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Originally published March 6, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 6, 2008 at 4:04 PM

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A new lease on nightlife at 10th Ave and Pike

Welcome to 10th and Pike — "the epicenter of Seattle rock 'n' roll," as one local boasted. That might be just a touch over the top...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Coming up

"The Young Ones," a presentation of rising bands, is tonight at Neumo's, 925 E. Pike St., and Sole Repair, part of Quinn's Pub, at 1001 E. Pike St.; $5, a benefit for Real Change (206-709-9467 or www.neumos.com).

Welcome to 10th and Pike — "the epicenter of Seattle rock 'n' roll," as one local boasted.

That might be just a touch over the top ... or is it? After all, live music is blasting on these adjacent blocks, from indie-rock heavyweight Neumo's and metal-loving newcomer King Cobra to old-timers the Comet Tavern and Wildrose, both of which have pumped up their music offerings in recent months.

And there is more to this suddenly vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood than rock bands and hard-partying fans. Several new establishments on or just off Pike have the two blocks between Broadway and 11th Avenue booming — and transforming.

If you haven't been over here in a few months, you just might sprain your neck with double-takes. Rowdy, raggedy ol' 10th and Pike is in the midst of a makeover — put it on TV, and it would be "Flip This 'Hood."

We're moving on up!

While ripped jeans and band T-shirts used to be the school uniform around here, several new spots are pulling in a more fashionably attired crowd. Take Quinn's Pub. This European-styled "gastropub" recently replaced an unpretentious Mexican restaurant that for years had been feeding slackers and local families.

At Quinn's, generous windows offer passers-by a glimpse at the long, sleek bar and diners who, for the most part, look more First and Bell or 36th and Fremont than 10th and Pike. Then again, Capitol Hill is fast changing.

"Some of my friends were joking about that," said Pete Capponi, a Capitol Hill resident and member of the band Coconut Coolouts. "They were saying that everyone buying the new condos — [Quinn's] seems to be their bar."

For the punk crowd, this upscale bar — people are drinking Old Fashioned cocktails and wine on a busy Monday night — with a fanciful menu (braised oxtails, wild boar sloppy Joes, rabbit pâté) might seem, well, a little "There goes the neighborhood ... "

On the other hand, why can't trendy eateries and dive bars with rock music coexist?

"It seems great to have both on the same street," said Brian Collins-Friedrichs, an architect who works in Belltown and lives in Ballard. He gave Quinn's high grades for its design ("industrial, with elegance") and its cuisine.

The architect was having dinner with friend and business associate Jerry Everard, who helped get this street rocking years ago, when he launched Moe's Mo' Rockin' Cafe. Everard got off the corner for a while, but returned four years ago to reopen the club as Neumo's, again pumping nightlife onto the block.

Now, Everard is in on this upscale-the-Hill thing, as he has transformed an old shoe repair shop into the chic Sole Repair. This annex of Quinn's is normally set aside for private parties, sometimes open to the public.

The other night, a few actress/model types were smoking (figuratively and literally) and attracting whistles outside the club. Inside Sole Repair, there were lounge music, low black couches and seductive lighting.

A little of this, a little of that

There seems to be something for a variety of nightlife palates on these blocks, and tonight launches another long weekend of diverse decadence.

Everard is working both sides of 10th tonight, hosting "The Young Ones," a collection of rising Seattle acts, including rap crew Dyme Def, indie-poppers Throw Me the Statue and old-school rockers the Moondoggies (who recently signed to Sub Pop offshoot Hardly Art). The acts will be split between Neumo's and Sole Repair.

Over at The Comet tonight there should be a decent crowd, soaking up beer and the artsy jazz-rock band Dead Science and quirky Pwerful Power. Next door, King Cobra gets ready to rock into its second weekend of live music (the Valley, one of Seattle's most potent young bands, plays there Friday night).

At Havana, an attractive, Cuban-inspired lounge that came here in the summer of '06, DJs will spin house music as patrons enjoy mojitos and other rum drinks. Love lives will be compared over coffee and laptops at Caffe Vita.

The ladies will be shooting back beers and trading notes on "The L Word" — on the big screen, Sunday nights — at the Wildrose.

Bimbo's Cantina/Cha Cha Lounge recently moved to this block from its longtime home down the hill, a relocation, according to its MySpace page, "due to the rampant condoization of Capitol Hill." Kincora's Pub was also booted by a condo project, which led the owner to start up King Cobra. Here at the Cha Cha, locals will leave their apartments (probably not condos) to dive into punk cuisine — as one menuism.com reviewer put it, "OK burritos, cheap beer."

Those with more refined taste buds will sample frutti di mare, quattro stagioni and other exotic offerings at high-class pizzeria Via Tribunali.

It's almost like the table cliques of your high-school cafeteria turned into Capitol Hill nightspots ... if you can imagine a cafeteria serving everything from nachos (Bimbo's) to foie gras (Quinn's), and Frank Sinatra singing in the background, the Ramones backing him up.

Tom Scanlon: tscanlon@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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