Pescado Frito Tacos at Tope
Pescado Frito Tacos at Tope Suzette Smith

Taco bar on a downtown rooftop sort of reviews itself. Yes, of course you want that. But then you find out there's vodka in the fish fry batter and the Spicy Margaritas come with a ring of salt and dehydrated chili peppers. Hold up. There's chocolate in there!? Lets get into why I think the Hoxton hotel roof restaurant Tope should probably start taking reservations.

With the county's "high risk" indoor capacity currently at 25 percent, rooftop bar space is worth its weight in gold. Enter Tope, a rooftop taqueria with a strong taco game. They just reopened in April after being on hiatus since late November 2020.

As Tope's rooftop area isn't covered, they find themselves at the mercy of weather. Outdoor service on a roof, during the winter, seemed untenable. But now that the weather is nice and they can seat even 25 percent of the indoors, they're giving it another go.

So depending on the skies, Tope might be able to seat quite a few or only a handful. Their interior gas-lit fire pit table used to easily seat sixteen, and now fits half that. And they aren't set up for reservations—which makes sense, considering the weather overlords.

As Tope flexes their doors, they seem like a good place to go to on a whim and with a back-up plan. But they do have a nice, big hotel lobby, on the first floor, where guests can wait for a table to open up.

In the before times, Tope was popular with the downtown bar crowd, and they also threw their shrewd hand into the brunch ring. Though on the horizon, Brunch isn't quite here yet for Tope. But strong in tacos they remain. The menu is consistent with what they served in the fall, but the new chef Joel Lui-Kwan expressed a desire to move in the direction of more raw and elevated cuisine, as he reworks the menu.

For now, those delightful pineapple pork belly tacos al pastor are still available, and if you can get your hands on Tope's Pescado Frito Tacos, I suggest you do so. The batter includes rice flour, vodka, and beer, which gives the rockfish an incredible, light, airy fried texture. I've never had anything quite like it.

Spicy Margarita at Tope
Spicy Margarita at Tope Suzette Smith

Tope's Spicy Margarita is special to the point that I inquired about it. Concocted by Tope's bartender Tyler Purdie, the rim of the Spicy Margarita is salt mixed with three different kinds of dehydrated chiles, cinnamon, and cumin. "When we reopened," Purdie said. "I found a bunch of Mexican chocolate blocks in the back, so one of those goes in each batch too. You can't really taste it, but it adds heft."

A little weird for this column, but Tope doesn't offer takeout to anyone other than Hoxton guests. They have in the past so it isn't entirely out of the realm of possibility they will again one day. But we'll probably see the return of brunch before that.

Tope, 15 NW 4th, (503) 770-0500,