Nearly eight months ago when the pandemic hit, the restaurant decided to temporarily close and refocus its efforts and offerings. Copa reopened in May with an updated menu, a new partnership with its sister store Uptown Market to offer grocery pickups and a shifting customer base to cater to (think less office group gatherings and more residential, neighborhood guests).
Fast-forward to fall, and the team continues to pivot and innovate with plans to bring warmth during the cooler months in the form of a tiki bar on their newly expanded patio – complete with new heaters and a menu that leans into Spanish influences.
The refreshed menu, featuring authentic tapas with American flavors sprinkled in, has been well received so far, partly because it offers diners the opportunity to “mix and match a variety of different items,” says Copa’s culinary director, Fernando Giacomini. The smaller bites, such as garlic shrimp, jamón y queso and seared pulpo, lend well to the restaurant’s popularity as a sports-watching spot (especially now that some sports have resumed scheduled games) and limitless tapas can be enjoyed Monday and Tuesdays.
Among the more popular dishes, Giacomini pinpoints the crispy brava potatoes (Copa’s version of the popular Spanish tapa) topped with piri piri aioli as a fan favorite. The larger, shareable yuca nachos are also not to be missed. Giacomini notes the team spent “a lot of time getting the freshly sliced yuca very crispy, thin and maintaining a nice color,” and that they’ve been, “a huge crowd-pleaser.”
Copa’s unlimited brunch menu launched when the restaurant reopened, and that too has been a popular addition. For $39, diners can order their share of small plates, marrying classic tapas like empanadas and churros with popular brunch items, pot pie croquettes and french toast (another standout dish that Giacomini recommends). House-made sangrias, mimosas and Bloody Marys can be added on for $2 each. Although the unlimited tapas can only be enjoyed at the restaurant, a new “Copa at Home” menu with family-style items like paella is available for takeout and delivery.
For guests looking to dine-in, Copa offers an expanded patio for outdoor seating along with tables inside the open air restaurant featuring large, garage-style windows. The space is complemented by a festive, outdoor tiki bar where guests can purchase to-go drinks and snacks that can be enjoyed on the patio or anywhere in the Quarter Market food hall.
Once the winter season arrives, the tiki bar will move indoors closer to the restaurant’s entrance inside Quarter Market and will offer street tacos, empanadas and other menu items. Heat lamps will be a welcome, warming addition to the patio, and the team at Copa is in talks with Ballston Quarter management for other opportunities to winterize the space.
Unlimited tapas are available Monday and Tuesday from 3 p.m. to close; unlimited brunch tapas are available Saturday and Sunday from 12-4 p.m. Explore the full menu and learn more about Copa Kitchen & Bar on their website, and follow on Instagram.
Copa Kitchen & Bar: 4238 Wilson Blvd. Suite 150, Arlington, VA, www.copakitchenbar.com
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