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Bazin's Next Door (Formerly Alegria), Church Street in Old Town Vienna - Mexican and American from the Owners of Bazin's on Church - Closed


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Three of us had our first (of many future) outings at Alegria for my birthday last night. It's next to Bazin's on Church St. in Vienna. At the risk of making it more busy so I can't get in, I'll say this is a place you should all go. In general, I've got nothing but positives to say except that they don't take reservations.

Guacamole: the best I've ever eaten, although this had to be tempered with the knowledge I've only accepted guac over the last couple of years. This version is chunky, acidic and salty with a little sprinkle of cotija (maybe chihuahua) cheese on top. The highlights are the avacado, the salt and the acid, though. Most guacs aren't acidic enough for me. This one is spot on. I ripped this guacamole a new one!

Crispy Tortillas: the first basket is free. Thin, fresh, hot, well-seasoned. They're served with 2 salsas, a green, spicy one and a smoky, tomato-based version with little to no spice. Both are good and the combo is great for a table of mixed tastes, but the spicy verde version is more to my liking.

Queso Fundido: there are three versions, each served in a cast iron pan with fresh-made masa soft tortillas. We got the version with rajas, brown onions and Mexican oregano. Very tasty stuff. Next time we'll defy the non-meat eater and get the chorizo option.

Baja Fish Taco: delish! Battered and fried piece of fish over cabbage, lime mayo and pickled jalapenos in a soft house-made corn tortilla. If I didn't have the menu, I'd swear there was pickled veggies/cabbage under the fish, not just pickled peppers. This was an excellent taco. The tacos are charged per taco and they range from $3.50-$4 a piece.

Marinated Chicken Breast Taco: guacamole, grilled spring onion, grilled slices of breast. Tender, well-cooked chicken. The onion tasted great, but have you ever tried to bite a green onion in half? It's not so pretty.

Roasted Portobello Taco: sliced grilled portobello, chihuahua cheese, chipotle, brown onions, pepitos. Nice mushroom flavor, but lacking chipotle spice or smokiness. The pepitos added a nice texture change.

Ceviche Trio: one small scoop of each of the available ceviches - tuna (with passion fruit-pickled habanero chiles), Maine scallops (orange, capers, roasted green chiles) and Mahi-Mahi (lime, tomato, olives, avocado, cilantro). Each of these were excellent, in our opinions. The tuna was the favorite. Acidic, spicy, great texture and flavor. The chunks of Mahi-Mahi would pass for cooked in texture, which may help non-ceviche eaters enjoy the dish. The scallop may have been the least favorite. The flavor was very good, but I think the texture of the scallop was a bit too soft and mushy.

Mrs. DrXmus had a main dish of Chipotle Shrimp. This was about 6 or so perfectly-cooked shrimp in sauce. No carbs for sopping or soaking, unfortunately. She said the shrimp were excellent, but the dish lacked much spice or chipotle flavor. She was impressed with the fact the shrimp were peeled all the way to the end of the tail, so there was no fishing for that last piece of meat.

Cowboy Black Beans: nice side dish of beans sprinkled with cotija or chihuahua cheese and epazote and cooked with garlic and onions. This was good, but one of my tablemates ate more than I did. The dish was oversalted a bit and seemed to be lacking the garlic and onion flavor advertised. The beans were perfectly cooked and had great texture to them. This was not a bad dish by any means. Personally, I wouldn't get this again, but there is a chipotle version I may try.

We had the Classico Margaritas, but there were several to choose from. Yes, I had a few, but they were sweeter than I prefer. The bar is stocked with many tequilas, but I didn't get a serious look at them. Beer selection is pitiful for my tastes, but if you like Corona or Dos XX, you'll be happy. They may have had Pacifico, but I'm not sure about that. I saw a child with a small bottle of Coca-Cola, but I don't know if it's the Mexican-made product.

I'm really happy Alegria has opened in Vienna. After trying Bazin's three times and striking out all three times due to food or service issues, I'm glad the more casual Alegria is to our liking.

