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Guajillo, Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn - Family-Owned Tex-Mex with Good Sauces


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I searched and found that nobody has started a thread for Guajillo. So, since I seem to complain the most about the lack of good Tex-Mex in the area I decided I should step up to the plate and take a swing....

Yum. It is neither inexpensive nor a taqueria, but Guajillo should satisfy a craving for real Tex-Mex when a trip to Texas is out of the question. I had the pleasure of eating a wonderful dinner at Guajillo just the other night and am counting the days until I return.

The chips are fresh, the salsa complex and roasty, all and all a great start to the meal. For my main course, I had chicken with three different moles. The traditional brown mole tasted exactly as a good mole should... chocolately and earthy at the same time. The green mole was my favorite, spicy but creamy. The red mole was special too. I'd order this dish again if I haven't eaten in days... it is huge!

My friend ordered shrimp and goat cheese enchiladas. They were good too. In fact the shrimp were plump and plentiful.

Anyway, I can't wait to go back... thinking huevos next weekend.

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I have been to Guajillo many times. I wish I could say that I love it. It's one of the better Mexican restaurants in the area, but as most of you know how I feel about the quality of Mexican restaurant food around here, that's not saying much. And I won't say much. Except that Guajillo has been very inconsistent. Sometimes good and sometimes awful. I don't order chicken there, because it's usually way overcooked. And they are too stingy with the frijoles refritos. But I like their mole poblano and the ceviche is usually good. I like the fact that they make tortillas there. I jsut wish they would use fresh masa instead of Maseca.

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I have been to Guajillo many times. I wish I could say that I love it. It's one of the better Mexican restaurants in the area, but as most of you know how I feel about the quality of Mexican restaurant food around here, that's not saying much. And I won't say much. Except that Guajillo has been very inconsistent. Sometimes good and sometimes awful. I don't order chicken there, because it's usually way overcooked. And they are too stingy with the frijoles refritos. But I like their mole poblano and the ceviche is usually good. I like the fact that they make tortillas there. I jsut wish they would use fresh masa instead of Maseca.

based on three unlucky visits in succession, i have a theory about this place: never on sunday. i could be wrong and have been there plenty of times when the food was good (though not recently).

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based on three unlucky visits in succession, i have a theory about this place: never on sunday. i could be wrong and have been there plenty of times when the food was good (though not recently).

The place has gone down a slippery slope. But I won't lie, I was there last night.

I still keep going 'cause I can eat snacks while reading girlie magazines in the dark- I like the peace better than anything.

And sometimes on the way out, I'm lucky enough to run into Michael Landrum, clad in shiny Adidas tracksuit.

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And sometimes on the way out,  I'm lucky enough to run into Michael Landrum, clad in shiny Adidas tracksuit.

Yowza....why am I picturing this: Ali-G-Beat-Up-A-Photographer-2.jpg

ETA - To stay on topic... I am guilty of using Guajillo only as a lounge while waiting for Ray's, and didn't experience very good service. However, a friend from New Mexico tried it and was very impressed with the mole dishes - said the flavors were good and has been back multiple times.

Edited by goldenticket
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At its best Guajillo is the best Mexican restaurant (of sorts) in the Washington area. I prefer it over all of the places in Riverdale although it is very different. It IS inconsistent but at its best the mole, ceviche, several margueritas and some of the specials (carne asada) would do justice to most anywhere this side of Juarez or the Grand Canyon. No, it is not as good as So Cal's best-actually not nearly as good (Zora, I was just posting about La Serenita de Garibaldi-have you ever been there?), but for the D. C. area we should be thankful it is here. Perhaps more than anything it FEELS just like any other nondescript funky little roadhouse would feel in Tiajuana. For me with the right bartender and specials it hits the spot. For those who use this as a "lounge" for anyplace else they are missing something special. Don't go in here and orders tacos or burritos. Go for what is mentioned above or whatever the special of the day is. And pretend there is a border you have to cross outside to get home.

