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Los Tios Grill, Del Ray - Tex-Mex Salvadoran Now in Several Virginia Locations


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Walrus said:

In Alexandria, we head straight for Los Tios...mmmmm...

Los Tios (not to be mistaken for Los Amigos which is across from Evening Star) is a favorite destination for Monday lunches when the kitchen's closed - fantastic, authentic, fresh food at extremely reasonable prices. Next time you're on the Avenue, drop by! The restaurant is on the same side of the street as Cheesetique just before you get to the intersection of Commonwealth & Mt. Vernon heading toward Arlandria.

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What he said! Plus, their fried plantains are faboo -- I crave them nearly constantly! -- and their tamal is the best I've ever had...yum.

Are these Tex-Mex tamales or Salvadoran? I've been looking for a outlet for GOOD Tex-Mex tamales for quite a while. And finding them in Alexandria is a huge bonus. My neighbor brings them to us from Austin a couple of times a year and it's a great treat. Edited by Free Wilma
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Are these Tex-Mex tamales or Salvadoran?  I've been looking for a outlet for GOOD Tex-Mex tamales for quite a while.  And finding them in Alexandria is a huge bonus.  My neighbor brings them to us from Austin a couple of times a year and it's a great treat.

I wish I could tell you -- what's the difference? These are sweet corn, with pieces of corn in them, served with the white cream of which I should know the name by now...

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Ate at Los Tios last night after a tasting at Cheesetique.

I thought it was decent Salvadorean/Tex-Mex, but nothing outstanding. Chips and salsa were very good. We got the combination fajitas for two (and took half of it home). That's steak, chicken, shrimp, pork ribs, and all the fixings. The steak was fine, the chicken was a bit dry (typical for fajitas), the shrimp were excellent, but the ribs were sickeningly sweet.

Service was fine, with one blunder: another couple we ate with requested no guacamole on their plate, due to a food allergy, and this was either not written down properly, or not passed to the cook, as there was a big ole scoop of guacamole on her plate.

I'd probably go back, since the only other thing I know of that's walkable to Cheesetique is Taqueria Poblano, of which I am not a fan.

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I was trying to decide where to lunch today, and there was an open parking space right in front of Los Tios, so I parked and went in.

The space is pretty and comfortable. The staff were warm and welcoming. The lemonade was tasty. The chips and salsa tasted fresh.

I ordered the seafood burrito, and later realized that might not have been a good idea. But much to my relief and delight, it was perfectly cooked, with whole shrimp and scallops in a light, white sauce in the wrapper. It could have been so bad if it had been overcooked! The rice and refried beans were light and tasty, and the little bit of guac on my plate was pleasing.

My first visit will not be my last!

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Are these Tex-Mex tamales or Salvadoran?  I've been looking for a outlet for GOOD Tex-Mex tamales for quite a while.  And finding them in Alexandria is a huge bonus.  My neighbor brings them to us from Austin a couple of times a year and it's a great treat.

Now here is where the line is drawn in the sand. I grew up in El Paso, where folk made tamales and sold them door-to-door. NOTHING I have found on the Salvadoran front can hold a candle to these. When I would go back for a visit and find myself microwaving a tamale for breakfast, I knew it was time to come back to DC. It just doesn't compute. It's like Chop Suey as compared to "authentic" Chinese food. My mother used to buy FROZEN tamales in EP that were better than anything I have found around here.

My Godmother--who was born in Mexico and was brought across the border as an infant to escape Pancho Villa (yes, she is getting up there in years)--made her own tamales and chile rellenos and wouldn't recognize anything by that name around here. This is such a regional thing, I suppose. She and her husband used to go into central Mexico to a resort by a lake for vacation. Her husband, who was from BALTIMORE, BTW, complained that the food got blander and blander the farther south from the border they went.

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I ordered the seafood burrito, and later realized that might not have been a good idea.  But much to my relief and delight, it was perfectly cooked, with whole shrimp and scallops in a light, white sauce in the wrapper.  It could have been so bad if it had been overcooked!  The rice and refried beans were light and tasty, and the little bit of guac on my plate was pleasing.

My first visit will not be my last!

I think the seafood at Los Tios is one of its hidden attractions ... the shrimp appetizer and tilapia main are very good too.
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The hot sauce, which I consider more of a pale green, consists of habanero peppers, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, and possibly one or two more ingredients blended together. I generally think I have a good tolerance for spiciness, but I use Los Tios' hot sauce only slightly more liberally than wasabi.

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I headed to Los Tios Saturday night to give it a shot. Even though Del Ray is a bit of a drive from my 'hood, I'm always open to new latin food outside of the Hill. I live down the street from Las Placitas at 13th and Penn and just can't take it's mediocrity any longer - and that goes for all the other look-alikes on the Hill.

