First Hill’s charming taqueria reluctantly said goodbye. After spending three years on Burin Street, Little Neon Taco restaurant, Chef Monica Dimas’ passionate Mexican destination, has closed for good after opening Sunday, Feb. 28. However, fans will be pleased that the nearby restaurant will reappear as a natural wine pop-up. La Dive Bar on March 11th offers a full menu.
The smaller shape is familiar to those who follow the restaurant’s path. A few years ago, the Neon Taco (formerly known as Communion) became a budding shoe, delicious tortillas, and other bar-appropriate snacks at Nacho Borracho on Capitol Hill, which caught people’s attention. After Demas’ success there, as well as famous runners such as Tortas Condesas and Westman’s Bagels, he opened his first restaurant in Boren in 2018.
At one point, tiny neon tacos added brunch and expanded the taco menu to include other foods, such as lamb and sautéed wild rock fish, plus some margaritas. But it turns out these pillars are made-to-order tacos (in the beats, there’s pork belly, meatloaf, and chicken). This restaurant has been raving about since it opened, winning some praise in the Seattle Times and becoming Itier Seattle of the Year in 2018.
However, as in the past, the impact of COVID was catastrophic in the past year. While Demas didn’t go into detail, he said the Little Neon Taco did well in February 2020, except all profits disappeared by mid-March. The restaurant tried some take out, developed family fare, and built a comfortable new gazebo, but it seemed the hard work wasn’t enough to survive. He said, “It’s crazy to see it took me so much time to finally build up and get close to my heart, then slowly see it destroyed by the global pandemic.”
Dimas was saddened by the decision to close First Hill, but was optimistic about the possibility of a return to its burgeoning roots. The residency of La Dive will run until March 27. Since then, it has considered opening a ghost kitchen to establish a long-term partnership (“la OG Neon Taco”) or to find a new static location. She said, “I never thought I could think outside the box, so I hope the next edition of [Little Neon Taco] will be eye-catching, loaded and delicious.”