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I used to love the Carnitas, but they are consistently dry these days. They are still a comfort with a special (above-the-rail) margarita. I love the pork and hominy stew; the way it's presented reminds me of pho in that it's served with fresh herbs, limes and onions for your seasoning pleasure. Karen, the owner, will make a secret chip dipping mixture (guac, sour cream, salsa, refried beans gently mixed together with a sprinkle of queso fresca) if I so gesture. I've walked in there down in the dumps and have left feeling much better. And it's not far from the house. I like that I don't usually run into to people and I can zone out and relax (but if I feel like it, I know the staff and we can swap stories and have a laugh). Also, there's a certain sentimental value. I have a true soft spot for Mexican, and any real pal of mine has been there with me or someplace like it to load up on guac and margaritas...and just be.

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At its best Guajillo is the best Mexican restaurant (of sorts) in the Washington area.   

For those who use this as a "lounge" for anyplace else they are missing something special.  Don't go in here and orders tacos or burritos.  Go for what is mentioned above or whatever the special of the day is.  And pretend there is a border you have to cross outside to get home.

Agreed. Guajillo can be a very fine restaurant in its own right, and more than deserves to stand on its own. At times they can be offended, and rightfully so, by the sense that they are used as our lounge even though many of the people who do so are their regulars as well whose enjoyment of Guajillo predates Ray's even being open. Their bar is worthy of a visit, many visits really, for some damn fine Tequilas and Margaritas, good food to match tasty beverages, and good people.

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At times they can be offended, and rightfully so, by the sense that they are used as our lounge even though many of the people who do so are their regulars as well whose enjoyment of Guajillo predates Ray's even being open.

Unless there's no room to accomodate people that want to spend the entire evening at Guajillo (i.e., eating a meal), that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. If anything, I'm now spending money at Guajillo that I never would have. I drink their fine tequilas and I tip well. Seems to me they've now developed a new stream of revenue thanks to your operation, Michael. What am I not seeing?

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Unless there's no room to accomodate people that want to spend the entire evening at Guajillo (i.e., eating a meal), that doesn't make a lot of sense to me.  If anything, I'm now spending money at Guajillo that I never would have.  I drink their fine tequilas and I tip well.  Seems to me they've now developed a new stream of revenue thanks to your operation, Michael.  What am I not seeing?

Guajillo is a very small restaurant, too, and dealing with unexpected influxes of guests--whether the restaurant is full or not--can be very disruptive and harmful to service and may force unwanted managerial difficulties upon them. They are not set up as a cash and carry bar, unlike Cafe Asia and Rhodeside Grill, and have their own pace and rhythm and staffing limitations. It's sort of the same reason that I don't do to go or patio service--the revenue is immaterial next to the harm it would to to my service and my operation.

Also, pride. Every one has a right to be proud of what they do. Guajillo is a successful restaurant in its own right and they deserve to be proud of that. Being considered or treated as the lounge of a neighboring restaurant can certainly diminish that, maybe unfairly. Even though your point is valid, logical and well-made, and has much to agree with, we don't always react logically in such personally demanding and vested endeavors as running a restaurant.

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Actually, after the fact, this makes me laugh.  To some "foodies" (I hate that word), there is a mental border to cross, called the Potomac River.  Fuck 'em.

I'm not certain how you interpreted my comment. I simply meant that the ambience of Guajillo is very similar to that of a cantina in parts of Mexico. I used "border" alliteratively since frequently people living north of the border in say, El Paso, Laredo or San Diego, will cross into Mexico for dinner and then cross the border to return home. Guajillo, to me, feels very much like one of these "border" cafes. Again, I personally believe it is overall the best Mexican restaurant in the D. C. area. Well worth a drive from Reston or from across "the Potomac River."

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If someone reading this has been to Gaujillo and Taqueria Poblano and liked them (as I have) then my comments will have value.  But for those who much prefer the Riverdales places my opinions will fall short.

And yes, there are some people on this and other boards who, when they really like a restaurant, have a great deal of meaning to me and how soon I will eat there.