Imagine my surprise to get to Los Tios and find basically the same menu, same not-very-good margaritas and exact same salsa. No difference. I also think the table tops had the same orange design. I asked if Los Tios had any sister restaurants in the District, and was told no. I stuck with the safer fajitas, which along with the sides were the same as Las Placitas and were fine except for the hot sauce, which was new to me, and kicked my ass. But the entire meal was the same and nothing special. Cute little neighborhood place, but not worth a drive across the river, sadly.

I've decided that a great number of little neighborhood Salvadoran/Tex Mex joints are either owned by the same extended family and/or are supplied by the same supplier so use the same salsa, margarita mix, guac, etc. Total bummer.

Not sure if it was the giant margarita influencing me or what, but the guy who appeared to be the manager looked exactly the same as a senior server at Guapos in Tenley a couple years ago when I lived up there. Also adds to my mediocre Salvadoran/Tex Mex conspiracy theory.

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Say what you may about Los Tios, but it sure seems popular. I drove by on my way home Saturday evening with a bunch of carryout from Bombay Curry Comany, right up the street, and was surprised at how busy the place was. The outside seating seemed packed. I walked by last night and it also appears that they are expanding, roughly doubling the size of the place. They must be doing something right.

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Say what you may about Los Tios, but it sure seems popular. I drove by on my way home Saturday evening with a bunch of carryout from Bombay Curry Comany, right up the street, and was surprised at how busy the place was. The outside seating seemed packed. I walked by last night and it also appears that they are expanding, roughly doubling the size of the place. They must be doing something right.

Just like CF, TGIF, Ruby Tuesday's, etc., right? :)

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I've decided that a great number of little neighborhood Salvadoran/Tex Mex joints are either owned by the same extended family and/or are supplied by the same supplier so use the same salsa, margarita mix, guac, etc. Total bummer.

I asked once and was told that the salsa, chips, and guacamole are all made in-house, FWIW.

And they are expanding next door -- which will double the patio dining space out front.

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Los Tios is HUGE now. They have renovated the space and should have no problem seating a party of 40 much less 20. In fact I think they would appreciate the business.

When I say HUGE I mean I was shocked at how large the place is now. Really really really big.

It's also not nearly as good as it used to be and much more expensive. My friends and I were disappointed compared to prior visits.

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It's also not nearly as good as it used to be and much more expensive. My friends and I were disappointed compared to prior visits.

Well, your mileage may vary. I think it's just as good since they expanded--although I prefer to sit on the "original" side for a cozier ambiance.

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It's also not nearly as good as it used to be and much more expensive. My friends and I were disappointed compared to prior visits.

Much more expensive than when? The prices on my last visit two weeks ago were the same they have always been.

And can you be more specific on how the food isn't as good as it used to be?

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Los Tios is HUGE now. They have renovated the space and should have no problem seating a party of 40 much less 20. In fact I think they would appreciate the business.

When I say HUGE I mean I was shocked at how large the place is now. Really really really big.

It's also not nearly as good as it used to be and much more expensive. My friends and I were disappointed compared to prior visits.

Too bad to hear about inconsistency, but I have not been in a bit. Are the prices listed here not correct?

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Too bad to hear about inconsistency, but I have not been in a bit. Are the prices listed here not correct?
The prices look about right. Brunch was about $20 per person, with just soft drinks. I remember being very surprised as it used to be a much more reasonable outing. (I am also wondering if they charged us dinner prices as I remember my 2 enchiladas were about $12.)

I posted my comment after experiencing Lauriol Plaza and thinking "wow the prices seem reasonable."

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Wife and I went to Los Tios last night with reasonable expectations based on past experiences, but were shocked at how good the dinner special, Lamb Fajitas, turned out...cumin scented, well marinated and wonderfully smoky chunks and slices of lamb..this dish would not have been out of place at a very good Indo-Pakistani or Afgan place..a real surprise for this modest but certainly better than average neighborhood Tex-Mex/Salvadoran...better than average fat pupusas as an App, really good Tres Leches cake for dessert and two giant happy hour sangrias and one giant margarita made for a very nice meal...the service here is really good and the place is emaculate..I can see why it is a nieghborhood favorite.

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We had lunch at Los Tios today. The cheese pupusa was excellent and even better with the habanero salsa and pickled slaw. We then had the spinach enchiladas and pollo guisada. Both were very good and nicely plated. There was attention to detail that we appreciated. For example, the slice of avocado on the chicken plate was perfectly ripe, and the sides of beans and rice were nicely cooked entities unto themselves instead of blobs of tasteless starch that seem like afterthoughts. The service was excellent, and the waiter suggested that, to avoid the crowds, lunch was a better time to come than dinner. We both work out of the house quite a bit, and I think we will be walking to Los Tios fairly often.

