Get your Margarita Fix at El Chucho
When it comes to Mexican joints, there’s something about a hint of grit that adds authenticity often missing from shinier, celebrity-backed establishments, no matter how delicious or fusion-fancy the menu. Enter El Chucho Cocino Superior, a casual Mexican “diner” from restaurateur Jackie Greenbaum of Jackie’s Restaurant and the accompanying Sidebar in Silver Spring. Now open in a former liquor store in Columbia Heights, El Chucho features the same team that has made Jackie’s a success: chef Diana Davila-Boldin designed the menu, while Sidebar’s Gordon Banks helms the extensive bar offerings.
First, the margaritas: there are nine, at several different price points. The El Codo, available on tap, is the cheapest at just $5 and came highly recommended by our chatty server (“It’s on tap, you’ll get it the fastest!”). It’s simple, not too sweet and feels a touch fancy with the choice between regular or chile-lime salt. Frozen options (choose lime, strawberry habanero or swirl) keep things cool in the rooftop heat — beware direct sunlight; stormageddon knocked out the roofttop awning — while the Rico Suave, featuring Don Julio 1942, is best saved for special occasions worthy of the $25 price tag.
A collection of spike-able house-made sodas also add intrigue to the beverage selection and come in exotic flavors such as coconut kaffir lime and spiced pineapple. Three of them (including ginger, blackberry poblano and pomegranate tart apple) can also be used as margarita flavors, too. The specialty cocktail list ranges in complexity from the simply named “Vodka Drink” to the curious “Senor Clusterf*ck,” but the “Mucha Hierba” stands out from the others with jasmine liqueur, Yellow Chartreuse, reposado tequila and Spanish bitters.
The craft beer selection (four on tap, three by the bottle) is small but noteworthy, while the extensive tequila and mezcal list adds depth of choice. Just don’t forget to wash down all that tequila with a side or three of food — the tacos and “street style” corn on the cob are top-notch.
3313 11th St. NW; 202-290-3313
Photos by Lauren Sloat
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