Peruvian native and chef Carlos Delgado is bringing his home country’s cuisine to H Street NE with the opening of Ocopa on July 18. (UPDATE: the opening is now Aug. 5.) The restaurant is a partnership with the owners of Chicken Tortilla, which will close its Barracks Row location after Friday.
Delgado, who previously worked at Boveda and The Caucus Room Brasserie, grew up in the port town of Callao, Peru, eating ceviche everyday, so the dish will feature prominently on the menu with some staple recipes and others that rotate seasonally. Delgado will import black clams, which have dark juices, from Peru, but he also plans to take advantage of local seafood. The menu will also include Peruvian-style maki sushi, causa (a mashed yellow potato dish with layers of meats, seafoods, and vegetables), grilled meat skewers, and more. Delgado brought clay pots from Peru to serve a stew-type dish with sundried potatoes with pork belly. He plans to eventually have a Monday-only tasting menu at the 10-seat bar with about 11 courses plus alcohol pairings for around $80.
Pastry chef Neni Ramirez, a Costa Rican who recently moved to D.C. from Italy, will produce desserts, including a marshmallow-filled chocolate cup filled with alcohol and served with ice cream.
The fairly large basement kitchen will have a hydroponic garden in the basement; Delgado has the same kind of system used to grow marijuana, but rest assured he will only be using it for legal herbs and plants that the kitchen can use year-round. Among the things he plans to grow is a type of black mint called huacatay that’s used to make the Peruvian sauce known as ocopa, from which the restaurant gets its name.
For lunch, Ocopa will specialize in half and whole rotisserie chickens, which will also be available to go. Ocopa, the sauce, will be one of six accompanying sauces to choose from. Sides will include arroz chaufa (Peruvian fried rice) and yucca fries. “I’m trying to hit the cheap lunch market so that anybody can here and spend $10 and feel satisfied,” Delgado says. The chicken will be available for carryout only during dinner hours. There will also be delivery within a select area.
The space is dominated by counter seating, and the few table seats all face the kitchen so no one’s backs will be turned away from the cooking action. Graffiti art will cover the walls. There’s also a 50-seat back patio and bar out back, where you’ll be order a separate menu of bites plus cocktails and Peruvian beers. Bartender Glendon Hartley, whose resume includes Cava Mezze Group and Founding Farmers, will oversee the pisco-heavy cocktail menu. An outdoor rotisserie will also turnout whole suckling pigs, lamb, and chickens in the summer.
Ocopa, 1324 H St. NE; (202) 396-1814; facebook.com/ocopadc
Photos by Andy Truong and Cesar Olivares