Amparo Fonditas coctel de camaróns coctel de camarón
Amparo Fonditas coctel de camaróns coctel de camarón Credit: Meaghan Webster

The buzz about La Cosecha was loud and proud. The 20,000 square-foot marketplace from the same developer as Union Market opened in October at 1280 4th St. NE. Leading up to debut there was a Sept. 7 block party and concert to commemorate the momentous occasion.

But when opening day came, hardly any of the restaurants, bars, or retail shops planned for EDENS’ La Cosecha were operating at full capacity. Washingtonian reported that six ventures were operating as pop-ups and another four had “coming-soon” status. 

Three months later, not much has changed. When it comes to restaurants and bars, only Latin cocktail bar Seranata from the Colada Shop team has been in full swing from the start. El Cielo, from big-name international Chef Juan Manuel Barrientos, is still serving preview dinners in a small, glass-enclosed space in the back corner of the market where there’s only room for a handful of tables, for example. When this reporter dined at El Cielo, the restaurant served drinks from Serenata. 

La Cosecha continues to only be open Thursdays through Sundays. Pressed for information, La Cosecha representatives only offered that more businesses will be operating in their permanent capacity in the first quarter of 2020, starting with Peruvian Brothers‘ grand opening slated for February. 

Now, at least one restaurant is pulling out. Chef Christian Irabién’s modern Mexican restaurant Amparo Fondita will no longer be a part of La Cosecha. Irabién, whose resume includes Oyamel, says his restaurant has always been an ambitious undertaking in what’s an increasingly challenging restaurant market.

“As one of many in D.C.’s immigrant community, we face unique obstacles in trying to open our own ventures,” Irabién says in a statement. “Many of us do not have access to traditional funding vehicles and rather than being able to raise money through a ‘friends-and-family’ round, we are in fact sending money home.” (Many budding restaurateurs depend on their friends and family for initial investments.)

Irabién asserts that he and his team are still meeting with investors and looking for a space for a brick-and-mortar location for Amparo Fondita. In the meantime, the restaurant will continue its long run of putting on pop-ups, being a part of special events, and offering catering. Irabién’s goal remains the same: “push back against the ideas most-often associated with immigrant-run restaurants—that they’re ‘holes in the wall’ or ‘off the beaten path.’”

Amparo Fondita dishes have included huitlacoche agnolotti; caldo de camarón; and shortrib birria with dragonfruit. 

Next up, Irabién is teaming up with Second Breakfast to host a one-day breakfast taco and vintage clothing pop-up on Jan. 12 inside Sun’s Cinema at 3107 Mt Pleasant St. NW. “SUNNYSIDE UP” will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The menu will consist of three-taco platters for $10 served alongside fresh salsas and Micheladas. Look forward to egg tacos with chorizo—a dish Irabién’s grandfather used to make in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Second Breakfast is an online and roving vintage clothing and accessory marketplace inspired by the likes of Prince, Dolly Parton, and Stevie Nicks