It’s an unpredictable time for the hospitality industry, with some places downscaling (or closing completely) while others are ramping up beyond what they had even in pre-pandemic times. Count the Mission Group—behind big, boisterous bar-centric spots Mission Dupont and Navy Yard and Hawthorne— in the latter category. “Overall, we’re pretty bullish on the restaurant scene in DC,” says co-founder Fritz Brogan.
Case in point: Salazar, a three-story Tex-Mex spot opening on 14th Street this Friday with four bars, daily happy hour from 4 to 7 PM, and a basement dance floor primed for weekend DJ parties and all-you-can-drink margarita brunches. The freewheeling barstaurant is a $1 million renovation of El Centro’s former space, also notorious for its bottomless parties over the past decade.
As the Mission Group motto goes: “It’s more fun to eat in a bar than drink in a restaurant.”
The new Tex-Mex spot will have some similarities to its Mexican sib Mission—tons of tequila, pitchers of margaritas and palomas–but the food menu here offers more street-inspired snacks with an emphasis on pork. Think nachos chicharrones, bacon-corn fritters, crispy pork-belly tacos, Cuban sandwiches slathered with tequila-lime mustard, and Sonoran-style hot dogs with bacon jam. Also: waffle fries! Dishes like tacos go for $4 during happy hour to match the $4 beers, $8 margaritas, and $24 pitchers.
Brogan is also eager to introduce a new bar game on the rooftop at Salazar: the “bell challenge,” inspired by Chicago Mexican spot Federales (says The Infatuation: “It’s basically spring break in restaurant form, complete with ill-advised tequila shots.”) Bar patrons—typically bros or ladies in equally ill-advised cowboy hats, per Federales footage—chug tequila out of an ice shot glass and hurl it at a bell, where it smashes. Bing bong! Social media glory. The game starts at $10 with Sauza shots at Salazar, or you can top-shelf your toss with $15 Casamigo.
“Given Covid and the severe weather, people are looking for an outlet,” says Brogan. “It’s like a safer version of a rage room.”
— Federales (@FederalesChi) April 15, 2021
Salazar will open for Friday and Saturday only this weekend (no brunch, yes DJ). Hours are Thursday through Saturday through January. Bottomless brunch, with bottomless margaritas, will begin in February. The restaurant also accepts large-party bookings in semi-private spaces without rental fees or minimums.
Salazar, 1819 14th St., NW.