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Holley Simmons Finds Value in Santa Rosa Taqueria

What the critics are saying this week

Santa Rosa Taqueria
[R. Lopez]

Santa Rosa Taqueria

Washington Post contributor Holley Simmons visits Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn’s new Capitol Hill taco spot, the playful and festive restaurant that replaced steak frites purveyor Bearnaise. The menu mainly features tacos, and she suggests dressing them the “Mexican way” — adding radish, onion and cilantro. She dissects each of the “generously sized” tacos, which overall deliver “bold” flavors. The steak in the carne asada was tender and delicately seasoned, for example. One con: some were too saucy. She also gives a shout-out to the $6 margaritas on tap. She declares the new spot worth trying, noting it’s a satisfying — and affordable — lunch, at three tacos for $10. [WaPo]


Chicken & Whiskey

Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema visits Star Restaurant Group’s new 14th Street venture, giving immediate props to the owners for recruiting chef Enrique Limardo (an alum of Alma Cocina Latina in Baltimore) to the task. The chicken “combines the best of Peruvian style (cumin, garlic, beer) with the flavors of Venezuela (bay leaf, honey and sugar cane)” and the finished product is “bursting with flavor”; he calls out the black beans and yuca fries as must-try sides. Poultry is the “power player” here, but don’t discount the second part of the equation: a bar in the back with nearly 70 whiskies and a vinyl collection of some 1,500 records. [WaPo]


Shawarma Guys

Washington Post food writer Tim Carman visits Shawarma Guys in Alexandria, Virginia for his $20 Diner column and notes the strip mall shop’s thin, flavorful multigrain pita holds fillings well. He falls for the pita spread with a thin layer of hummus that’s infused with tahini, garlic and lemon juice. He also hails the toum, a garlic sauce made with olive oil and egg whites. And the “good, grassy” taste of the lamb speaks to him. “After adding my preferred toppings — pickles, sumac onions, a little lettuce and chopped tomatoes — I’ll end up holding what is, quite possibly, the finest $6.95 sandwich in the DMV.” [WaPo]


The Burger Shack

Northern Virginia Magazine restaurant critic and dining editor Stefanie Gans heads to this new Chantilly burger joint and orders the Ring of Fire (cooked medium), calling it juicy and “astonishingly” not messy. Its toppings make the burger, she thinks; there’s a crunchy onion ring that didn’t turn soggy within the bun, rings of jalapenos, melted pepper jack cheese, and slight heat from the Sriracha aioli. [NVM]

Roots 657

Continuing her burger series, Gans treks to Leesburg for a 657 Cheeseburger (two hand-pressed patties from Maryland’s Roseda Farms, cheddar cheese, fried egg, and bacon). Master chef Rich Rosendale takes the menu “very seriously” — trying out 30 different buns before deciding on the potato bun. A lot of thought also goes into the toppings, with iceberg “finely shredded for crunch” and red onions soaked in water to “relinquish the harsh bite,” she notes. [NVM]


FROM THE BLOGS: Hungry Lobbyist heads to Masa 14, while Bitches Who Brunch do their thing at Quarter and Glory.

Santa Rosa Taqueria

315 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003 202-450-4800 Visit Website

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