Arlington, VA

You don’t typically expect to find anything of any culinary significance between a hair salon, a check cashing store and a Goodwill outlet, but Cafe Sazon (4704 Columbia Pike) may be the exception to the rule.

Sazon means “seasoning” in Spanish, which is a good way to describe the contrast of the cafe’s smartly-decorated interior to the rather drab section of Columbia Pike outside its windows. Open since January, Cafe Sazon specializes in South and Central American food and baked goods, with a few American items thrown into the mix.

Co-owner Adriana Torres, who has not left the area since she moved from Bolivia to this section of the Pike as a seven-year-old kid, says that business has started out slow but is picking up. Thanks to a favorable mention on the “22204” email listserv, she says her customer base — primarily Hispanic — has gotten a bit more diverse lately.

Cafe Sazon is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has items on the menu for all three meals. There are omelettes, freshly-baked pastries (made by an in-house baker), fajitas, soups, salads, and daily specials. On the drink menu is coffee, trea, cappuccino, Latin American sodas and Api Morado, a surprisingly delicious Bolivian specialty made with boiled red corn and “zest.”

The cafe offers free WiFi. Torres says she’ll soon be opening the restaurant’s basement for movie screenings and special events.

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