Mark your calendars – Urbano 116 is opening on January 21. This long awaited Mexican restaurant from the Common Plate Hospitality Group, that operates Mason Social, Augie’s Mussel House, and Catch on the Avenue. Urbano 116 offer a “traditional Mexican food experience,” according to the Urbano 116 website. Chad Sparrow has always dreamed of opening a Mexican restaurant but realized he needed to learn more about the cuisine. “The Urbano team traveled to Mexico City and the Oaxaca region to study the foundation of Mexican cuisine. Authenticity and seasonal locally sourced ingredients are the foundation of our menu. Our kitchen is excited to bring fresh tortillas made in house daily from whole kernels of corn sourced directly from Oaxaca.”
The team managed to convince Alam Méndez Florián to leave his Oaxacan restaurant, Pasillo de Humo. Per Eater DC, “I had this aha moment,” says Sparrow, whose Alexandria-based restaurant group runs Mason Social, Augie’s Mussel House, and the recently opened Catch on the Ave. “Alam’s tortillas really opened my eyes to what a taco should be, and I immediately said, ‘I want to bring this to D.C.’” According to the Urbano 116 website, Alam Méndez has been involved in Oaxacan gastronomy since his childhood, influenced by his mother, the renowned traditional cook, Celia Florián, known as ‘La Madre de Mole,’ Celia Florian. He holds a gastronomy degree from the Culinary Institute of Mexico, where he had the opportunity to work at Intro restaurant with Chef Angel Vazquez for three years. Chef Alam, with experience in Michelin-starred kitchens including Noma Mexico and Arzak, was unsure if he wanted to leave Mexico for DC.
Chef Alam brings his experience in creating moles which are featured on many of the entrees like the almond mole with braised short rib, black mole with grilled chicken breast and a black bean tamale, plus a vegetarian mole made with cashews. Vegetarian options included cauliflower with cashew mole and butternut squash with pipian sauce and goat cheese. Tacos range from fish to lengua to vegetarian. The Tlacolula lamb barbacoa is slow cooked for hours, wrapped in the Oaxacan corn tortilla and topped with Morita and avocado sauce, tomatillo, cabbage, and cilantro. The Starters menu includes grilled tlayuda, pollutes (plantain croquettes), scallop aguachile and rockfish ceviche amarillo.
The beverage menu features Mexican ingredients in tradition cocktails like the Old Oaxacan with Altos Repa tequila, mezcal, cardamom, agave, angostura, and orange bitters. The ginebra y jugo cocktail mixes gin with carrot juice and a kumquat sour uses bourbon and muddied kumquat. A small but comprehensive list of wines, drafts and bottle beers are included on the beverage menu.
The restaurant seats 160 people total, with a private dining room for 45 and a large U-shaped bar. Urbano 116 offers lunch and dinner and if you don’t have time to dine, you can grab churros street side at the walk-up window on King St.The restaurant plans to launch brunch in the coming weeks.
For more information visit www.urbano116.com or follow the team on social media @Urbano116.
About Common Plate Hospitality:
Alexandria natives, Chad Sparrow, Justin Sparrow, and Larry Walston launched Mason Social in 2015, a contemporary American restaurant in their hometown. Following the success of their first restaurant, the group decided to expand in 2018, opening Augie’s Mussel House and Catch on the Ave. Common Plate Hospitality seeks to offer upscale food and beverages in casual, neighborhood centric restaurants.