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Estadio, 14th and Church Street in Logan Circle - Spanish Tapas with Chef Ruffino Bautista, GM Matt Wright Replaces Justin Guthrie (Who Is Still With The Company)

14UP Spanish Tapas Wines Cocktails Mark Kuller

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#51 Bob Loblaw

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 10:12 PM

"Blistered Shishito peppers" are medium hot long green peppers scooped by the handful and deep fried in Canola oil then flaked with sea salt. I ate, perhaps, 20 of these. All by myself. Every single one of them. I would take a disc of excellent Lomo Embuchado and roll it around a pepper then bite most of this, adding a whole clove of olive oil marinated garlic as well as a gherkin. The peppers were an addictive, simply but perfectly prepared dish that I wondered how I could have spent so many years without having eaten them before?

The shishitos are definitely delicious, but they're a bit like Russian Roulette for your mouth. Most of them are mild to medium hot, but there's usually a few that are really spicy. You should make sure you have a beer close by when eating these...

#52 Joe H

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 01:29 PM

Estadio was just nominated as one of the best new restaurants in the United States for 2011 by the James Beard Society.

#53 DPop

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 01:42 PM

Congrats Mark, Haidar, Adam, Sebby, Max, et al!

#54 hmmboy

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Posted 17 February 2011 - 02:54 PM

Congrats Mark, Haidar, Adam, Sebby, Max, et al!

Gracias David - but you omitted Justin Guthrie, who is more reponsible for our success than anyone other than chef, and Chef Ruffino Bautista, Chef Karoum's longtime sous who is doing a smashing job as Estadio's Chef de Cuisine.
"I get slandered, libeled, I hear words I never heard in the Bible. And I'm so tired - I'm oh so tired. But I'm trying to keep my customers satisfied. Satisfied." Simon & Garfunkel

Mark A. Kuller
Proof, Estadio, doi moi, & 2birds1stone

#55 trufflesniffer

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 10:26 AM

so we decided to try Estadio for the first time last night and walked in at 8:00 w/o reservations. the place was already packed with the young and the beautiful. we enjoyed the very tasty white sangria and a delicious cured meat assortment while we waited the hour or so for a table. our dishes were quite tasty and the place, on the whole, was charming and warm even for the confused hostess stand, spotty service and inconsistent pacing.

so what am i going to remember about the restaurant? the fact that they charge $2 for bread! Is this something that is becoming more prevalent around town? in my experience it is only the case in Indian restaurants and always has been. for me its not about the $2, its about hospitality (or the lack thereof) and leaving with the feeling that this restaurant is just piling on. we spent well over $100 for two people on a handful of small plates and some garden variety Spanish wine. i'm ok with that; at the same time recognizing that their margins are most likely very healthy. I understand that some restaurants waste a ton of bread and that it costs money. i wouldn't have a problem with requiring patrons to request bread specifically to cut down on the waste. but to charge 2 bucks? seems petty and inhospitable.

Is this just another Larry David moment for me or do others feel the same?

#56 dcs

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 10:33 AM

Is this just another Larry David moment for me or do others feel the same?

Bread actually is never free, even when there is no separate charge. The cost is just built into the prices of the dishes you do pay for. I do not really mind this, as there is a lot of bread wasted and maybe the charge will get folks to think about what they are doing before asking for bread they end up leaving behind.

#57 ryant68

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 11:02 AM

... i wouldn't have a problem with requiring patrons to request bread specifically to cut down on the waste. but to charge 2 bucks? seems petty and inhospitable.

Is this just another Larry David moment for me or do others feel the same?

I think this turns into a no-win, because some people will think the server forgot to bring it when they see it on other tables. At a small plates place I don't think charging for bread is out of line. One trick is to ask if any of the plates you ordered come with bread - (at Estadio some of them do).

However, getting a $100 plus tasting menu and then having to pay $2.50 for a cup of coffee at the end of the meal - that is tacky.

Finally, If you do go to Estadio, and have room for dessert: Pimenton Ice Cream sandwich, it is smoky, a hint of spice, sweet, creamy, chocolate-y. Oh, and the deviled egg rocks too.

#58 Heather

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 11:39 AM

If my memory serves me correctly, all the places I went in Madrid & Barcelona charged for bread. Paying for it made me think about whether I actually needed or even wanted it.

#59 Joe H

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 01:20 PM

so we decided to try Estadio for the first time last night and walked in at 8:00 w/o reservations. the place was already packed with the young and the beautiful. we enjoyed the very tasty white sangria and a delicious cured meat assortment while we waited the hour or so for a table. our dishes were quite tasty and the place, on the whole, was charming and warm even for the confused hostess stand, spotty service and inconsistent pacing.

so what am i going to remember about the restaurant? the fact that they charge $2 for bread! Is this something that is becoming more prevalent around town? in my experience it is only the case in Indian restaurants and always has been. for me its not about the $2, its about hospitality (or the lack thereof) and leaving with the feeling that this restaurant is just piling on. we spent well over $100 for two people on a handful of small plates and some garden variety Spanish wine. i'm ok with that; at the same time recognizing that their margins are most likely very healthy. I understand that some restaurants waste a ton of bread and that it costs money. i wouldn't have a problem with requiring patrons to request bread specifically to cut down on the waste. but to charge 2 bucks? seems petty and inhospitable.

Is this just another Larry David moment for me or do others feel the same?

"...and what I thought were almost remarkable portion sizes for several dishes. The black cod was $13. (I am looking at the menu.) A similarly sized entree at Michel was $40 a month ago. Tapas at Edstadio could be an entree elsewhere..."

From my post above.