Okay, want to know something embarrassing? I looked at my bank statement. I was at Guajillo seven times in the last 42 days (In my life, I've probably been 50, maybe more). And I went to Taquieria Poblano for a late lunch on Sunday (and decided that I need to book the place and throw a party...because I can invite anybody and they’ll be down with it). Guajillo's ambiance is better than decent (have you seen? They redesigned the bar and it's sleek), I adore the staff, I like certain dishes on certain nights, but lately it hasn't been great. Some dishes, like the fish tacos and my old favorite, the carnitas, have been really dry and flavorless on a number of occasions. I think Taqueria Poblano is great for what it is. It's dirt cheap for the amount of fun and food you can get for under $30 (even with drinks). I like those places better than Riverdale. But it has to do with convenience, as well as comfort. I wouldn’t feel safe out there by myself, particularly after dark and physically, I rather put my energy into a flight to LA. Plus, I have faith in the freshness at Poblano and Guajillo because I go there and see the volume of guests and what's selling. So...If anyone wants to argue about Guajillo, I'll happily moderate.

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Okay, want to know something embarrassing? I looked at my bank statement. I was at Guajillo seven times in the last 42 days (In my life, I've probably been 50, maybe more).  And I went to Taquieria Poblano for a late lunch on Sunday (and decided that I need to book the place and throw a party...because I can invite anybody and they’ll be down with it).  Guajillo's ambiance is better than decent (have you seen? They redesigned the bar and it's sleek), I adore the staff, I like certain dishes on certain nights, but lately it hasn't been great. Some dishes, like the fish tacos and my old favorite, the carnitas, have been really dry and flavorless on a number of occasions. I think Taqueria Poblano is great for what it is. It's dirt cheap for the amount of fun and food you can get for under $30 (even with drinks). I like those places better than Riverdale. But it has to do with convenience, as well as comfort.  I wouldn’t feel safe out there by myself, particularly after dark and  physically, I rather put my energy into a flight to LA. Plus, I have faith in the freshness at Poblano and Guajillo because I go there and see the volume of guests and what's selling.  So...If anyone wants to argue about Guajillo, I'll happily moderate.

Thanks, Meaghan. I really like both of these, too. No, they are not as good as the best or perhaps not even the better of Southern CA, Albuquerque or El Paso. But for D. C. they really shine. And, I LOVE the ambience of Guajillo. To me it FEELS like a funky cafe just across the border in Juarez or Tijuana. At La Serenita there were some very dishes especially the chilis rellanos among others. It actually reminds me of a good mom and pop type of place that you would find in say, Lubbock or Amarillo or parts of L. A. Still, the best mom and pop places in these cities are, I think, better to much better. In truth they are also very different from Taqueria Poblano, a bit less so than Guajillo.

Anyway, I'm glad we have all of them. They all represent a step-a large step-in the right direction for the D. C. area. I personally just prefer the two Arlington (and Mt. Vernon avenue) restaurants to those in Riverdale.

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The chips are fresh, the salsa complex and roasty, all and all a great start to the meal. For my main course, I had chicken with three different moles. The traditional brown mole tasted exactly as a good mole should... chocolately and earthy at the same time. The green mole was my favorite, spicy but creamy. The red mole was special too. I'd order this dish again if I haven't eaten in days... it is huge!

My friend ordered shrimp and goat cheese enchiladas. They were good too. In fact the shrimp were plump and plentiful.

I made my first visit to Guajillo for dinner early this week - I've had drinks a couple times, but never a meal. Coincidentally, the items my friend and I ordered mirrored NCPinDC's post exactly. And my thoughts on the meal are pretty close to what she had to say. The "Mole Mole Mole" was very good - three huge pieces of chicken breast, each covered/cooked with a different variety of mole sauce (verde, poblano and negro de Oaxaca). All three were delicious - the poblano may have been my favorite by a narrow margin. I was told it included such unexpected [eta - to me - i'm sure they are traditional to the recipe] ingredients as peanuts, mango, and sesame seeds. The dish was accompanied by a simple rice with mixed vegetables, marinated red onions, and a salsa/chutney of sorts that I believe consisted of beets, pineapple, and maybe a few other things rendered unidentifiable by the fine dice and the redness from the beets. I made 2 more meals out of the leftovers if that gives any idea of the portion size.

