Green star Cafe Presse (Capitol Hill)

1117 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 709-7674

Cafe Presse—brought to you by the people of Le Pichet—is goodness incarnate: pretty but not fancy, and serving simple, good French food from the crack of dawn until two in the morning (in Seattle, a miracle). Among the (many) great menu items: the epitome of an omelet, the world's best green salad, a grilled-sardine sandwich, a cheesy-hammy-creamy croque monsieur, a giant slab of chicken-liver terrine, steak frites, a daily fish special, and more, more, MORE. Also: the city's best baguette and butter, all you can eat (which may turn you into the kind of person who wraps the leftovers in a napkin and puts them in your pocket.) From Presse's full (and marble) bar issue forth decent French wines at very decent prices, beers, and cocktails, while the television plays soccer from around the globe. Cafe Presse is pretty much a civic treasure.
Categories: Bar, Cafe, Restaurant

Restaurant Details

Bar Details

The Stranger's Reviews of Cafe Presse

Upcoming Events at Cafe Presse

Green star French Conversation Table

Wed, April 16, 4–6 pm, Wed May 7, 4–6 pm, Wed May 21, 4–6 pm.

Zut alors! Café Presse vous invitons à parler la meilleure langue du monde tous les deux mercredis à Café Presse à la Table Française. Seattle Language Academy vous donnera un formateur pour chaque cours, et les étudiants de français de tous les niveaux sont invités à nous joindre. Songez à tous les beaux gens que vous y rencontrerez! Chouette! Et: C'est gratuit.
Cafe Presse
1117 12th Ave
Seattle (Capitol Hill)
The Corner Table

Green star The Corner Table

Tues, April 29 at 6:30 pm.

Come to Cafe Presse for a delicious monthly family-style French supper paired (optionally, but vive a little!) with wine.
Cafe Presse
1117 12th Ave
Seattle (Capitol Hill)


Average Rating:
  • 3.48000/5 Stars.
Reviews/Comments (40) RSS

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Were they trying to forget about me?

I had been meaning to try Cafe Presse for a while and was excited to finally get the chance to go. I was alone and had a little work to do on my laptop so I wasn't in a huge hurry. But never in my life have I experienced as slow and poor of service. I waited for about 30 minutes before even being served water and then at least another half hour before someone took my order. I was to the point where I felt the urge to get up and ask someone if I was supposed to order at the bar, I thought they had forgotten about me. The waiter who took my order had been sweeping the entire restaurant and chatting behind the bar. The food came relatively quickly thereafter and was above average but not great. After I finished eating I waited again for at least a half hour before telling the bartender that I needed to leave and would like my check. I waited another 15 min and paid the waitress in cash (who assumed I was giving her an over 50% tip before I asked for change). All of this occurred in the middle of the afternoon while the cafe was less than half full. Anything good about the food was ruined by the absolutely terrible service.
Posted by 1q2w3e on December 22, 2010 at 11:15 PM · Report this
leek 39

A little disillusioned

When this place first opened I wanted to go there all the time. But I guess I'm just getting a little bored with it. Every time I've been in the last six months or so, the fish of the day has been rockfish--and it just hasn't tasted that impressive when I've ordered it. The salad with hazelnut vinaigrette is still great, but there aren't enough other fish or veggie options on the menu to really enthrall.
Posted by leek on September 9, 2009 at 12:11 PM · Report this

Believe the hype

I can't believe it's taken me this long to get over here, but it was SO worth it. Lovely small menu with some perfect seasonal items (cauliflower soup so wonderful and rich that it took two of us to ALMOST finish it...and heck, I even liked the beet salad, and I HATE beets). We ate and drank VERY well for very reasonable prices. The wine selection is great and glass prices can't be beat. Fun atmosphere. The tables are a bit close together (when divided up into two-tops) but the rest of the space is wide open, so it is not as claustrophic an experience as Bleu Bistro. It was the perfect place to have a lovely mid-week evening meal (and I only wish I worked in the city because lunch here would be wonderful).
Posted by Tracy on February 6, 2009 at 3:10 PM · Report this

Head manager is a heartless wench

The imbecilic prematurely grey haired manager smashed a friend's Trophy birthday cupcake with her hand when she got pissed. Apparently there's a no outside food policy at this "gourmet" establishment. Then she charged a 3 dollar service charge for every cupcake she 'thought' we had eaten.

