Top Chef Mike Isabella Opens Bandolero | Washington DC

How to drink well at Bandolero

Mike Isabella knows how to pair his food with good drinks.

When his Italian-inspired Graffiato opened last year, Prosecco flowed from the taps. Now the Top Chef favorite is pouring stronger stuff at Bandolero, his new Georgetown ode to Mexican food.

The cocktail menu includes plenty of mezcal- and tequila-based concoctions, like the mole-spiced El Padrino ($15) with tequila and Carpano Antica. But our favorite finds come from the tequila menu. Here are a few winning dishes to eat with bartender Sam Babcock's best drinks:

El Mata Amigos: Tart and vividly pink, this blended mix of Patron Reposado, orange cura├žao and prickly pear puree ($10) is an easy companion to a starter of guacamole ($13), which Isabella serves with puffy chicharrones and masa crisps.

Zambada Garcia: A mezcal float gives this limey margarita ($12) a deeply smoky finish. Pair its throatiness with the toasted chiles and mellow avocado crema in grilled skirt steak tacos ($12; click here for the recipe).

Casa en Fuego: Habanero adds a tickling level of spice to tequila in this strawberry-spiked blend ($11). Calm the fiery drink with blue crab taquitos ($13), which tuck sweet, coconut-marinated shellfish and diced purple potatoes into blue-corn divots.

Bandolero, 3241 M St. NW (between Potomac St. and Wisconsin Ave.); 202-625-4488 or bandolerodc.com