Colada Shop, the buzzworthy Cuban coffee and cocktail bar, is now in the District as of February, after opening its first location last summer in Sterling, Va. Colada’s Communications Director, Maru Valdes, says the DC spot is a welcome addition to the family. We caught up with him to learn more about the restaurant’s new location.
On Tap: What was the inspiration behind Colada Shop?
Maru Valdes: We have always been enchanted by Cuba. We wanted to celebrate the Cuban tradition of starting and ending the day. We wanted to pay homage to the Caribbean way of doing coffee, food, cocktails and social lifestyle. There is a fascinating story behind Colada Shop that marries two seemingly different cultures under the same roof: the contemporary lifestyles of Washingtonians and the Cuban culture of sharing and social gatherings.
OT: How is Colada’s new location different than the one in Sterling?
MV: This second outpost is a much cozier interpretation of our sister location in Loudoun County, but definitely has the same energy and radiant atmosphere.
OT: How would you describe the ambiance of the DC location?
MV: Colada Shop’s signature characteristics are the soft but vibrant hues, with “everyday” objects relating to the common street culture of Cuba. We have a wonderful mural of Tomasina, a woman from Old Havana whose passion for life, change and fearlessness is responsible for encouraging Juan and Daniella to bring the flavors and spirit of Cuba to the DC metropolitan area. This iconic representation of simple and ordinary elements keeps propelling the Cuban American culture forward.
OT: Any customer favorites on the menu thus far?
MV: Guests are really excited about our Cubano sandwiches (slow-roasted pork shoulder, Swiss cheese, cured ham, pickles and a signature mojo sauce) and the classic piña coladas.
OT: What’s a standout drink on the menu?
MV: Something [that] has really caught the attention of guests has been the colada, which is central to Colada Shop. This is four ounces of Cuban-style espresso, traditionally meant to be shared. Sharing a colada remains a prominent social and cultural activity, and is customary of workplace breaks in Cuban communities.
OT: What about a standout dish?
MV: For food, the veggie cubano has also been very popular. It is made with mojo-marinated portabella mushrooms, roasted cauliflower, Swiss cheese, cilantro aioli and mustard, and is served on Cuban bread. If you [didn’t] know it [was] a vegetarian sandwich, you would think you [were] indulging in the classic Cuban (made with pork).