I've had a much more accomodating experience at Smith (up on 15th), the wait staff supplied plates and forks without us even asking.

I will NEVER be going to Presse again. The manager (not the waitstaff) can go stick a fork up her cottage cheese ass.
Posted by Sammy Sosa on December 6, 2008 at 1:07 AM · Report this

but how do you say its name??

let me first say that i only know of this place because i went here thinking it was the "Mad pub" twice before i saw it in day lite. but realy it isn't bad. all i remember the first time was the cock ring fitting which was really professionaly done IMHO. but realy it isn't bad. the steak tar tar is good and be sure to get the extra mayonaze because you will need it!! also the ceramick tea kettles have wine in them which is a nice touch. my only thing i would say IMHO is that if they want the Gays to come they should add a dance floor because sometimes i heard songs that i wanted to dance to. also having the magazines in front is wierd because you think they would not want to attract drunk indians like a library.
Posted by il diva on November 10, 2008 at 2:48 PM · Report this
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I love it

My sister and I went here for the first time a few weeks ago. Yes, it's true the service was a bit disinterested in us -- but it wasn't the end of the world, and if you're going for a "genuine" French experience you should probably expect it. We went back a couple days ago and we had really wonderful service -- just the nicest woman helped us. Either way, the food was excellent and affordable. I'd become a regular if the food was half as good or twice as expensive. Just really amazing.
Posted by nottelling on March 24, 2008 at 9:28 AM · Report this

hate it!

worst service ever. snobbish, rude, bad bartender/manager. overall, really awful experience.
Posted by bettyblue on February 7, 2008 at 12:53 AM · Report this

you're wrong, bethany

butter lettuce salad was FULL OF DIRT AND GRITTY. there was no dressing on it. tartare was old and grey. soup tasted like aluminum and bland tomatoes. boring. overrated.
Posted by i eat real food on February 6, 2008 at 7:34 PM · Report this

Great Service -Snobby Management !

I took some of friends of mine to Cafe Presse Saturday night . We waited at the door for 10 min. before some rude/cutty "hostess" with dreadful lipstick approached us and barked 'how many!?' . We were told that we could sit at the bar and have a drink until our table was ready - I must say our drinks where not only affordable but the service was first class . Dinner was fabulous ,as always . They've just changed their menu ! Their Duck falls right off the bone and is to die for , a must have ! I'll be back , but please for the love of god kick that awful woman to the curb !
Posted by Ben on January 27, 2008 at 5:47 PM · Report this

Je ne sais pas!

I was shocked to see the last review listed for press- Sounds like some poor little co-eds didn't get enough free drinks! Not every bar has to have a specialty cocktail list. This cozy hole is fortunate to have such beautiful, intelligent, unpretentious fellow tending bar. I don't think the heartless reviewer saw the dimples on that one. Oh my, he can pour my lillet any day! (The frites are good too...)
Posted by Hemmingway on January 18, 2008 at 12:17 AM · Report this
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Not a French Cafe!

On a Jan 7 visit the food was just ok (salad was good, the smoked pork chop way way too salty), the service was bad (waiters were leaning on the end of the bar chatting and listening to the music) and what's with the music - very very loud techno music!!! Nothing at all like a French cafe. We probably won't return.
Posted by ms on January 7, 2008 at 12:54 PM · Report this

Oops... I was wrong.

I went back not long ago with a friend and had the steak frites. It was nothing other than disgusting across the board. Very sad. So, now I've had a 5* and 1* experience... but after the latter can there really be another?
Posted by CHARLES on December 1, 2007 at 4:13 PM · Report this

french all the way

I went to Presse today. My experience was mixed. I liked how it was decorated with classic wall paper in hallway, a poster of different meat cuts, and exposed brick and steel framing. I had a salad with nice chunks of hazelnuts but basically a full head you cut yourself. I guess I like my saled cut, but it was fresh and tasty. Coffee was too hot and bitter (unusual for Caffe Vita, must have been the brewing / preparation) My partner liked her dish which was ham and eggs. Pommefrites fried just a little too crispy. I noticed how filthy and torn menus were and how much attention to detail there was to other aspects of the place. Odd when you add it all up. Staff was kind. Manager was snotty. Certainly a fair price.
Posted by os on November 8, 2007 at 2:03 PM · Report this

