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The Early Word on Spicy New Taqueria El Chucho

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Photo: Ben Droz/

Jackie Greenbaum opened the doors to El Chucho at the end of June, promising Mexican street food from chef Diana Davila-Boldin, an old-school Mexican diner feel, a lovely rooftop and all kinds of margaritas — including one available on tap. Even though the opening coincided with the arrival of oppressive heat, it seems the crowds have already been making their way into the neighborhood's newest little casual restaurant. And now it's time to look at what the early diners are saying.

The Amazing News: New Columbia Heights got into El Chucho for a mock service and, like many others who have reviewed the place, fell in love with the elotes: "We tried the elote callejero (corn traditionally served as street food),  the pollo (chicken) tacos, and th pulpo (octopus) tacos. All were good, but the corn was amazing. It's grilled and coated with herbs and cheese. The flavor is really in the corn though, not on the outside, and I have a feeling I am going to be eating this corn all the time." [NCH]

The Packed House News: Borderstan blogger Ashley Lusk recommends the Blue Hawaiian in this dispatch from the heat wave: "We sought out El Chucho, a restaurant that opened Friday night, hoping to buoy their faith that even if everyone else was looking for cooler temps, we would take advantage of their roof deck. Boy, were we wrong. Despite not a bit of air conditioning, the place was packed when we arrived and we scored the last seat on the roof deck. [Metropoetrylis]

The Good Taco News: DC Culinarian reflects on Washington's taco situation: "DC has experienced something of a taco boomlet of late. District Taco's brick-and-mortar location just opened a few weeks ago, Richard Sandoval's El Centro DF opened last year, and there is no shortage of taco trucks circling the downtown area. But El Chucho feels like it has something unique going. It's earthy and fun, brash without getting in your face. Above all, it's good. [DC Culinarian]

The Mixed Foursquare News: The folks of Foursquare love the drinks menu at El Chucho, but while one user recommends the tacos al pastor, another describes the food as "lackluster." [Foursquare]

The Disappointed News: One Chowhounder laments in DC's lack of good Mexican food — and continued to be disappointed at El Chucho: "I dove into the carne asada first (I took off the radishes and the small grilled onion - good! but can we get the whole (green) onion please?), and felt like I was eating a good ground beef taco, but not a carne asada taco. Again, meat was so fine as if it were ground. The tortillas were store bought and a bit tough (I'm not knocking them for not hand making their own tortillas, but they need to re-think the brand they buy; La Bandita from Giant are better). The al pastor was like spiced ground pork; like the sloppy joe mixture from the torta. I think I saw miniscule pieces of pineapple in it, but couldn't taste any sweetness." [CH]

The Baja Surf Camp News: Daily Candy likes the relaxed atmosphere: "Mexican street foods and sips add the punch of a lucha libre to Park Road’s burgeoning restaurant row. Imagined by Jackie Greenbaum (Jackie’s, Quarry House Tavern), El Chucho serves the laid-back munchies — tortas, tacos and guac — you ate at that Baja surf camp. Cocktails, including margaritas on tap, taste sweeter on the roof." [Daily Candy]

The Lame News: One Yelper files an eloquent review: "Lame...came here on Friday night and on the menu they listed wine. Ordered and the waiter said they didn't have any. The owners haven't decided what they want to offer. Lame. Don't list it on the menu then. How hard is it to run across the street to the liquor store or to Trader Joe's and pick up a few bottles of white and red in case people order it before making a decision about what to offer. Almost as lame, they didn't have A/C. Come on! In DC any bar that doesn't invest in an A/C unit is cheap. We are in the land of 100 degree and humid summers! The bathrooms are cool with exposed brick." [Yelp]

The Booze News: An expert in the drinks at Greenbaum's other project Sidebar weighs in on the booze: "I noticed the drinks were similar to some of the super crafty drinks at Sidebar. They had fun with the name change from Jack Rose (Sidebar) to the Juan Rose. The Mucha Hierba and Senior Cluster are from Sidebar as well and they are good solid choices. We had the Paloma and Blue Hawaiian, both great choices. But since it's a Mexican influenced restaurant, I would recommend to go with one of their Tequila choices. They didn't have wine when we went but it's coming soon" [Yelp]

The Rave: Another Yelper has only nice things to say about a meal shared with fellow "foodies:" "Fantastic in every way!! Each cocktail we had was beautifully crafted and every bit of food was delicious morsel by morsel. Our party was made up of foodies, who had nothing but rave reviews for each dish and drink that arrived. All small plates, don't be afraid to order a little of everything. I think we actually did that and were thrilled each time something new came to the table." [Yelp]

El Chucho - Cocina Superior

3313 11th Street Northwest, , DC 20010 (202) 290-3313 Visit Website

El Chucho

3313 11th Street NW, Washington, DC