Tico was just named one of DC’s Essential 38 Restaurants by Eater, and for good reason. The restaurant’s stunning interior, impressive bar program, and food by renowned chef, Michael Schlow, make it one of the hottest spots in the city. I’ve had the pleasure of dining at Tico on multiple occasions, and each has proven to be memorable…
One of the most exciting aspects of Tico, besides its food, of course, is its superior beverage selection. Tico has three cocktails on draft, including a bright pink Hibiscus Margarita, fruity Sangria, and a sweet and spicy pisco-based drink called Papa Made Bail. It’s embarrassing to say, but I have tried every single one of these, and they are all incredible. In addition they have made-to-order mixed drinks, favorites of which include the Caju Caipirinha made with cachaca, cashew, and lime, and the Oaxacan Donkey, which is essentially Tico’s take on a Moscow Mule, but made with smoky mezcal instead of vodka. If you’re looking for a party, you can order all of the cocktails on draft in a pitcher, or get a porrón, which is a drinking game on its own.
Majority of Tico’s menu are small plates, however, they do have a few items served in the entrée format in addition to a variety of tacos. Let’s get to the small plates, because they are the most fun part of the meal and I am obsessed with them. My favorites include the Homemade Chorizo, Roasted Cauliflower, Shredded Cabbage Salad, and Sweet Corn. I kind of went wild here, don’t judge.
The Chorizo was out of this world. The presentation is rather humble, but the flavor was the opposite – profound and bold. Plus, Tico makes all of their sausage in-house, which is honestly one of my weaknesses in life. The Roasted Cauliflower, which is considered to be a bestseller, was easily some of the most flavorful cauliflower I’ve ever eaten. Given that each piece is topped with smoky chipotle and fresh cotija cheese, this is not surprising.
The Shredded Cabbage Salad is also a signature dish, and is made with spicy salsa verde, green beans, and crushed almonds. I could have honestly eaten an entrée portion of this dish, and I don’t think those words have ever been said about something that states “cabbage” clearly in the title. The way Tico was able to manipulate the cabbage was very impressive. Last was the Sweet Corn, because you just can’t go wrong with adding a little jalapeño and smoked bacon to anything.
Next, I have to talk about the tacos. You might as well order them all because it’s impossible to pick a favorite. The gluten-free options here include the Two Texture Beef, Shrimp Salad, Spicy Braised Pork, and Duck. If I absolutely had to pick, I’d probably opt for the duck, mainly because the taco is so unique. Tender, shredded duck meat, charred Serrano peppers and mango salsa make for a better taco than anyone could have imagined.
Last came the Smoked Pork Chop with green mole sauce, lollipop kale, baby carrots, and green onions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve eaten a dry pork chop, so it was very refreshing taking that juicy first bite. The green mole sauce was also very unique, and had great flavor in addition to being visually stunning.
This time I did not get dessert, which is basically a Cardinal sin in my book, but I was so stuffed I was worried how I would make it out to the car. Next time, I definitely plan on saving room, as Tico’s gluten-free dessert option features a Caramelized Banana Split with Chocolate Gelato and Peanut Butter Mousse, which has my name written all over it. Plus, they even have dessert cocktails like the MoreChata with rumchata, agave, coffee liqueur, milk, and cinnamon.
Tico’s fairly large gluten-free menu in addition to my superior dining experience makes the spot a true DC dining destination. Even though I’ve eaten nearly everything on the menu, I plan on going back for more.