My friend and I often kinda wander around various cities with growling tummies trying to agree on what to eat. The first time we ate at Guapos Mexican Restaurant was one of my victories and I’m fairly sure nobody minded the I told you so in this instance. This place was a real score.
Guapos looks shabby from the outside. Indeed, we had passed it up quite a few times expecting it to be a real dive. Our bad! With the warm weather came the tables on the patio and this has become one of my favorite haunts in the greater Washington, DC area. The view is nothing to speak of, unless you just have a thing for staring at Best Buy, but the atmosphere is still fabulous as far as everything else is concerned.
The wait staff at Guapos is beyond friendly and eager to please. They give you the requisite chips and salsa while you look at the menu, but this time they are not your typical bagged tortilla chips and pre-packaged salsa. Oh no. These are thin, freshly made tortilla chips and the salsa is simply to die for. It’s so good that we had to ask the manager to set us a price on a few containers of it so we could take bunches of it home with us. I even went back for more numerous times.
Many of the second-line staff do not speak English, like the sweetheart who always brings our water and whatnot. But ask a question and he’ll go get someone promptly who can understand and answer it… smiling all the while.
The interior is typical Mexican festive-schlock decor, and I love it. There’s bright colors everywhere in the form of Sombreros which have been crafted into lighting fixtures, and the usual paintings everywhere. Blankets and clay objects adorn the salmon colored walls. Guapos is much bigger than it appears from the outside. Smoking is allowed back by the bar.
Ahh and the food! Ooh la la! We’re talking absolutely huge portions here. One of my favorites is their Chicken Enchiladas ($8.95) covered with a very nice green tomotillo sauce and covered with melted cheese. The beans are not the usual pasty glop here, but are actually recognizable as beans and very flavorful. The rice is also well above the average for Mexican places in the US. The guacamole is made when you order it with the most luscious avocado chunks. They do bring sour cream, but they have the decency to put it on the side as every place should.
The Marsitas De Puerco($10.95) is so good it’s shocking. The pork is just so tender and succulent it amazed me. The Chimichangas were no less pleasing or plentiful. Be careful if you ask for a hot sauce though… that green pepper sauce bites back, and hard! One of my friends was just in tears after trying this one, but loved every minute of the pain.
They have Platanos Fritos ($2.25) on the appetizer portion of the menu and those are so sweet you’ll just melt in your seat with your eyes closed savoring every last bite… but I suggest getting these as dessert instead of as an appetizer just because of this.
Dinner prices are slightly higher, but we’ve only ever gone here for lunch as a break in shopping. I have to assume that the quality is no less for later diners though. This is a chain, but you’d never guess that. This manager takes personal pride in everything about this place and will bend over backwards to make sure you leave happy.
I saw no children’s section on this menu, but I’m positive they would accommodate any requests for smaller meals if you ask. They may even have a separate kid’s menu altogether. At any rate, I see no reason not to bring them.
Vegetarians will likely be quite happy here too. Quite a few of their dishes have a vegetable option and they have a number of wonderful sounding salads.
They even have souvenir shirts and glasses for purchase. I haven’t bought a T-shirt yet but I believe he said they were around $10. The two beer glasses we did buy with their logo were an amazingly low $2 each. I want more of these.
In short, this is the best Mexican place in DC. Is it authentic? More so than most, but let’s face it, you just aren’t getting the same ingredients as if you were in Mazatlan. Call it more of a Tex-Mex. Guapos comes fairly close though, and it’s all just excellent in any case. Five easy stars here. If you get hungry over in Tenleytown, don’t let the look of the building deter you. They’ll treat you right and feed you good.
4515 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016