The Traveling Goat is a neighborhood bar brought to life by Steve and Tina Nicoles. After many years in the hospitality industry and working for a large hotel chain, the husband-and-wife team decided to branch out on their own.
They had been dreaming of running their own restaurant for over a decade. Like so many people in the hospitality industry, the Nicoles had always dreamed of opening their own place. With all of the uncertainty of the pandemic and an eventual layoff, they decided it was finally the right time.
Last week, Uptown officially welcomed The Traveling Goat to the neighborhood. Steve and Tina can be found cooking and mixing drinks seven nights a week from 3 p.m. until midnight.
Queen Anne’s newest hangout offers a smart balance of craft cocktails and a menu of new classic comfort foods.
Steve Nicoles said the timing and the name were inspired by Tina and their shared love of travel. Tina Nicoles was born in Thailand in the year of the goat and has been traveling ever since. She even has a tattoo of a goat and compass on her arm.
During the pandemic, she went to San Diego to visit some of her old friends who reminded her of the dream to open her own restaurant. So, she and Steve decided that they were ready and got to work. They looked at several locations but found that the spot at 621 1/2 Queen Anne Ave. N. was turnkey ready and right in the heart of the reopening buzz surrounding Climate Pledge Arena.
While Steve Nicoles was still working at the hotel, Tina was at the bar every day, working on designs and putting things together.
“Working with your spouse 24/7 is hard, but it’s a little easier because he is behind the bar and I am in the kitchen,” Tina Nicoles said.
Tina uses her upbringing and travel experience to inform her cooking and has brought those flavors and design choices for Seattle to enjoy. The list of Asian fusion tapas ranges from pot stickers, wontons and edamame to soups, salads, burgers and cheese curds. House favorites include three different kinds of chicken wings and four kinds of Traveling Tacos, with varying profile flavors and spice levels. There’s even a warning on some of them: The heat comes late but lasts. Diners need not worry, however: Steve keeps a stash of chocolate milk behind the bar in case the heat gets to be too much.
“Tina is an amazing cook and chef. She did the whole food menu,” Steve Nicoles said. “I love it all.”
Steve also keeps a lot of other special ingredients behind that bar. Relying on his decades of food and beverage service and his extensive travels, he has concocted a well-rounded list of local and exotic crowd pleasers. The current supply chain issues have necessitated a few changes and the occasional last-minute trip to the store, but he’s quite happy to have settled on the current menu of cocktails, wine, and beer, sourced from far and near. Steve’s current cocktail favorite is the Lost In Iceland, made with Reyka Vodka, Aperol, orange juice and an IPA float. He likes the balance between bitter and sweet, balanced with the freshness of the orange juice. While he admits he is “partial to all of them,” he also recommends the Stop & Smell The Roses: gin, sparkling rosé, lime, rose syrup and edible flower petals.
The Traveling Goat had a soft opening late in 2021, and the Nicoles have been refining the offerings ever since. Steve describes the menu as “malleable.”
“We are hoping that the neighborhood and guests will help determine what it should be,” he said.
Steve and Tina have the shared vision of a neighborhood hangout and are eager to listen to the community feedback.
“It’s been tremendous,” Steve Nicoles said of business. “People come to eat before events at Climate Pledge Arena or SIFF or Seattle Center, and some come just to drink and hang out. We are just super happy that people are enjoying it.”
They are hoping to further develop relationships and are “grateful to the community,” Steve said.
Monday night is Bingo night at The Traveling Goat. The Nicoles offer live jazz music on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Happy Hour is from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Go to https://www.travelinggoatseattle.com for more information.