Speaking of tapas, there is a new tapas bar in Ballard named Ocho. It opened today. I just got back. Wow!
The restaurant is the most recent attempt at making something work in the formerly somewhat sad little building on the southeast corner of Market Street and 24th Ave. Seeing that space in its former incarnation as a hotdog stand, I was pretty pessimistic that anyone would be willing to put the money and elbow grease in needed to make it charming. I was wrong ... REALLY wrong.
The exterior has gotten a once over with a muted contemporary paint scheme. Such much better than the picnic table red they used before. With the stone accents on the building it has a more sophisticated curb appeal.
The interior transformation has been doubly dramatic. With a rich color palate, beautiful wood tables and warm lighting the space is very inviting. The daily dishes are listed on a chalkboard. There is a small but smart Spanish wine list, a short list of Spanish-inspired cocktails, and Estrella Damm by the bottle. The only thing they are missing is cured meat hanging from the walls.
Ocho is definitely not a theme restaurant though. It is a real neighborhood joint with authentic Spanish tapas that feels like it belongs in Ballard. The owners make it their own: Rod Stewart on the stereo and a window looking out on the Pacific Fisherman's drydock. There was even a crowd of fishermen at the bar seemingly talking some shop over a few drinks. Hey, it's Ballard.
The menu consists of maybe 10-15 items (which per the owners will rotate). We had chorizo de la mancha (a dish of fried finely diced potatoes, chorizo, and an egg); chorizo asturias (chorizo in a stew of apples and cider, as well as an unidentified blue cheese I think), patatas bravas (fried potatoes with aoli and spicy tomato brava sauce), pan amb tomaquet (toasted baguette slices rubbed with tomato and topped with melted manchego), tortilla (a Spanish omelet with potatoes) and another toast with jamon. No dish on the menu was more than about 5-6 dollars. The dishes we had were all sized as raciones not pinxos. They are not just a bite or two.
The service was very welcoming and pretty quick given how crowded they were. All said the restaurant highly exceeded my expectations and is a place I look forward to visiting again soon. Per the owners Ocho will be open daily and will have late night hours. I understand the hours will be 4pm to 2am. Yes, 2am.
I will attach some photos when I get them.