Celebrate Pride this month at El Tamarindo in Adams Morgan with a specialty cocktail generating proceeds for local LGBTQ+ youth and an extensive menu of Mexican and Salvadoran cuisine.
This casual Central American joint is located at the bottom of Adams Morgan’s lively 18th Street corridor at 1785 Florida Ave. NW and has been a landmark of the neighborhood for decades. Open until 2 a.m. on the weekends, El Tamarindo is a convenient spot to grab a late-night snack after clubbing in the area, and its large outdoor patio is ideal for spending the afternoon drinking and chowing down with friends.
In addition to its covered patio, the restaurant has two dining areas and a bar inside where the walls are filled with a hodgepodge of hung paintings and photos, depicting Latino icons, that give the space a homey vibe. Other than the artwork, and strings of colorful hanging country flags, the aesthetic is nothing special – everything inside from the floors and tables to the walls are a shade of brown.
Luckily, it’s the food and drinks that have earned El Tamarindo accolades like one of Washingtonian Magazine’s 50 most influential D.C. restaurants of the last century and Washington City Paper’s best Salvadoran restaurant in 2021.
Whether you’re barely hungry and just want to nibble or are ready to scarf down a full meal, El Tamarindo’s menu can accommodate you.
For a snack, try out one of the nine pupusas – a thick corn tortilla stuffed with ingredients, like chorizo and jalapeno for $3.65 each. The sweet corn ($3.75) or chicken ($3.50) tamales and the beef empanadas ($8.75 for two) are also ideal options if you’re in an appetizer mood.
For larger portions, look to the El Tamarindo Specials section of the menu featuring dishes like burritos (starting at $17.50), fajitas (starting at $17.50) and soft tacos (starting at $17.25). If you’re in the mood for seafood, check out the mariscos portion of the menu featuring a whole fried catch of the day ($23.99).
While the food was tempting, I stopped in specifically to try El Tamarindo’s specialty Pride Month themed cocktail called the Mucho Mucho Amor ($12). The rainbow hued limited edition cocktail, unveiled at the end of May, pays homage to “LGBTQ+ and Latinx icon” Walter Mercado, a well known Puerto Rican TV personality and astrologer, and proceeds from its sales are donated to Casa Ruby – a community center for LGBTQ+ youth in D.C, according to a Facebook post by the restaurant.
The drink is layered with a red base of cherry puree, a swirl of bright orange mango puree mixed with Don Q rum and a beautiful ocean-like layer of Blue Curacao. It’s served in a tall cylindrical glass to show off the colorful mixture of flavor, given a rim of tiny rainbow sprinkles and garnished with an orange slice, maraschino cherry and a small pride flag.
As someone who isn’t a huge fan of the taste of liquor, this drink was ideal – the sweetness and tanginess from the mango and cherry purees were the predominant flavor of the cocktail. The cold purees also gave the drink a slushy consistency, similar to a frozen cocktail that had me fantasizing of drinking it on a beach. And the combination of white rum and Blue Curacao made for a smooth but strong kick.
If you don’t like your drinks too sweet, try out the El #1 ($10) with Don Q rum, mint, lime, tamarindo juice and soda or the #BuildItOnTheNationalMall Michelada ($9.50), a Modelo Especial or Negra Modelo beer cocktail with a spicy Tamarindo-Tajin rim.
Whatever the occasion, time of day or hunger level, you’ll leave El Tamrindo satisfied and excited for your next visit.
This article appeared in the June 24, 2022 issue of the Hatchet.