Buena Vista Restaurant is a Cuban place that just opened at the the north foot of Lake Union, right next to the former moorages of the Skansonia and the Kalakala (Kalakala link likely to rot in short order).

The restaurant is housed in a former rental hall known previously as CaterArts; the facility was built to highlight the spectacular views of the city skyline and lake. It’s just off the Burke Gilman between the I-5 bridge and Gas Works – from the trail, it’s the mango-hued building by the lakeshore.

Behind the building, literally at the water’s edge, are about 10 or 12 patio tables and umbrellas; it’s by far the best outdoor lakeside seating available in a public establishment on Lake Union. From 4 to 6, it’s happy hour, which knocks a couple bucks off the drink and appetizer prices. Despite this, it’s still pricey – $8.00 mojitos become $6.00 mojitos.

Yesterday, Viv and I took advantage of the sun to investigate. We are always interested in a new Cuban place here in town. Seattle’s track record has been spotty, with places opening and closing at rapid rates, and even establishments that taste great the first time later exhibiting exorbitant pricing revisions or annoying, self-absorbed declines in the quality of service. Knowing nothing about the place except that we felt sure we could subject ourselves to a few hours on that sunny deck, drinks in hand, we sallied forth.

The food came as a surprise. It’s fantastic, by far the most subtle and sophisticated Cuban I’ve sampled in a restaurant. We ate our way through the appetizers (“Bocaditos,” natch) and by six-thirty were deeply stuffed. Sadly, that meant we did not have an opportunity to sample the lunch or dinner menus, both of which featured popular favorites (such as Cuban pulled pork sandwiches or Moros y Cristianos for lunch or ropa vieja for dinner) and interesting experiments on the theme of Cuban cuisine.

Service was attentive and charming, although it was also clear that the place had just opened. The deck never filled up while we were there. Viv and I will be hurrying back to get more of that sun and try the rest of the food before the word gets out, as I’m sure the initial local media reviews will fill the back deck right up for the rest of the summer.

Foolishly, I did not bring a camera, and I must confess, I contemplated not blogging this because I am so certain the crowds will come. But on that same principle, I’d rather share it with you folks now. Next time it’s sunny, hang up that keyboard at four and meet your sweetie at Buena Vista. Your wallet will be lighter, and so will your heart.

5 thoughts on “Tell No One

  1. The Skansonia moved up the shore a little ways, toward the bridge. There’s a use plan posted at the gates to the former site.

    The Alki place: yes, we’ve eaten there. The first time was great, the second time so so (smaller portions, larger prices) and the third time, we tried to eat there only to be chased out by the new owners at about 5 pm one Saturday, who informed us rudely “the kitchen is closed!”

    And so it has remained, and shall.

  2. There’s something about Cuban food that makes me euphoric — no, seriously. It’s amazing. Just reading about it while eating pretzels makes me happy!

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