#60 mdt

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 06:40 PM

"...and what I thought were almost remarkable portion sizes for several dishes. The black cod was $13. (I am looking at the menu.) A similarly sized entree at Michel was $40 a month ago. Tapas at Edstadio could be an entree elsewhere..."

From my post above.

Come on Joe, its much better to post about the negative stuff. :) I agree, the black cod is rather tasty and a very nice portion and some of their other dishes are quite a good deal too.

BTW, for the posters above, many places in Europe charge a small fee ($1-2) for bread. I would rather pay that small price and get decent bread instead of the blah stuff for free.

#61 Ericandblueboy

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 11:55 PM

Four of us tried:

Cold Cuts
A mixed plate of cold cuts
A plate of Iberico ham

Eggs & Fried
Tortilla Espanola
Ham croquettes

Seafood
Mussels
Shrimp ajillo
Grilled squid
Grilled octopus
Bacalao crudo

Meat
Fried Sweetbread

Veggies
Grilled scallions
Pea shoots
Kale
Shishitou Peppers

We didn't order any bread but we got bread with the the cold cuts and Iberico ham. I'm no bread connoisseur but I didn't find the bread special. In fact, we ate very little of the bread, because we did order what we thought were a lot of food.

The octopus was fantastic. It was flavorful yet tender. Best octopus evah? Yes but I've had terrible luck with octopus before with few exceptions. The shrimp ajillo is also fantastic because of its perfect execution. The mussels were good but I couldn't tell what makes them Spanish vs. French or Italian (yes there were chorizos in there so I guess that's the Spanish touch but you couldn't taste the porkiness in the mussels). The squid probably would've been as good as the octopus but for the over-charring which made some of the squid bitter. The cod was actually quite bland.

All the veggies were good. Whether you find them revelatory probably depends on whether you've had these types of veggies before. I eat stir fried greens all the time and while I like them, I don't think they're transcendental.

The meats, cold or hot, were generally good. I do have to admit that I didn't enjoy the Iberico ham any more here than at Taberna Alabardero. There are certain things that I just can't/don't appreciate.

The croquettes and the tortilla espanola were also pretty good.

With wine, tax and tip, dinner for 4 was $300. I wasn't stuffed though but I didn't think the portions were small. I think we each had about 3 glasses of wine on average.

#62 Sthitch

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 06:04 AM

I had better luck than Eric with the squid (strange since we were eating off of the same plate and my wife agrees with Eric), some of the pieces were cooked well, and when eaten with a bit of the kale it was a far more complex and satisfying dish than when eaten alone.

The crumb of the bread was a bit too gummy, this seems to be a problem at quite a few restaurants around town, it strikes me as the common feature of the same commercial baker.

#63 silentbob

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 02:33 PM

In Tom Sietsema's review, he wrote about the noise level: "Sound check: 76 decibels/Must speak with raised voice. "

Is that consistent with people's experiences here, say, at 6:00 pm on a weekend? Any tables for 2 in the restaurant more quiet/private than others?

#64 mdt

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 02:54 PM

In Tom Sietsema's review, he wrote about the noise level: "Sound check: 76 decibels/Must speak with raised voice. "

Is that consistent with people's experiences here, say, at 6:00 pm on a weekend? Any tables for 2 in the restaurant more quiet/private than others?

Not really, but your best bet is probably the kitchen bar that is against the windows.

#65 Joe H

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 09:10 PM

Not really, but your best bet is probably the kitchen bar that is against the windows.

Noise is absolutely NOT an issue at the kitchen bar which coincidentally are among the best seats of any restaurant anywhere. There are reasons why there are lines at the door on Friday and Saturday night...at 5:00PM!

#66 goldenticket

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Posted 13 May 2011 - 09:31 AM

Nice to see Estadio included in Frommer's "10 Best New Urban Restaurants".

Jackie B.

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#67 darkstar965

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Posted 17 July 2011 - 05:33 PM

I'm a big fan of Mark Kuller's. Also a big fan of Proof. And, I'm very glad that Estadio is here in DC. The gap between it and Jaleo, for example, is both large and obvious in Estadio's favor.

Last night I took a few visiting Spanish friends to Estadio. I'd been there 2 times previously but not in the past several months. Thought it a safe bet for a fun and delicious night with a few animated Spaniards.

HEADLINE

A Good Time Had By All. Some very good dishes. Wonderful staff. Definite opportunity for Estadio to do more on the food front if it so chooses. More fun than delicious but good enough food that we left happy.

FOOD

Nobody has mentioned Estadio's vegetables. Not a single mention here or in any review. I believe several of them are among the best vegetables I have ever eaten in my life.

Safe to say we missed the boat here entirely. I love vegetables and many on the menu looked very interesting. But, my Spanish friends didn't want any so I ordered just one among the 8 or so dishes we had in total. And I chose wrong. I ordered a Red Kale w/ Garlic, Red Chili Flake and maybe Olive Oil. Judging from earlier reviews, I probably should have gone with mushrooms, pea shoots or shishitou peppers. I chose kale because it's a challenging green to work with and I wanted to see what Estadio would do with it. I love greens. Kale is sturdier and more bitter than most others whether chard, spinach or turnip greens. And nearly every preparation I ever see of kale involves sauteeing or pan frying with garlic, maybe some ham or bacon, and oil. This was no different. OK at best. Still fairly bitter in a not so great, uninteresting, non-arugula-like way. Just didn't taste great. Maybe ultra-healthy kale can't be made into a delicious dish without pureeing?. Maybe I just shouldn't have ordered this.

Other Dishes Ordered

- Manchego and House Marinated Olives: The manchego was disappointing. Though it seemed be a younger version, it simply lacked any sharpness or flavor for which manchego is famous. Maybe it was a problem with how the cheese was sourced or stored but not sure. It was almost bland. The olives were nice. We received a long dish of different types and finished them all.

