Colada Shop Is Coming to Clarendon

Slated to open in early 2024, the Cuban cafe and bar promises rum drinks, pastelitos, Caribbean-style brunch and more.

A Colada Rum Toddy at Colada Shop (Photo courtesy of Colada Shop)

Clarendon will get a little taste of Havana when Colada Shop opens its sixth location there early next year.

Situated at 1440 North Edgewood Street, just across from Whole Foods Market and on the ground floor of the new Life Time Clarendon co-working and fitness complex, the 2,200-square foot space will be the second biggest in the Colada Shop family. (The Potomac, Maryland location of the Cuban bar and restaurant concept is the largest.)

“I live in Arlington, so I’m very, very excited to have a store close to home,” says Daniella Senior, Colada Shop’s founder and CEO. “The Clarendon community is definitely a younger, vibrant demographic, which we have noticed is our core customer base—not exclusively, but our core customer base.”

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An Old Fashioned featuring cascara (a syrup made with the dried skins of coffee cherries) at Colada Shop (Photo by Rey Lopez)

The bar area of the Clarendon location will be noteworthy, she says, offering an expanded cocktail and beverage program. Patrons can look forward to fan favorites such as pina coladas, daiquiris, Mojitos and the Carajillo, “our Latino version of an espresso martini,” made with Colada Shop’s signature Havana Blend coffee, banana liqueur and spiced maduro syrup. Plus some creative new additions.

“We have been primarily a rum-based establishment,” Senior says, but the beverage program in Clarendon will also include a full bar and riffs on Cuban classics that incorporate other spirits.

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A Cuban sandwich at Colada Shop (Courtesy photo)

From the food menu, empanadas and the restaurant’s Cuban sandwich are perennially popular. The guava BBQ ribs—slow-roasted pork ribs slathered in house-made guava barbecue sauce and served with yucca fries—have also been a top-seller this summer, she says.

The location on a side street in the heart of Clarendon is a plus. “We’re kind of tucked in an alley where we can create our own little space and ambience, so we’re excited to…provide a tropical oasis for the community,” Senior says, adding that there will also be a 16-seat patio.

Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Senior came to D.C. in 2010 after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America. She worked with celebrity chef and philanthropist José Andrés for several years before launching the first Colada Shop in Sterling in 2016 to fill what she perceived as a gap in the region’s Latin food market.

“I’m a classically trained chef with a lot of emphasis on French food, Italian food, ultimately, European food,” she says. “It bothers me that people are fine paying let’s say $12 or $13 for a crepe, but you try to give them a taco and you charge more than $4 and they’re freaking out, when the food itself and the craft is so high in both cases. I just want to make sure we are presenting and doing our part to elevate Latin American food.”

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La Negra Tiene Tumbao, a slushie featuring coconut milk, pineapple juice, Coco Lopez and rum (Photo by Rey Lopez)

Senior credits Colada Shop’s success, in part, to being open all day. Hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 8, 9 or 10 p.m., depending on the day and location.

“I think being flexible [and] community-based has made it very appealing,” she says. “We aim to provide what we call our four C’s: the best of coffee, cocktails, cooking and then Cubanism, which is the hospitality component of our business. We put a lot of emphasis with our team on making sure that we are welcoming each guest into our home. So I think all those things combined have made it a little bit of an oasis…along with our bright colors and music. It’s a vibe.”

Additional locations are in the works, although she declined to say where those might be. For now, the focus is on welcoming diners in Clarendon.

“All the neighborhoods that we’re in are very important to us, and we don’t like to create cookie-cutter spaces,” Senior says. “I see each restaurant also as an education piece, showcasing our culture and what it has to offer.”

Each restaurant has a mural intended to represent that area’s identity and personality. Paintings by Dominican artist Kilia Llano exude a Caribbean sensibility at the cafe’s other locations in D.C. and the Mosaic district.

“We are looking very much forward to making sure we are part of that Clarendon community and the Arlington community,” Senior says, “and be reflective of its people.”

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Categories: Food & Drink