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El Techo’s DJ area is packed with authentic pieces of Mexican culture.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Shaw Bar Reinvents Itself As a Latin Jungle Club With Daytime Yoga

El Techo will operate as Selva through the spring

Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Rooftop respite El Techo is rebranding with a Latin jungle design for the winter, adding weatherproof siding to ice out the cold and filling its upstairs bar space with decorations sourced from Mexico. The renovation includes plans to transform into a daytime yoga studio that would be at home in Tulum, a coastal Mexican destination for wellness-minded tourists.

From now until the spring — when El Techo’s top comes off — the covered rooftop is adopting the name Selva, which translates to “jungle” in Spanish. When owner Louie Hankins opened El Techo above Rito Loco, his burrito truck-turned-restaurant downstairs at 606 Florida Avenue NW, he described the space as “Instagram gold.”

Clearly, he’s trying to make another play for the social media set.

Tribal music will flow out of an elevated DJ booth lined with a fake furry tiger head and a candle-lit altar. Tapestries featuring the Mayan calendar are also part of the latest incarnation of El Techo, which opened in September 2017.

Hankins went to great lengths to properly insulate the space. Last year, clear plastic walls enclosed El Techo, but wind still blew through. This season the outdoor bar is lined with a sturdy polycarbonate structure.

“It makes it feel like a more permanent space,” he says. Its wood deck flooring was also insulated so that wind can’t come up through the slats.

Hankins designed the entire space himself. This week, the hands-on owner was shopping at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for a bowl big enough to house a new five-person cocktail.

To honor its temporary new name, Hankins says, Selva will reroute a majority of its February sales to Amazon conservation efforts. He hopes to raise $20,000 to $30,000 to help save the jungle, partnering with D.C.-based nonprofits tied to wildlife and forest conservation efforts.

Hankins is also hoping to solve a problem lots of bar owners run into — how to make money during closed hours — by transforming El Techo into a yoga studio serving cold-press juices by day.

“It captures the Tulum/Amazon vibe where yoga is central,” he says. He also hopes to capitalize on healthy New Year’s resolutions.

Selva by El Techo is closed on Mondays and operates Tuesday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to midnight, Friday from 5 p.m. to 1:30 am., Saturday from noon to 1:30 am. and Sunday noon to 10:30 p.m.

Scroll on for a look inside the space:

Selva by El Techo will operate through the winter.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
El Techo has a new lineup of winter cocktails, with three that are hot and boozy.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
“Flash is going to have a better dance floor. Eaton is going to have a more expensive design. RPM will have higher quality of food — but no one is going to out-vibe us,” says owner Louie Hankins.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Mexico’s ancient Mayan calendar inspired the brand’s logo.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Owner Louie Hankins’ friend in D.C. linked him up with a contact in Mexico City to source lanterns in a village an hour away.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
“We are trying to give off the energy we want to receive and have an authentic vibration that’s not forced,” says owner Louie Hankins.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
A wisteria-filled tunnel Hankins saw in Japan served as inspiration for the tent’s colorful ceiling. He bought 200 pounds of flowers that took days to hang up.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Owner Louie Hankins drew inspiration from traveling and design TV shows to decorate the space himself. “I didn’t want a big white wedding tent to stand out on a rooftop deck — I thought, how do I make this cool?”
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
The bar at El Techo.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

El Techo

1830 Ludlow Street, , PA 19103 Visit Website

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