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Olympia’s restaurant scene on the rise

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OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The state’s capital is starting to earn a reputation for its incredible food selection downtown.

Downtown Olympia might be around the corner from the legislation building, but there’s nothing divisive about it: the state’s capital is growing its culinary reputation.

“We were turning people away all the time,” Sandy Hall, owner of Dillinger’s Cocktails and Kitchen, said with a smile.

Dillinger’s has expanded into another building to meet the demand of customers craving their Prohibition-style cocktails.

“We get everything from first-time tourists who heard about it in a magazine to old school Olympia people who everybody in town knows. We get all ages races, gender, identities,” Dillinger bartender Jessie Hill explained.

It’s not just locals taking note. The Seattle Times recently crowned Olympia as having "destination" eats ... "worthy of a drive" south. Downtown is the hub of the booming restaurant scene.

“The downtown area is constantly evolving, and as the neighborhood gets a bit more dynamic in diversity, I think that the age demographic has definitely got a little bit younger, and that’s exciting to see,” Three Magnets Brewing general manager Victoria Martens said from behind the bar.

Three Magnets Brewing has been slinging craft beer made in-house for four years.

“We want to keep it real, not be too serious [and] have fun. [We] keep our beer interesting and we’re always changing, and we have new beers coming out every week,” Martens added.

In a downtown market with half a dozen other local eateries, standards like The Bread Peddler and The Creperie stand next door to newcomers like Dos Hermanos and Sophie’s Scoops.

“We’ve been open two years nowm and every day is better than the prior year’s day,” Sophie Landis of Sophie’s Scoops explained. “Everything from our bank, to the farmer’s market, to our neighbors in here, we continually support each other and advertise for each other. Word-of-mouth is super powerful.”

Olympia is now home to its own trendy stand-alone oyster bar.

“Olympia has been super supportive having a true farm-to-table in a real oyster bar in a town that’s named for oysters,” Chelsea Oyster Farm owner Shina Wysocki. “Most of our oysters are served from our farm, which is not 5 miles away, so that really close connection to the food system and the water is really cool for Olympia.”

If you want to check out what downtown Olympia is up to, hop on social media and search the hashtag #whyicomedowntown. That’s how locals have started sharing their culinary and social adventures.

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