Friday, June 17, 2011

Adams Morgan for Capital Pride

I was in DC last Saturday night for Capital Pride. No I wasn't living it up, but I did eat out and then crashed at a friend's place before our Sunday morning soccer game and then my first ever visit to DC's pride festival. Said dinner was at Casa Oaxaca on 18th Street in Adams Morgan. Casa Oaxaca brings not just Mexican, but specifically Oaxacan dishes to DC diners. I had been meaning to head here for a while but was always flummoxed with the variety of restaurants.

I chose to eat downstairs in their softly-lit, earthy-colored restaurant. The menu does not offer much in the way of cheap eats - average entrée prices are about $15 to $25. Casa Oaxaca notably has a dizzying array of moles, a Oaxacan specialty. It's not just mole poblano.: it's red moles and black moles, yellow, orange and green ones. There was even a fig-based mole that intrigued me enough to seriously consider ordering. Eventually I went ahead with their three mole plate ($19) - red, black and green moles smothering a nice piece of chicken breast, with beans, Oaxacan cheese and small corn tortillas. It's a delicious combo that gives you a nice sample of several moles that would be pricey to order on their own.

Much of my bill came from what I ordered to drink - unusual for me, since I rarely order anything pricier than a small sake when I get sushi. In addition to the obligatory Mexican beer (Dos Equis on draft for $5.50), I considered ordering one shot from their extensive tequila list - I wasn't driving anywhere. Instead, I moved my eyes to their mezcal list. Most mezcales are made in Oaxaca (unlike the more Jalisco-based tequila), and so it seemed appropriate. Since I have no experience ordering mezcal I had no idea what to order. The waiter recommended the Del Maguey Minero ($10 - they were all that much), which goes well with moles. After the obligatory offering to Mayahuel, the Aztec goddess of fertility and of maguey (the source of mezcal)* I very slowly sipped the warm, tangy shot of mezcal while I ate. This may be why it didn't hit me so hard. Mezcal is strong if you drink it all at once, and since I was spending so much for such a small glass of alcohol, I intended to make it last.

To finish off my meal, I ordered a chocolate flan ($6), a silky and rich custard that also went well with this brand of mezcal. This topped off what ended up being, after tax and tip, a $50 bill. That is not chump change for me, and it is the rare time that I will spend so much on one meal. Heck, that's usually two or three meals out for me. But I'm not eating in Adams Morgan often, and I thought I would splurge for once. Yes, for me that is a splurge.

Before meeting up with my friend, I walked over to the 18th & U Duplex Diner for a few Sierra Nevadas on tap, while I navigated around all the much more drunken gays in silly beads from the day's parade, and watching the United States lose their CONCACAF Gold Cup match to a Panamanian team they were roundly expected to defeat.

* Now that I have an Android phone, I decided to look up how to drink mezcal while I was in the restaurant (these devices are pretty handy). Traditionally, among other things that I was in no place to do, one makes an offering to Mayahuel by spilling a little mezcal on the ground. I stuck my fingers in the glass and flicked a little on the floor. Hey, I don't want to take any chances here.