Everyone has a bad day...

posted a gushing review a few months ago, and I remain an enthusiastic regular. But if you go anywhere enough you're bound to have a bad experience. A recent weekend brunch visit to Cafe Presse was just awful. Our server was rude and condescending (explaining the runny raw eggs on one plate by saying "that's the way a French omelette is supposed to be." Ummm... not that much. She forgot to bring some items completely. Coffee was painfully slow to arrive. The omelette sent back raw returned overcooked to the point of inedible. If this had been my first visit, I'd never return. But I've had enough fantastic meals here to be forgiving - once in a while. If this becomes a trend I'll report back again. For now downgrading one star, as the perfection has been tarnished.
Posted by MadVal on October 17, 2007 at 7:28 PM · Report this

Go to Cafe Campagne instead...

Ok, so it's cute and sort of fun, and you don't have to leave the hill if you live there (I don't, thankfully). But the food is like a half-assed version of Cafe Campagne's downtown, which is really not that much more expensive, and has all the French ambiance you could want. Not to mention the best pomme frites in the city! It's like the Cafe Presse follks copied Campagne's menu, but cut the quality of food in half. Still too expensive for what you get. My nicoise salad was a jumbly mess, and my friend's whitefish-over-lentils was bland. Just save your cash for something worth spending money on! Oh, and the little tables are way too close for comfort.
Posted by Renee on October 12, 2007 at 4:31 PM · Report this

loved it

We've gone twice and the service was great once and awful the other. The food was FANTASTIC twice. Like, muttering "oh my god" after half of the bites fantastic. I'm surprised to hear anyone complain about the prices--they're quite reasonable. The decor is a little goofy but it's growing on me. That beefsteak tomato dish is crazy, yo.
Posted by Jiminy Kick It on October 10, 2007 at 7:37 PM · Report this
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comme ci, comme ca. so-so

Rather underwhelming. Yes the croque monsieur does seem inexpensive at $5.50, but its a ham sandwich on white bread with the cheese on the top. Whats so great about that? The tuna on the salad nicoise is supposedly "italian" but it looks and tastes like starkist. The salad came with such a mountain of this grayish tuna that I couldn't really taste anything else on the plate. The chicken liver terrine was tasty and we really liked the cherry compote, but had to wait quite awhile for the waitress to bring some bread to accompany it. Also while on the waitress, she unapologetically dropped a knife in my lap while clearing the plates which was no real surprise considering I'd heard 3 utensils hit the floor while I was there. The wine was inexpensive at $3.50/ glass, but the pour is a $3 pour and you seemingly get no break on the wine if you buy a bottle of the stuff which seems ridiculous to me. I've been to Paris and worked in a French restaurant in Europe many years ago in college, and aside from the chicken liver this place is pressed away from my memory. And what's up with the falafel? This is France right, not French speaking N. Afica. "Paris here we come"? More like Paris Hilton's jailhouse baloney sandwich and starkist salad.
Posted by TallBoy on August 14, 2007 at 9:25 AM · Report this

Love ya. Mean it.

Love the idea of this place. That it exists. But after two tries, I think I'm done. No chemistry. Waiters screwing things up. Boring menu. BAD coffee (how can you make Cafe Vita bad???). But the fries look good though...
Posted by fluteprof on August 11, 2007 at 4:05 PM · Report this


Any jackass politician or restaurant owner who joined in the ridiculous "Freedom Fries" movement of 2003 should, as one small part of their punishment, be forever barred from eating here. The food is simple but excellent. The prices and attitude are low. The menu has offered something different every time I've gone - a delight for those of us who enjoy variety - and everything without exception has been delicious. The wine is just okay, but considering the low prices it's better than I'd have expected. I'd like to see them offer at least one higher end (and higher priced) wine in each category, for those of us who are willing to pay a little more for wine that matches the quality of this food. The coffee and desserts are excellent (however note to servers that the French name for hot chocolate is NOT pronounced "chocolate choad"). It's not fancy, but if you like French food you won't get more bang for your buck anywhere in Seattle.
Posted by MadVal on July 31, 2007 at 4:53 PM · Report this

yeah, try the fish

I've had the fish twice, for lunch and for late night dinner, and random small plates like the oeufs mayonnaise (yes, it's hard boiled eggs with mayonnaise and pickles, but it's French so it's good). Interesting food without being all Fancy. The back room is nice if you want to have a conversation at normal volume...
Posted by tuesday on July 17, 2007 at 3:38 PM · Report this

