PoPville Preview: Espita Mezcaleria Opening Tuesday, “Showcasing The Best of Southern Mexican Cuisine”

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9th and N Street, NW

One of the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2016 is finally here on Tuesday. The details at the space are spectacular (lots more photos after the jump.) For those not familiar with the plans:

Menu Description: The menu at Espita Mezcaleria offers rustic flavors that combine traditional Mexican and modern technique while staying true to the spirit of Southern Mexican fare. The goal is to explore the story of the Oaxacan culture in each and every bite. Additionally, the restaurant is focused on the region’s seven styles of mole. A collection of sopes, ensaladas, fundidos, tlayudas, and ceviches are also available. All of the tortillas are hand-pressed, and all dishes featuring masa are made with fresh ground masa. Standout dishes include Mole Negro with lamb neck, hoja santa, piloncillo, Mexican oregano and chile ash; Sea Scallop Ceviche with avocado salsa, pickled jalapeño, scallions and cilantro; Crispy Chanquetes, mini silverside fish with cracked pasilla and lime mayo, as well as Crab Tlayudas with Jonah crab, cebollas de cambray, spicy cream cheese mayo and arugula.

Beverage List: The bar program at Espita Mezcaleria offers an expansive, rotating selection of mezcals featuring many varietals and styles. Over 100 are available in one or two-ounce pours, a six-ounce carafe to share, as a choice of flights, or highlighted in the nine cocktails on the list. Additionally, many of the drinks at Espita Mezcaleria are also available by the pitcher for guests to share. Cocktails are priced from $12 to $16 each.

Espita-Dinner (PDF)

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Capacity: The main dining room accommodates 62 guests seated and offer guests excellent views of Shaw through the restaurants expansive windows. Those looking to focus their attention on the restaurants expansive mezcal collection are encouraged to grab a seat at the 16-seat bar or at one of the 10 additional bar stools, situated at the dining rail facing 9th Street. An outdoor patio is also available during the spring and summer months (weather permitting) and can accommodate an additional 44 seats.

Design: Josh Phillips collaborated with Rachel Reid Aikens of REID & TAYLOR Studio in New York City, to design the space. Espita was designed to combine the vibe of Oaxaca with industrial materials and lighting to create an intoxicating interior. The space is modern, casual, and approachable, while retaining the essence of a small vintage mezcal itself.

“It was really important to us to use raw materials such as concrete, metal and wood and highlight these materials with art and lighting,” says Aikens. “So much of Oaxacan interiors are about natural and found objects that create a functional environment, above and beyond Oaxaca is a culturally colorful community. We wanted the art to stand out and accomplished this by using dark materials that allow the art to come forward and the restaurant itself was the canvas. The entire interior is custom designed with the exception of the dining chairs, which were repurposed. We worked with craftsman to fine tune each design with comfort, function and style as our guide.” The backdrop for the restaurant offers a collection of murals by Yescka, an internationally renowned Oaxacan street artist and founder of the political art collection ASARO (Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca).

Another Oaxacan artist and active member of ASARO, César Chávez, were also commissioned to design the T-shirts and menus for Espita Mezcaleria.”

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14 Comment

  • Looks awesome but insanely expensive. I guess that’s the trend.

  • Menu looks phenomenal, but I agree those prices are sky-high. They’re saying that they’re using the best ingredients and making everything from scratch every morning, but this is definitely too expensive for an everyday place (especially with the fantastic El Sol right around the corner at half the price).

    • El Sol is not going for the same concept, so not really a fair comparison. I agree that El Sol’s concept and execution is great, but not the same. I’d be much more likely to go here in work/professional situation, take out-of-town family, or have a nicer date night.

      • tonyr

        The prices aren’t astronomical, compared to some places in the area, and you get “excellent views of Shaw through the windows” – who doesn’t like looking at the convention center? A 44-seat patio will be a bit snug though.

  • This looked awesome until I saw how damn expensive it was. Come on, Shaw. Stop being fancy.

  • Honestly wondering: Do a lot of people like Mezcal — enough to go here just to drink whatever rotating selection they’re offering? Or will the draw likely be just for the food?

  • This really depends on the portions. If the portions are big then I think this works but man I don’t know if you can get $23 bucks for 3 tiny steak tacos. But then again I thought the same when I went to Tico and that place is always packed…

  • Comment Artist

    LOL at “most anticipated”!

    • Have you been hiding under a rock? ‘One of the most anticipated’ and it is. On Eater, Zagat, WashPost, Washingtonian, CityPaper etc. It’s a class act. People were talking more about this than Buttercream and All Purpose in the same development.

  • I’m not sure any other city has so many bougiefied mexican restaurants.

  • $3 for each salsa. I don’t care if the corn tortilla chips are heirloom. I just hold this truth sacred: chips and salsa are the bread and butter of a Mexican restaurant. It should come with the meal. Come on. And plus 1,000 for El Sol.

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