100 Very Best Restaurants: – El Cielo

El Cielo's take on an old fashioned. Photograph by @4mybelly/Instagram.

About El Cielo

Modern Latin
1280 4th St NE
Washington, DC 20002

When Colombian celebrity chef Juan Manuel “Juanma” Barrientos opened a branch of his Medellín-based tasting room in La Cosecha marketplace, we were skeptical of the much-hyped “choco-therapy,” a liquid-cacao hand wash designed to awaken the senses. Turns out—like much of the 22-course avant-garde menu—the spa-style treatment is pure fun. Delicious surprises abound in the living-room-esque space—more buzzy than stuffy—whether black-garlic-truffle buñuelos camouflaged among rocks, rich corn soup accented with “corn beer,” or three-bite lobster rolls eaten with a plastic bib (the lone lowbrow touch on a menu that begins at $235). Prepare to linger after a Dippin’ Dots–inspired dessert packed with icy Colombian fruits for the final kick: a roving digestif cart. Very expensive.