Downtown Silver Spring is about to get a festive destination for mojitos, spiked coconuts, and native cuisine from Cuban-born chef Raynold Mendizábal, who runs five-year-old meat mecca Urban Butcher nearby.
The anticipated El Sapo Cuban Social Club (8455 Fenton Street, Silver Spring, Md.) is scheduled to open at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, October 30 with a meat-heavy lineup of the same Cuban fare Mendizábal ate while growing up on the streets of La Habana. The known rum lover curated a lineup of aged varieties that’ll make their way into freshly cut coconuts.
The opening menu’s island-inspired offerings include ropa vieja (a classic Cuban dish with pulled stewed beef and vegetables), puerco asado featuring slow roasted pork with bitter orange mojo, and fresh cod and tomato stewed with capers and sofrito. More adventurous orders include goat “jerky” braised with honey and sofrito and fiery oxtails alongside habaneros, orange, and oregano.
The restaurant’s 24-seat wraparound bar comes lined with garage doors that roll up to reveal a spacious private patio, similar to the expansion-minded chef’s nearby setup at Urban Butcher. This year Silver Spring got another eating and drinking option with the opening of Tacos, Tortas and Tequila (TTT) and Buena Vida.
El Sapo will grow next spring with the addition of a 100-seat outdoor “Mojito Garden” and cafe, expected to perk up customers with Cuban espressos during the day and street foods and live music at night. The evolving arrangement is similar to that of D.C. and Sterling’s Colada Shop, which is currently in expansion mode.
For now, party programming includes “Havana Nights” — kicking off at 9 p.m. on Sundays to Thursdays and 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays — featuring a limited menu, mojito specials, and espresso drinks. A daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. slashes prices on mojitos, beers, house wines and Cubano sandwiches.
D.C. got another Cuban newcomer this summer with the arrival of color-soaked Little Havana in Petworth.