Colada Shop is tiny but has a big personality. Lively Cuban music splashes out to the patio; in fair weather, the windowfront opens upward, creating an open-air counter space for chatting. Munching diners sit on stools across from each other, inside and outside. The spirit is exuberant, the food is delicious, and the prices right: croquettas (fritters filled with your choice of ham, chicken or mushrooms gently blended with bechamael sauce into a light concoction), 2 for $3.50; the famous Cuban sandwich of ham, slow-roasted pork, Swiss chese, pickles, mustard, and aioli on Cuban bread for $9.98. A dozen versions of coffee are on offer, from the Cubano (a shot of coffee sweetened with whipped sugar) to café con leche (a Cubano with hot steamed milk). And then there are the potent cocktails: daiquiris, pina coladas, mojitos, cuba libres, and the like, each $8. Colada Shop, together with Taqueria Nacional (see below), its Mexican neighbor one door down, turn this block of T Street into a party. But if you’re here just to enjoy your empanadas and pastelitas, head to the back of the shop toward the kitchen and hang a right to find the quieter back room, with leather sofa, wicker chairs, and stools at high tops.
- Elise Hartman Ford