El Techo is already one of the better rooftop bars in the city, serving up delicious food and cocktails in its lush, vaguely tropical themed restaurant. It might be one of the first places you think of when the weather starts to get nice, but El Techo wants to be more than that. It wants to transport you to the beaches of Mexico, the jungles of Guatemala and the clubs of Ibiza no matter the season. Once you cross the (fake) moss covered threshold, you’re on vacation, baby.
And I can vouch for the year round tropical temperatures. When I visited El Techo, it was 38 degrees outside, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell from the balmy temperature of the bar. The line of patio heaters certainly helps, but El Techo has also ditched the tents this year in favor of more a more solid structure that keeps the wind out, but can be folded away when the summertime comes. Between the clear siding and the 200 pounds of flowers hanging from the ceiling, green house comparisons would not be remiss.
Although, El Techo has changed a lot more than their looks. They’ve also gone through a full food and cocktail refresh, as well as little bit of a name change. Throughout the month of February, owner Louie Hankins has rebranded the space as Selva By El Techo, and plans to donate a portion of that month’s sales to jungle / forest conservation. Which should make you feel a little bit better about ordering all of those spicy margaritas.
While the redesigned menu might seem as treacherous as a solo tour through the jungle, take my hand and we’ll guide you through the best bites (and sips) El Techo has to offer. Kicking off with cocktails (because that’s the only way to do it), it should go without saying that their spicy mezcal margarita is a perma favorite. It’s got heat, it’s got smoke, it’s got booze and we’re very into it. If you’re looking to expand your palette, the Caiproska with vodka, Asian Pear, lime and a smoldering cinnamon stick tastes like Christmas in July. The pear and lime keep things refreshing and fruity, but the cinnamon adds a winter-y kick.
Feeling chilly? Need something homey? Think you might get a cold? Dive headfirst into the Pollo Pizzola. Served up like your favorite bowl of pho (all condiments come on the side so you can choose your proportions), the sort of soup features moist shredded chicken thighs, pozole (or hominey) sprinkled queso fresca, radish slivers, cilantro and a chicken and red chili broth that stews for 24 hours. Its heaping helping of fresh ingredients will cure what ails you. Similarly, the Latin American Stirfry is the kind of dish that will make you feel taken care of (and very well fed). Served on a sizzling plate, it’s a mountain of filet, shrimp, chicken, onions, and yuca, plus it comes with a side of rice, beans and tortillas.
If you’d rather shove down some bar food, the kind of dishes that will make you drink more and not less, aim for the crispy chicken tenders covered in honey mustard-esque dip and paired with dense and starchy yucca fries. If you happen to be there during brunch, do not pass go and do not collect $200 without ordering the breakfast nachos. Topped with a runny egg and served with the lightest, crispiest fried flour tortillas, it’s my dream breakfast.
Want to guarantee you have a food coma? Finish it off with a slice of the Tres Leches cake and say goodnight.
El Techo is located above Rito Loco at 606 Florida Ave NW.