- Gambas al ajillo (or "Sauteed Shrimp, Garlic, Parsley and Lemon" as appears on the menu): this familiar dish is a good example of the big advantage Estadio holds over the older and perhaps tired Jaleo. Larger, fresher, more flavorful shrimp. Good balance between the listed ingredients. I'm not sure whether it was intended but this dish also came out with some red chili flakes in it. Sure, added some heat but I felt that unnecessary. As a more general comment, I appreciate heat as much as the next person but felt some like too many dishes went to the chili pepper well. All said, the table enjoyed this and we finished it quickly.

- Bacalao Crudo, Jalapeno, Avocado, Orange & Olive Oil : all agreed this was great. While my Spanish friends didn't recognize it from home, they nevertheless enjoyed it. Except my one friend who, not recognizing the sliced jalapeno for what it was, downed a few slices and then finished the bread bowl in one fell swoop. Very generous portion of fresh cod. The avocado, orange and oil was applied in perfect amounts and proportions.

- Seared Leg of Lamb, Olivada & Roasted Shallots: also very good. This wasn't so much "seared" or a visible "leg" as it was cooked to a medium rare and served as slices/pieces but no matter as I'm not sure a truly seared version would be better. This was served on a crostini-type slice of bread. Like the bacalao and most Estadio dishes, it was generously portioned.

- Tortilla Espańola, Alioli, Sweet Hot Peppers: I'm not sure why some items like this are listed in Spanish while others (like the shrimp) are in English but we ordered this to be able to benchmark with other versions. Didn't enjoy this. it stood out from the other dishes as one where an effort to be creative substituted for great flavor. This had more potatoes than a typical tortilla that were layered, rather than mixed, in. It had a strange, spongey texture. The peppers were pureed and, along with the ailoi, were more decorative than flavor enhancing. This a dish I'd like to see Estadio rethink.

- Baby chorizo sausages with seasonings I failed to note. An okay dish. Not distinctive but not disappointing per se. We received 6 to 8 mini sausages that tasted a bit more like hot smokes than chorizo but, nevertheless, we finished them. They came in a bowl of housemade potato chips. We all agreed that we liked the chips better than the sausages which I'm guessing wasn't the intent.

- Bottle of 2005 Muga Rioja: We asked the waitress to send over the sommelier to help us choose a good bottle and that's how we met Max Kuller. Big thumbs up on Max! He was great--Estadio's Ass't Mgr but nevertheless knew the wines on the expansive list and was incredibly friendly, genuine and helpful. We loved the bottle he suggested. Of course, Max has the unfair advantage of having no doubt learned from some great teachers also at the helm of the growing Proof/Estadio empire :o

VENUE

I don't have much to add here since many have already posted about and been to Estadio. Will just say that the decor is lovely, appropriate to the theme and very comfortable and functional. Will also say that I agree with Tom...

In Tom Sietsema's review, he wrote about the noise level: "Sound check: 76 decibels/Must speak with raised voice. "

...but no complaints there since, well, the place is a tapas bar so expected to be a bit raucous. Estadio's atmosphere is fun and vibrant and a little noise reasonably comes with that. If you want formal and quiet, can go to spots like Eve, Citronelle, Tosca, City Zen or...even Proof which according to the Post's GOG, clocks in four decibels lower than its sibling. :mellow:

One minor thing I'll put under VENUE for lack of a better place. I struggled a bit with authenticity given who my dining companions were. Everyone understood that Estadio is an American interpretation of a tapas bar (at least I think that' s the positioning?). Some dishes, like the bacalao crudo, really succeeded though not "classic" in preparation. We specifically didn't choose to go to La Taberna, the obvious more formal and classic alternative. But, with one in our party not an English speaker and also a food person, I was surprised and a bit red faced when I found out they had no Spanish language version of the menu. I know, the customer base is overwhelmingly American and/or English speaking. But, it's one of the best Spanish restaurant options in our area and I'd guess many of our Spanish residents or visitors find their way to it.

STAFF

I don't usually have a "staff" category when I writeup restaurant visits on DR.com. But, in this case it makes sense because, while our service was fine...friendly, efficient, etc, the dining room staff of Estadio really played a big role in making our night a success.

First, there was Max. Already described above. Max rocks. I'll have to meet Sebastian one of these days to compare :unsure:

Next, the hostess. As others have written on this and other food boards, kind of a bummer that Estadio takes no reservations after 6pm. But, that's totally their right. I'm sure it's for logical reasons and so we went in ready to be waiting a long time. The hostess was very friendly despite being super busy. She gave us an estimate (maybe it was 45 min or an hour?) and, sure enough, we were seated even a few minutes sooner than whatever she told us. More than the timing though, I just really appreciated how hospitable and attentive she was despite all the obvious challenges inherent in her job. She suggested a few other bars nearby when we asked where we might grab a drink outdoors. Etc, etc.

Likewise, the bartender (whose name I didn't get) was arguably as nice and helpful as any other barkeep I've encountered in a packed restaurant and on a beautiful Saturday night in a long time. I'm sure he's incredibly knowledgeable and skilled; we didn't so much test that ordering just a few glasses of wine. But he seemed better organized and way more empathetic than whatever 'norm' exists. Oh, and no offense here to folks like Chantal at Tabard or Chris at Freddy's. Of course, they rock in the biggest of ways too.

Finally, there was a waiter or manager that I intercepted while loitering surreptitiously by the kitchen. The place was packed with a ton of activity. All the staff were going full out. I wanted him to take my credit card, get it to our waitress and ensure that the bill would be charged to it so I could avoid a battle for the check later. Done--worked perfectly a couple of hours later following the meal when my card reappeared with the check already run. My friends didn't have a chance. Thanks whoever you were and big apologies I didn't get your name :blink:

I've read some fairly critical stuff about Estadio's staff on some of those other, inferior ( ;) ), restaurant review websites. I don't get that at all. Estadio's front-of-house staff are a huge asset in my view.

