Alas, the Spanish team has left the building.
The golden yellow, high-ceilinged space on First Avenue, occupied for the last couple of years by Taberna Del Alabardero (and before that by Cascadia) has closed.
There's been an Alabardero in "the other Washington" since 1989, a fancy spot that caters to diplomats and nearby K-Street lobbyists. But the history goes back even further: to the Palace Honor Guard in Madrid, who wielded ceremonial "halberds" — those fearsome pole-axe blades on pikes.
The story behind the name: Some 35 years ago, a priest by the name of Luis de Lazama started a restaurant in a townhouse near the Palace, named it for the guards, and — though he had no experience in the restaurant business — used the place to teach troubled youth how to cook. He went on to open other Tabernas across Spain, and then, 20 years ago, he flew to Washington, D.C., and launched an American version. No delinquent kids this time; this was to plant the flag of Spanish gastronomy.
But the plant didn't flourish in Seattle. Despite some successful and critically acclaimed promotions (a series of Santiago di Compostella dinners, a series of paella dinners, a celebratory brunch when Spain won the World Cup) and some great-value happy hours, Alabardero was too fancy for Belltown.
Not that down-to-earth, no-tablecloth fares any better on the 2300 block of First Avenue. Del Rey closed earlier this year. Across the street, Ventana has been struggling since it opened. But the loss of Alabardero hurts. The restaurant was serious about Spanish food, but just couldn't get traction.
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