Finally, El Chucho is bringing tacos, tortas and tequila to Columbia Heights on Friday afternoon -- complete with a gorgeous rooftop deck.
It has been two years since restaurateur Jackie Greenbaum of Jackie’s and mixologist Gordon Banks of Sidebar found a former liquor store at 11th and Lamont streets and decided to turn it into a low-key Mexican restaurant. The menu was created by chef Diana Davila-Boldin of Jackie’s, and it’s a natural fit: Davila-Boldin’s family hails from San Luis Potosí in central Mexico and she trained as a cook in Oaxaca. The menu promises some cool twists: The tripas tacos mix seared intestines with foie gras nuggets, and a sope de moronga, or sausage made with pig’s blood, pork, chilies, garlic, onion and mint.
On the drink side, Banks has prepared a menu of classic margaritas, served shaken, frozen and swirled. He plans to offer the basic tequila-triple sec-lime version on draft at the bar, though a mechanical problem means there won’t be margaritas on draft for the first week or two. (In the meantime, there are six margarita variations on the menu.) He’s also making his own blue curacao, which lends color to both the Azul margarita and the tiki-ish Blue Hawaiian. Two of the coolest bar accessories are an industrial strength juicer for high-speed crushing of limes and a classic frozen margarita machine, which dispenses regular and strawberry habanero flavors.
Not imbibing? Banks has whipped up a menu of “Refrescos” sodas, including coconut kaffir lime, spiced pineapple and a punchy blackberry/poblano pepper blend. (All of these sell for $2.50 and can be spiked with booze for an extra charge.)
A word of warning: El Chucho is small. There are only 40 seats on the rooftop deck and 36 on the colorful first floor, which is decorated with pink paint, lights made from torpedo nose cones and glittery jet-age bar stools. Everything will be first-come, first-seated, and waits for the rooftop will probably be long, especially on a gorgeous day. (Give your number to a server, wander off to Meridian Pint or Wonderland for a drink, and come back when your table is ready.)
Sixteen sidewalk seats should arrive next week to offer a bit more room. In one of the cooler ideas here, the front windows open completely, forming a counter for a half-dozen lucky customers on the patio and in the bar.
Doors are scheduled to open at 4 p.m. Friday, though Greenbaum says you might want to call first, just in case there’s a delay. El Chucho will open daily at 4 until Saturday and Sunday brunch begins “in three to four weeks.”