Washington DC-Dupont Circle
May 11, 2018
The theme at Chi-Cha is Latino. The former fire station building is modelled on Ecuadorian owner Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld’s grandmother’s hacienda. You get pumping Latin jazz four nights a week while you sit on comfy couches tasting Latino snacks like tostados and corn kernels. The exterior is fairly unprepossessing, but inside it’s really rather gorgeous. Red walls and exposed brick give the place a cosy feel; art adorns the walls, and the lighting is soft and warm, music like Peruvian and Bolivian folk tinkles through the sound system, though DJs liven the place up Thursdays through Saturday. The signature cocktail is the red or white Chi-cha, made with an unnamed Latin alcohol and mixed with a variety of tropical fruits from pineapple to kiwi, though there are plenty of other choices available There’s a happy hour Monday-Friday 5-7pm, when selected cocktails are $4 and martinis $6, with snacks around the $5-7 mark including empanadas, sorullitos and home-made plantain chips. Food is ‘nuevo Latino’ and ‘Modern Andean’ served tapas style delights include crispy yucca fingers, corn fritters stuffed with cheese and crab bruschetta rolls, and be sure to save some room for desserts, which include traditional style flans. Seating is grouped together so that it all becomes a bit of a communal experience, encouraging people to mingle. All of which begs the question: what the hell are the customers doing smoking that hookah pipe? Turns out Mauricio and his wife fell in love with it on a Middle East holiday and brought it back to the good denizens of DC – for which they are most grateful.