Mexican mainstay Tio Javier called it quits last week, undergoing a makeover into a new island-themed bar slinging ceviches, key lime pie, and rum runners in the heart of Capitol Hill.
Tortuga — the Spanish word for turtle — encourages guests to slow down and soak up rays atop its massive 200-person rooftop (514 8th Street SE). Tio Javier closed on the eve of Tax Day, undergoing a week-long conversion under the same ownership, Hill Restaurant Group.
Two new chefs are spearheading the effort: Lauren Hunter comes over from Florida and is well-versed in seafood, and Brian Guy hails from the now-shuttered Chesapeake Room in D.C.
Tortuga’s menu features soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrees that are packed with ahi tuna, yellowtail snapper, conch, grouper, and calamari. Meat eaters can turn to baby back ribs, burgers, and steaks.
Plantains play several roles at Tortuga. Fried chips make up the base of nachos, smashed and fried tostones replace buns in beef sliders, and mashed balls of mofongo get stuffed with shrimp, pork, or chimichurri steak.
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Managing partner and hospitality vet Tom Johnson recently relocated to D.C. from the Florida Keys, where he’s a stakeholder in a revamped Morada Bay property. His prolific restaurant group also includes Hawk ‘n Dove, Ophelia’s Fish House, Orchid, Willie’s, Finn McCool’s, Lola’s, and Willie’s sports bar.
Scroll on for a taste of Capitol Hill’s new escape:
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