Thursday, June 7, 2012

El Chucho's Cocina Superior opens June 17, we spoke with the co-owner

 El Chucho's Cocina Superior, the Mexican spot coming to 11th between Park and Lamont and Kenyon, is opening June 17th. It's owned by Jackie Greenbaum and Gordon Banks, who also own the popular Jackie's, Sidecar and the Quarry House in Silver Spring. I stopped by on Saturday to talk to Gordon about the spot, and it sounds really fantastic. (You can see a few photos in this post, and more in the slideshow at bottom.)

Basically, it's going to be Mexican street food with some Asian influence: Banks says chef Diana Davila-Bouldin , who is from a family that runs a number of taquerias, half-jokingly called it "authentically Chinganized."There are about 38 seats inside with tables plus a bar and stools, about 10 seats out front, plus another 32 on the roof, which will also have a shrine/herb garden with the herbs used in cocktails (cilantro, mint, etc).

The first floor will have a window that can slide up, making it almost an outdoor space, and the decor will look like a 1950s or '60s Mexican border town, which is a fun idea. They'll play things like 60s Mexican garage and Texas outlaw music as well as more traditional Mexican music. They'll be open every day at 4 and can close as late as 2 am on weekdays and 3 am on weekends, but Banks said they'd have to see what demand warranted for the late nights.

I also heard some of the ideas for the menu, which sounds pretty much completely great, though he also mentioned it wasn't yet finalized. There will be traditional Mexican street food like elote, which is corn on the cob with cheese, chile powder, crema and herbs on it (which is generally delicious), fried Oaxacan cheese, a mole with 40 ingredients, homemade sausage, and 6 kinds of tacos, from traditional (al pastor) to squash & chile tofu prepared like refried beans, to tripe and foie gras.

In addition, Banks mentioned Mexican kimchi and a lot of tortas, which will be drowned in a smoky chile arbol sauce. In fact, since the tortas are covered in sauce, Banks said they'd be served with plastic gloves. There's also a fair amount of vegetarian dishes and salads, as well as Mexican and Mexican-inspired desserts like a chocolate tamale. In all, the food sounds pretty different and delicious, and he said they wouldn't be too expensive. Where possible, they'll use locally-sourced food and local purveyors.

There's also a nice drinks selection. For one, they'll make their own sodas, from things like lemon lime to coconut with kaffir lime, Mexican root beer, and blackberry poblano, plus they'll carry Mexican coke. They'll have a number of different margaritas, and there will always be a $5 on tap, and all fresh-squeezed juices. There will also be 6 draft lines, probably the traditional Negra Modelo plus American craft beers, as Banks said it was hard to come by good and reasonably priced Mexican microbrews. They'll also have a wide range of tequila and mescal, from about $5 a glass up to super-premium ones at $50 or so a pop.

The space has come a long way, as Banks said when they bought it, there was a tree growing out the back wall. Now there's a wood bar, nice stools, interesting lights over the bar made from torpedos, plus paint and decor reminiscent of the border.

In short, I am really looking forward to this place. It sounds awesome. Here's the slideshow of all the photos I took:


  1. Thanks for the details this looks like it'll be very unique and fit right in on 11th. Can't wait!

  2. Not to be a ding-dong, but it is actually between Park and Lamont

  3. i can't wait...i feel like i have been waiting for this place to open since last summer!

    So so excited

  4. I went in yesterday and they're still not open. They said they'd open some time next week. Can't wait!

  5. Yeah, I tweeted that it was delayed last week but forgot to do a blog post. Thanks for reminding me. I'm also looking forward to it!


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