Santa Rosa Taqueria is open once again on Capitol Hill. The cherished taco spot run by Sunnyside Restaurant Group (the team behind Good Stuff Eatery) had been closed for the entire length of the pandemic. But now, two years later, Santa Rosa will resurface at 301 Pennsylvania Avenue SE — right next door to the original location — this month.
Customers at Santa Rosa 2.0 will find many more margaritas on the menu this time around. Mixologist Gina Chersevani of Buffalo & Bergen, who originally helped open Santa Rosa, returned to create 10 unique margarita options from guava mango to passionfruit and rose or a greenish-blue version concocted with Milagro silver tequila, lime, and dehydrated seaweed. Sangria is another new option.
Santa Rosa opens for lunch and dinner service to start, with plans to roll out weekend brunch and weekday happy hours soon. The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., with takeout available for pickup or for delivery via GrubHub and UberEats.
The food menu offers more bites to share, plus new spins on tacos from Sunnyside Restaurant Group’s consulting chef Brian Lacayo (a long-time collaborator who helped open Good Stuff back in the day).
The meat for al pastor tacos comes from a gyro stick wrapped in pineapple, and a birria taco is made with cheesy pot roast and consommé. Non-meat eaters can try a roasted harissa cauliflower taco. Lacayo also created new moles channeling Santa Rosa’s origin story, based on the historical recipes from Dominican nuns in the convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla. Pickles in massive jars on a counter will make up a pickled bar that customers can use to top tacos or nachos.
It was serendipitous when the next-door space became available, says Micheline Mendelsohn, who with her mother, Catherine, is the driving force behind Santa Rosa (their celebrity chef brother Spike Mendelsohn has been busy dropping new PLNT Burger locations on the East Coast).
“There wasn’t even a question about not [staying] on Capitol Hill,” says Micheline Mendelsohn, who faced landlord issues during the pandemic that required a move from its original location.
The response from neighbors and regulars cemented her decision to stay in Southeast.
“We had so many customers when we closed it ask how could they help support us. Could they help start a fund to get Santa Rosa back up? It was beautiful to see the outpouring and that restaurant meant a lot to so many people,” she says. One neighbor even kept her spirits up with emails for a whole year.
The new location also doubled the seating on the outdoor patio as opposed to the original location. Diners will now find 60 seats inside and 60 seats outside, with greenery, whimsical decor, and an awning to shield diners from bad weather.
Santa Rosa showcases graffiti work from local artist Rodrigo Pradel, who painted butterflies and a Day of the Dead-themed mural across its brick walls and added bright touches inside and out. Aside from turquoise Talavera tiles, the rest of the space is neutral.
“The colors are more muted, more whites and grays and beiges,” says Micheline. “We let the artwork speak for itself.”
Proceeds from food and drink sales during opening weekend will be donated to World Central Kitchen in support of relief efforts in Ukraine.
Update: Due to equipment and electrical failures in the kitchen, the opening date has been moved to a later date this month.