Tacos and Tequila. What else could you want on Cinco de Mayo??
What's that? You don't like all that lime, salt and sugar muddying up your Tequila? A Margarita on May 5 can be fine, but agave-based spirits sipped neat are muy bien, especially alongside grilled tortillas overstuffed with fillings and dripping with salsa. Chefs and bartenders give their top picks in and around D.C. for Tequila (and mezcal) pairings for tacos.
Owner and certified mezcalier Josh Phillips of the new Oaxacan spot in Shaw pairs Lamb Barbacoa Tacos ($15 for 2, $22 for 3) with the Siete Misterios Coyote ($15/1 oz.), "a clay pot mezcal with notes of strawberry and tight, focused smoke with an intense finish." The lamb for the tacos is covered in banana and avocado leaves and braised, then served with chipotle tomatillo, knob onion and queso fresco.
At the Mexican street food-inspired restaurant in Georgetown, regional chef Eleftherios Terry Natas' favorite combination is an Al Pastor Taco ($13.25) with Don Julio 1942 ($25/shot), an ultra-premium añejo Tequila. "The aged añejo Tequila's smoky yet sweet notes complement the light spice from the marinade on the pork and sweetness from the grilled pineapple."
The Arlington Mexican small plates den offers up the Lengua Taco ($4.50), a traditional braised beef tongue taco that boasts tons of flavor and a delicate texture. Beverage director Taha Ismail likes it next to Siete Lengua Reposado ($12), which not only goes along with the tongue theme, but gives chocolate mole flavor and a touch of spice. " It really compliments the delicate texture of the tongue, and also cuts through the richness of the meat."
Beverage director Scott Clime suggests Casa Noble Blanco (starting at $8) with the Clarendon restaurant's Baja Fish Taco ($7), made with fried tilapia, cabbage, orange habanero cream served with house-made corn tortillas, traditional condiments and a trio of salsas: arbol, habanero and verde. "[It] is a very young, light, flavorful and slightly spicy Tequila, that goes down very smoothly, neutralized by the fresh and creamy taco."