What’s Happening in Washington, DC: July 20, 2015

New Mexican cantinas, culinary trips to Cuba, and beer and seafood fun top the calendar this week

The District’s restaurants are serving artisan dinners, Chesapeake Bay oysters, and ceviche across the DMV.

The influence of Latin culture and food is being felt across the District as eateries feature food from Cuba, Mexico, South America, and other Spanish speaking countries. Interest in French food is also seen around town while our love affair with locally sourced ingredients, artisan foods, and oysters continues. Explore the tastes and textures of our local cuisine or venture to Cuba to unlock its mysteries; we have it all this week. 

Black Jack to Host “Shuck & Chug” Tasting Event
While it may be too hot to eat Gulf oysters, the cooler waters of the Chesapeake Bay’s bivalves are tasty with an icy cold brew from Lagunitas. On Saturday, July 25 from 3 to 5 p.m., immerse yourself in great beer and great food at Black Jack and get schooled in oyster farming from Tim Devine, owner of Maryland-based Barren Island Oysters. Nosh on shrimp po’ boy sandwiches, angels on horseback—and plenty of fresh oysters. Tickets are $50 per person plus tax, but the gratuity is included and there will be free Lagunitas swag to take home. 

Cuba Libre Hosts Culinary Trip to Cuba
If you’ve dreamt of visiting Cuba, your wait is finally over. In October, chef-partner Guillermo Pernot, of Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, and Cultural Contrast, the leading provider of travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens, are taking 20 lucky people on a six-day, five-night culinary visit to Cuba. You’ll be guided by an English-speaking Cuban guide; visit Artechef, The Havana Culinary School; shop in Havana’s famed open-air markets, trek to the grounds of a tobacco plantation to learn the art of rolling a cigar; dine on authentic local cuisine in paladares, and more. Travel dates are Friday, October 2 to Wednesday, October 7; the cost per person for double occupancy is $3,999 with lodging in Parque Central Hotel, an elegant five-star hotel located on beautiful Central Park in the heart of Havana. For more information, please email Cuba Libre.  

Macon Bistro & Larder Hosts First Artisan Dinner Series
Macon Bistro & Larder has already made a name for itself by serving handcrafted culinary staples and incorporating them into their seasonally inspired dishes, and now they are celebrating this trend. Join them on Wednesday, July 29 at 6:30 p.m. when they host a five-course dinner featuring the artisan, small batch vinegars crafted by Daniel Liberson of Lindera Farms Vinegar. Using sustainable ingredients sourced from Virginia, his acclaimed vinegars are favored by discerning chefs, bartenders, and foodies for their intense flavors and versatility. Dinner is $65 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Seating is limited to 16 people so contact general manager AJ Johnson to make your reservation. 

Pepita Coastal Cantina to Open in Arlington Virginia July 30
Chef Mike Isabella loves Mexican food and to satisfy his craving for it he’s opening Pepita in Ballston at 4000 Wilson Boulevard on July 30. This small neighborhood spot will seat 32 people inside, 44 on the greenery-draped patio, and its décor is meant to evoke the casual cantinas that line Mexico’s coast. The colorful yellow, light green tiles and white accents mirror the bright food and the compact 15-item menu includes classics like ceviche, tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas as well as comforting street foods like tortas and elote. Tres leches and frozen, boozy push pops are stars on the dessert menu and dine in and carry out are both available. What’s different are rotating, daylong happy hour specials on food and delicious drinks. Try the Mexican cocktails made with fresh fruit and coconut for a reviving pick-me-up.


Summer Whitford is the D.C. City Guide Editor at The Daily Meal and the DC Wine Examiner. You can follow her on Twitter @FoodandWineDiva.