Chef/Owner Anna Bran-Leis announced fresh additions to her daily menu at Taqueria del Barrio (821 Upshur Street NW; 202-723-0200), setting the stage for the approaching Cinco de Mayo holiday. Whether enjoying at one of the restaurant’s sunny sidewalk tables, at the horseshoe bar, or in either of the restaurant’s two colorful dining rooms, spring flavors abound on the plate and across the cocktail menu.

Highlighting the season’s selection of tacos are a fried avocado taco, stuffed with Napa slaw and fresh tomato; and classic nopales, or grilled cactus paddle with melted Oaxaca cheese and cilantro. They join an extensive menu that includes 15 types of tacos available to mix and match for $3 each.

Bran-Leis has created a Mexican take on a Cobb salad, topping greens with sliced avocado, cotija cheese, roasted red peppers, bacon, black beans and corn, all drizzled with a cilantro green goddess dressing. It, along with the restaurant’s Caesar del Barrio, are now available in full or half portions, perfect as an accompaniment to a selection of antojitos or an entrée. 

Among new entrees, Bran-Leis has added a plate of grilled shrimp coated in chipotle butter and served with grilled peppers and onions. Chicken is now offered in two entrée preparations—grilled in a traditional mole of mixed nuts, chiles and chocolate; and as pollo asado, marinated in adobo and grilled, then topped with pico de gallo and served with grilled vegetables.

Over the first two months of the year, Bran-Leis challenged her bar staff to develop several new cocktails, the best of which won coveted spots on the menu. Topping the list of new favorites is a mezcal based Elote Cocktail, a boozy take on classic Mexican street corn. Bartender Tom Magnanelli was inspired by the taqueria’s popular appetizer, using the same roasted sweet corn to make an ‘elote syrup’ that is blended with Illegal Resposado Mezcal, fresh lime, tajin, and topped with a slice of fresh sweet corn on the cob.

The restaurant’s extensive selection of margaritas now includes a classic on tap, utilizing a Sauza Silver tequila keg line. In addition, Beverage Director Chris Martino has developed a collection of house made syrups utilizing a range of spices and fresh fruits, to complement blends of boutique tequilas, triple sec & lime. Flavor combinations include Avion Silver mixed with spiced hibiscus, or soursop. Martino’s Apples to Apples blends Avion Silver with aromatic turmeric tea syrup and pomegranate pips. And Chapulin Colorado is Martino’s homage to the Mexican comedy series from the 1970s by the same name. The margarita uses a bold, yet refreshingly light mix of ancho chile and cherry, and will be available throughout the National Cherry Blossom Festival this spring. 

Bran-Leis also announced the expansion of the restaurant’s wildly popular drag brunch, now hosted by legendary DC queen Kristina Kelly. Kelly and an all-star cast of local performers take over brunch twice monthly at Taqueria del Barrio—with upcoming performances on Saturday, April 14, and Saturday, April 28.

In the coming weeks look for exciting announcements related to Cinco de Mayo celebrations at Taqueria del Barrio, and as summer approaches, Bran-Leis, and neighbors on Upshur Street will welcome the community for the second annual Petworth Pride celebration. Scheduled for Saturday, June 3, the annual celebration will raise money for local LGBTQ organizations including Whitman Walker Health and SMYAL, as well as the Friends of Petworth Park.

Full menus and a special events calendar can be found at Guests looking to experience the new menu can visit the restaurant from 4pm to 10pm on Tuesdays through Thursdays; 4pm to 11pm on Fridays; 12pm to 12am on Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations are accepted over the phone at 202-723-0200, with first come, first served seating at the bar.

Industry News, Menu Innovations