How to Support DC’s Latino-Owned Businesses Right Now
Hope you like pupusas.
In Washington DC, there is a diverse Latino presence to celebrate -- the 12th largest in the nation, to be exact. Many Salvadorans call DC home, and because of that Washingtonians never experience a shortage of delicious pupusas, the famous pork and cheese-filled pockets for which the country is known. For the past decade, the number of Latino business owners has also grown a whopping 34 percent according to American University, and the Latino community is the largest growing group in the metro area.
With those encouraging statistics and an empty stomach in mind, here are some of the best Latino businesses and organizations where you can show your support in the District.
Nonprofits and services
Founded by Ruby Corado back in 2012, Casa Ruby is the only LGBTQ+ bilingual and multicultural organization in the DC metro area. Corado had the idea to found Casa Ruby when she first arrived in DC more than 30 years ago and realized there were no services to support her needs as a young transgender Latina immigrant. Today, Casa Ruby employs more than 50 people and provides tens of thousands of social and human services to more than 6,000 people each year.
How to support: Make a donation here; the website helpfully breaks each level of support down -- making it easy to see how exactly your money will be spent.
The Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) was founded back in 1981 to provide legal services to refugees arriving from conflict in Central America. Now, its main goal is fostering the comprehensive development of the Latino population in DC, providing direct services in immigration, housing, and citizenship.
How to support: Find out more about pro bono opportunities, volunteer information, and internships with Carecen, or make a donation here.
Latino Economic Development Center
The Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) helps to equip the Latino community and other underserved communities through programs that teach participants how to build their long-term financial security. LEDC programs help educate those who need assistance with important life functions such as buying and staying in their homes, taking control of decisions affecting their apartment buildings, or starting or expanding their small businesses.
How to support: Visit the website to get involved with LEDC, from volunteer opportunities to donations and even becoming a part of their board.
MANA (A National Latina Organization)
National grassroots membership organization MANA represents the interests of Latin women, youth, and families on issues that impact their communities. The organization contributes their voice on many of the major issues in the public sphere, such as education, health and well-being, financial literacy, equal and civil rights, and immigration reform. Local chapters of MANA provide educational programming to womxn nationwide through leadership development, educational workshops, and mentoring.
How to support: Learn more about Mana’s programs, like the annual Hermana Conference and the brand new 2020 civic engagement initiative, Latinas Count.
Casa Maryland works to expand opportunities for Latinx and immigrant people in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia -- helping the underserved with employment placement, workforce development and training, health education, citizenship and legal services, and financial, language, and literacy training.
How to support: Make a donation here.
Restaurants and bars
Mi Cuba Cafe
Mi Cuba Cafe is possibly the best spot in the city to grab an authentic, delicious Cubano sandwich, but it’s also on a mission to prove that Cuban cuisine is so much more than that.
Try items like the empanadas, croquettes, and grilled steak sandwiches -- all from the kitchen of its cozy restaurant in Columbia Heights.
How to support: Call Mi Cuba to order for takeout, or order delivery on GrubHub.
El Rinconcito Cafe
Mt. Vernon Square
El Rinconcito is a longstanding local favorite for a reason. The name of the restaurant translates to “little corner cafe,” but El Rinconcito is definitely big on taste. The spot reliably serves up flavorful Mexican-Salvadorian staples that aren’t to be missed, like traditional pork and cheese pupusas and a shredded flank steak dish served breakfast style with a scrambled egg, avocado, and crumbly queso duro.
How to support: Order directly from El Rinconcito.
Though La Cosecha just opened September 2019, the contemporary market has provided DC with a much-needed space to celebrate Latin American culture, filled with Latino-owned spaces -- including Arcay Chocolates, La Casita, and Peruvian Brothers -- to dine and shop.
How to support: See the full list of merchants at La Cosecha.
