Summer in the City is actually warm this year, so we don’t have to wait until September to experience the best weather. With such great weather, everyone is flocking to outdoor dining destinations, especially ones with a view. El Techo de Lolinda, opened mid-May, was an instant success as a rooftop deck offering great Latin-American-influenced drinks and food with a great view. Located five floors above its sister restaurant, Lolinda, they share the same Executive Chef Alejandro Morgan, but El Techo de Lolinda (translation: The Roof of Lolinda) concentrates on shareable snack items meant to pair with killer drinks.
You check in with the doorman outside of Lolinda to put your name on the list (on an iPad), and he lets you in if there is room to wait upstairs for the table. There is a choice of waiting for a crowded elevator or climbing the five flights of stairs; we chose the latter and arrived on the deck only slightly winded. You check in with the host on the roof who verifies your name on the iPad list and provides an estimate for how long the table wait will be. You then try to find room somewhere to wait it out and try to catch a server to order some drinks.
You only then realize how spectacular the setup is: the partially covered and heated deck offers panoramic views of the City:
Thankfully food doesn’t have to travel through five floors to get to you, as all of the dishes are prepared in this “trailer” set up on one side of the deck:
The bar that is located on the roof has its hands full trying to fill hundreds of drink orders. Only servers and staff are allowed to approach the small bar, so even after we flagged a server to order drinks, it took about 30 minutes before they arrived — fortunately we were seated by then. The wait for the cóctels (cocktails) was worth it since the Chilcano (Huamani Pisco, passion fruit, ginger, bitters) and the Piña Colada (El Techo Rum blend, coconut cream, pineapple, cinnamon) were both really great and very refreshing. They are the perfect drinks for a warm summer evening:
The snack menu is broken out into small plates, chicharrones de carne by the pound, chuzos (skewers of vegetables and protein choices), and sanguches (sandwiches). All food arrives fairly fast once ordered. There are about a dozen small plates available which includes chips, ceviches, quesadillas and flautas; and all are reasonably priced from $5-$9. We were in the mood for some guacamole and chips to initially pair with our cocktails:
We also ordered a Quesadilla de Acelga which featured hand-made thick tortillas deliciously stuffed with melted Oaxaca cheese, kale and mushrooms. The accompanying green tomatillo and pico de gallo tasted as if they were freshly made:
Thankfully drinks are available by the pitcher. We had wanted to get Sangria, but they were already out, so we settled for a pitcher of Margarita (Herrencia Blanco Tequila, Combier, lime, juice). It was better than most Margaritas since it didn’t use or taste like pre-bottled sweet and sour mix:
We ordered the Elote, a lightly grilled sectioned corn on the cob flavored with lime juice, sour cream and sprinkled with chili powder and Oaxaca cheese. The sweetness of the corn verified that it is indeed summertime:
We had to try the Chicharrones de Carne, ordered in half-pound increments. The menu tells us “that this isn’t your basic side-walk cracklins,” and they most certainly weren’t. This half-pound order of roasted, then fried, chunks of pork shoulder are served with tortillas, crisp pork “chips,” re-fried black beans, lime wedges and salsa escabech (cauliflower and carrots marinated in lime juice, onions and jalapeños). The only thing wrong with this tasty dish was that we should have ordered the one pound version:
El Techo de Lolinda is a vast improvement over Medjool, the previous rooftop restaurant here which ran into neighbor and licensing issues. Run by the successful restaurant group that operates Beretta, Starbelly and Super Duper, they have another winner on their hands. Unfortunately, with a no-reservations policy, this might be the toughest table to get during this gorgeous summertime in the City. But the wait is worth it, and you will be rewarded with great views, food and drinks.