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June 1, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Taberna del Alabardero says adios (for now), Seattle

Taberna del Alabardero, the large and lovely Spanish restaurant and bar in the Austin Bell Building in Belltown, closed its doors Tuesday night.

“It was December 2008 when we landed in Seattle with our bags full of illusions and energy,” said the farewell email I just received. “Today we are not saying goodbye. It is more like a `see you later,'” read the heads-up on the closure, noting, in uppercase letters “WE HOPE TO BE BACK SOON!!!!”

After putting in a call to the restaurant (where I once had the pleasure of forking into some fine paella and jamon Iberico with America’s favorite Spanish chef Jose Andres), I got an explanation from GM Paco Pena.

Paco Pena, at Taberna del Alabardero.

Opening a fine-dining restaurant during a recession is tough enough, but “Belltown, in the last year and a half, has become a very unpopular neighborhood,” Pena said. “It isn’t what it used to be.”

The elegant dining room at Taberna del Alabardero, in Belltown.

After taking care of business here, Pena will return to the only other Taberna in the U.S. — in Washington, D.C., where it’s been far better received since opening 20-plus years ago. He expects to travel back and forth to his homeland, where Taberna’s parent company, Grupo Lezama, continues to open “more and more places in Spain.”

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