El Tamarindo first landed in AdMo back in 1982, and is now the longest standing Mexican-Salvadorian restaurant in the city. We’d be willing to wager a bet that their longevity is directly tied to their handmade pupusas, Oaxaca Mules, and chimichangas. The restaurant is also family-run, first opened by Jose Reyes and Betty Reyes, and now managed by their daughter.
How to support: Order online directly from El Tamarindo.
Mayahuel Cocina Mexicana
Soak up the last days of summer (and first days of fall) from the patio of Mayahuel Cocina, an adorable spot in Woodley Park. Mayahuel is known for craft cocktails and tasty entrées like its grilled skirt steak marinated in achiote, citrus, and garlic or the playfully named Mexi-burguesa compliments of Chef Miguel Pizarroso, who moved to the city from Bolivia.
How to support: Book a table on the seasonal patio or order takeout online.
14th Street Corridor
Colada Shop, which just opened a location at The Wharf in June, is known throughout the city for bringing the best vibes -- its 14th Street rooftop always being a mainstay for sipping mojitos amongst friends. The cozy Cuban spot has always served biteable classics like empanadas and Cubanos, but visit their new Wharf location if you’re in the mood for something a bit heartier, like ropa vieja or a Cuban take on shakshuka.
How to support: Order Colada Shop online.
Retail and other businesses
Translating to “New Style,” Nova Bossa is a lifestyle brand that partners with emerging designers and artisans from the Americas. Founded by Brazilian native Carolina Furukrona, the brand’s mission is to preserve cultural heritage, invest in women entrepreneurs, and champion handmade, and sustainable production methods -- oh, and to look cute while doing it, of course.
How to support: Nova Bossa is currently open for in-store shopping, and also offers contactless shopping from its window and through virtual appointments.
Zona E Home
We’ve been spending our entire lives at home lately, so why not invest in some new decor this month from Zona E Home -- a shop by Colombian natives Paula and Alvaro Sierra that offers shoppers a glimpse into their home country through specialty items, textiles, and furniture.
How to support: Shop Zona E Home online for anything from rugs to glassware.
Shaw, Union Market
Need an excuse to buy another bottle of wine tonight? Look no further than Grand Cata, whose storefront is an ode to the wines and flavors from Latin America. With two locations, co-owners Pedro J. Rodríguez and Julio Robledo make it easy for Washingtonians to snap up classic and sustainable natural wines from Latin America as well as artisanal pantry items from the region.
How to support: Shop for wine online or visit Grand Cata in-person.
Entertainment and recreation
The Salsa with Silvia Dance Studio
This is the perfect time to let loose and get in touch with your inner dancer at The Salsa With Silvia Dance Studio, one of the best places in the city to learn the art of salsa and bachata. The four-week series gives newbies a solid base to build on, and the studio also provides ongoing classes in which to practice your newfound skills.
How to support: Book dance classes with Silvia.
Teatro De La Luna
The mission of Teatro De La Luna is to spread the knowledge of Hispanic culture throughout the DMV region with the help of live theater performances. The non-profit, co-founded by married couple Nucky Walder and Mario Marcel, has been producing plays and teaching theater workshops to adults and children since they first opened the organization back in 1991.
How to support: Make a donation to Teatro De La Luna here.
Mexican Cultural Institute
The Mexican Cultural Institute’s 16th Street mansion was designated as a DC Historic Site in 2012 with good reason -- it’s absolutely gorgeous. The value of the institute goes so much deeper than just looks though, as it is committed to sharing Mexico’s vibrant cultural past and present with the local community through a wide range of programming. Though it’s currently closed to the public due to the pandemic, exclusive screenings and virtual chats are still happening online.
How to support: Check the calendar of upcoming virtual programming.
GALA Hispanic Theatre
Founded in 1976, GALA Hispanic Theatre is devoted to fostering a better understanding and appreciation amongst Washingtonians of Latino arts and culture. The theater typically presents classical and contemporary plays in Spanish and English, plus an accompanying program of dance, music, poetry, spoken word, art, and film.
How to support: Read more about GALA’s COVID-19 safety plan and make a donation here.
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