Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Espita Mezcaleria Opens Mid-February in the Nation’s Capital, Showcasing the Best of Southern Mexican Cuisine

From our friends at Espita Mezcaleria...

Master Mezcalier Josh Phillips is pleased to announce the early January anticipated opening of Espita Mezcaleria, the 122-seat Oaxacan-inspired restaurant located in the Shaw neighborhood at 1250 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001. The restaurant will specialize in authentic flavors of Southern Mexico, with a focus on Oaxaca’s seven styles of mole and a selection of tacos. A collection of sopes, ensaladas, fundidos, tlayudas, and ceviches will also be available. All of the tortillas will be hand-pressed, and all dishes featuring masa will be made with fresh ground masa. Espita Mezcaleria will open with dinner service, with lunch and brunch to follow at a later date.

Executive Chef Alexis Samayoa's opening menu will feature starters such as Guacamole Clasico with avocado, jalapeño, onion and cilantro, along with six salsas that incorporate fresh chilies sourced locally, and dried chilies imported from Mexico. Standouts include Pistachio with roasted tomatillo, Serrano, sherry and mint, Roja with guajillo, roasted tomato and chipotle, Verde Asado with roasted Serrano, tomatillo and cilantro, Macha with peanut, roasted tomato, ancho and arbol, Chipotle Tomatillo with moritas and roasted tomatillo, as well as Borracha with mezcal, roasted tomatillo and moritas. Guacamole is priced at $11, and salsas are priced at $3 each. Both will be accompanied with chips made from fresh tortillas.

Smaller sharing options will include a selection of Ceviches, Fundido, Sopes, Ensaladas, and Tlayudas. Ceviche options include Sea Scallop with avocado salsa, pickled jalapeño, scallions and cilantro; Pulpo, octopus, avocado puree, and escabechado of carrots and onion; Snapper with aguachile, ginger and orange segments, and the Hamachi with pineapple, watermelon radish and sangrita. Fundido will be made from Chihuahua cheese with a choice of either Rainbow Chard & Cremini Mushrooms, or Red Chorizo, each served with fresh tortillas. Sopes will include Smoked Eggplant with salsa borracha and the Ibirria de Short Rib. Ensaladas will include Green Kale with candied walnuts, queso fresco, chile pasilla and agave vinaigrette; Beet with golden and red beets, purple ninja and watermelon radishes and pomegranate habanero dressing, and Market Greens with cracked pasilla and avocado dressing. Tlayuda choices include Avocado with salsa roja, romaine, pickled red onions and queso Oaxaca and Crab with Jonah crab, cebollas de cambray, spicy cream cheese mayo and arugula. Smaller sharing options range in price from $9 to $18.

Then onto tempting taco choices which include the Skirt Steak with garlic mojo and cilantro; Chicken with bell pepper sofrito; Al Pastor with salsa ranchera and seared pineapple; Grilled Tilapia with pickled carrot, cabbage slaw and chipotle mayo; Maitake Mushroom with salsa borracha and pickled white onion; Lamb Barbacoa with chipotle tomatillo salsa, onion and queso fresco; Mezcal Braised Pork Tongue with cabbage and mustard oil mayo, and Crispy Chanquetes, mini silverside fish with cracked pasilla and lime mayo. Tacos range in price from $10 to $16 for two, and from $14 to $23 for three.

The star of the show at Espita Mezcaleria is the seven styles of mole served with fresh tortillas. They range in size from enough for one to enough to share. Highlights include the Pipian with country pork ribs, pepitas, roasted tomatillo and Serrano; Poblano with carrots, parsnips, chile mulato, raisin, walnut and chocolate; Coloradito with ancho, guajillo, plantain and roasted tomato; Negro with lamb neck, hoja santa, piloncillo, Mexican oregano and chile ash; Manchamanteles with a half chicken, roasted tomato, chile pasilla, apples, bananas and canela; Amarillo with buchion mussels, epazote, chile manzano, tomato, tomatillo and masa, and the Chichlo with beef short rib, avocado leaf, tomatillo, guajillo and beef stock. Moles range in price from $13 to $28. The restaurant will also feature side dish options such as Elote; Guajillo Rice; Frijoles Negros Ahogado; Platanos; Yuca Frita; Shishitos, and Extra Tortillas.

Beverage Director Megan Barnes has arranged for the perfect beverage pairing at Espita Mezcaleria.  Guests can enjoy an expansive, rotating selection of mezcals featuring many varietals and styles. Mezcal will be available in one or two ounce pours, a six-ounce carafe to share, as a choice of flights, or highlighted in the nine cocktails on the list.

The main dining room will accommodate 62 guests seated and offer guests excellent views of Shaw through the restaurant’s expansive windows. Those looking to focus their attention on the restaurant’s extensive mezcal collection are encouraged to grab a seat at the 16-seat bar or at one of the 10 additional bar stools, situated at the dining rail facing 9th Street. The backdrop for the restaurant will offer a collection of murals by Yescka, an internationally renowned Oaxacan street artist and founder of the political art collection ASARO (Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca). An outdoor patio will also be available during the spring, summer, and fall months (weather permitting) and can accommodate an additional 44 seats.

Alexis Samayoa, the executive chef of Espita Mezcaleria is a native of Brooklyn, New York and a culinary graduate of The Art Institute of New York City. He began his culinary career in 2002 serving as a chef de partie at WD-50 in Manhattan under Chef/Owner Wylie Dufresne, before going on to work as a sous chef at Txikito, a Spanish small plates restaurant under Chef/Owner Alex Raji in 2008. In February 2011, he teamed up with Chef/Owner Alex Stupak to serve as chef de cuisine of Empellón Taqueria, where he worked for almost two years before accepting a position as chef de cuisine of La Esquina, which was dubbed a “speakeasy meets Mexican hideaway” by InStyle magazine. Samayoa served at La Esquina for six months before moving onto to serve as chef de cuisine of El Vez, Stephen Starr’s Mexican concept located in Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City. Eager to leave the bustling streets of Manhattan, Samayoa accepted a position as executive chef of Tocolo Cantina in Garden City, New York, where he served from September 2014 until July 2015 when Josh Phillips recruited him to relocate to Washington, DC to open Espita Mezcaleria.

Espita Mezcaleria is located at 1250 9th Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001. The restaurant is located two blocks from the Mt Vernon Square, 7th St-Convention Center Metro Station accessible on the Green and Yellow Lines. Dinner is available Sunday through Thursday, from 5 PM to 1 AM; Friday and Saturday, from 5 PM to 2 AM. Lunch and brunch will begin at a later date. Lunch will be served Monday through Friday, from 11 AM to 5 PM. Brunch will be served Saturday and Sunday, from 10 AM to 5 PM. For reservations or additional information, please visit