Little Havana will close this weekend, just one year after it brought a strip of 14th Street NW a neon-soaked spot for Cuban cuisine. Owner Alfredo Solis (El Sol, Mezcalero) will flip the space just north of Columbia Heights into a Mexican restaurant called Anafre. Instead of Cubano sandwiches, the open kitchen will focus on dishes cooked over charcoal.
Little Havana will serve its last meals Saturday, October 5. The switcheroo comes five months after Little Havana first announced plans to close and turn into Anafre. The restaurant then had an awkward, temporary change of heart due in part to Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema’s rating it the No. 9 new restaurant in D.C. as part of his spring dining guide.
Sietsema flagged the impending closure today on his weekly chat.
Anafre, a Spanish word for a coal-fired clay stove in Mexico, is a tribute to Solis’s mother, Felisa Romero, who grew up on the Mexican countryside and used to cook for her brothers using the same type of stove.
The goal is showcase dishes beyond tacos and guacamole, including coal-roasted chicken and whole fish brushed with mole verde. There will be tlayuda, a crispy Mexican-style flatbread, mole-glazed ribs, and Puerto Nuevo-style lobster that’s flash-fried, then finished on the grill.
The 70-seat space is currently splashed with bright murals by street artist Ernesto DoobyFame Zelaya. There’s also a wood-lined bar currently slinging Caribbean beers and tropical drinks. Presumably, the change calls for a major design overhaul.