Hype-Heavy Bandolero Doesn't Disappoint

Bandolero is ready for DC

At the clip Mike Isabella is opening restaurants in D.C. -- two in 11 months -- one would think the quality of food or some other element would be lacking. However, Isabella is definitely proving more is better.

Interjecting a welcoming dose of Mexican food into Georgetown, the recently opened Bandolero (3241 M St. NW) satisfies the desires of tequila- and taco-seeking foodies.

The two-story, 5,000-square-foot restaurant opened in the departed Hook space, across the street from J. Crew, Anthropologie and H&M. Filled with dark features invoking the spirit of a bandolero, the dark wood tables, exposed brick walls, graveyard-esque fencing and very little light definitely give off a broody mood.

The atmosphere is enlivened solely by the delicious libations and food. I sampled a variety, but I particularly enjoyed the La Pina Escondido ($10), a margarita made with espolon blanco, passion fruit, tiki bitters, sparkling pineapple float, and the El Diablo ($11), a cocktail made with patron silver or sombra mescal, crème de casis, lime, and ginger beer.

Bandolero offers 20+ signature drinks -- not including the beers on tap and wine -– but I recommend sticking with the unique drink options since you won't find them elsewhere.

Onto the food, the real highlight.

People always rave about Rosa Mexicana’s guacamole, but I think they may have finally met their match. Bandolero’s guacamole is delightfully fresh, without the strong lime element of Rosa Mexicana but still vigorous in its flavor.

I wouldn’t focus on the sides like guac or salsa though. The "real" food stands out, especially the taquitos and tostadas.

The Blue Crab ($13) made with coconut, red chili and purple potato is unique, but I loved the tacos. Shaped into single-bite portion sizes, the Mahi Mahi ($12) is incredible, fried and then topped with chipotle, avocado and lime. Equally good: the Suckling Pig ($13) with its apple base, flavorful meat and habanero mustard.

I couldn’t find dessert anywhere at the media preview, but I just ended the evening with another margarita -- and was happier for it! Cheers!

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