Taco Tuesday strikes me as a summertime tradition. Perhaps it’s because margaritas on the rocks make me think of the beach. Or perhaps it’s because in winter, I tend to flee to my cave to hibernate on Tuesday evenings. Regardless, tequila and a basket of chips seems like the right thing to do on at 8:00pm on a Tuesday night, when the sun still shows no sign of going down. Over the upcoming weeks, I’ll be documenting some of my favorite taco adventures. Recommendations welcome.
As soon as I saw the announcement that Mike Isabella was opening up Bandolero as a permanent storefront in downtown Georgetown, I hopped online to make a reservation for myself and seven yet to be determined pals (since I was in California opening week, it took us a while to get there, the better to build anticipation). It’s not that I’m a die-hard fan of Isabella’s other restaurant. Although Graffiato will always have a place in my heart for making my husband like brussels sprouts (and their brussels sprouts are divine), overall I found the food to be mediocre and overpriced. What caught my eye with Bandolero was some of the unusual things on the menu. I’ve explained before that I have “trigger ingredients“. Well, my latest trigger ingredient is (once) living creatures that you don’t usually see on menus (sorry, Mom).
Bandolero is small plate style (many D.C. restaurants seem to have discovered this trick for essentially getting folks to order the equivalent of three entrees) so I selected a number of plates for Courtney and I to share. The first things we tried was the octopus tacos. These ended up being one of my favorite things on the menu, and are definitely worth ordering. Unlike some of the other tacos (like the mahi mahi that look like tiny fish sticks), these were not just flavorful but had substance.
Next we had the suckling pig tacos with apple and habenero mustard. Courtney was a fan, but for me they didn’t live up to their description.
For once, the dish that I was the most excited to order turned out to be the highlight of my meal. The goat nachos were phenomenal and are another good bet if you want a plate that has more than a couple of bites to it.
We also got a side of the crazy corn, which is essentially three half pieces of corn on the cob with butter, cheese and corn nuts. This was popular at the table, and for $6 it’s not a bad deal. I also tried the queso fundido with duck confit, maitake, manchego and sunny side up egg. While it sounds like my wet dream (duck!… manchego? together in one!?), it was too creamy for my taste. I prefer my manchego in a slice and my duck on a drumstick. Overall, I’d say Bandolero mirrored my experience with Graffiato.
Cocktails: $$$ Creative but pricey
Food : $$ Hit or miss on both taste and value
Taco Tuesday Specials: No deals here. Expect to drop some cash (at least $50 p/p)
Atmosphere: Our reservation was for 7:30 and the place was bustling by around 8:00. We lucked out with a great round table in the back by the kitchen where we could see each other and hear each other.
Service: Friendly and informative; tolerant of our showing up with more folks than we had made a reservation and then obnoxiously asking to split the check.