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Since it’s summer 2015 opening, The Royal has long since been one of our go-to spots. I’ve been to Columbia and can attest that their salads and arepas and fries are authentic. Along with the stellar cocktail list (both for caffeine in the a.m. and spirits in the p.m.) and reasonable prices, there are multiple reasons we keep returning.

We went in recently to sample some new dishes and got to taste a whole lot of winter awesome. Here’s what’s new at the Royal: first, hearts of palm arepas. The crispy arepas are filled with crunchy cabbage, scallions, carrot, and hearts of palm and then topped with cheese, and a stunning salsa rosada. It is incredibly filling and frankly all you need with it is an order of fries and a glass of cava.

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I also fell in love with the charred vegetable chorreadas. Smoky vegetables are smothered in a bright, garlicky, fragrant tomato sauce and loads of cotija cheese. It’s warm and comforting, ideal for winter. Also, the grilled avocado dish has to be a part of your meal at the Royal no matter what you order. The grilled avocado has a smoky flavor profile, and it is served on top of a blend of quinoa and lentils, all drizzled in a bright, lime-infused vinaigrette.

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For a post-lunch or dinner drink get one of their house-created tea coffee drinks. You may have seen pictures of these on Instagram. They are as good as they look. We raved about the the Open Sesame coffee in the fall and we’re glad it’s still on the menu. It has an almost therapeutic note to it from the honey and vanilla. The black sesame just adds an interesting Asian kick.

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When we were in Shaw it was our go-to spot for lunch meetings. Now that we’re downtown, we’ll be headed to LeDroit Park for happy hour.

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