Unpretentious and tasty

The atmosphere is pleasant and relaxed. The food is superb, although the menu (like many French menus) maybe be a little challenging for some. There is at least one thing for everyone. It's a great addition to the neighborhood, although it's really in neighborhood limbo. Have the fish.
Posted by Charles on July 13, 2007 at 11:45 AM · Report this

Paris, here we come

This place is too good to be true. From the perfect food to great decor and delightful, prompt service, this place has it all. We sampled the olives, salad special (with the most incredible melted chevre, which they make there, on toasted baguette slices), the rockfish with lentils, salade nicoise, and two pastries. We didn't intend to eat so much, but the food was so expertly prepared that we kept ordering more. I'll be back very soon for the fries; I had to try very hard not to grab them off the next table. Service is impeccable - friendly and quick, without being obtrusive. Top it all off with being bathed in warm ambient light from the skylights and actual French people drinking wine at 2 in the afternoon... what could be better?
Posted by rb on July 13, 2007 at 9:59 AM · Report this

I have seen the light!

ok. this place is it. there doesn't need to be anywhere else to go. between the perfectly prepared food, the impeccable service and the pouring out of light from the heavens through the skylights above the bar, you will be feelin' dandy-fine.
Posted by ring_my_bell on July 12, 2007 at 12:00 PM · Report this

So much goodness

I've always love La Pichet, this place has a more modern feel to it. Great prices, great ambiance, great food. All melted cheese and good meats and fabolous mustard. I thought the wine list left a bit to be desired though. I can appreciate a good cheap glass but sometimes you want something a bit nicer too. Options are always nice.
Posted by Yum on July 10, 2007 at 11:10 PM · Report this

2am? J'adore

I am so excited that Seattle has not only a new late night restaurant option, but it's excellent as well. Went on a Friday night. Great cheese plate, great steak frites, good wine, and fantastic service without being stuffy. And open until 2 am!
Posted by central_district_diner on July 9, 2007 at 2:39 PM · Report this


We shared the Chicken liver pate and steak tartare last night. I am speechless. I don't like liver and i don't like raw meat but AHHHHHHAHHAHAH SOooooo goood.
Posted by diad on June 29, 2007 at 4:15 PM · Report this

Uh that;s the CD

It is really tasty, but that's the CD, not Capitol Hill. It's not on the hill, but in the valley south of the hill.
Posted by Angry Andrew on June 27, 2007 at 4:12 PM · Report this

Mon Dieu!!

They brought MY coffee right out, and it was yummy Cafe Vita. The d'un sur la table is served in wine bottles, there's complimentary chewy baguette and creamy butter, and the prices are just right. I had the croque campagnarde (sp?) and my friend had the ouef plats... oh my. We also got a bowl of the almonds sauteed in olive oil and sea salt, which was the perfect snack over which to linger while we drank endless cups of coffee and caught up. And as was mentioned on Slog recently, Caffe Presse has remarkably delightful taste in music. Merci Beaucoup to the house! I will be back. Today.
Posted by Katelyn on June 26, 2007 at 12:14 PM · Report this

Sweet Lord!

Oh, God, yes please! The atmosphere is wonderful, the food is delicious (nicoise salad = !!!!!), the wine is cheap (and good!) and the wait-staff is delightful. I couldn't possibly put another positive adjective in this paragraph, so I'll stop there. Cafe Presse WOULD have gotten 5 stars from me, but they never brought our coffee when we ordered it (though the waitress was very apologetic when we pointed it out on the bill). Seattle, meet my new go-to cafe. (Oh yeah, and the prices? Amazing.)
Posted by Justin on June 23, 2007 at 10:38 AM · Report this

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