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We had lunch here to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. There weren't many customers so the food came out fast!!!

First to come out were a trio of ceviche ($14). The tuna with passionfruit was too frou frou for me, but my wife liked it. The classic mahi mahi was indeed "cooked" but I liked the flavor. My wife also didn't like the texture of the scallops but I thought they were fine.

Next came the chilaquiles ($10). These were fairly tasty, but they're just chips topped with a bit of sauce and cheese.

Soon after the tacos ($4 or less each) arrived, I had the baja fish taco and the pork confit (carnitas) taco. Because of Yelp reviews such as:

My sister ordered the fish tacos and was surprised that it arrived fried. She would not have ordered if she knew it was fried so they should note in the menu.
The fish taco was okay, but it was fried which surprised both my husband and I

I was warned that the fish tacos are tempura battered and fried. I generally love fried fish tacos and I think these are alright. The dressing and cabbage tend to overwhelm the flavor of the fish. The pork was really delicious though (the result of slow cooking with proper seasoning). My wife said her marinated chicken and shredded beef tacos were both very good. Next time I'd probably skip the ceviche and the other stuff and just order tacos as starters.

We also had some albondigas ($10), and short rib enchiladas ($15). The meatballs were served on a bed of spinach and topped with some sauce. We didn't care for them but there's nothing particularly bad about them. We really enjoyed the enchiladas (each order had 2) - the beef was flavorful and tender.

With my wife's two margaritas and my two beers, the check was just over $100 before tip. Overall, we thought it's the best Mexican we've had around here (that includes Oyamel). It would be great if they can serve more variety of tacos.

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I've been hesitant to try it out because of the reviews of Bazin's, but will definitely keep it in the list now after both of your reviews.

Still, Mrs. Lion's guacamole was pretty damn good at home tonight, so I can't complain in terms of celebrating.

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Went to Alegria a second time last week. The guacamole wasn't as good as our first visit, unfortunately. However, I really, really like the house-made chips so I ate too many of those. I don't have much to add to the above reviews except that I liked the Garlicky Mushroom Queso Fundido. My primary complaint, however, was the noise. We were seated in the middle of the room and my iPhone decibel meter read 90-95 db for most of the meal. I don't know if being seated with my back to a wall on our last visit made a difference, but I wasn't as uncomfortable with the noise then as I was now. I'm willing to try again, but if we can't sit on an edge or if the noise is this loud again, I don't know that I'll be back. It was a relief to leave.

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Went to Alegria a second time last week. The guacamole wasn't as good as our first visit, unfortunately. However, I really, really like the house-made chips so I ate too many of those. I don't have much to add to the above reviews except that I liked the Garlicky Mushroom Queso Fundido. My primary complaint, however, was the noise. We were seated in the middle of the room and my iPhone decibel meter read 90-95 db for most of the meal. I don't know if being seated with my back to a wall on our last visit made a difference, but I wasn't as uncomfortable with the noise then as I was now. I'm willing to try again, but if we can't sit on an edge or if the noise is this loud again, I don't know that I'll be back. It was a relief to leave.

Completely agree about the noise. Not only is it loud even by today's standards, but they have utilized every inch of space - I simply don't see where they could insert even one single additional two-top. Okay, so it's distressingly noisy, the tables are absolutely packed together, and the food is somewhat formulaic in presentation (2 of this, 3 of that, etc.) ... and every single dish Matt and I had was, at the minimum, very good (Tortilla Chips with red and green salsas (first basket free, plenty for two people), Crispy Masa Sopes ($8) with refried black beans, over-easy fried egg [it's going to be important for the cooks to keep this egg runny in the future], and red chili sauce Taquitos ($8) fried, with spinach, mushroom and goat cheese, hearty and meat-like, two Baja Fish Tacos ($4 each) with cabbage, lime, mayonnnaise, and pickled jalapeño, and Stewed Shredded Short Rib Enchiladas ($15) with Chihuahua cheese and red chili sauce). We finished every bite of food, save for some chips, and left absolutely stuffed. A bottle of Negra Modelo ($4.95) for me, and a Jarritos Lime Soda for Matt brought the total bill, including tax, to just a hair over $50 for this feast. Patrick Bazin was roaming the dining room, making sure the customers were happy. Remarkably, at 7 PM on a packed Friday night, with people waiting outside to get in, there was a single two-top available right by the kitchen, and we lucked out and got it without any wait.

