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Stuff-Your-Face-Silly Buena Vida Plots Bottomless Mexican Food and a Massive Rooftop in Clarendon

Plus, Santa Rosa plots a return; chef Roberto Donna stages a comeback; and more essential D.C.-area dining intel

A selection of dishes from Buena Vida.
Buena Vida serves unlimited plates for two hours.
Buena Vida Official

Welcome to a.m. Intel, your bite-sized roundup of D.C. food and restaurant news. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.


Stuff-your-face-silly Buena Vida is racing toward an April opening in Clarendon with limitless food for two hours, heavily discounted booze, and a remodel including a sprawling rooftop with “365-degree views.” Located across the street from owner Ivan Iricanin’s Balkan restaurant Ambar, it’s not the first time that Iricanin has renamed or rebranded the location (2900 Wilson Boulevard), but he’s hoping this one will stick. (Washingtonian)

After two years, Santa Rosa Taqueria is returning to the Capitol Hill neighborhood just a few blocks from its original location. Opening in late winter 2022, the two-level restaurant (301 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE) will open with a 60-seat patio, a new look with a large Day of the Dead mural, new dishes from chef Chef Brian Lacayo, and lots of new margaritas from lauded bartender and beverage director Gina Chersevani. Santa Rosa closed its original location due to pandemic-related challenges. [EaterWire]

Chef Roberto Donna stages a comeback in Vienna

James Beard Award-winning chef Roberto Donna, well-known in the 1980s for D.C. dining dazzler Galileo (so popular that then Vice President George W. Bush couldn’t score a reservation), is making a comeback with Roberto’s Ristorante Italiano (144 Church Street NW) in Vienna with his wife Nancy Sabbagh, according to the Tysons Reporter. It’s not the first comeback for Donna (once called “a national treasure” by a Washington Post critic), who stewed in legal and financial trouble over the years. In 2011, his comeback restaurant Galileo III crashed after a well-publicized downward spiral. The new restaurant features a menu of pastas and other Italian classics. Roberto’s is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.

Chef Peter Prime says goodbye to St. James

Chef Peter Prime has left his highly anticipated St. James restaurant as well as Cane, H Street’s hit Trinidadian restaurant, because of a “private family matter” and to write a cookbook about the foundations of Caribbean cuisine. His sister and former business partner Jeanine Prime will open St. James this spring as an ode to the Prime family’s Trinidadian roots. [Washingtonian]

Captain Cookie and the Milkman takes over a vitamin shop

The Arlington Courthouse neighborhood swaps a vitamin shop for an ice cream sandwich shop this spring as Captain Cookie and the Milkman moves into the old GNC space (2200 Clarendon Boulevard). The local mini-chain bakes cookies on site before stuffing them with ice cream from Ice Cream Jubilee. The milk comes from South Mountain Creamery. Born out of a food truck in 2012, Captain Cookie and the Milkman now has outposts in in Eastern Market, Brookland, Foggy Bottom, and North Carolina. [Washington City Paper]

In other positive sweets-related news, Adams Morgan’s D Light Bakery is finally reopening after a very difficult debut marked by a suspicious fire in late January that destroyed the front entryway. The bakery (2475 18th Street, NW) originally opened last fall.

SeoulSpice and Underground Pizza Company plot expansions

SeoulSpice is opening its first Virginia outlet in Rosslyn (1735 North Lynn Street, Suite 106, Arlington) on February 23. To celebrate, the completely gluten-free restaurant known for Korean rice bowls, kimbap burritos, noodle bowls, and salads will give in-store customers a free entree bowl on opening day while supplies last. The first SeoulSpice opened in D.C.’s NoMa neighborhood 2016.

Pandemic-era pop-up Underground Pizza Company will start slinging its hefty Detroit-style pizzas in Silver Spring on February 18. The new pizzeria takes over the former Olazzo space (8235 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring). Olazzo closed last April after 15 years in Silver Spring, but its Bethesda location remains open. This is the second brick-and-mortar for Underground Pizza; its first opened inside of Power Plant Live in Downtown Baltimore in December 2020. [MoCoShow.com]

Booze news

Sip + Tipple has added a quarterly subscription service with bottles of booze from Black-owned spirits and mixers brands from around the country. The first quarterly box includes spirits not available at any other retail store in D.C., according to a press release. [EaterWire]

Meanwhile, it’s the end of the road for Paul’s Wine and Sprits (5205 Wisconsin Avenue, NW), a nearly 40-year old booze store in Friendship Heights. Blaming a landlord dispute, the store’s owners say it will close permanently at the end of February. [Fox5]

Ballston lands an Asian street food shop

Orlando-based Asian street food chain Hawkers is landing with a walk-up takeout window in Ballston (4201 Wilson Boulevard) in June. The chain, opening next to the new El Rey taqueria, specializes in dim sum, fried rice, and bao. [ARLnow.com]

Captain Cookie & the Milk Man

2000 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, , DC 20006 (202) 795-9184 Visit Website

Santa Rosa Taqueria

315 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003 202-450-4800 Visit Website

Buena Vida Restaurant | Clarendon

2900 Wilson Boulevard, , VA 22201 (703) 888-1259

Buena Vida

8407 Ramsey Avenue, , MD 20910 (301) 755-6132 Visit Website

Buena Vida Clarendon Restaurant

2900 Wilson Boulevard, , VA 22201 (703) 888-1259 Visit Website

Buena Vida Restaurant Clarendon

2900 Wilson Boulevard, , VA 22201 (703) 888-1259 Visit Website

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