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When charcuterie king Nate Anda isn’t breaking down whole hogs or checking on the cure of the products he sells at Red Apron Butcher, he’s frequently seated in a taqueria devouring his favorite food. So when Neighborhood Restaurant Group began brainstorming what food offerings to build into The Roost, their multi-restaurant, multi-bar concept on Capitol Hill, they let Anda run with tacos.
Like B Side in the Mosaic District in northern Virginia, Anda’s taco shop borrows its name from music. Hi/Fi Taco (short for high-fidelity) will serve a tight menu of up to seven tacos, nachos, taquitos, and quesadillas. “We started doing research and development on tacos in 2016 because it’s something we’ve wanted to do,” Anda says. He taste-tested tacos everywhere from California to Texas. “From the get-go we knew we weren’t going to serve very traditional-style tacos.”
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The Hi/Fi Taco carnitas taco, for example, incorporates orange soda. “There’s something in carbonated beverages that breaks down proteins,” he explains. “With carnitas, there’s citrus involved—usually oranges. I wanted the syrupy-ness of orange soda as it reduces down.” Chipotle peppers and charred cinnamon both lend smoky flavor.
Anda isn’t afraid to incorporate everything from Fernet Branca to tangerine zest into his charcuterie offerings. Diners should expect the same creative approach to tacos.
Look forward to “Taco Night in America” with seasoned ground beef, a crispy shell, lettuce, pico, sour cream, and atomic whiz; “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” with pig’s head, American cheese, smoked tomato salsa, and shredded lettuce; and “Don(er)’t Fear The Reaper” with doner, labneh, macerated onions, spicy pickles, and flatbread made from the same dough Anda uses to make his signature tigelle bread at The Partisan and Red Apron. He’ll slap the yeast-risen dough into a tortilla press to get the desired shape.
No word yet on if Hi/Fi Taco will have its own drinks for pairing with tacos. Currently The Roost is set up to have two main bars where patrons can purchase drinks: a cocktail bar from Nick Farrell called Show of Hands and a beer hall from Greg Engert called Shelter. Both highlight low-ABV beverages.
Anda will do double duty inside the 12,500-square-foot space. In addition to Hi/Fi Taco, The Roost will have an outpost of Red Apron Butcher. Those missing the burgers at EatBar, which closed in March on Barracks Row, will have a new spot for between-the-bun options from the restaurant group. There will also be steak frites, charcuterie plates, several varieties of poutine, and an array of sandwiches including Anda’s take on McDonald’s “McRib.”
“We marinate the ribs in palm sugar, kaffir lime, fish sauce, brown sugar, a little spice, and more aromatics,” Anda says. “We wet marinade it for a day and a half, smoke them, and steam them. Once they’re steamed, you can pluck the bones right out and cut out the riblet area.” The ribs will also be used for a taco at Hi/Fi.
The Roost was initially slated to launch in the fall, but NRG is now projecting an early 2020 opening.
The Roost, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE