At this Capitol Hill joint owned by the people behind Black Bottle, enjoy a chill vibe and a happy-hour menu with $3 bites.
Bar Vacilando’s motto is “going somewhere … but not greatly caring about arrival.”
Its subtext: Don’t be in a hurry, enjoy life, and for goodness sake, put that phone away.
On a recent evening, a wave of happy-hour revelers had no trouble living the bar’s mantra, making a beeline through the French doors to the patio, where the sun was shining, and the $3 bar bites were an excuse for gluttony.
They schmooze around the communal table or smooch under the awning, listening to The Shins and Radiohead. Inside, the music was a few decibels louder, but no one seemed to mind.
The Capitol Hill bar — with a high ceiling, and black-and-white motif — is a nod to Union Station, designed to transport your mind to somewhere far, Paris with your Carte Orange pass, maybe.
Opened in May, Bar Vacilando comes from the owners behind Black Bottle in Belltown and Bellevue. Different name but same concept. There are bar bites and shared plates and the table-wine list is affordable enough to lure you into lingering and having a few. (Most wines by the glass are under $9, bottles under $30.)
On the menu are modern and American riffs on European snacks and Asian street food. With the exception of a few misses, the dishes range from good to good enough to fortify you between drinks, and are reasonably priced (most $9 or less).
The dry Vietnamese-inspired meatballs were forgettable, but the Filipino, Sisig-style pork cheeks and chicken liver tacos will make you want to give the menu another chance. There’s tender, braised pork jowl, bulked up with so much foliage of greens and root veggies, it felt like dinner for 12 bucks.
But come happy hour, the $3 tartines are the only thing that folks seemed to order, toasts covered in béchamel and ribbons of serrano ham or for the meatless set, pear and Gorgonzola — all rich, crunchy beer sponges.
An hour passed and the orders kept coming. The bartender and host scrambled to get the plates out on the patio, but they were the only ones who looked stressed. The crowd? They lingered well into sunset, seemingly with nowhere else to be.
Bar Vacilando, 405 15th Ave. E., offers happy hour daily 3-6 p.m. $3 tartines and $1 off on cocktails, wine and draft beer and $4 off on wine bottles. 206-420-1584 barvacilando.com