In the dead of a D.C. winter, amid an impending government shutdown, we desperately were in need of a getaway. Short of hopping a flight to Aruba or Miami, I settled for a trip to a Mexican rooftop in Shaw. El Techo, the rooftop bar above Rito Loco, might not seem like a winter destination, but the weatherized siding and heated space makes it a perfect place to escape.
El Techo’s newly revamped winter brunch menu is called “Selva,” and changes over around Halloween and runs through Cinco de Mayo. (Read our review of the summertime menu at El Techo, here.)
“Selva” means jungle, and that’s the feel you get at El Techo in the winter. The enclosed rooftop is warmed to a toasty 67 degrees and tons of flowers hang from the ceiling. Seriously, we’re getting Tulum vibes in December – which is just what we need.
Owner/Manager Louie Hankins welcomed me for an exclusive preview of the transformed space and new brunch menu. We started with drinks, of course. El Techo offers a tempting bottomless brunch deal when it comes to beverages. Pay $40 and choose from bottomless Tecates, mimosas (try the hibiscus!) or El Techo margaritas (with a black salt rim, no less). Need a little food with your alcohol? Buy an entrée and get $25 for the bottomless option.
As if those options aren’t enough, opt for an a la carte jarra de Jarritos. This massive skull drink dispenser of Mexican soda can be spiked with a variety of hard liquors and will make your party the envy of every table in the restaurant.
The quiche is served as three muffin-size portions, filled with broccoli, chorizo, and zucchini and a side of fresh fruit. The quiche is fluffy and perfect, but I never crave a quiche. It’s good as a starter but not a great entrée option. Plus, the fresh bowl has our least favorite fruit, honeydew. I advise that they change this dish up a bit to make it more enticing.
The A.M. nacho dish is absolutely the star of the show. Piled high with rotisserie chicken, fried flour tortilla chips, and sunny-side egg with yolk oozing down, this dish is indulgent and fantastic. It’s topped with pico de gallo, cilantro and Chef Alex’s secret sauce. This is definitely a must-order for the table, though you may not want to share.
Traditionalists will appreciate the AM Tacos. They’re simply made but bursting with flavor. Our favorite fillings were the chicken tinga, barbacoa, and smoked OG. The meats are smoked in-house.
It might not seem like your typical brunch pick, but one of my favorite dishes was the chicken pozole. This Mexican soup tastes like your abuelita made it — so rich and comforting. It is deconstructed, so the chicken and hominy soup is topped with avocado, but it’s served with sides to add on like red onions, crunchy chicharrones and radishes. I could eat it every day in the winter.
El Techo is an awesome option for a party brunch. It boasts a solid bottomless brunch deal and lots of food options. And if your group is particularly competitive, the group with the highest tab at 2 p.m. gets its brunch time extended by an hour, essentially allowing you to close down the spot and turn the rooftop into your own personal dancefloor. Plus, it’s got DJs spinning live almost every night. I know I’ll be booking my next party brunch here.
The Bitches say: five Champagne flutes for a fun, party atmosphere and top-notch Mexican brunch cuisine.
El Techo serves brunch Saturday and Sunday from noon-3 p.m.