If you’ve read this blog before, you may know that my girlfriend does a lot of running. Not just normal people running, but toenail ripping, nipple burning marathon running. She travels around to different cities and runs farther than anyone should ever want to. I don’t know why anybody would torture themselves with that. I’m not sure what would be worse, running a marathon, or dating me….
What this hobby means to me, is generally a nice little vacation. It’s great. We recently went to Washington D.C. for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. Before flying out, I read about one of the highest rated Mexican restaurants in the country, Oyamel. So, we decided to have our after-half-marathon celebratory meal there. Boy, did I deserve it?
Oyamel is a pretty fancy-pants spot near the Capitol building. It’s famous for its array of tequila, ceviches, and……tacos! I was told it was pretty reasonable, but after paying for the $14 guacamole, I disagree.
Oyamel’s list of tacos is impressive, on the menu. They are stuffed with exotic, high-end ingredients perfect for a foody any day. Each taco has its own toppings, accessories, bells ‘n’ whistles, etc. They look fabulous…on the menu. I tried four of their precious little tacos.
The pancita de puerco is their version of al pastor. It is grilled pork belly with tomatoes, guajillo chiles, pineapple, onions and cilantro. Sounds great, right? It’s not too bad, but the pork belly is dry. Plus, they should use a hotter chile. Duh.
The poblana con puerco is a carnitas and chorizo mix. It is topped with lettuce and avacado. So, the savory carnitas meets the salty, spicy chorizo. Sounds great, right? Well, it doesn’t work. It’s also a little dry and the chorizo doesn’t stand out. It’s hardly noticeable.
The pescado is my favorite taco here. It’s a nice, thick seared hunk of mahi-mahi that is cooked perfectly. That piece of meat is easily the best thing I had at the menu. It has a Mexican salsa and a cilantro pesto to add moisture, spice and depth. I’d add some crunch to the taco with some cabbage or something, but I understand their desire to feature the fish.
That brings us to the chapulines. Chapulines are a Oaxacan favorite….grasshoppers. At Oyamel, the chapulines taco is stuffed with
grasshoppers cooked in tequila and smothered in an adobo sauce. Supposedly, there are shallots and guacamole in there, but I didn’t taste any. All I tasted was the grasshoppers. I barely even noticed the adobo sauce. Do you know how hard that is to do? So, how are these grasshopper? Well, it isn’t so much of a taste thing. It’s more of a texture thing.
So, take a handful of sunflower seeds. A big handful. Put them all in your mouth and chew them until you suck all of the salt and oil out of the mixture. Then, take that wad out of your mouth and let it dry in the sun for a couple hours. Finally, add a little hot sauce and throw it in a tortilla…..THAT”S what this taco tastes like. The whole thing is legs, bones and thoraxes. There’s nothing else.
I think I figured out why this hasn’t gotten too far outside of Oaxaca….
- Location: 401 7th St. NW, Washington, DC (Judiciary Square)
- Tourists: Josh, Julia
- Tacos sampled: pancita de puerco, poblana con puerca, pescado, and chapulines (also have lengua, pollo, chilorio de res, hongos, carnitas, and conchinita)
- Toppings: various
- Salsa: salsa roja
- Extras: chips
- Tortillas: corn
- Atmosphere: swanky, touristy, white, gastro-ish, Capitol Hilly
- Price: $3.50-$5.00/taco
- OVERALL RATING: 6.5
Julia also writes a blog. Her’s is about something actually good for you; running. She’s really cute and funny. Check her out here.