With walls ornamented in panels made from pallets, Nate’s Wings and Waffles has an atmosphere that is most accurately described as homey and contemporary. Setting foot in Nate’s is akin to hanging out in your DIY-obsessed best friend’s urban backyard. That is, if your friend also happens to be a great cook and connoisseur of sauces.
Front door of Nate’s Wings & Waffles, located a block off campus
Located conveniently on the corner of 13th Ave. and Jefferson, Nate’s Wings and Waffles has taken over the spot that many upperclassmen may fondly remember as the old Ambassel Ethiopian Restaurant or, “the bar that doesn’t card”. Now, however, they do card and if you arrive with a valid ID, Nate’s fully stocked bar, kitchen and friendly staff are at your service.
Nate’s Wings and Waffles is co-owned by Seattleites Nate Robinson, Darren McGill and Andrea Israel. Robinson is a former University of Washington student and NBA basketball star. Robinson is most widely known for his career as an athlete, but has been creating a new name for himself in the restaurant world after opening the first Nate’s in Rainier Beach one year ago. McGill is a seasoned restaurant owner, cook—Happy Grillmore—and has had great success in the kitchen at Nate’s Wings and Waffles. The menu and atmosphere at Nate’s is a reflection of the creativity and ingenuity of this somewhat unlikely trio.
The bar area of Nate’s new Capitol Hill location is furnished with an overhead disk jockey booth, which hosts various musicians on Friday and Saturday nights. In the back area of the restaurant there is additional seating embellished by the graffiti-inspired artwork of local artist Mario James. The mesmerizing full-wall mural depicts all the major Seattle landmarks —nearly every Emerald City icon is incorporated— from Century Link Stadium, to the Monorail, to the Space Needle.
Its well-developed environment aside, the wings and waffles are the major draw of the restaurant.
Mural by Mario Jones. (@sageseven on instagram)
The menu, which is mostly comprised of organic ingredients, is divided into three simple sections: chicken, sandwiches/sliders and waffles. It seemed silly to only partake in one of the menu’s offerings, so my counterpart and I decided to split our meals fifty-fifty. He ordered Nate’s Special and at the recommendation of the staff, I ordered the Chicken Waffle Sliders.
(From front to back) Nate’s Special with Sweet Potato Fries, Chicken Strips with Maple Aioli Sauce, and Chicken Waffle Sliders with Mac & Cheese.
The sliders consist of chicken strips, topped with a choice of sauces and mixed greens, placed between two waffles to create a convenient, quaint and textured sandwich that had me favoring bites over breathing. The sauce—in my case, the maple aioli—was the unique and defining factor that sets Nate’s Waffle Sliders apart from other similar dishes at other Seattle restaurants. For those who are less inclined to try the maple aioli, there are other sauce options as well such ashoney sweet chili (another staff favorite), classic buffalo and ranch, The sliders are served with a side and while there are healthier options available, I opted for the mac & cheese. The dish was creamy, the sauce more comparable to a white pasta than a rich cheese, but satisfying nonetheless and surprisingly complementary to the sliders.
Nate’s Special; a two cheese grilled cheese sandwich, stuffed with chicken strips, onion rings and BBQ sauce is exactly as greasy and magnificent as it sounds. There is no elegant way to describe this sandwich, nor is there a graceful way to eat it. That said, if you’re willing to embrace the mess Nate’s Special is well worth every napkin you’ll be using to clean up after yourself.
While the food is the most prominent draw of Nate’s, the staff is so friendly that I found myself wanting to return just to interact with them more. Every employee is helpful, hospitable and downright neighborly. Being at Nate’s is comfortable, and the staff heightens the at-home, backyard feel.
If you’re looking for a heart-healthy meal, avoid Nate’s Wings and Waffles altogether. But if you’re looking to indulge in the glory of southern cookin’, at Nate’s Wings and Waffles, you won’t be disappointed. When paired alongside a cocktail, beer, or soda, it seems as though most items on the Nate’s menu are an affordable, unique and downright tasty option for the starving college student, coming out to about $15. Without a drink, you can look to spend between $10 to $12.
Nate’s Wings and Waffles is located at 1224 E Jefferson St., directly across the street from Seattle U’s Championship Field. Nate’s is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, open late Thursday through Saturday and closed Mondays.
Samantha can be reached at [email protected]