Ruta del Vino, the new Latin Wine bar at 800 Upshur St NW, opens its doors to the public on Saturday, November 12th at 5pm.
The new restaurant had two preview nights this week to help the staff practice and get ready for the opening. My wife Heather and I attended the second night on Friday, and had a great experience. The restaurant is beautiful, especially after a year long tear down and renovation.
The space used to be a cosmetics store, and then the Riyad inconvenience store before owners Justin and Jessica Logan, along with their co-investor Michelle Rodriguez, leased the building last October. Justin told me that when they started the work early on, they discovered much of the wood in the building was infested with termites. The electrical, water and gas lines all had to be redone, ceiling and floors had to be removed and redone. Plus, the restaurant also took over the empty space next to 800 Upshur St, and that space needed major renovations.
What resulted is a beautiful space that has all new wide-plank floors and reuses the original tin ceiling tiles, now repainted and looking great. You can see some of the original wood floor and planks being repurposed in a beautiful doorway and wall at the rear of the restaurant. One really nice features is the row of small windows that run along the Upshur and 8th Street sides. These windows are original to the building, but have long been hidden and are now happily exposed, keeping the building’s character.
Justin and Jessica have children, and know the benefit of a changing table in the bathroom, so that question can be checked off your list (it is Petworth afterall).
For our dinner experience on their second night preview, things went really well. From a welcome at the door when we entered to a great waitress, Rita, who helped us out with the menu, everyone seemed pretty calm and in a great mood. Check out the menus: cocktails, wine and their appetizer and entree menu.
We picked two appetizers, the Smoked Octopus (with black garlic crema, ancho chiles and watercress) and the Rockfish ceviche (with cumin, lime, jalapeño, red onion, spiced pepitas, avocado and cilantro). I loved both, and since I’m not a huge seafood fan, it was a really pleasant surprise. (Someone else has the Steamed Clams, and said they were delicious, and a bit spicy. Comes with aji amarillo, potatoes, grilled corn, house-smoked pork belly and cilantro.)
The octopus has a great spice rub and the ceviche was a nice sour vinegar acid. I could easily have had a giant bowl of it for dinner and been really happy.
My wife had the Pollo a la Huancaína, roasted chicken with grilled potatoes and spicy huancaína sauce. She really enjoyed it, and said it had a really nice spice to it. I had the Carne Asada, a chile-rubbed hanger steak with a very good chimichurri sauce and crispy yucca fries.
Check out the full menu, both their dinner and drinks (they offer a very large list of wine and cocktails), and make plans for a date night. Ruta del Vino is a very welcome addition to Petworth and Upshur Street, offering another reason to walk to a wonderful meal right here in the neighborhood.
“We want to be a neighborhood place,” Justin told me. “We have 18 tasty, funky Latin wines on our opening list and the most expensive one is $44 by the bottle. We worked hard to bring in high quality food that we felt constituted good value, too. We don't do small plates because while those are great for restaurants, too often they leave guests hungry. We'd like to be the best Latin food in Petworth and the best wine bar in Petworth. We're still ironing out the wrinkles, but I hope people will stop by and give us their feedback.”
Ruta del Vino opens at 5pm on Saturday. Going forward, their hours will likely be Monday-Thursday, bar closes at 12:00 midnight and the kitchen at 10:00pm On Friday-Saturday, they’ll close at 1am (kitchen closes at 11:00pm). Closed Sundays.
Side note, they’re looking for staff, so send them an email if you or someone you know is looking to work in the latest restaurant.