I didn't try my friend's shrimp and goat cheese enchiladas, but he wasted no time in maintaining his membership in the "clean plate club" so I assume they were very good.

We also had an "El Burron" (king of Wilson Blvd burrito) sighting. Good lord! That thing is the size of a VERY large beef tenderloin. The guy who ordered it made pretty good work of it, polishing off about 80% but declining to take the leftovers with him.

There was a little rush when we arrived around 7:45, a pretty good crowd for a Monday. The dishes were a bit on the slow side coming out, but not enough to be a problem as we were enjoying the very good creamy/chunky guacamole along with the thin and crispy tortilla chips. I'll be back...

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Oddly enough when we ended up at Guajillo (tonight) we ordered the same thing. I had read the thread and was intrigued by the Mole 3 ways already, but my +1 chose the Shrimp and Goat Cheese Enchilada all on her own without reading the thread and without me suggesting it. I'll have to say, we enjoyed the food very much. Both dishes have been described above so I won't go into that much detail. The enchiladas were smooth, creamy, and the shrimp nicely cooked. The moles were very good, with my personal favorite probably being the Mole Pablano because of the earthy notes. The tortilla chips were crispy and light, and the salsa fresh and with a bit of a kick.

Which brings us to problem #1 we had. When we walked in were told that we could wait around 20 minutes for a table inside or be seated right then at a table outside. It was a hot evening, but after a brief deliberation we chose to sit outside as we wanted to try and make a movie. We were fairly promptly brought over the chips and salsa... and then left alone for 10 minutes or so. Coupled with the hot salsa and the fact that we were sitting outside, the lack of water was not pleasant. Once the waiter finally came over and asked us for our drink order it did appear fairly quickly and we ordered then. Waiter shows back up after the food is ready and brings it to us. He checked in, I believe, once more during the dinner to refill our water and to get me a second drink. My +1 had wanted another drink but since the meal was almost over she decided against it. Drink shows up and the waiter disappears for a good 20-30 minutes or so, which was easily 15-20 minutes after we had finished. Once the waiter showed back up and asked if we were finished, I thought to myself "Yes, we've been done for 15 or 20 minutes, sitting outside in the heat, with no water or anything else to drink because you haven't been outside in that long" which came out as "Yes."

The food was somewhere between good and great, the service was somewhere between poor and horrible. I'm always willing to try a place again, especially if it's not that expensive ($60 for 2 entrees and 3 drinks after tax but before tip) so I'm sure we'll go back some time. But we're definitely going to make sure to sit inside if it's warm/hot because who knows if they'll make it outside to refill the water glasses.

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I'd prepared myself for having to search for this thread to post my own review, but it appears treznor and I were there concurrently!

It took us a while to find parking, which was odd since I'd never had a problem in that lot before. We walked by RTS, and I gazed longingly at the empty tables, hoping that St. Michael would materialize like the phantom bartender in the "Shining," offering me a delectable house special in exchange for doing a Johnny Carson impression while chopping through a door.

But we continued on to Guajlllo (which is a LOT more fun to pronounce gwa-JILL-O). I don't know anything about authentic Mexican cuisine, but I do know that the food we had was delicious and that I don't think I've ever enjoyed Mexican food that much.

For me there are two types of food. There's the kind where you are meant to taste each distinct ingredient one at a time and let them reach magical synergy inside your mouth (like a really well-topped hamburger) - Type I. With this type, it's all about the quality of the ingredients and each individual component's preparation. The second type involves the complex combination of flavors in the pot (like a really good chili). Here, it's all about culinary wizardry and how each ingredient gives up part of itself to become a brand new whole - Type II.

I'm used to "Mexican" food being of the former type. Things like fajitas where each ingredient stands on itsown. Guajillo introduced me to Mexican of the second type, and I must say I was blown away. The salsa, which contained things I had no hope of identifying, was my first encounter. It tasted great, but was a little on the HOT side. Me, I LOVE hot, but I was surprised that they'd be serving such a spicy salsa to what looked like your typical mild Arlington crowd.

