Three New Restaurants Spice Up The Hill


In case your weekends aren’t already filled to the brim with dinner and drinks at all your favorite Capitol Hill hotspots, here are three more recently opened dining-and-drinking joints that you may want to check out. If you aren’t 21, these won’t be of much interest to you, but you can start thinking ahead for those late night outings. Each offers something delightfully tasty, something ghastly expensive, and something pretty standard. They don’t all promise a good time, but they certainly promise an added quirky corner of culture to the Capitol Hill restaurant frenzy. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to dine out.

The Rhino Room

1535 11th Ave. (11th and Pine)

trevor umbinetti • The Spectator
trevor umbinetti • The Spectator

Though it doesn’t serve food, The Rhino Room does provide overpriced drinks with fancy garnishes, and might bring in sandwiches.

I was confused by the Rhino Room. Upon entering, I was stunned by a number of different vibes, as though the space hadn’t matured into an identity yet. There was an initial elite vibe; the smooth upholstery and simple gold accents made it appear like a private dining room, then the colors and angular flooring gave a more vintage, retro appearance. Then, Selena Gomez playing in the background—the modern, contemporary feel there to snap us back to 2014. The bar jutted out into the center of the huge space, and the walls were surrounded with many booths, some large enough to comfortably fit nearly 15 people; there was still plenty of floor space, as though the bar was preparing for spontaneous dancing to break at any time. And yet, they don’t serve food or have a kitchen. The bar echoes with endless space and yet is filled up with alcohol and fancy glasses. Not necessarily a recipe for success, if you ask me. According to the bartender, there is talk of bringing in sandwiches, but there will never be a permanent kitchen. So, if you’re into overpriced drinks with an added orange peel or cherry for fancy effect, then this is the place for you. Who knows, with all the vibes going, it might attract a large, diverse crowd. Unless you’re me, because I was just overwhelmed by the space and underprepared for the choices and left hurriedly.

Nacho Borracho

209 Broadway E. (just past Cal Anderson)

trevor umbinetti • The Spectator
trevor umbinetti • The Spectator

Nacho Borracho doesn’t serve up the best, but it is pretty great as drunk food.

The name is the first indicator of the dining experience—it helps to be “borracho,” drunk; the more you drink, the better the food will taste. While Nacho Borracho plays host to a hip, urban, underground sort of feel, it is not the best for actually good Mexican food. From the odd Spanish name (The Drunken Nacho) to the copious amounts of tequila, the bar seems

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to hit on every Mexican stereotype—strings of papel picado line the ceiling, and several piñatas and cacti placed casually around the room. Ultimately, everything feels overly gaudy and Americanized as the music playlist bumps alternative rock melodies through a mostly Caucasian crowd. The food was fine, but not remarkable. The beef flautas tasted just about as good as a frozen box of taquitos from Costco—decent, but not $7 decent. The avocado margarita was served from a makeshift Icee machine. The menu wasn’t bad, necessarily, just unimpressive. But the nachos—now there’s some good drunk food.

Mezcaleria Oaxaca

422 E. Pine St. (Pine and Summit)

Kateri town • The Spectator
Kateri town • The Spectator

Mezcaleria Oaxaca serves up small, but delicious portions.

If you can find the front door to the Mezcaleria Oaxaca, good for you. It’s kind of difficult to identify but, if you can make it through the front door, you can take a picture of yourself surrounded by the glowing golden halo of the Virgen de Guadalupe. That, friends, is an opportunity you don’t get every day. Quite different from Nacho Borracho in aesthetic, this restaurant has a subtler Mexican vibe. It simultaneously has the feel of the Hill—the low-lighting shines from interesting lamps and low hanging bulbs, the walls are stacked with worn vintage cabinets, and the windowed garage door facing Pine Street will make for a refreshing hangout in the summer. Mezcaleria Oaxaca is a good place for a dainty date; the portions are small, but really freakin’ delicious. The tacos carne asada were the perfect combination of spicy and flavorful—but I could eat one within three small bites. The guacamole is quite possibly the best I have ever had, and I’ve had some pretty mean guacamole. Prices are a tad high as far as quantity goes, but most definitely not too high for the quality.