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A quick, late lunch at Los Tios today offered friendly service, shamefully inhalable chile con queso ($5.95), and shrimp fajitas ($16.95) rich with cumin and other seasonings. Visually, the grilled green peppers and onions on the fajita platter appeared dull and listless, but their savory flavor erased most concerns.

The gratis, house-made salsa was the taste sensation of the meal, however. Thin liquid tomato base, thick chunks of vegetables, and juicy fresh flavor throughout--not everyone's preferred style, but anything with that much true flavor gets my vote.

I want to return here to check out the patio for happy hour sometime. I imagine the entire neighborhood has that exact same idea, so it would have to be early. Maybe this could be an option for an upcoming Virginia HH appearing soon on a calendar near you....

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Long time no posts on the Los Tios thread.

Mr. MV and I have been going on nights that the kitchen gets thoroughly cleaned and I want it to look nice for 24 hours :lol: I just love this neighborhood eatery. Families and locals come to eat affordably and the service is always welcoming.

I've been enjoying LT's burritos, both chicken and beef. Tortilla soup last week was very good and has me wanting to come back to eat more while sitting outdoors on a chilly evening.

We got an order of tres leches cake to take home and it was very moist, yet light.

The free chips and salsa are addicting.

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Los Tios (Del Ray) has gone downhill since my last visit about a year ago.

It's as convenient as it ever was, about an 8-minute drive for me from South Fairlington. Unfortunately, the parking lot adjacent to the property was chained off when I went last Tuesday night. I was able to find a spot on the street around the corner, but I can see where this would pose an inconvenience on busy weekends.

The bartenders were friendly and service was competent and quick. The shorter of the two gentlemen seemed to be in charge of the bar area, while his partner was doing everything from serving drinks to running food to preparing takeout orders for pickup. They were both very attentive to the customers seated at the bar and the whole operation seemed to be running very smoothly, although the place was not super-busy.

The salsa was the highlight; thin, chunky, and spicy, as described above by KMango. Chips were good, as well; hot, crisp, and not too thin, but difficult to tell if they were fried in-house or came from a bag. The margarita (on the rocks) contained alcohol, which is about the best thing I can say about it. The large size I ordered was indeed large, but did not feel like a good value at $11.00. It tasted... well, bad. Not much salt on the rim, either.

I ordered the Lomo Saltado (now $18.95) with some trepidation. I remembered it being pretty good and certainly filling the last time I had it, but knew that the "fried potatoes" it featured would be frozen french fries. I don't remember that being a deal-breaker the last time but, for some reason, this time it almost was. The strips of "prime sirloin" were cooked medium-rare as ordered, but the remaining ingredients (green pepper, onion, and tomato) seemed a bit skimpier than I remembered from last time. The whole dish seemed out-of-balance and lacking seasoning, and the frozen fries dumped on top as if they were an afterthought seriously degraded the overall quality.

I haven't given up hope, since I quite enjoyed the Lechoncito al Horno on another previous visit, and plan on trying it again (maybe I'll order a beer instead of a margarita). Until then, my general impression of Los Tios is one of declining quality and rising prices. Not a winning combination in my book.

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Went last night for dinner. Had been there once before. It was cool outside, but we sat outside any way, as when the weather gets good, the place is a mad house.

Chips and Salsa - the chips are housemade, as far as I can tell. The house red salsa, in my opinion, was more like Pace or other jar salsa. It seemed flavorless, to me. I asked for the house hot salsa, which is a light green-white sauce with habaneros. It's a good taste, not overpoweringly hot, but tasty, much more so than the red salsa.

Salvadorean Fried Fish - so, I have found at these Tex-Mex/Salvadorean places, the Mexican food is pretty bland. I figured I'd try something different. It was fresh fried croaker. I never had croaker before. It's not a big fish and it really doesn't have a whole lot of meat on it, but what I could pick off was tasty. The beans and rice were fine, and something I could have made at home.

Enchiladas with Green Sauce - my date seemed to enjoy it, or maybe not. She really didn't say much about it, finished half.

Also, had a Sol with lime. I know clear glass bottle beer skunks and that's why you put the lime in with it, but some times it just works. And it did. And, they ran out of Bohemia, the only Mexican beer that I really enjoy.

Service was very attentive. They all seemed like nice guys. A few hours later, I saw a bunch of them at Pork Barrel BBQ for half price ribs.

$36 + tip. Not unreasonable. But, I'm only going back for margaritas and nachos when the patio is hopping.

S

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Went here for a dining for a cause night for a fundraiser for a group I support.  I had the chicken and chorizo fajitas based on a suggestion from a friend.  I found their salsa really bland and watery.  The guac though was very good.  The fajitas were fine, I liked the chorizo, the onions were very caramelized, there were way more onions than peppers. It was ok- I would rather go to Taqueria Poblano though.  

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