There are some people who are always pleasant to be around. I am not one of them—but my friend Emily is. She’s one of those good people who is good without being boring. She works hard at a good job, she’s a great friend, and a fun, cool wife to her husband. Despite being married, she’s always up for a fun night out drinking cocktails or brunch the next day.
Yeah, Emily is a good egg. (Ha! brunch puns!) We met for brunch—intending to go to the Brixton, but it was closed. It was 90 degrees and we were both hungover but Emily didn’t let this dull her spirits—or mine. So, we strolled down to another Thievery Corporation spot, El Rey, which recently launched brunch.
El Rey is built out of bright shipping containers—with primary colored walls, metal chairs, and high top tables, and bright, charming piñatas that hang from the center of the ceiling.
We began with drinks, chips, salsa, and queso—how any good Mexican brunch should start. A mimosa for me, and a Bloody Mary for Em. “Oh no, do you think they’re just going to add tequila to tomato sauce?” she asked fearfully, as she had ordered a drink that wasn’t actually on the menu.
Much to our surprise and delight, the Bloody Maria was delicious—light, refreshing, and flavorful. Similarly, my mimosa was wonderful, with fresh OJ and just the right amount of bubbly. They do their cocktails quite well at El Rey.
El Rey serves bottomless mimosas and micheladas for $20 per person—and bottomless coffee for $3. The Mexican spot also has an impressive selection of cocktails: margaritas, enseñadas (a pineapple, chipotle, tequila cocktail), a “short, Mexican stiffy”, which is made with tequila, mescal, agave, bitters, and orange zest. Those are the few that caught my eye.
There’s also a selection of more than 30 beers, including the Mexican selection: Pacifico, Tecate, Corona, Presidente, Estrella, and local beers like DC Brau. Meanwhile, the brunch menu is less comprehensive, offering you a choice between breakfast burritos or tamales. There are seven options for burritos, including a pork al pastor, and an Americano with bacon, scrambled eggs, and Oaxaca cheese. I selected the carne asada, with grilled steak, scrambled eggs, and salsa verde—without the pinto beans. Emily ordered the veggie burrito, with onion, poblano pepper, tomato, garlic, scrambled eggs, black beans, and cheese. Both burritos were enormous, rolled in flour tortillas and served in a red plastic tray. We also ordered the chorizo tamale, which was served in the traditional fashion, rolled inside a leaf. Tamales are basically delicious mushes of corn—and this one fit that bill. It was made more delectable with spicy, greasy ground chorizo. We were full, but we dove in anyway.All in all, this Mexican bar serves up a relaxed, affordable, and quality brunch.
The Bitches say: A- for a solid Mexican brunch with a fun vibe, great cocktails, and solid grub.
919 U St. N.W.
El Rey serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.