Bandolero: It’s the “new [badass] kid on the block” in Georgetown,
and has already successfully crafted a name for itself thanks to celebrity-chef Mike Isabella (Top Chef, Season 6 contestant). This Mexican retreat just recently swung open its doors back in May 2012, and offers DC-diners an alternative destination for Mexican cuisine with its two-story, 5,000 sq. ft. refined back-alley-esque dining scene.
For the interior, Isabella sought out a vision of “loud, dark, and cold” and deployed Streetsense Designs to assist in crafting a modern, “Day of the Dead” vibe. After recently visiting this past week, CAYPO can confirm the decor is nothing short of stunning. The atmosphere transports the dining environment away from Georgetown’s Polo-ridden streets to the kind of hidden location you’d more likely find roaming the back-alleys of Guadalajara.
The Menu: *Note to readers: the image above is not to scale (although we wish it was).
Bandolero offers diners a tempting variety of tacos, taquitos, tostadas, cabons, and an equally diverse menu of traditional, yet refined Mexican cuisine. During our visit we had (and highly recommend) the suckling pig tacos, skirt steak tacos, flauta (pork cheek, red chili sauce and anejo), and a tequila-heavy pitcher of classico margaritas.
THE GOOD: Literally everything. Our dining choices were excellent and every dish that walked by was equally intoxicating and enticed us for more.
THE BAD: Nothing. Bandolero is off to a great start with attentive, knowledgeable service, a great-tasting menu and expertise behind the bar crafting unique cocktails. The servers are an army of staff, and we were surprised by how many people were readily on hand to top off a glass, remove an empty dish, or answer a question (but are so many servers really necessary?).
THE UGLY: Sadly, Bandolero is not a place to return anytime soon. It’s strange to say that after such a raving review because everything is near-perfect…except for the portion size. The photo below is an optical illusion. The “tacos” are easily two-bites (and that’s being polite, but could be bite-sized). At $10-$15, we were very surprised by the miniature sand-dollar-sized morsels of beauty that laid in front of us. If you’re going to visit this restaurant, be forewarned you either will likely leave hungry or eat like it’s your last meal without care for the end-result bill.
Bandolero, we shall meet again many times if: your taco prices match a portion size > a half-dollar.