Estadio was just nominated as one of the best new restaurants in the United States for 2011 by the James Beard Society.

To me , Estadio on a national scale isn't so much a "best" as it is a story of a strong regional restaurant with some real strengths and some inconsistency across its menu and food execution. It could be something really special, really unique...rather than just the best tapas spot in DC, which I guess it is with competition fairly lean. This was my third visit and surely there will be many more. There's so much to like about Estadio. I just wish they'd strive a bit more in the kitchen. Then again, they're packed all the time and my view is clearly a bit different from the James Beard Society so what the hell do I know?

Thanks for a fun night, Estadio. And, as always, thanks for listening :P

#68 Joe H

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 12:15 AM

Forgive me but my complete paragraph about vegetables which didn't include the kale was:

"Nobody has mentioned Estadio's vegetables. Not a single mention here or in any review. I believe several of them are among the best vegetables I have ever eaten in my life. Anywhere. Serious. "Grilled scallions, Romesco and sheep's milk cheese" are chargrilled scallions, folded and drizzled with Romesco and speckled with cheese. Incredible. "Blistered Shishito peppers" are medium hot long green peppers scooped by the handful and deep fried in Canola oil then flaked with sea salt. I ate, perhaps, 20 of these. All by myself. Every single one of them. I would take a disc of excellent Lomo Embuchado and roll it around a pepper then bite most of this, adding a whole clove of olive oil marinated garlic as well as a gherkin. The peppers were an addictive, simply but perfectly prepared dish that I wondered how I could have spent so many years without having eaten them before? I had a disagreement at the food bar with a diner several seats down: I was raving about these two dishes and he disagreed. How could I not have tried the pea shoots, sauteed in olive oil and with sea salt? He thought they were one of the best tastes of the night."

I tried the kale on a later visit and didn't like it either...but the scallions, Shishito peppers and yes, the pea shoots were all absolutely outstanding.

#69 jiveturk21

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 03:55 PM

Four of us went there last night for dinner. I will not go into the details, but I do think that this is simply the best "tapas" restaurant in the DC area, much better than Jaleo or anywhere else that I have visited. I do understand some of the criticism around the value here, but I feel that the quality is so much better that the extra money is worth it. Sunday night is a good night to go as well, it is busy, but not packed, so the service was pretty excellent all the way around. Hell, I even liked the chairs so much (they were comfortable!) that I mentioned it during our three hour meal. The only thing that I would improve is the sangria (it tasted like fruit punch), but that is a minor complaint and can easily be remedied by the awesome wine list that they have.

#70 hmmboy

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Posted 19 July 2011 - 06:32 PM

I'm a big fan of Mark Kuller's. Also a big fan of Proof. And, I'm very glad that Estadio is here in DC. The gap between it and Jaleo, for example, is both large and obvious in Estadio's favor.

Last night I took a few visiting Spanish friends to Estadio. I'd been there 2 times previously but not in the past several months. Thought it a safe bet for a fun and delicious night with a few animated Spaniards.

HEADLINE

A Good Time Had By All. Some very good dishes. Wonderful staff. Definite opportunity for Estadio to do more on the food front if it so chooses. More fun than delicious but good enough food that we left happy.

FOOD

Safe to say we missed the boat here entirely. I love vegetables and many on the menu looked very interesting. But, my Spanish friends didn't want any so I ordered just one among the 8 or so dishes we had in total. And I chose wrong. I ordered a Red Kale w/ Garlic, Red Chili Flake and maybe Olive Oil. Judging from earlier reviews, I probably should have gone with mushrooms, pea shoots or shishitou peppers. I chose kale because it's a challenging green to work with and I wanted to see what Estadio would do with it. I love greens. Kale is sturdier and more bitter than most others whether chard, spinach or turnip greens. And nearly every preparation I ever see of kale involves sauteeing or pan frying with garlic, maybe some ham or bacon, and oil. This was no different. OK at best. Still fairly bitter in a not so great, uninteresting, non-arugula-like way. Just didn't taste great. Maybe ultra-healthy kale can't be made into a delicious dish without pureeing?. Maybe I just shouldn't have ordered this.

Other Dishes Ordered

- Manchego and House Marinated Olives: The manchego was disappointing. Though it seemed be a younger version, it simply lacked any sharpness or flavor for which manchego is famous. Maybe it was a problem with how the cheese was sourced or stored but not sure. It was almost bland. The olives were nice. We received a long dish of different types and finished them all.

- Gambas al ajillo (or "Sauteed Shrimp, Garlic, Parsley and Lemon" as appears on the menu): this familiar dish is a good example of the big advantage Estadio holds over the older and perhaps tired Jaleo. Larger, fresher, more flavorful shrimp. Good balance between the listed ingredients. I'm not sure whether it was intended but this dish also came out with some red chili flakes in it. Sure, added some heat but I felt that unnecessary. As a more general comment, I appreciate heat as much as the next person but felt some like too many dishes went to the chili pepper well. All said, the table enjoyed this and we finished it quickly.

- Bacalao Crudo, Jalapeno, Avocado, Orange & Olive Oil : all agreed this was great. While my Spanish friends didn't recognize it from home, they nevertheless enjoyed it. Except my one friend who, not recognizing the sliced jalapeno for what it was, downed a few slices and then finished the bread bowl in one fell swoop. Very generous portion of fresh cod. The avocado, orange and oil was applied in perfect amounts and proportions.