This is not a large restaurant, and I advise against going during prime-time and assuming you'll get a table. Walking back to the car, Matt tried to convince me that Alegria has dethroned Maple Ave. Restaurant as King of Vienna, while folksy me tried to stress the virtues of the quiet mom-n-pop with ambitious cooking, a relaxing atmosphere, and friendly service from Tim Ma and Joey Hernandez; neither one of us was wrong: downtown Vienna is lucky to have them both.

My advice? Go now because it will never be better than this. Noise aside, this meal was a best-case scenario. Coverage initialized in the Dining Guide in Italic.

Cheers,

Rocks

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Saturday dinner here was a disappointment. The single highlight was good guacamole and chips. Lowlights - gooey, oily, distasteful mess of a mushroom/garlic/queso with corn tortillas, so-so jicama salad, uninspired pair of overcooked scallops in a faux-Mexican sauce, and sliced mole flank steak paired with not mole but more GUACAMOLE, also another gloppy mess of mushrooms and what I suppose they called mole. Dessert was a barely-cooked pineapple paired with what appeared to be some Breyers vanilla ice cream and a gooey, sticky pecan pie type of thing paired with reddi-whip that was advertised as crunchy toffee bars.

Young, inexperienced college students as servers. Eager but clueless. Small room, so loud you cannot hear yourself think, even though it was only half full at dinner rush. $12 (!) for a small rail-tequila margarita. A small-plate dinner for two came to a whopping $115. Many other better Mexican places available. I will not return.

The last time I ate at the sister restaurant next door - Bazin's on Church - I had an equally poor meal. I guess I will just steer clear of anything run by this owner in the future. I'm sure he's a nice guy, and I especially wish the "little guy" success in running and opening restaurants, but both of his places in Vienna are just not up to the task in my humble opinion.

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Saturday dinner here was a disappointment. The single highlight was good guacamole and chips. Lowlights - gooey, oily, distasteful mess of a mushroom/garlic/queso with corn tortillas, so-so jicama salad, uninspired pair of overcooked scallops in a faux-Mexican sauce, and sliced mole flank steak paired with not mole but more GUACAMOLE, also another gloppy mess of mushrooms and what I suppose they called mole. Dessert was a barely-cooked pineapple paired with what appeared to be some Breyers vanilla ice cream and a gooey, sticky pecan pie type of thing paired with reddi-whip that was advertised as crunchy toffee bars.

Young, inexperienced college students as servers. Eager but clueless. Small room, so loud you cannot hear yourself think, even though it was only half full at dinner rush. $12 (!) for a small rail-tequila margarita. A small-plate dinner for two came to a whopping $115. Many other better Mexican places available. I will not return.

The last time I ate at the sister restaurant next door - Bazin's on Church - I had an equally poor meal. I guess I will just steer clear of anything run by this owner in the future. I'm sure he's a nice guy, and I especially wish the "little guy" success in running and opening restaurants, but both of his places in Vienna are just not up to the task in my humble opinion.

I posted a similar comment on this before. I haven't eaten at Alegria, because of the downhill run that Bazin's has taken, in my opinion. I tried Bazin's the week after it opened and the food was fantastic, the service very friendly, if a little bumpy, but the past few times has been a "mailed in" effort. I have no desire to gamble my money with Alegria.

