Meet Manuel Iguina, owner of Pikoteo. Pikoteo, a Latin American-inspired eatery, opened its doors in April, featuring great cocktails, inspiring food and glam atmosphere. Since then, it’s become the go-to spot in the neighborhood, serving brunch, lunch, and dinner.
I was looking for a property in McLean and found this location, the perfect size for us. I wanted to lease a space and to create a neighborhood restaurant. Kind of where everybody knows your name. We opened very quietly in April, after we did the first Caribbean festival in [McLean Community Center]. 200 people came over and we had nine items prepared from our menu and it really pushed us to open quickly. There’s a lot of the same places in McLean, but there was no Latino inspiration with the three fruits of Latina America. I saw the need for that. And here we are.
I had several restaurants in the past in Washington, DC for the past 10 years. They closed during the pandemic. It was not sustainable. So [Pikoteo] is the only place that I have right now. I saw the growth of McLean and the need for something fun and relaxed. The neighborhood here has been wonderful to us. But I had a couple of restaurants before so the reason why I didn’t call [Pikoteo] a restaurant is because it’s more like an eatery. It’s very casual. People can grab and go or order online. You can eat there, you can eat at home, and you can take it home. It’s very accessible.
Pikoteo: What’s in a name
Pikoteo is pronounced as (pee-koh-teh-oo). It’s like picking up food. Spanish people, they go have tapas or have a glass of wine and share. Pikoteo means many things, it also means picking chicken and having a glass of wine. We have a very extensive wine program with very unique wines and cocktails. This name is like my childhood. I say it’s a good name because you are able to go ‘pick up’ some food. It’s just a relaxed way of sharing the wealth.
The briskets and the smoked meats. You can have a sandwich with a side or you can have it as a platter with two sides…. This is very popular. The pork is very popular. The street food is good. We do seasonal specials and we have different items every week, we had goat cheese a couple weeks ago. So every day you get surprised.
We have a solid base of neighbors. Some people know me because of the other restaurants that I used to [have]. But McLean is really about McLean. People come from Vienna a lot. But we have been very lucky… we haven’t advertised much and the word [is] spreading among people. We got a couple of articles about us, so it’s been a very organic growth of a business that is not too big, it’s half full. So we sell wine for retail and we sell wine for dining. Our Mojitos, Caipirinha, pisco sour, those classic Latino drinks, we get a lot of customers who want those things. It’s just a very sophisticated crowd. It’s becoming a bit of a hidden place where you can come into the culture, we get business. Then the dinner is more about families, families come to dine here. We also do brunch, and we do fun things that are a little bit out of the norm.
Behind the scenes: Pikoteo
I have a group of people who help work and run the business. My wife and I run it but she doesn’t come to the restaurant. I create the menu and the specials, but I have a guy who helps out in the kitchen. His name is Jimmy. He’s been with me for 18 years so he mainly runs the whole kitchen with me.
The restaurant has a lot of flowers outside currently. I do flower decorations, and I decorate for the season with flowers. I just decorated flowers for Fiorella, a restaurant in National Harbor. We are decorating another restaurant in National Harbor as well. I did that a lot during the pandemic out of boredom, but I also cook a lot in my house.
Interview by Dania Reza. Reza is the social media content curator for McLean Today. She is a senior at McLean High School and is the design editor-in-chief of her award-winning school news magazine, The Highlander.
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