- Seared Leg of Lamb, Olivada & Roasted Shallots: also very good. This wasn't so much "seared" or a visible "leg" as it was cooked to a medium rare and served as slices/pieces but no matter as I'm not sure a truly seared version would be better. This was served on a crostini-type slice of bread. Like the bacalao and most Estadio dishes, it was generously portioned.

- Tortilla Espańola, Alioli, Sweet Hot Peppers: I'm not sure why some items like this are listed in Spanish while others (like the shrimp) are in English but we ordered this to be able to benchmark with other versions. Didn't enjoy this. it stood out from the other dishes as one where an effort to be creative substituted for great flavor. This had more potatoes than a typical tortilla that were layered, rather than mixed, in. It had a strange, spongey texture. The peppers were pureed and, along with the ailoi, were more decorative than flavor enhancing. This a dish I'd like to see Estadio rethink.

- Baby chorizo sausages with seasonings I failed to note. An okay dish. Not distinctive but not disappointing per se. We received 6 to 8 mini sausages that tasted a bit more like hot smokes than chorizo but, nevertheless, we finished them. They came in a bowl of housemade potato chips. We all agreed that we liked the chips better than the sausages which I'm guessing wasn't the intent.

- Bottle of 2005 Muga Rioja: We asked the waitress to send over the sommelier to help us choose a good bottle and that's how we met Max Kuller. Big thumbs up on Max! He was great--Estadio's Ass't Mgr but nevertheless knew the wines on the expansive list and was incredibly friendly, genuine and helpful. We loved the bottle he suggested. Of course, Max has the unfair advantage of having no doubt learned from some great teachers also at the helm of the growing Proof/Estadio empire :o

VENUE

I don't have much to add here since many have already posted about and been to Estadio. Will just say that the decor is lovely, appropriate to the theme and very comfortable and functional. Will also say that I agree with Tom...

...but no complaints there since, well, the place is a tapas bar so expected to be a bit raucous. Estadio's atmosphere is fun and vibrant and a little noise reasonably comes with that. If you want formal and quiet, can go to spots like Eve, Citronelle, Tosca, City Zen or...even Proof which according to the Post's GOG, clocks in four decibels lower than its sibling. :mellow:

One minor thing I'll put under VENUE for lack of a better place. I struggled a bit with authenticity given who my dining companions were. Everyone understood that Estadio is an American interpretation of a tapas bar (at least I think that' s the positioning?). Some dishes, like the bacalao crudo, really succeeded though not "classic" in preparation. We specifically didn't choose to go to La Taberna, the obvious more formal and classic alternative. But, with one in our party not an English speaker and also a food person, I was surprised and a bit red faced when I found out they had no Spanish language version of the menu. I know, the customer base is overwhelmingly American and/or English speaking. But, it's one of the best Spanish restaurant options in our area and I'd guess many of our Spanish residents or visitors find their way to it.

STAFF

I don't usually have a "staff" category when I writeup restaurant visits on DR.com. But, in this case it makes sense because, while our service was fine...friendly, efficient, etc, the dining room staff of Estadio really played a big role in making our night a success.

First, there was Max. Already described above. Max rocks. I'll have to meet Sebastian one of these days to compare :unsure:

Next, the hostess. As others have written on this and other food boards, kind of a bummer that Estadio takes no reservations after 6pm. But, that's totally their right. I'm sure it's for logical reasons and so we went in ready to be waiting a long time. The hostess was very friendly despite being super busy. She gave us an estimate (maybe it was 45 min or an hour?) and, sure enough, we were seated even a few minutes sooner than whatever she told us. More than the timing though, I just really appreciated how hospitable and attentive she was despite all the obvious challenges inherent in her job. She suggested a few other bars nearby when we asked where we might grab a drink outdoors. Etc, etc.

Likewise, the bartender (whose name I didn't get) was arguably as nice and helpful as any other barkeep I've encountered in a packed restaurant and on a beautiful Saturday night in a long time. I'm sure he's incredibly knowledgeable and skilled; we didn't so much test that ordering just a few glasses of wine. But he seemed better organized and way more empathetic than whatever 'norm' exists. Oh, and no offense here to folks like Chantal at Tabard or Chris at Freddy's. Of course, they rock in the biggest of ways too.

Finally, there was a waiter or manager that I intercepted while loitering surreptitiously by the kitchen. The place was packed with a ton of activity. All the staff were going full out. I wanted him to take my credit card, get it to our waitress and ensure that the bill would be charged to it so I could avoid a battle for the check later. Done--worked perfectly a couple of hours later following the meal when my card reappeared with the check already run. My friends didn't have a chance. Thanks whoever you were and big apologies I didn't get your name :blink:

I've read some fairly critical stuff about Estadio's staff on some of those other, inferior ( ;) ), restaurant review websites. I don't get that at all. Estadio's front-of-house staff are a huge asset in my view.

To me , Estadio on a national scale isn't so much a "best" as it is a story of a strong regional restaurant with some real strengths and some inconsistency across its menu and food execution. It could be something really special, really unique...rather than just the best tapas spot in DC, which I guess it is with competition fairly lean. This was my third visit and surely there will be many more. There's so much to like about Estadio. I just wish they'd strive a bit more in the kitchen. Then again, they're packed all the time and my view is clearly a bit different from the James Beard Society so what the hell do I know?

