City Paper is not for tourists
At three restaurants, it’s safe to call Alfredo Solis a restaurateur. The chef who started as a dishwasher decades ago is behind Mexican eateries El Sol and Mezcalero. In early May, he’ll add Little Havana to the mix. The Cuban-inspired restaurant is set to open at 3704 14th St. NW.
Solis tapped Chef Joseph Osorio to lead the kitchen. While Osorio’s family is from Colombia, his godmother is Cuban and he was born and raised in New York around the city’s Cuban community.
The menu will feature traditional Cuban fare, like Cuban sandwiches paired with sides such as fried yucca and plantains, plus some modern twists on well known recipes. For example, he’ll make ropa vieja with tender short ribs instead of the standard shredded pork shoulder.
Another dish, chicharrón de pollo, features dark meat chicken that’s marinated in lemon and lightly breaded before being flash fried and served with a roasted garlic aioli.
“I’m so excited to do this concept with Joseph,” Solis says. “I love Cuban food. My interpretation of a few dishes is to make them nice. I don’t like to have a big plate of food.” He adds, “The most important thing for me is to keep reasonable prices and good quality.”
Though it will open with dinner only, Little Havana will eventually offer breakfast and brunch featuring Cuban coffee, fresh tropical juices, and pastries.
The restaurant seats about 60 inside with an additional 16 seats on the patio. Little Havana will have an open kitchen planted in the center of the dining room. “It’s a nice thing when people come and see us cooking the food,” Osorio says. “Everyone loves that Food Network, seeing chefs do their thing.”
In the back of the restaurant sits a rum bar where Heriberto Casasanero, formally of Copycat Co., will make drinks that lean heavy on the Caribbean spirit.
Solis and Osorio are excited to bring Cuban food to the masses. “We’ve worked in American restaurants, but we’re introducing food that represents us,” Osorio says. “That way people will understand our culture.”
Little Havana, 3704 14th St. NW