As of tomorrow at closing time, the neon lights at Ninth and Madison will be no more. After 34 years and some health troubles, the owner of Greek-American 1st Hill Bar and Grill has decided to sell. Marti Jonjak’s Happiest Hour love note doubles as an elegy for one of the last truly old-school Seattle restaurant-and-lounges:
The 1st Hill Bar & Grill is a deeply charming dive that's been around forever. Occupying the front space: a pleasant, ordinary diner with old men and mauve seashell-print upholstery and garlands of plastic ivy. But the back lounge blooms into a distinct and unexpected realm—vast and still, with glossy orange underlights and murals on every wall depicting famous Greek ruins.
Come say your goodbyes!
There's a silver lining to this story: The buyer is Ridgley Kuang, owner of the two Green Leaf locations—one serves the best Vietnamese food in Belltown (no contest) and the other serves arguably the best Vietnamese in the International District (we can fight about it in the comments). I go to the Belltown Green Leaf so often that the waitresses know how I like my iced coffee and sometimes send over free dessert.
Kuang isn’t opening another Green Leaf; he thinks two is enough. The new restaurant will be called Lotus Asian Kitchen and Lounge, following a few months of remodeling. Some Green Leaf dishes might migrate, but the menu will have more of an experimental, Asian-fusion vibe, plus a full bar.
And if you find yourself wandering First Hill, in need in of old-fashioned, homey ambience and cheap, serviceable souvlaki, there’s always Mediterranean Kitchen.