Thanks for a fun night, Estadio. And, as always, thanks for listening :P

Really appreciate this long and thoughtful review. Trust me, when someone takes the time to write a thorough and balanced review, as your was, Chefs Karoum and Bautista, our FOH, and I take it seriously to heart. Thanks for taking the time to provide this valuable and critical feedback. We know we have much to improve upon and every single day we think about how to get better - its a process, and, in my opinion, one that takes a few years. Salud, MK
"I get slandered, libeled, I hear words I never heard in the Bible. And I'm so tired - I'm oh so tired. But I'm trying to keep my customers satisfied. Satisfied." Simon & Garfunkel

Mark A. Kuller
Proof, Estadio, doi moi, & 2birds1stone

#71 lekkerwijn

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 11:04 AM

I tried Estadio for the first time last night. I was excited when I heard a pintxos restaurant would be opening in DC. Having traveled extensively around San Sebastian and the Basque country as well as the Barcelona/Costa Brava area, this style of food is a favorite of mine. The food was both true to its origins but also relevant to what is fresh, seasonal and local in DC. Particularly notable were the peach salad, pork belly bocadillo, and sauteed pea shoots. I would certainly go back because the ambiance is fun, drinks good and the food perfect for sharing or snacking. I just wasn't blown away by the food itself. Although, in large part I am sure that part of my disappointment was a function of having had the real thing.

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#72 DaRiv18

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Posted 19 August 2011 - 11:24 PM

My random visit today netted a Rickey, Old Raj Martini, and a MN Surly Beer (the Miss). I got Skewered (all 4 selections) at the bar, followed up with some grilled corn (recommended, and delivered) and a pork loin with local peaches and crispy kale. Folks, I estimated 104 offerings on the food menu alone. Beverages are crafted on demand here, and the beer I had that disappointed was not offensive. I think Proof is a better value but to judge Estadio by it is unfair. Something for everyone here and I'd order cocktail-like dishes here. Somehow undervalued.

"All martinis taste good but do not promote fine distinctions in taste or other areas of intellectual discrimination." Raymond Sokolov, How to Cook


#73 porcupine

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 03:27 PM

Ate at Estadio again last night. Almost every dish I've ever ordered has been beautifully prepared from high quality ingredients. I love the staff. We always have a great time (there's more to dining out than the food, after all). And most especially, every time Adam sees me he offers to make me a special drink. By "special", I mean non-alcoholic, because these days I can't drink more than a glass of wine every few days without getting sick. But even the most well-intentioned bartenders usually serve something that's fruity and sweet. Adam is one of the few (along with Todd Thrasher and Justin Guthrie and someone else whose name escapes me at the moment) who can concoct something interesting and sophisticated.

One criticism, though: the restrooms. As busy as the place is, as many people as Estadio can seat, one stall each for men and women? Really?

Nonetheless, Estadio is one of my three favorite restaurants.

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#74 mr food

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Posted 24 December 2011 - 12:10 PM

nice meal at the bar last night with Alex and Jen (?)taking great care of us. We thought the food overall very good but not top tier. Deviled egg was a tasty 2 bites and the cheeses were excellent likewise the smoked almonds. The 2 duck tapas we tried were ok with not quite the flavor spectrum I was anticipating. Manchengo cheesecake a nice way to end the meal. We stuck with the wines by the glass as the list, while varied, was priced for an expense account-they need to have more 2 digit choices. A pleasant kickoff to the holiday weekend.

Jay Winton


#75 hmmboy

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 06:04 PM

Jay, I know you are a very knowledgeable wine guy so I was a bit suprised by your comment on our wine list. My own personal sickness dictates that our all Spanish list contain a bunch of ancients, rarities, and collectibles. But of the 420 wines on the current list, 255 are in "2 digits" - that's over 60%. Of those 255 there are dozens and dozens of outstanding wines for less than $50 and I'm sure Max would be happy to help you find one on your next visit. Salud!
"I get slandered, libeled, I hear words I never heard in the Bible. And I'm so tired - I'm oh so tired. But I'm trying to keep my customers satisfied. Satisfied." Simon & Garfunkel

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#76 DonRocks

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 12:39 PM

nice meal at the bar last night with Alex and Jen (?)taking great care of us. We thought the food overall very good but not top tier. Deviled egg was a tasty 2 bites and the cheeses were excellent likewise the smoked almonds. The 2 duck tapas we tried were ok with not quite the flavor spectrum I was anticipating. Manchengo cheesecake a nice way to end the meal. We stuck with the wines by the glass as the list, while varied, was priced for an expense account-they need to have more 2 digit choices. A pleasant kickoff to the holiday weekend.

Jay, I know you are a very knowledgeable wine guy so I was a bit suprised by your comment on our wine list. My own personal sickness dictates that our all Spanish list contain a bunch of ancients, rarities, and collectibles. But of the 420 wines on the current list, 255 are in "2 digits" - that's over 60%. Of those 255 there are dozens and dozens of outstanding wines for less than $50 and I'm sure Max would be happy to help you find one on your next visit. Salud!


Mark, I appreciate you coming on here and clearing this up. Pro-actively posting about your restaurants (up to a couple times a month) engages the dining public, and prevents misperceptions like mr food's (and also mine - I, too, have always had a nagging feeling that Estadio's wines were pretty expensive, but the numbers speak for themselves: only 165 bottles of wines at this tapas bar cost more than $100, and there are plenty that don't.

In defense of mr food, however, the reason these misperceptions exist could be because the expensive wines are mixed in, seemingly randomly, with the less expensive ones (the list is here), so for the price-conscious customer (who has become used to scanning lists ordered from least-expensive to most-expensive, looking for their price point), it's a bit of a visual back-and-forth challenge, especially when there may be only several seconds or minutes before the wine order is taken. BTW, in case you think this is a criticism, it's not; it's more of an observation (I actually prefer reading a list such as this, now that I'm taking the time to really look closely).

Cheers,
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#77 jparrott

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 01:33 PM

I'm pretty sure the wine list on the website is not up-to-date. Chances are the Albarinos, etc, are not vintage 2007/2008/2009 at this point.

