Chef Spike Mendelsohn’s long-standing Santa Rosa Taqueria closed on Capitol Hill in March of last year due to the pandemic. But thanks to the Mendelsohn family’s Sunnyside Restaurant Group, the fast-casual Mexican spot is getting a new life at 301 Pennsylvania Avenue, Southeast. A late winter opening is expected for the two-story, 60-seat restaurant, which will also boast a 60-seat patio come spring.
Sunnyside CEO Micheline Mendelsohn says the restaurant is a passion project for her and mother Catherine Mendelsohn, who have spent the past year streamlining the concept with longtime chef Brian Lacayo. Service will still be fast-casual, though the menu will have more sit down and happy hour-friendly items. In addition to the classic lineup of tacos and queso, look for dishes like spiced wings, a nacho sampler, Korean tacos, and trompo—al pastor-style tacos cooked on a rotating spit.
The team is also welcoming new talent to the bar: Gina Chersevani, owner of Buffalo & Bergen and Last Call Bar. The veteran mixologist will design whimsical (and strong!) margaritas, and other drinks. Look for weekday happy hour—plus some weekend specials—when Santa Rosa opens.
“We’re going for more of a bar atmosphere, because we’ve heard from a lot of neighbors about what they want,” says Mendelsohn, who also operates We, the Pizza and Good Stuff Eatery locations nearby. “We’ve been hard hit because we lost a lot of tourism and day workers. What’s really sustained us has been the neighborhood.”
Santa Rosa Taqueria. 301 Pennsylvania Ave., SE