As for that original goal, says Stowell, "We're still looking for a commissary kitchen down in that neighborhood."