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#78 mr food

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 12:21 PM

Jay, I know you are a very knowledgeable wine guy so I was a bit suprised by your comment on our wine list. My own personal sickness dictates that our all Spanish list contain a bunch of ancients, rarities, and collectibles. But of the 420 wines on the current list, 255 are in "2 digits" - that's over 60%. Of those 255 there are dozens and dozens of outstanding wines for less than $50 and I'm sure Max would be happy to help you find one on your next visit. Salud!


Thanks Mark for your reply. I see your point but Don's is also valid-I WAS doing a quick review and least expensive to most is easier to digest ro these tired eyes. I suggest you group them by region AND price-lowest to highest. It's probably the best Spanish list I've seen in a while and the service we received will bring us back!

Jay Winton


#79 hmmboy

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 12:27 PM

I'm pretty sure the wine list on the website is not up-to-date.


You are right Jake - we are actually in the process of updating it now and apologize for it being out of date.

the numbers speak for themselves: only 165 bottles of wines at this tapas bar cost more than $100........ so for the price-conscious customer (who has become used to scanning lists ordered from least-expensive to most-expensive, looking for their price point), it's a bit of a visual back-and-forth challenge


A primary inspiration for Estadio was Casa Mono, the brilliant NYC tapas bar headed by chefs Andy Nusser and Anthony Sasso. There are 475 wines on their extraordinary wine list and only 315 of those wines cost more than $100. Of that 315, 98 cost $500 or more and 40 are $1000 or more (at a tiny tapas bar Rocks). I recognize there is more demand in NYC for high end wine, and truth be told if we were starting from scratch in our space constrained cellar we would have less collectible and more 2 digit wines as there are many outstanding well priced Spanish wines that we sadly cannot stock because of storage limitations. The point, however, is that there are a LOT of great and correspondingly pricey Spanish wines, and my personal affliction has prevented me from staying away from them. As for the "challenge" of reading a list interspersed with pricey and less expensive offerings, I'm not buying that. I personally am repelled by dumbed down lists that mish mosh varietals, vintages and regions in favor of a low to high price ordering and my guess is that a wine knowledgeable patron like Mr. Food isn't looking for that either. Salud!
"I get slandered, libeled, I hear words I never heard in the Bible. And I'm so tired - I'm oh so tired. But I'm trying to keep my customers satisfied. Satisfied." Simon & Garfunkel

Mark A. Kuller
Proof, Estadio, doi moi, & 2birds1stone

#80 dcs

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 06:36 AM

the justly raved about spice grilled chicken


I am surpised this dish has not gotten more attention here. I usually do not order chicken in restuarants, because I tend to favor seafood, but I am glad I did last night. Grilled chicken, served on a bed of rice in a thin pool of spicy green salsa loca, and topped with cabbage slaw in a lemon based dressing. The chicken was almost buttery soft, perfectly cooked and very moist with a bit of blackening on the outside, with the spices adding a hint of middle eastern flavor. This was a more than fairly sized portion for $12, and I could see ordering it by itself for lunch, or even as a quick light dinner if I lived in the neighborhood and did not feel like cooking on a weeknight, but not otherwise up for a multicourse meal. We grabbed some of the last seats at the bar at around 5:45pm and the place was packed by 6:15pm. Restaurant Week? I don't need no stinkin' Restaurant week. Apparently, neither does Estadio.

#81 monavano

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:34 PM

What are the chances of grabbing a couple bar seats around 7 on a weeknight? Reservations recommended instead?
(theater at 8)

#82 goldenticket

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 02:38 PM

Based on personal experience, slim to none. They only take reservations until 6:00 pm (unless you're a group of 6 or more), so if you can be there that early, that's what I'd recommend.

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#83 DanielK

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 03:16 PM

Yeah, and you want to get in there at 7p, and be on your way by 7:40 for an 8p curtain? Even at their least busy time, I don't think this is enough time. Service is very good there, but not fast.

#84 porcupine

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Posted 30 March 2012 - 07:31 AM

My new favorite dessert: pan con chocolate (I think that's what it's called). A small scoop of intensely dark, slightly bitter, spreadable chocolate with a few grains of coarse salt and olive oil, and thin slices of toasted bread to spread it on. It's a good choice for those who don't like sweets.

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#85 sandynva

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 10:58 AM

I'm not sure if this should be here or in the drinks forum, but i met a friend for drinks (and shishitos) here friday night and stumbled upon a new favorite, el cazador. a mixture of sherry, campari, honey, and lime. the honey and sherry sweeten the drink and somehow make the campari much more grapefruity than usual, and the lime prevents it from being too sweet. Though i'm normally a fan of campari's bitter flavors, this was a new way to love the liquor.

( i also had a drink that was a mixture of red wine and lemon soda, which was just ok. it was a bit tannic, and could have used more lemon or something else to make it a bit more complex, imho. but the bartender said it was something sold on the streets as a quick summer cooler, so maybe complexity isn't really the point of that beverage).

