Press Club

Pepita Cantina to Open in Ballston July 30

Pepita, chef Mike Isabella’s new Mexican cantina in Ballston, has announced that it will open Thursday, July 30.

Pepita, located at 4000 Wilson Blvd, will have a “small menu of casual Mexican favorites.”

“About 15 dishes will be featured, including ceviche, Mexican-style corn on the cob, house-made salsas and guacamole, a salad of watermelon, jicama and cucumber, and a Caesar salad dressed with cotija cheese, pepitas and avocado,” according to a press release. “Mexican classics, including a trio of tacos, a torta, enchiladas and a mushroom quesadilla anchor the menu. Dessert items include a Mexican tres leches and frozen, boozy push-pops.”

Despite Isabella’s culinary chops, the cantina’s menu will give a stronger focus to its beverage selection, created by Taha Ismail, Mike Isabella’s beverage director. The 35-item cocktail menu will be a blend of classic Mexican and American cocktails, plus more contemporary creations.

“Tequila and mezcal are two of the main stars, but they share the spotlight with an extensive list of fruit juices that are squeezed in-house daily,” said the press release. “The list includes five margaritas, one of which is frozen, and many classics given a Mexican twist, think old-fashioneds and negronis, plus more contemporary cocktails by Ismail’s bartender friends from around the country.”

One of the restaurant’s distinguishing features is its all-day happy hour, which has drinks and food specials that will rotate in blocks during the day, as opposed to during a set time each evening.

The space, meanwhile, is intended to be reminiscent of something you might find in a Mexican beach town.

“The design is inspired by Mexican coastal cantinas and highlights light wood furniture with a motif of yellow, light green and marigold tiled patterns adding colorful accents to a charcoal and white design,” according to the press release. “A concrete bar will serve tacos and drinks to the 32-seat dining room. The partially-covered patio will be fenced-in and decorated with greenery.”

Starting July 30, Pepita will be open Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Isabella, who has appeared on the TV shows Top Chef and Top Chef All-Star, is the chef and owner of three restaurants in the District and Kapnos Taverna in Arlington, which is next door to Pepita. He’s also planning an opening for a noodle shop called Yona in the same building.

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