Root-to-stem cuisine gets a sophisticated glow-up at Shaw’s shiny new Mita. Co-owners Miguel Guerra and Tatiana Mora, who formerly cooked at D.C.’s Michelin-rated Colombian marvel El Cielo, are behind the vegetable-fueled tasting room that opened on Friday, December 29 (804 V Street NW).
“Mita’s ethos is all about commemorating the rich tapestry of Latin American flavors and vegetable kingdom,” says Guerra. “Combining not just recipes but art, places, and memories.”
Mita was born as a pop-up in Union Market’s La Cosecha food hall, operating sporadically over three years until early 2023 with a short menu of vegetarian plates. This new space gives the duo a palette to expand their creativity into a 14-course tasting menu with magical, realism-like touches ($150 per person). The restaurant, which is only prix-fixe for now, will soon introduce a la carte options at the bar. Reserve a seat online for dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The two say Latin cuisine often revolves around, and is most known for, animal proteins taking center stage. Mita seeks to upend this limited vision of Latin dining by showcasing the “incredible potential” of vegetables. Their mission: introduce a more holistic way of eating that appeals to both carnivores and vegetable lovers and the endless prospects of what plants can provide. And while both hail from Venezuela, they aim to combine traditional ingredients with contemporary methods from across the South American region.
Highlights on the kickoff menu include the signature asado negro terrine. Asado is traditionally a slow-cooked beef dish in a dark, sweet, and savory sauce. Here, it’s reimagined, drawing from classic Venezuelan preparation to deliver a completely animal-free dish. The order unites locally grown mushrooms, greens, and tubers under a reduction of panela and aji dulce.
Another focus is the arepa street-food staple, and “our [version] is like a love letter to our native Venezuela,” says Mora. The soft, circular orders arrive with a trio of sauces: the Guasacaca, an herbal avocado-based spread; the Suero, a white and red sauce infused with spiced oil; and a tropical fruit-based butter.
On the sweet end, dessert takes tips from the treasured Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia. “Just as the flats’ salty landscape meets the vast heavens, our dessert combines rich ingredients from Bolivia and creates a unique flavor that mirrors the surreal beauty of this natural wonder,” they say.
The duo recruited lead bartender Lou Bernard, who most recently ran the drinks program at Adams Morgan’s now-closed Bolivian cocktail bar Casa Kantuta. Attracted to Mita’s founding principles, he says, “it was an easy choice to be part of this project. It made me so happy to know that other Latinx are here trying to get our culture on top.”
Cocktails showcase an array of Latin American spirits. In the La Conección, he marries Colombian and Venezuelan rums, along with gingerbread syrup, apple and lime juices, and coconut milk. “The has always been a debate between the two countries as to [which] has the better arepa, and this is what inspired this delicious, clarified cocktail which comes with a bite-size Colombian and Venezuelan arepita on the side,” he notes.
Mita emphasizes biodynamic, organic, and sustainably farmed wines from Latin America. Said Al-Banna, the wine, spirits, and service director, was lately the sommelier at Fiola. “The ethos of our wine program will be to continue to perpetuate forward thinking philosophies regarding viticulture and winemaking,” he says. There’s also several selections for low- and no-alcohol drinks.
The restaurant, which slides into the old Declaration space, is contemporarily designed with light colors and a touch of a tropical vibes via warm wood and vibrant accents. For Guerra and Mora, Mita (a combination of their first names) is more than a restaurant: “It’s about celebrating shared values and our collective humanity through the art of food.”