awash with tequila

2 new bar and restaurants lift spirits on Washington Avenue with tequila and tacos

2 new bar and restaurants lift spirits on WashAve with tequila + tacos

El Venado dining spread
Expect street-style tacos and more at El Venado. Photo by Jenn Duncan
Todos Santos interior
A sneak peek inside of Todos Santos. Courtesy of Todos Santos
El Venado tequila cocktails
El Venado serves tequila-based cocktails. Photo by Jenn Duncan
El Venado dining spread
Todos Santos interior
El Venado tequila cocktails

Washington Avenue revelers have two new options for sipping tequila-based cocktails, Todos Santos and El Venado. One comes from a veteran operator launching his first solo project, while another combines tacos and tequila for lunch, dinner, and late night.

First up is Todos Santos, which officially opens Tuesday, June 14 after a soft opening last weekend. Located in the former Concrete Cowboy space (5317 Washington Ave.), it offers more than 40 tequilas in a 4,000-square-foot space that features Latin-inspired design elements along with greenery on the walls and ceiling. Other design details include neon signs, Instagram-ready elements like angel wings on a wall, and a 30-foot video wall for watching sports.

Owner Brandon Duliakas is well-known to area revelers as the director of operations for nearby concepts the Sporting Club and Clutch. While those are part of the Dallas-based SoClutch Group, he’s the sole proprietor of Todos Santos.

“There aren’t many tequila-focused bars in Houston,” Duliakas said in a statement. “With tequila being one of the most popular spirits in the country right now, Todos Santos fills that void, offering specialty agave cocktails, while also offering a full bar.”

Duliakas’s statement may come as a surprise to the owners of agave-oriented spots like El Big Bad, Eight Row Flint, Monkey’s Tail, Tikila’s, and Pistolero’s — to say nothing of restaurants with extensive tequila programs like Picos, Ninfa’s, and Hugo’s.

Still, Todos Santos features more than 40 tequilas, including the entire collection of Clase Azul. Cocktail options include a range of different margaritas as well as tequila-based riffs on classics like the Pretty in Pink, a French 75 variation made with Calirosa Blanco, lemon, and prosecco.

Originally, press materials touted that Todos Santos would be home to Cochi’s Taqueria, the taco truck from Cochinta & Co. chef Victoria Elizondo. However, a representative tells CultureMap those plans have yet to be finalized.

El Venado opens Monday, June 13 in the former Revolver space (6502 Washington Ave.). Slightly smaller than Todos Santos, it offers both a 1,500-square-foot interior with an upscale atmosphere and over 1,200-square-feet of outdoor seating for those seeking a more casual environment.

The beverage list starts with more than 40 tequilas and more than a dozen mezcals. Cocktails include both classics like the margarita, paloma, and ranchwater along with agave-based takes on the Old Fashioned, negroni, and the espresso martini.

“When it came to menu development, it was important to us to offer something that didn’t feel overwhelming but still packed in a lot of flavors, and I think that can be said for both our food and our cocktail lists,” owner Alexander Noons said in a statement. “We can’t wait to open our doors and allow others to experience it.”

El Venado’s food menu starts with chips that come with queso, salsa, or guacamole. The street-style tacos come with a range of fillings, including chicken tinga, pork carnitas, beef birria, and fish. Vegetarians may opt for either smashed avocado or crispy cauliflower. Taco fillings are also available as toastads, sopes, and nachos.

The bar and restaurant opens for weekday lunch and dinner at 11 am Monday through Friday. It opens at 10:30 am on Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner.

“We’re excited to offer a place where folks can kick back and enjoy themselves,” Noons said. Later, he added, “Whether you’re looking to grab a drink after running Memorial Park with your dog or looking for a place to hang out before dinner, El Venado will definitely be that go-to place.”