Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Dish of the Week: Colada Shop’s Cuban Sandwich

Anthony DeRosa

An all-day café is embracing the Cuban coffee-sharing tradition and bringing fresh Caribbean flavors to the District.

Founded in 2016 by Daniella Senior, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Colada Shop has since grown into five restaurants across the D.C. region, with three more on the way. The fast-casual restaurant draws its name from the Cuban colada tradition, which is all about sharing potent Cuban espresso with friends and a great way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

As a Cuban from Miami, I’m always on the lookout for the comforting Caribbean flavors I know so well from home, and when I first heard of Colada Shop, I knew I had to give it a try.

Their Dupont Circle location, which opened this past January, is one block south of the circle. You can stop by practically anytime; they’re open Sunday through Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Walking by, you can’t miss its sizable, bright sea green outdoor patio jutting out onto the sidewalk.

Upon entering, my eyes were immediately drawn to large, metallic coffee machines, overflowing with deep coffee beans, which stand behind a long, sand-like marble countertop. To the right of the coffee bar, there is a shopping area where you can peruse local artists’ works and a fridge stacked with Colada Shop favorites, including their croquetas, empanadas and chicken sofritas, frozen and ready to take home.

The interior embraces the Cuban flag’s colors, combining various hues of reds and blues adorning the booths, tables and a large menu above the checkout — not to mention the wooden features that add a more natural island vibe to the funky colors around the shop. A vibrant wall-to-wall mural on the far left side of the café depicts a woman in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, painted by local Dominican artist Kilia Llano. Adding to the authenticity, classic Afro-Cuban salsa filled the air — sure to make Celia Cruz proud if she were here to visit.

Given the option to order at our table or on a screen near the entrance, my friend and I opted to dine in, scanning the QR code placed on the table to order. Colada Shop caters to a variety of diners, serving as both a morning café for a quick cortadito and pastelito, like the authentic Cuban ventanita, and as a full-service restaurant serving tropical cocktails, like their Guava Leaf Negroni ($13), and hearty dishes.

After mulling over the menu, we decided to begin with a few classic dishes. We selected the croquetas de jamón ($2 each), a sweet cream cheese pastelito ($4.25) and though it was evening, a cortadito ($4.50), a classic Cuban coffee made with half Cuban espresso and half-steamed milk.

As a Miami native, I have had more than 500 different croquetas, but Colada Shop’s croquetas de jamón managed to stand out. The breaded exterior was fried to a deep, crispy brown that melted upon first bite. As for the ham, typically Cuban croquetas have a sweet ham bechamel filling, but this one was much smokier and meatier, filled with larger pieces of ham.

The sweet cream cheese pastelito, an iconic Cuban pastry, was warm, buttery and flaky in an authentic triangle shape, the main method for differentiating pastelitos. I dipped it into my cortadito, moistening the pastry a bit, and ended the starters round with a looming taste of slightly sweet, rich coffee touching my tongue.

For our main courses, we shared the Cuban Sandwich ($13.95) and Ropa Vieja ($23). The Cuban was filled to the brim with ham, slow-roasted pork, Swiss cheese, mustard, pickles and cilantro aioli, all on Cuban bread. The pork was incredibly tender, gushing with a tangy mojo and cheese melted within it.

The sweetness of the ham was complimented well by the acidity from the mustard and pickles, combining for an utterly mouthwatering bite. Holding all of these ingredients was the make or break of any Cuban sandwich: the bread. Their Cuban bread, which is similar to an Italian loaf, was flaky, savory yet light and toasted, safely containing all of the key ingredients. I think I’m going to need Colada Shop to start selling loaves of it because I have yet to find a place in the District to buy authentic Cuban bread.

The Ropa Vieja, which translates to old clothes, consists of juicy shredded meat swimming in a rich tomato sauce. This one offered a braised beef or jackfruit option, complemented by cilantro lime rice, tostones — pressed fried green plantains — avocado and pickled onions. The beef was soaked with the rich, slightly tangy tomato sauce that pooled at the bottom of the dish, giving the fluffy rice additional flavor. Another star was the tostones, which were crisp to perfection but had a satisfyingly dense, starchy inside.

To close out our heavenly night in Havana, we indulged in an order of tres leches ($7.50). The sponge cake was truly a delicacy, moist from the evaporated, condensed and whole milk, each bite more sweet and comforting than the last, practically dissolving in our mouths.

Colada Shop brings classic Cuban flavors you can get any time of the day while uniting community, coffee, and comida rica (tasty food).

Colada Shop. 1900 N St. NW. Open Sunday through Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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