We started with the tamales de juana (chipotle and chicken tamales). I can never figure out if you're supposed to scoop the stuff out or eat the corn husks with it. I opted for the former. I couldn't taste much of the chipotle, but maybe that's because I'm not used to real chipotle. Regardless, what we had was an exciting blend of spice. The chicken felt very soft on the palate, which made for an interesting contrast with the heat.

I got the tacos de Borrego (lamb with stuff). I don't know who "Borrego" was, but he knew how to make a hell of a good taco. I was again blown away by the synergy of all the exotic flavors and spices (Type II cooking). The taco shell was halfway between hard and soft, with just the right balance of texture and oil.

I hate beans, but as you know my measure of a good restaurant is one that can serve me a food I dislike and have me love it. Guajillo's beans were musical fruit to my taste buds.

My fiancee had the beef tacos, which were also excellent, although I was a bit insulted when she insinuated that they approached the deliciousness of MY tacos on the tastometer. Each bite was juicy, and the unique spices and chile flavors that oozed out tasted different each time.

My first complaint about the service was the lack of attention to our water glasses - unfortunate indeed given the capsaicinic nature of our comestibles. Although, one time a waiter DID notice me chomping on ice and literally leapt into action.

The second service issue was partly (but only barely) our fault. Used to a more tex-mex experience, we ordered some cheese, pico de gallo, guac, and sour cream to go on our tacos. A highly gauche faux pas in a restaurant that's not Chili's or Don Pablo's, I know, but it was our first time at a place like this. It took at least fifteen minutes for these routine toppings to reach our table.

The third was when our bill came. Despite no mention of this on the menu or by our server, we were charged between $2.50 and $3.75 EACH for the four toppings we ordered. I've never been charged extra for these items at other Mexican places I've dined (granted, none were particularly high class or authentic), and even so I'd no more expect to be charged extra for sour cream at a Mexican place than I'd expect to be charged extra for parmesan at an Italian place.

Despite the three service-oriented mishaps of the evening, the food was amazing enough for Guajillo to find a spot in my "rotation" (such that it is). So if you're by RTS on a Sunday or Monday and the CRAVING sets in, Guajillo is a great place to go nurse your wounds until Ray's opens on Tuesday.

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Oddly enough, we had no problem parking that evening and when I found what I typically consider to be a primo spot (about half a block away prior to the restaurants) I laughed a bit when I saw no less than three spots in the restaurant parking lot itself.

Over the last few days I've found myself thinking about the mole pablano and it's yumminess. I'll be returning sometime soon, but hopefully the service was a one-time blip as the food is probably the only memorable mexican food I've ever had.

So, Guajillo has good food, Ray's everyone on the board knows of I'm sure, Pho 75 is supposed to have good pho (which I've never tried as I don't like anise at all and I've heard that is a very prevalant spice in pho). Has anyone tried Village Bistro? Is it on par with the rest of this crazy-good strip of restaurants?

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on the board knows of I'm sure, Pho 75 is supposed to have good pho (which I've never tried as I don't like anise at all and I've heard that is a very prevalant spice in pho). Has anyone tried Village Bistro? Is it on par with the rest of this crazy-good strip of restaurants?
Never been to Pho 75. I went to Village Bistro years ago, and I recall it being pretty good, but defintely light years behind its neighbors. The blackest sheep of the strip mall.
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In my experience, there can be a slight service difference at Guajillo between dining inside and on the patio. When I've been inside, asking for extra cheese or more chips happens muy rapido. Outside, well, you can just sit there smelling the wafted breeze of the garlic from Ray's for a while.

My favorite so far has been the Mole Mole Mole, as well, so I'm glad to see some agreement on that. I'm waiting for an opportunity to try the King burro; I have to find a reason to need two days worth of fuel in my belly.

As to Pho 75, it's really, really good. Best pho I've had in the area. Granted, it seems to have my old high school cafeteria tables on the inside, but you do get a lot of soup for your money. For example, it's better than Minh's, Viet Garden, anything I've had in Eden Center, and the two other Pho 75s I've been to.

