Behind the Heart of Bellevue: It’s a Family Affair at Cielo Cocina

August 17, 2020 - by Mason Luvera


Category: Heart of Bellevue

Behind the Heart of Bellevue: It’s a Family Affair at Cielo Cocina

Since opening in March of 2019, Cielo Cocina has amassed quite the following – due in part to their delicious twist on Mexican dishes, but also their stunning, sun-soaked patio. The upbeat and modern restaurant has been a fast-favorite in Bellevue for a cold beer, fresh chips and salsa and a few dishes you wouldn't necessarily expect... We stopped by for a cold drink, delicious bite and great conversation with owner Adriana Barajas-Aydinceren. Here’s what we learned:

BDA: 
Tell us about Cielo! How long have you been open? Why Bellevue?

AB:  
We opened our doors in March 2019. We were looking to find a location near our home and are regular visitors to Downtown Bellevue… when our space became available, this opportunity seemed so unique and we dove right in as soon as we saw it.

BDA:
Speaking of which, Cielo is family-owned and operated. How does your family shape Cielo as it is today?

AB:
Oh, our family has been in the restaurant business for decades. Our parents own Tapatio in Newcastle and all of the recipes there are the work of my parents. Some of our dishes have been customized for the restaurant, but others are handed down from my grandmother. We keep that alive at Cielo.

BDA:
So who’s the main gang at Cielo? Is the kitchen crowded with the whole family?

AB: Ha! My brother and I are the ones behind Cielo, although family is still involved, of course. A lot of our staff here at Cielo worked with us at our parents' place and they’re like extended family.

BDA:
Let’s talk about the food (we’re hungry, can you tell)? It’s delicious. What are you known for and what’s popular?

AB:
It’s simple! We set out to provide the best of what we know. This means fresh ingredients - we cook daily making sure our menu is fresh. Some of our dishes are very unique to our family, including our Pollo al Carbon, Enchiladas Habanero, and Pollo Taraxco. Those are what we love to do.

BDA:
We heard a whisper that there’s a bit of a secret… you serve up amazing breakfast dishes despite not being open for breakfast, and they’re not on the menu? Tell us more…

AB:
Yes, actually! They’re not printed on the menu, but our team can make three classic Mexican breakfast dishes: our Chilaquiles (crisp tortilla sauteed with salsa, eggs and topped with fresh cilantro and onion, Huveos Rancheros (overeasy eggs atop a tortilla bathed in salsa, accompanied with rice and beans) and Machaca (sauteed bell peppers and onions, shredded beef and scrambled egg). We’re not known as a brunch spot, but they’re available from 11am – 3pm daily, if you just ask!

BDA:
Let’s talk what most restaurants have on their mind… COVID-19. How did that impact you and the team at Cielo?

AB: 
COVID hit us pretty hard, as we lost our lunch and happy hour crowd from the offices nearby - this was more than half of our earnings. Since changes were ordained by the Governor, we have followed and done as much as possible to keep our guests and staff safe while still operating to the maximum of our ability. First by only doing food take out, then by selling cocktails - so we adapted and began offering our margaritas to go. On the day that the Governor allowed dine-in service we opened our patio and dining room for dinner. We have tried to be attentive to the changes but first and most importantly have tried to manage our operations with precaution and safety. It’s been a growing and learning curve for us and we feel that - although we’re facing many struggles - we are one of the lucky ones. Not only for our loyal guests but also our tight team and family that works incredibly hard to keep this ship running.

BDA:
Absolutely, we’re glad you’re here and open now.  You mentioned that you live in the area and came to Downtown Bellevue frequently before opening Cielo. What do you like about the Heart of Bellevue, both as a business owner and a resident?

AB:
Bellevue is incredibly open hearted, open minded. It is a city that with it's growth provides opportunity to anyone willing to work hard. City officials are very accessible and willing to help in the community too, and citizens seem very interested in keeping the community growing while still maintaining a 'small town' mentality. We feel very safe and fortunate to be in this unique part of Washington.

If you haven’t yet been, zip over to Cielo Cocina for a margarita (or four). And hey, you can always order off that secret brunch menu the next morning, if needed. Enjoy!
 


This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.

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