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Shrimp-stuffed mofongo with key lime ginger beurre blanc, grana padano cheese, and sweet potato puree
Alex Barton/Taoti Creative

Capitol Hill’s New Caribbean Grill Gets the Most Out of Plantains

Tortuga has plantain chip nachos, beef sliders with tostones buns, and three types of mofongo

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Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

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.

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:

Poke tacos, sliders with tostones buns, and plantain chips nachos at Tortuga.
Alex Barton/Taoti Creative
Tuna poke tacos
Alex Barton/Taoti Creative
Tortuga boasts four types of ceviche.
Alex Barton/Taoti Creative
Shrimp is a star seafood at Tortuga.
Alex Barton/Taoti Creative
Coconuts act as vessels for island fare.
Alex Barton/Taoti Creative
Colorful lounge chairs, striped umbrellas, and swaying palms line the roof of Tortuga.
Alex Barton/Taoti Creative
Tortuga makes nachos with plantain chips.
Alex Barton/Taoti Creative

Happy hour calls for beers starting at $4 and buckets for $20.
Alex Barton/Taoti Creative
There are 10 frozen libations to start at Tortuga.
Alex Barton/Taoti Creative


514 8th St SE, Washington, D.C. 20003
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