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Tom Sietsema Has a Like-Dislike Relationship with Kingbird in the Watergate Hotel

Plus, reviews of Tapp'd, El Sol, Distinct Taste, and Tim Carman's favorite pupusas


Tom Sietsema tries Kingbird for his full review in the Washington Post. He awards the restaurant inside The Watergate Hotel two stars. Although he loves the setting, including the $200 million renovation and the waterfront view, he finds it out of touch in terms of comfort and price levels. He’s not a fan of the curvy dining chairs, and he also finds some of the wine prices outrageous. The food (except for the starters) generally seems to please, though. The critic writes:

"Hotel restaurants are obligated to offer something for everyone, and Kingbird…follows suit. Thus, the steak lover can mull the 'Butcher’s Block,' a handful of meats and sauces at different price points. The draws include designer rack of lamb, cooked the shade you ask and every bite an encouragement to get to the bone. For the food explorer, there’s torch-shaped pasta tossed with walnuts, fennel and crumbled goat sausage, sprinkled with toasted bread crumbs for an accent you can hear as well as taste."

He also likes chef Michael Santoro’s risotto and soft-shell crab, the lunchtime lobster roll, and several desserts. [WaPo]

For his $20 Diner column in the Washington Post, Tim Carman assembles a list of the best pupusas in the D.C. area. One of his favorites is La Casita Pupuseria and Market in Silver Spring. He writes:

"If any place comes close to the archetypal pupusa, it's this ambitious operation…Unlike a lot of pupuserias, which use either mozzarella or a mozz-quesillo hybrid, La Casita offers a corn pocket stuffed with genuine Salvadoran cheese, which is at once sweet and creamy and salty and . . . what is that flavor right on the tip of my tongue? Call it earthy, for lack of a better word. The curtido and salsa are served together in a small bowl on the side, and although the condiment leans heavy on cabbage, it also includes a strong pinch of pepper heat. The kitchen's biggest mistake? There are serious breaches of the masa shell."

Maryland gets lots of representation on the list with Pupuseria La Cabanita in Hyattsville, Pupuseria La Familiar in College Park. Don Juan Restaurant and El Rinconcito Cafe in D.C. also make the cut. [WaPo]

Rina Rapuano goes to Tapp’d for the First Bite column in Bethesda Magazine. The menu is typical of bars, and Rapuano tries three different dry-rub varieties of chicken wings, but the onion rings ultimately come out on top. She writes about the main dishes:

"Our server was right to try to steer us away from the pot pie…, admitting the dish is made with frozen vegetables. The basic white crock sadly revealed nothing interesting beneath its browned pastry blanket, and crust fans won’t like that there’s none lining the bottom. The main downfall of the chicken, peas and carrots in white sauce is a lack of seasoning, making it a fine option only for those who prefer very plain food. The juicy, well-seasoned Tapp’d Burger topped with housemade beer cheese, bacon, sautéed onions, lettuce and tomato is a better bet. It’s a hefty 8-ounce blend of chuck, short rib and brisket, and it hits the spot."

The extensive selection of draft beers is one of the main draws at Tapp'd, and six are brewed for the pub by Baltimore-based Oliver Brewing Co. The beer cocktail, unfortunately, was "undrinkable." [Bethesda]

Tyler Cowen goes to El Sol and agrees with the Washington Post that they have some of the best tacos in the region. He writes:

"I especially liked the tacos del pastor. The pozole I thought was only so-so, and overall I am not entirely convinced by the notion that this is a serviceable full-scale Mexican restaurant with mole and the like. The atmosphere is more mom and pop than the web site might lead you to expect. Don’t get carried away here, but definitely recommended, cheap too." [TC]

He also eats at Distinct Taste in Gaithersburg. His recommends ordering the tofu skin in black bean sauce and various fish dishes at the Chinese restaurant. [TC]

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