Food

Colada Shop Opens a Waterfront Cuban Cafe at the DC Wharf

The new location will have a roomy patio and a bigger food and cocktail menu.

Cuban cafe Colada Shop opens at the Wharf. Photograph by Rey Lopez

All-day Cuban cafe Colada Shop is almost ready to open a bright waterfront location at Southwest DC’s Wharf. Co-owner Daniella Senior says her team is eyeing an early July opening for the restaurant, which will be larger than its siblings in Logan Circle and Sterling. It’ll also boast a more diverse menu. 

The new cafe will have a 50-seat patio for waterfront dining. Photograph by Rey Lopez

In addition to offering longtime favorites like Cuban sandwiches, and flaky empanadas, food and beverage director Mario Monte has added heartier plates for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the morning you’ll find caldero items cooked in a traditional aluminum vessel, such as poached eggs in sofrito (“shakshuka-style” says Senior), or a Spanish-inspired version with a stew of chickpeas, peppers, and chorizo. Cuban classics like ropa vieja will make an appearance, as will sides such as avocado with pickled onions, crispy yucca, tostones, and stewed sweet plantains with cinnamon and anise. The entrees can be served with rice and beans or salad.

The team is also changing up the fast-casual service style. Customers will still order at a counter, but food runners will now bring plated meals to the 50-odd patio seats (space indoors will be determined by health guidelines closer to opening). There’s also a separate area for the extensive coffee program and a full sit-down bar.

“We’re keeping it casual but want people to relax a little more,” says Senior.

Service is cafe-style. Customers place orders at a counter but food and drink are brought plate to tables. Photograph by Rey Lopez

Pina coladas and mojitos aren’t going anywhere, but the new cafe will have a broader bar program with spirits beyond rum. Guests can match a range of spirits with tropical mixers like coconut water, ginger beer, tonic, and fresh guava or pineapple juice. There’s also a new line of refreshing highballs to sip by the water.

Dominican artist Kilia Llano painted the outside mural. Photograph by Andrew Seavey

Dominican artist Kilia Llano painted the outside of the cafe—a vibrant visual in the new waterfront development.

I keep getting asked how the Wharf allowed us to do the storefront—it’s very bright,” says Senior. “Every time I see it, I love it.”

Colada Shop at the DC Wharf. 10 Pearl St., SW

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.