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El Techo’s Winter Transformation Includes a Hot New Menu

The jungle-themed oasis in Shaw just revamped its lineup

A popular new menu item at El Techo is a chicken pozole that includes meat stewed for 24 hours, hominy, queso fresco, radish, cilantro, lime, and red chile broth.
Violetta Markelou/VM

Rooftop respite El Techo, which just rebranded with a Latin jungle vibe for the winter, also updated its entire menu with new soups, sizzling platters, and hot mezcal cocktails designed to help diners cope with the cold.

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. There’s new weatherproof siding, insulated flooring, and decor including 40 woven lanterns sourced from a village outside Mexico City.

In September 2017 co-owners Louie Hankins and Danny Diaz opened El Techo above Rito Loco, their burrito truck-turned-restaurant downstairs at 606 Florida Avenue NW.

Diaz split with the two-level Mexican destination this summer to focus on family. Since then, Hankins has been working with his longtime kitchen staff to add more variety, smoked meats, and color.

“It’s been humbling to see so many people in our group of friends and my employees step up and really offer their areas of expertise,” he says.

A trio of hot cocktails ($12) in mugs feature coffee, tequila, mezcal, and seasonal flavors like cinnamon and cloves. The newly winterized rooftop, lined with polycarbonate walls, accommodates 12 more seats. To bring more groups together, there’s a five-person tequila cocktail and a sharable sizzling cast iron skillet featuring filet tips, shrimp, and chicken with peppers, onions, and yuca.

“You know when it walks in the door,” Hankins says.

Another order to split is the seafood paella with mussels, crab, shrimp, clams, and squid. There’s also a new burrito with dark meat rotisserie chicken, yuca, and rice.

Here’s a look at the new menu:

In 2019, Selva will start hosting regular daytime yoga classes to capitalize on New Year’s Resolutions and mimc the wellness vibe of Tulum, Mexico. February sales will go towards saving the Amazon jungle — the region the space is modeled after for the winter.

A new DJ night on Thursdays adds hip hop to its tribal music rotation. Despite the improvements and changes to the space, Hankins is also adamant about never having a cover.

“We like to be that Cheers. It’s great I get to go to work and see all my friends. If I can’t be in Mexico, I might as well be here,” he says.

Shrimp and jalapeno grits.
Violetta Markelou/VM
Tinga chipotle pulled chicken tacos.
Violetta Markelou/VM
The El Sueño cocktail with coffee, Gran Agave tequila or Ilegal mezcal, allspice, rumchata, and whipped cream.
Violetta Markelou/VM
Spicy mezcal margarita with El Silencio, pineapple, habanero, Patrón Citrónge, and lime.
Violetta Markelou/VM
A mural modeled after the Mayan calendar features Rito Loco’s original logo surrounded by D.C. landmarks like the Capitol and Lincoln Memorial.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

El Techo

606 Florida Avenue Northwest, , DC 20001 (202) 836-4270 Visit Website

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