Hunter S. Thompson created the original plan for this particular stripmall, shortly before he died. He would start at Ray's with a cowboy cut, wander over to Greenberry's for a quadruple espresso, rub Guajillo salsa and Pho 75 hot sauce into his eyes so he could crash through the front window of Village Bistro spouting obscenities in French, then pick himself up to stagger into the ABC store with one of the Friday night belly dancers from Cafe Poulet dousing him in vodka from plastic bottles. He used to light himself on fire and chase yuppies, screaming "I am the dragon Tiamat and your toes all belong to Tiamat now. GIVE TIAMAT YOUR TOES!"

I miss him... what a great strip mall, too.

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Hunter S. Thompson created the original plan for this particular stripmall, shortly before he died. He would start at Ray's with a cowboy cut, wander over to Greenberry's for a quadruple espresso, rub Guajillo salsa and Pho 75 hot sauce into his eyes so he could crash through the front window of Village Bistro spouting obscenities in French, then pick himself up to stagger into the ABC store with one of the Friday night belly dancers from Cafe Poulet dousing him in vodka from plastic bottles. He used to light himself on fire and chase yuppies, screaming "I am the dragon Tiamat and your toes all belong to Tiamat now. GIVE TIAMAT YOUR TOES!"

I miss him... what a great strip mall, too.

The wrecked auto remnants at Ray's finally makes perfect sense! :)

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Having frequented Guajillo since it was harder to get a table in there then in Ray's, I have a comment to add. I always enjoyed the food and have no complaints there.

My comment goes more toward the service and attitude since Ray's went through the roof. I understand the pressure of being a sort of overflow place at times, but don't take it out on me. Please don't tell me you won't seat me until my entire part is there, when the one other person in my party was just standing right next to me, just spoke to you to ask how long, gave his name, and said I'll be right back I have to use the rest room. And then proceed to give the two open 2 tops away and make us wait for 35 minutes for another. On a separate occassion, please don't hover over my table, bring my check, and start moving chairs around for the next party WHILE someone in my party has not finished their meal. In general, please remember that there are patrons who come to your restaurant because we enjoy the food and want to eat there and not because the wait at Ray's is too long.

Notwithstanding, their top shelf margarita does the body good. :) So after one or two of these, I usually don't care about the service anyway....

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"My comment goes more toward the service and attitude since Ray's went through the roof. I understand the pressure of being a sort of overflow place at times..."

"Having frequented Guajillo since it was harder to get a table in there then in Ray's..."

My problem with this board is that Guajillo is not an overflow place for anybody. It IS the best Mexican restaurant in the 6.3 million population D. C. area and this board continuing to think of it like this really bothers me. There are many people who go to Guajillo who could care less about Ray's the Steaks. In its own way Guajillo is every bit as good as Ray's. I am certain that the owner feels this way and shares the same pride in their restaurant as Landrum does in his restaurant. Forgive me but it is really outrageous that this board seems to refuse to give an outstanding locally owned restaurant the due it deserves. We are fortunate that the owner (s) of Guajillo chose to open a restaurant here. Appreciate it. Accept it. And go elsewhere for your glass of wine before dinner at Ray's the Steaks. Guajillo is worth the trip from Reston, Germantown or Manassas. On its own. Not as Ray's the Steaks cocktail lounge.

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The "Mole Mole Mole" was very good - three huge pieces of chicken breast, each covered/cooked with a different variety of mole sauce (verde, poblano and negro de Oaxaca). All three were delicious - the poblano may have been my favorite by a narrow margin....I'll be back...
I'll have to say, we enjoyed the food very much.
I don't know anything about authentic Mexican cuisine, but I do know that the food we had was delicious and that I don't think I've ever enjoyed Mexican food that much.
My favorite so far has been the Mole Mole Mole, as well, so I'm glad to see some agreement on that. I'm waiting for an opportunity to try the King burro; I have to find a reason to need two days worth of fuel in my belly.
I always enjoyed the food and have no complaints there.
"My comment goes more toward the service and attitude since Ray's went through the roof. I understand the pressure of being a sort of overflow place at times..."