#86 zoramargolis

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 11:08 PM

Thinking about where to take my visiting vegetarian brother-in-law for dinner, Estadio came immediately to mind, and we had a fantastic meal there with him and his daughter. An order of pa' con tomate (garlicy toast topped with fresh tomato puree and olive oil), olives and pickled garlic and a cheese platter took the edge off and we also enjoyed crispy brussels sprouts, wild mushroom croquettes, patatas bravas, Spanish tortilla (lotsa potatoes, I know) and J. and I and our niece shared a fabulous piece of grilled sablefish on a bed of spinach with garbanzos, dried cherries and romesco. We had three desserts for the four of us: manchego cheesecake, chocolate-chestnut cake, and brown butter date-almond tart with lemon-thyme ice cream which was the best dessert I've had in ages. I mean they all were really good--the cheesecake creamy and slightly sweet, but also a little bit salty and tasting distinctly like manchego, with a topping of quince puree which is just about my favorite winter fruit. The chocolate-chestnut was a essentially a rich, flourless chocolate cake with a bit of texture and great flavor. The four of us fought for the last bites of the date-almond tart's chewy, caramelly crust and creamy almond paste filling with a crispy topping of almonds set off by the lemony ice cream. Truly a memorable and delicious meal. The wine list is impressive, and I was happy to find a wonderful Ribiera del Duero, Barco del Piedra, which we'd recently enjoyed at home, very reasonably priced at $35. It was fun sharing all of the plates, and my veggie BIL was extremely happy not to be facing a big plate of pasta primavera as his only vegetarian option, which happens all too frequently to him.

#87 hmmboy

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 01:54 AM

Thanks Zora - so glad you and the BIL enjoyed. Estadio's young pastry chef - Brittany Frick - is a rising star.
"I get slandered, libeled, I hear words I never heard in the Bible. And I'm so tired - I'm oh so tired. But I'm trying to keep my customers satisfied. Satisfied." Simon & Garfunkel

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Proof, Estadio, doi moi, & 2birds1stone

#88 B.A.R.

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 08:15 AM

Had a great lunch yesterday, a big thank you to whomever was it the kitchen! The calamari ala plancha with salsa verde was one of the most flavorful and well executed calamari dishes I have ever had and it was cooked perfectly. Just perfectly.

 

Loved the Fava Bean and Almond Spread, the Croquetas de Jamon were melt in your mouth delicious, and the splash of sherry on the red kale was a wonderful touch.

 

There was one incident, however, that marred my experience- I was almost blinded by my lunch! The roasted baby chorizos are delicious, but they are slightly larger than one bite. So you need to either pick 'em up and bite them in half, or cut them. When they got to the table, they were still very hot, so I opted for utensils. These little babies are plump.

 

As I gently pressed the tines of the fork into the sausage, I applied just enough pressure to further engorge the little fella without puncturing the skin. As my serrated knife slid across, an explosion of hot, spicy, orange oil sprayed out and arced, directly towards my face. It was one of those moments where your brain can slow everything down and I actually saw the droplets rolling and changing shape as they made a beeline for my eyes. I got strafed; eye to eye, across the bridge of my nose. Several of the drops made a direct hit on my left eye. Burned like a mother. The pain only lasted for about 3-5 minutes and in no way negatively impacted my meal. Quite the contrary, it gave my wife a good bit of schaudefreude. So, be careful when you eat those little guys, and do eat them, because they were excellent.


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#89 darkstar965

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 12:20 AM

...As I gently pressed the tines of the fork into the sausage, I applied just enough pressure to further engorge the little fella without puncturing the skin. As my serrated knife slid across, an explosion of hot, spicy, orange oil sprayed out and arced, directly towards my face. It was one of those moments where your brain can slow everything down and I actually saw the droplets rolling and changing shape as they made a beeline for my eyes. I got strafed; eye to eye, across the bridge of my nose. Several of the drops made a direct hit on my left eye. Burned like a mother. The pain only lasted for about 3-5 minutes and in no way negatively impacted my meal. Quite the contrary, it gave my wife a good bit of schaudefreude. So, be careful when you eat those little guys, and do eat them, because they were excellent.

 

That's some excellent play-by-play imagery. Especially since you were okay. :)



#90 SeanMike

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 12:48 PM

That was the best description of getting a facial I've heard since I unsubscribed from Penthouse Letters.


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#91 bettyjoan

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 04:30 PM

Visited Estadio last weekend with my sis for late cocktails/munchies - the fava bean spread was delicious, the ham croquetas were good (as always), and the sauteed shrimp with garlic were awesome.  The sauteed pea shoots were really tasty, but they were a tad oily for our liking.  We tried the manchego cheesecake for dessert, and I loved how the cake itself was tangy and not as sweet as cream cheese versions.  However, I felt like the quince was a little bitter and the dish as a whole maybe needed a little hint of something sweet to balance everything?  Personal preference perhaps.

 

Service was great at the bar, and I absolutely love the space - I had been once before for brunch when I was visiting, but I hadn't really taken time to enjoy the little touches.  Will look forward to coming back for more.


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#92 SVT

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Posted 29 December 2013 - 03:41 PM

We had a good brunch this morning here. The eggs with chorizo and morcilla hash was very filling, and well prepared. The spanish toast was delicious, according to my wife. One of our dining partners had the cheeseburger, and really enjoyed it.

 

Overall, the food was nice. The service was professional, but a bit distant, even though the restaurant was mostly empty.



#93 dcs

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 10:01 PM

I am surpised this dish has not gotten more attention here. I usually do not order chicken in restuarants, because I tend to favor seafood, but I am glad I did last night. Grilled chicken, served on a bed of rice in a thin pool of spicy green salsa loca, and topped with cabbage slaw in a lemon based dressing. The chicken was almost buttery soft, perfectly cooked and very moist with a bit of blackening on the outside, with the spices adding a hint of middle eastern flavor. This was a more than fairly sized portion for $12, and I could see ordering it by itself for lunch, or even as a quick light dinner if I lived in the neighborhood and did not feel like cooking on a weeknight, but not otherwise up for a multicourse meal. We grabbed some of the last seats at the bar at around 5:45pm and the place was packed by 6:15pm. Restaurant Week? I don't need no stinkin' Restaurant week. Apparently, neither does Estadio.

 

We were there again tonight, before a performance of Cock at the Studio Theatre (which I highly recommend)..  The chicken is still a strong offering.  I also favor the Old Raj Gin & House-made Orange Thyme Tonic.







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