At Burnt-Orange-hued Casco Antiguo (in the former Calozzi’s space in Pioneer Square), you can opt for family-friendly dining on the “cocina” side, where kitchen-bar seats offer a view of the busy crew grilling meats, stirring pots and toasting just-made tortillas on a griddle.
Honey-toned wood banquettes and tables, built by co-owner Harvey Van Allen, stand out against the gorgeous old brick walls, and lighting is simple yet warm; the space has a functional comfort to it. (Van Allen owns the place with Paul Lyman of High Country Contractors & Developers; the two are partners on nearby Altstadt as well.) Here, groups gather to dip warm house-made tortillas into warm queso fundido ($8); order the good guacamole and you’ll find it’s upstaged by three excellent house-made salsas.
Chef Rodolfo Riveron, who recently ran the kitchen at The Saint, knows his way around meat, and his lengua (beef tongue) tacos are excellent ($9); the balance of tender meat with cilantro and tart green salsa is spot on. But then, he also makes the best vegetarian tacos I’ve had in years: softly sautéed poblano peppers and onions with roasted corn and queso fresco ($8). For the cantina, head down the hallway to a dimly lit bar area that backs onto the alleyway. There, a large bar offers margaritas on tap for $8, but pop for the scratch margaritas ($11); tasted side by side with the tap versions, they’re much fresher.
Come summertime, the cantina’s large garage door will open into the alleyway to catch the evening rays of the sun. What’s that you say? Alley-front dining in Pioneer Square? As sure a sign as any of how much Pioneer Square is changing.
Pioneer Square, 115 Occidental Ave. S; 206.538.0400; cascoantiguoseattle.com