"Having frequented Guajillo since it was harder to get a table in there then in Ray's..."

My problem with this board is that Guajillo is not an overflow place for anybody. It IS the best Mexican restaurant in the 6.3 million population D. C. area and this board continuing to think of it like this really bother

Neither comment you quoted compared Gaujillo to Ray's when it comes to food, service or quality. You will note that EVERY post that discusses the food in the past three days praises the food. Yes, you think that it IS the best Mexican restaurant in the area, and apparently people agree with you when it comes to the food. Service complaints are going to happen no matter what restaurant it is located next to if they are legit complaints. These sound like they are. At least in my opnion anyway...

For what it's worth, I enjoyed my virgin outing to Guajillo immensley. It's been a while so I can't remember the details of the meal, but I do remember that I understood why people felt it was such a great restaurant.

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"My comment goes more toward the service and attitude since Ray's went through the roof. I understand the pressure of being a sort of overflow place at times..."

"Having frequented Guajillo since it was harder to get a table in there then in Ray's..."

My problem with this board is that Guajillo is not an overflow place for anybody. It IS the best Mexican restaurant in the 6.3 million population D. C. area and this board continuing to think of it like this really bothers me. There are many people who go to Guajillo who could care less about Ray's the Steaks. In its own way Guajillo is every bit as good as Ray's. I am certain that the owner feels this way and shares the same pride in their restaurant as Landrum does in his restaurant. Forgive me but it is really outrageous that this board seems to refuse to give an outstanding locally owned restaurant the due it deserves. We are fortunate that the owner (s) of Guajillo chose to open a restaurant here. Appreciate it. Accept it.

In my experience Guajillo's food has been consistently great. I've found their service consistently poor. Examples include asking for more water three times and never getting it, ordering drinks that never come, being very unsubtly rushed out after a little more than an hour. I'll keep going back because I like the food and I don't go there looking for fine dining service, but I'm going to withhold my thanks for its proprietor/management until they start treating their customers better.

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Neither comment you quoted compared Gaujillo to Ray's when it comes to food, service or quality. You will note that EVERY post that discusses the food in the past three days praises the food. Yes, you think that it IS the best Mexican restaurant in the area, and apparently people agree with you when it comes to the food. Service complaints are going to happen no matter what restaurant it is located next to if they are legit complaints. These sound like they are. At least in my opnion anyway...

For what it's worth, I enjoyed my virgin outing to Guajillo immensley. It's been a while so I can't remember the details of the meal, but I do remember that I understood why people felt it was such a great restaurant.

"I understand the pressure of being a sort of overflow place at times..." I am addressing comments like this of which there is a common "tone" through this and several other threads. Gaujillo is not "an overflow place" for anyone. Nor is it a lounge for anyone waiting to have dinner elsewhere. It is a restaurant that stands on it's own merit. Obviously, I love it. I just feel that it should be consistently judged on its own merits and not, in part, as "a sort of overflow place..." I admit this has been a rant of mine for a number of months (just look back on this and other threads) but for all of those who forego this restaurant and only have a drink while waiting for a table next door, they are losing the experience of what, for many, is a unique and very personal restaurant that is on par with much of the best of what one would find in El Paso or a border town. Having grown up here and, for years, agitated on other message boards that the D. C. area needs a seriously good Tex Mex/Mexican place like this and now that we have it-well, I'm just not going to let it be a holding area for anyone. Sorry. End of rant. I promise.

By the way-I would do the same for Ray's if it were described as the "overflow place at times" for Guajillo.

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Ray's has nowhere to be the overflow place anyway since they don't have a bar :-) I'll have to admit to stopping in and getting a drink at the bar at Guajillo a couple weeks ago when my parents were in town and I wanted to take them to Ray's but the wait was going to be around an hour. The fact that they had pretty decent margaritas that weren't ridiculously priced (though they're probably the only margaritas I've seen served in a pint glass) pushed me over the edge to come and eat after the good things I'd seen in this thread as well.

