A Coastal Mexican Spot is Coming to Shaw with a Rooftop Bar for Year-Round Margaritas

Cortez from the Takoda team takes over the former 1905 space.

Cortez will open in Shaw with a coastal Mexican restaurant and rooftop bar (pictured: the shareable Balandra Bowl). Photograph courtesy of Cortez

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We’re heading into winter, but the owners of Takoda are already dreaming up beach fare like fish tacos, spicy margaritas, and piña coladas for their next Shaw venture. Cortez, named after the sea that separates the Baja California Peninsula from Mexico, will open in the former 1905 Bistro space with coastal Mexican and SoCal cuisine. The 80-seat restaurant and rooftop bar is slated for a March 1 debut.

Ryan Seelbach and Jeff Sunderland, college roommates turned business partners, purchased the 1920s-era former townhouse and are in the process of turning it into a sunny perch above Ninth Street, Northwest. The 40-seat dining room and bar will be lit up with white-painted brick, wooden tables, and colorful wall murals. The rooftop bar above, which hosts another 40, will be outfitted with cacti and greenery for a beach-y feel—never mind the view of the Washington monument in the distance. Though not partially enclosed like Takoda’s top-floor bar, the team plans to use the outdoor space year-round thanks to ample heaters, colorful Baja wool blankets, and umbrellas.

Light, seaside-style fare is the focus of the kitchen for dinner and brunch. Patrons will find several varieties of tacos with the option of homemade corn tortillas. Among the options: grilled swordfish and a classic Baja-style crispy mahi mahi taco. The menu is still in the works, but look for casual dishes like ceviches, guacamole, elote street corn, seasonal salads, quesadillas, and homemade Mexican chocolate ice cream. Prices will generally range $6 to $9, and max out at $22 for larger entrees.

No surprise that tequilas will star on the bar. Cortez plans to offer over 30 varieties, from easy-drinking blancos for margaritas to aged sipping tequilas. Rounding out the drink list will be several small-batch rums, Latin and American beers, and cocktails like mojitos, sangrias, and margaritas with fresh fruit and juices (generally $10 to $13). Your rooftop date drink may be the Balandra Bowl, made for two with tequila, curacao, seasonal fruits, and fresh-pressed lime and pineapple juices.

Cortez Restaurant and Rooftop Bar. 1905 Ninth St., NW.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.