Mike Isabella can’t sit still. His forthcoming Mexican restaurant, Bandolero, opens in Georgetown early this spring, but he wants to give diners a chance to get an advance screening. So he’s doing a pop-up version of the tacos ‘n’ tequila loving concept in Cleveland Park’s Tackle Box.
I got a chance to get a sneak peek, along with talented CityEats shutterbug Elizabeth Parker. Though Isabella and his crew are only temporary guests in the space, they make it feel like their own. Sketches of bull skulls are scattered across the walls and a soundtrack of alt-rock and hip-hop blasts through the room.
Our evening begins with a basket of tortilla chips and featherlight chicharrones – known on this side of the border as pork rinds – which make perfect scoops for guacamole studded with hearty chunks of avocado. I also dip them into the Maya-inspired sikil pak made with ground up roasted pumpkin seeds, then dappled with a shower of sesame seeds and bits of orange.
For my second course, I’m told to choose any three dishes from four categories: Taquitos, Soups & Salads, Tacos, and Traditional. I wasn’t able to make up my mind though, so chef Isabella was kind enough to let me pick out a few extras.