During a recent visit to Bolivar, Washington Avenue’s only restaurant serving up a variety of dishes from throughout South America, plates flowed steadily from the kitchen. At 1 p.m. on a cloudy Monday, guests in bikinis, families out for lunch, and neighborhood locals were ordering mussels, ceviches, and the arepas that have helped make Colombian cuisine famous.
“I wanted to create the food of South America, bringing the best of each place to one place,” says Jairo Hurtado, the restaurant’s owner, of Bolivar’s origins.
Hurtado, who also owns La Ventana, less than a block away on the same busy street, said that the need to move Bolivar to a new location came as a bit of shock. After all, he had nearly three years left on his lease and a steady clientele that kept the business flourishing.
“They’re going to transform this block, construct a new building” he says. “The news caught us a little off guard because we still have three years left here. But with the kitchen the way it is, and the bar so small, from the bad news came the news that we can grow.”
Hurtado tells us that we could see the new Bolivar open on the 800 block of Washington Avenue, just two blocks north of the current location, as soon as May 18. “Si Dios quiere,” (God willing) he says.
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In the new space, locals and new guests alike can expect more ample seating, with a larger bar. The restaurant’s stage, which transforms Bolivar into a Latin American lounge by night, will also get bigger, allowing for better performances, and more dancing. One new twist on Bolivar will be a large, communal-style table, which Hurtado believes is great for bringing guests together.
As for Boilvar’s menu, regulars will be pleased that things should stay relatively the same. “If it ain’t broke, don’t mess with it,” Hurtado says, happy that the fusion of South American cuisine has been enough of a hit to allow his continued success. As long as the mussels in a spicy salsa criolla stay the same, Bolivar’s future seems very bright.