Washington Post casual dining columnist Tim Carman reviewed Mexicue this week, determining that the New York-based newcomer on 14th Street NW has a menu full of overly ambitious crossover dishes that don’t pack much flavor.
Citing Nashville hot chicken tacos that require a squirt of habanero hot sauce, New Orleans-style jambalaya “quesarritos” that are “so confused,” and plant-based meat substitutes, Carman writes “the chain gives the impression that it’s a trend chaser, apparently willing to alter its persona in the hot pursuit of popularity.”
This all makes Mexicue feel insecure and insincere, Carman writes, noting that the flavor of wood smoke can barely be found at a restaurant where half the name comes from the word barbecue:
“Mexicue is a concept that doesn’t understand the best concepts have clearly defined boundaries, not ever-shifting ones.”
The writer’s advice for visitors to the months-old restaurant is to keep it simple. He describes the smoky chicken taco, the charred cauliflower taco, the salsa verde, and the black bean dip as “idle pleasures.” A grapefruit paloma mocktail was another positive.
Staying away from seafood might be smart: Carman says a tuna tostada has “mealy” seafood, and a lobster taco “has a pronounced fishiness.”
Another New York import, the Meatball Shop, briefly occupied the space at 1720 14th Street NW before Mexicue moved in. It also suffered a lackluster review from Carman, and closed after less than a year.