Small Bites: TapaBar Launches ‘Pop-Up Food Lab’ for Weekday Lunch

Plus: Cameron’s Seafood Online ships crabs across the country from its Rockville shop; two new cafes planned for Silver Spring


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TapaBar sits at the corner of Fairmont and Norfolk avenues.

Joe Zimmermann

TapaBar’s dinner menu is filled with Spanish-inspired small plates, everything from tuna tartare to a Spanish omelet, each item listed by its Spanish name.

But starting next Monday, the Woodmont Triangle restaurant will begin serving an entirely different dish: bowls of pho.

It’s part of what co-owner Alonso Roche sees as a broader chance for experimentation in the TapaBar space.

The restaurant started serving lunch this year after Bold Bite, also owned by Roche and his brother Alvaro Roche, moved down the street. But he said the lunch never quite took off and he felt the space would be better used for something else.

They decided to use the space for a “pop-up food lab” where they could “develop concepts” and try out serving new types of food during weekday lunches, he said.

The choice for the Vietnamese soup is a departure for the brothers, who also own 202 Donuts, but Alonso said he and Alvaro are “pho fanatics” and typically eat pho two or three times a week.

“It’s midwinter. It’s cold. I think [pho] is something that’s underserved in Bethesda,” he said.

The pop-up, which Roche said they might give its own name to, will “keep it simple” with $9.45 for chicken or beef pho, either to eat in or to go. He plans to serve pho through the winter, but might add more items or try out a new menu in a matter of weeks if it doesn’t work out.

If the pho proves very successful, Roche said they “could open up a little shop, probably around here.”

“Who knows. That’s the fun of it,” he said. “We’ll see what works and roll with the punches and just have fun with it.”

Meanwhile, the Roches’ next restaurant, TacoArepa, which will serve Caribbean and Latin American fare, has faced some construction delays and should open around January, he said.

Cameron’s Seafood Online nets $150,000 from deliveries across the U.S.

Learning there was demand for affordable blue crabs in other states, two cousins whose family owns the local Cameron’s Seafood chain decided to start shipping crabs to online buyers from across the country, The Washington Post reports.

Cameron and Pey Manesh learned how to deliver the seafood products by reverse-engineering packages from Blue Apron, a food delivery service, according to the report. The crabs are stored with frozen gel packs and shipped within 24 to 48 hours from the company's Rockville headquarters.

So far, the company has taken in about $150,000 and hopes to earn $1 million next year, possibly through a potential partnership selling crabs to Costco or other large retailers.

New coffee shops to open in Silver Spring

Two new coffee shops are planned in downtown Silver Spring, local blog Source of the Spring reports.

New Orleans-based café chain PJ’s Coffee will open its first Maryland location on the ground floor of the Core apartments at 8621 Georgia Ave. A principal of Lewi Café will open a coffee shop on the ground floor of the Bonifant apartments at 911 Bonifant St.

PJ’s Coffee serves a variety of coffee and tea, as well as cold-brewed coffee, smoothies and frozen drinks, according to the blog. Lewi Café operates Snow Café in Ellicott City, which sells bubble teas and Korean desserts, in addition to hot and cold coffees.

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