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Tuesday, November 27, 2012
First Look: El Chucho
Neighborhood: Columbia Heights
For my birthday, Official Co-Writer/Girlfriend of DCWD Texas, knowing me perfectly, organized an offal tour of DC. On this trip around the city to taste various offerings of different parts of the pig (or cow), the second stop of the excursion was new Columbia Heights taco shop El Chucho.
Anyone who's been to restaurateur Jackie Greenbaum's eponymous spot in Silver Spring will instantly understand the decor of El Chucho: bright colors beginning from the electric blue exterior to the sharp black and yellow of the logo. The feel of the interior is that of a Mexican border town cantina mixed with a 50s diner. Central to the space is a bar on the left side of the restaurant, a ten diner-stool L-shape with a wall of liquor, tequilas, and bright multicolored Mexican day-of-the-dead skulls. Across from it are a series of eight hightop diner-style two-tops with one large four-seater in the back and a set of large dice hanging from the exposed ceiling. Everything is brightly colored and retro chic. There's also some seating out front and a rooftop, though we didn't see the latter on this trip.
It being Monday night, the tacos were half off during happy hour, a deal we were more than happy to take advantage of. On this trip, we tried two of El Chucho's margaritas and two of their tacos. Texas had the ginger margarita as well as the calabacita tacos: a deep fried zucchini atop a mix of squash blossoms, poblano peppers, black mole, and queso fresco. Without a protein to bind it, the taco felt a little lacking, a bunch of supporting ingredients in search of a lead. But each piece was a nice accent to the others, especially the flavorful black mole. Her margarita was also good, with sharp bites of ginger and a sweet finish.
For me, I picked the house silver margarita (which was on tap), and the tripas tacos: crispy beef chitterlings, foie gras, lemon, and parsley. While the tacos were a little light as far as the foie went (in the sense that you got hints of flavor, but never any large piece of unctuous goodness. Still, the overwhelming flavor is that of tripe with punches of acid from time to time, which while interesting, is not for the everyday eater. Overall, as a taco, it was solid, and as a presentation of intestines, definitely an interesting bite for the culinary adventurer. My margarita was similarly a hit, smooth with a nice lime kick.
A solid spot for tacos, with great deals at happy hour and not.
Food Rating: *** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 3.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Hipster Hangout
Cost: $ (out of 5) (less than $25 for two)