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Sat at the bar by myself tonight for dinner. It was very warm, like there's no air conditioning. Since I was already there, I was reluctant to leave. I ordered a fish taco, a chicken taco, and spicy rock shrimp salad (with avocado, baby arugula, lemon chipotle vinaigrette for $14). The tacos were pretty good although I didn't see any grilled spring onion on my chicken taco. My disappointment with the rock shrimp salad was just that it wasn't anything I had envisioned. I was thinking tempura fried rock shrimp and sliced avocado on a bed of arugula. What came out was a puck shaped combination with guacamole on the bottom, poached rock shrimp in the middle, topped with a little arugula and vinaigrette. It was actually quite tasty, albeit small dish, thus kind of expensive. I would've ordered more food but for the fact I already had a huge lunch and I'm going to be eating out quite a bit for the next couple of weeks while my family is with my wife's family which is having a family reunion of sorts in a family oriented town in the middle of Indiana and I would join said family gathering later and listen to them bitch and moan about family affairs and how granda is going to disburse the family assets to family members. To sum up, the food's good, the bar area is warm, and I will be eating some awesome food in the next couple of weeks (I don't mean the hole in the walls in Eden Center).

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An early dinner here on Saturday. They opened at 4:30, we were there probably around 4:45. Started with the Tortilla Lasagna ($12). Maybe the chicken was roasted but it could have been boiled with lots of onions and garlic. The resulting shredded chicken, topped with a cream sauce (supposedly of chihuahua cheese and poblano crema) was flavorful and tasty, like a semi-open chicken burrito made with flour tortilla. Surprisingly, there was a little heat in this starter. We also had their chicken breast tacos (with spring onions and guac), fish tacos, shredded beef tacos (my wife had those), and a pork confit taco (roasted pineapples). There were indeed pineapples in the pork taco. I can't tell what kind of tortillas came with the tacos. If it's corn, then it's very white and fine, not like the corn tortillas usually found at taquerias. I like their fish tacos, which basically consists of a piece of battered fried fish wrapped in a tortilla. The chicken and pork tacos were just so-so tonight. The roasted asparagus (not pictured) were three large spears, a little sweet, tasting more of Asian seasoning than Mexican. The spicy rock shrimp salad was like the last time - fairly tasty, but maybe guac overload for some. Wife's pomegranate tequila was $10. Dinner for essentially 2 (since the 2.5 year old ate nothing but chips and food we brought) with a drink each, tax, and tip was $100.

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Went for the first time tonight, walking in at 745pm. I recalled in my head old reviews about crowds, high noise levels, and pricey food. My recollection could have been wrong, but my GF and I left feeling quite content. We waited about 10 minutes for a table, during which we were offered chips/salsa and a drink menu by the busy bar staff. We started with two margaritas, the house blend ($8) and the blood orange ($10). Once transferred to our table, we ordered the guac ($10), asparagus ($8), and the pork confit ($3.5) and spicy beef ($4) tacos. We finished with a order of the black bean/goat cheese empanadas ($9). We enjoyed everything, but favored the (not) spicy beef tacos over the pork confit. The asparagus was great and I would have licked the plate clean of red chili vinaigrette if I was single and wanted to remain so. The empanadas' crust was perfect and enjoyed the goat cheese/black bean combination. My only gripe was the lack of spice in all the dishes. The spicy beef tacos were mild at best as were the salsas. All the flavors were fine, the food fresh, but a little bit more spice to balance the sweetness of the pork tacos and asparagus (as Ericandblueboy noted above) would have been welcomed. The final bill was $57.77 before tip, which was reasonable I thought. A great QPR meal could be had if you abstained from alcohol and strategically ordered dishes that include guacamole. Though, if I return I'll ask for a side of fresh jalapenos! Also notable, the service was very good and we didn't have to raise our naturally quiet voices to be heard.

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FYI, back in March, Alegria was re-branded as Bazin's Next Door. The menu still features many of the Mexican dishes that they had as Alegria; however, the menu is now includes pastas, seasonal dishes, etc.

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