First Look: Evo Tapas Kitchen and Cabaret Opens May 4

The Social-adjacent space will offer small plates and big sound.

By Allecia Vermillion April 27, 2012


Capitol Hill: brace yourself. On Friday, May 4, the space at 1715 Olive Way ends more than a year of construction to unleash upon the neighborhood a huge new nightclub (or whatever the kids are calling it these days) from Chris Pardo and Laura Olson, as well as an adjacent tapas restaurant and lounge with a killer performance space (and patio) from Todd Nordahl, longtime owner of the dearly departed Rosebud on Pike Street.

Today Nordahl, chef David Leopoldo, and event manager Colby Barnes let us in for a preview of what’s to come when Evo Tapas Kitchen and Cabaret opens its doors at 3pm that Friday. Nordahl says the space has the same convivial, live entertainment–fueled spirit as Rosebud, but in sleek new digs that reflects his new partnership with Pardo and Olson, the couple behind Grim’s and the opening of Manhattan Drugs.

Evo and sprawling ultra lounge The Social want to offer an entire night’s worth of entertainment in one place. Enter beneath the metal-wrapped signage and a hallway leads to the Social, while Evo is on the right. The interior boasts the soaring ceiling, aged wood, and ornate wallpaper one would expect from a stylish Capitol Hill establishment. Add to that a compact elevated stage, projection screens, and an extreme sound system, and you’ve got a place that reflects Nordahl’s love of supporting local performers, in a space much better suited to house them than Rosebud was. The screens will also show some time-lapse footage of Olive Way traffic that sounds like it could be seriously hypnotic.

Evo’s menu is entirely tapas, drawing from countries all around the Mediterranean, including Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Italy’s Tuscany region. Leopoldo, a Hawaii native whose resume includes culinary study in Barcelona and, most recently, cooking at Barrio, says he’s particularly excited about his mussels with chorizo. The wine list will also hew Mediterranean, with some Washington shout-outs for local-leaning drinkers.

As the “cabaret” part of its name suggests, Evo will also be a place for music, karaoke, burlesque shoes and DJs. The joint ownership means Evo can coordinate its musical offerings with the Social, so live jazz won’t be fighting with hip-hop. Come to Evo for dinner and your cover charge to the Social gets waived; a wristband will let you roam between the two. A former parking area in front of the building is now a wood-wrapped patio that Nordahl calls his Mediterranean oasis, its high walls providing some separation from busy Olive Way traffic below.

Evo will be open from 3pm to 2am daily. Happy hour will run from 3 to 5, when the full dinner menu kicks in. At 11pm dinner service ends and late-night happy hour fires up, lasting until 2am. Expect the event calendar to fill up in the coming weeks, and Barnes has already promised “a full cast” for Pride weekend.

Right now the space is in the final throes of construction. It’s the stage that involves lots of boxes and detritus; hit up the slideshow for an in-progress peek at Evo’s dining room, stage, bar, and patio.

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