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“La Famosa, a tribute to the vibrant, flavorful cuisine of Puerto Rico, opened” Earlier this week in Navy Yard

1300 4th Street, SE courtesy La Famosa

From a press release:

“La Famosa, a tribute to the vibrant, flavorful cuisine of Puerto Rico, opens its doors on September 14. The highly anticipated restaurant, located at 1300 4th Street, SE in The Bower in Navy Yard, promises a fresh take on classic Puerto Rican cuisine. An all-day, “fast-fine” restaurant, La Famosa, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner while offering an extensive coffee program and full bar of tropical-inspired drinks. The brainchild of Chef Joancarlo Parkhurst, La Famosa is a nod to the Caribbean island where he was born. Meaning ‘The Famous One’, La Famosa is the name of the Puerto Rican canning food company which Parkhurst’s family founded in 1921.

Update: “Since opening on Monday, the overwhelming support for La Famosa has been truly amazing, and our team is so appreciative of the community! We are working tirelessly to keep up with demand and to ensure that our high standards for food and service are not compromised. To that end, we are making a few temporary adjustments to the menu and operating hours including:

Lunch service is temporarily suspended. Breakfast and dinner are available 7 days a week from 7-11AM and 5-9PM respectively. Coffee and pastries are available throughout the day.
A slightly abbreviated menu.
Takeout orders will be available for walk-ins only.

We will soon return to full service including lunch, online orders and delivery. Thanks to the DC community for your patience, understanding and support during our opening week.”

The menu at La Famosa is true to the island’s rich history, comforting and creative while embracing the many cultural influences from indigenous Tainos to the African diaspora to European colonists. The menu features a wide selection of “picadera”, Puerto Rican finger foods, including a variety of savory and sweet fried turnovers called Pastelillos, Bacalaito a salt cod fritter served with salsa verde, and sandwiches such as the Tripleta made with roast pork, beef and ham, and Jibarito, a sandwich served on flattened plantains instead of bread. Larger plates such as Arroz con Pollo chicken and rice served with beans and Chuleta Kan-Kan a pork chop served with tostones or rice and beans, round out the menu. There’s also Mofongo on the menu, a quintessential Puerto Rican meal of mashed fried plantains served with a choice of pork, salt cod, shrimp or vegetarian picadillo. Chillo Frito whole crispy snapper served with coconut rice and spicy slaw, Yuca En Escabeche pickled yuca, and other familiar Puerto Rican dishes evoke a strong sense of nostalgia and joy for Parkhurst, who spent much of his childhood cooking in his grandmother’s kitchen.

Check out the menu: MENU (PDF)

“Cooking the food of my island is a point of deep personal pride and I couldn’t be more excited to bring Puerto Rican cuisine to Navy Yard,’ said Joancarlo Parkhurst. “Our food is humble and comforting yet creative through our adversity, and whether you’re new to it or well-versed in Puerto Rican food, I hope people find joy and comfort in what we’re serving,” he continued. La Famosa aims to be fun, a little irreverent but always inviting. It’s a representation of Parkhurst’s upbringing that was so deeply rooted in food, while also embracing the sense of community and belonging he has felt since moving to Washington, DC 20 years ago.

From batidos – tropical fruit blended with milk, sugar and ice – to a coffee program featuring a variety of espresso drinks and iced coffees, including ‘Café Frio’ cold brew and Coco Shakerato, made from locally roasted Ceremony Coffee, guests will also have their choice of nonalcoholic beverages for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A rum-centric cocktail list features classics and house specials like a Guava Smash, Rum Negroni and of course, a Piña Colada. A selection of white, red and rosé wines as well as draft, bottle and canned beer will also be available.

General Design Co. spearheaded branding for La Famosa, which puts Puerto Rican pride front and center by embracing familiar images of the flag and Caribbean themes, but presenting them in unexpected ways. The color palette, halftone images of pineapples and palm trees, and illustrations inspired by fruit stickers all come together to create a brand that is both nostalgic and a little offbeat, with quippy taglines like “not your mama’s mofongo,” and “mi batido brings all the gente to the Yards.”

Designed by GrizForm Design Architects, the team drew inspiration from “las casitas” that sprinkle the countryside of Puerto Rico. Playful colors such as kiwi green and coral pink are punctuated throughout the 2,300 square foot space and juxtaposed with a Caribbean-flavored wallcovering above. Exposed concrete floors with a stenciled pattern reminiscent of breeze blocks contrast the finer finishes–such as glazed brick tile and warm textured wood flooring–with a more brutalist, urban touch. These elements are softened with greenery, exposed piping wrapped with Manilla rope, woven rattan light fixtures, and cozy swing seating in the window.

The 60-seat restaurant with a 58-seat patio will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Saturday. La Famosa will offer modified service to include takeout, outdoor seating, and spaced indoor seating at 50% capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. A QR Code ordering system will allow for contactless menu viewing, ordering and payment. Delivery service will be available via DoorDash and Uber Eats. The restaurant’s “fast-fine” concept will provide the look and feel of an upscale casual restaurant without the formality and full-service experience.”

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