There’s nothing more opulent than enjoying a 3-course menu. That is of course, until you’ve been able to enjoy 22-courses, paired with your favorite wines and spirits. That’s what’s on the menu at D.C.’s newest Michelin star restaurant Elcielo helmed by Chef Juan Manuel Barrientos.
The high end Colombian restaurant at Union Market’s La Cosecha, has lived up to its hype too. The first Colombian restaurant ever to be included in the Michelin Guide, the restaurant has become a signature experience for residents and locals alike, looking to satisfy their taste buds, while filling their stomach.
They of course offer an al la carte menu, but what’s really the showstopper is the 22 course tasting menu (priced at a whopping $228 per person, with an additional $150 if you want to add the wine pairing), and include “sensory immersion” experiences. One may think so many courses is too big a feat for one night, but in fact it’s not only doable, you still may be craving more towards the end. The menu, featuring dishes uniquely titled “Lick Me” and “Rose Petals’ also infuses traditional la carte menu items like Yucca Gnocchis, served with sweet plantain honey and pecorino cheese foam; Tuna Watermelon Tataki, a cured tuna tiradito served with cherry tomatoes and achiote; Branzino en Costra de Sal, an entire branzino cooked in a salt crust and served with coconut rice, tamarind, and green plantains. A la carte dishes are priced between $9 and $68, if you don’t want to pay for the entire experience.
Chef Juan Manuel Barrientos’ ethos is to make dining experiences sensorial. You touch, see, smell, taste, hear all the food that is presented to you. For example, during the immersive experience, you’ll try “choco-therapy,” where guests “wash” their hands in liquid chocolate to awaken their senses. Though, it’s important to note that since we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic, the experience is optional, and guests are asked to sanitize their hands first and wash with water after.
What’s a 22-course meal without a few Instagrammable moments? Throughout Barrientos’ El Cielo locations, the chef’s work with local and seasonal ingredients for each restaurant is usually on display on social media, making this one of the most buzzed about restaurants in Washington D.C.
Barrientos, a Medellín native, isn’t just a fine dining chef—his empire includes 12 restaurants (in Medellín, Bogotá, Miami, and Washington D.C) ranging from pizza to Japanese, bars and clubs. A peace advocate, Barrientos also launched the ElCielo Foundation over a decade ago to reduce violence in his native Colombia and build the capacity of wounded warriors, former guerrilla soldiers, and indigenous people.
El Cielo DC. is located at 1280 Fourth St., NE.