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After all this praise I guess I will have to give Guajillo another try. The 2 times that I have had dinner there I was served bone dry chicken breast with mole sauce on top and undercooked rice. Neither experience made me want to return.

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After all this praise I guess I will have to give Guajillo another try. The 2 times that I have had dinner there I was served bone dry chicken breast with mole sauce on top and undercooked rice. Neither experience made me want to return.

My last experience there about a month ago was similar. I had the chicken mole-- dry meat, great sauce. It almost seemed as if the meat and the sauce never met before it was plated (perhaps even made in different restaurants :) ). I like Guajillo, but I have a hard time considering it an exceptional DC area restaurant.

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I definetely agree with Joe H about how Guajillo shouldn't be thought of as an RTS overflow. I absolutely feel that Guajillo can stand on its own, and I would certainly dine there even if RTS weren't next door. Having never had to wait for a table at RTS (I've always gotten there very early), I've never even had occassion to use Guajillo as an "overflow solution."

As for Joe H's comment that "I am certain that the owner feels this way and shares the same pride in their restaurant as Landrum does in his restaurant," I'm not sure I agree here. Yes, the owner must be passionate about the quality of his food, but I don't think "Mr. Guajillo" cares about his customers the same way Michael does. I don't think I've ever wanted for water at RTS, and I've certainly never been overcharged for what should be a complimentary topping. I mean, come on, you're a Mexican restaurant serving food that's VERY spicy relative to what MOST of your clientele is used to - water service should be a top priority*!

Once their service drops the in- from "friendly and inattentive," I think they could be a real first class joint.

*And yes, I'm aware that capsaicin is alcohol soluble and not water soluble - cold water still provides temporary relief, so shush it, Johnny Nipicker.

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Perhaps I should have worded my post better and said overcrowded instead of overflow. Personally I don't think of it as an overflow place. I go there because I want to eat there. I simply meant that since more and more people are going there to eat or stop in as a "Ray's cocktail lounge" because they can't get in Ray's without a wait, that the service and attitude has gone down hill.

I agree it is probably one of the best in the area, sorry Taqueria Poblano gets my #1 vote. The food is excellent and that is why I will continue to go back. And, once again, kudos to the pint-glass sized yummy margaritas.

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The third was when our bill came. Despite no mention of this on the menu or by our server, we were charged between $2.50 and $3.75 EACH for the four toppings we ordered. I've never been charged extra for these items at other Mexican places I've dined (granted, none were particularly high class or authentic), and even so I'd no more expect to be charged extra for sour cream at a Mexican place than I'd expect to be charged extra for parmesan at an Italian place.
the prices might have been a bit high, but I don't understand why you would assume there would be no charge. I've never been to a mexican restuarant that didn't charge extra for guac. Most do charge extra for sour cream, especially if it's ordered extra.
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the prices might have been a bit high, but I don't understand why you would assume there would be no charge. I've never been to a mexican restuarant that didn't charge extra for guac. Most do charge extra for sour cream, especially if it's ordered extra.
It's hard for me to argue with the charges. The QUALITY if the toppings was overwhelming. The cheese was of artisinal quality, the pico de gallo was vibrant, and the guac was creamy and flavorful rather than mushy, pasty, and bland.
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Holy mole! who knew people felt so strongly about Guajillo???

I admit my bias and say that I probably eat out here more than any other place, because 1) it's good, 2) it's close and 3) we don't eat out that much anyway.

I've never-never- had bad service and never had anything other than excellent (to me) grub. Especially when accompanied by a pitcher of patron margaritas. Skip the chicken mole and try the lamb tacos.

As for Ray's next door, if people are waiting for RTS, want a drink and go next door, so what? How does Guajillo not benefit from this arrangement? Who cares? gee whiz.

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I've been to Guajillo once, for a margarita before one of the DR.com dinners at Ray's the Steaks. The food looked fine but its distance from the city and my car-lessness meant I was unlikely to give it a proper try.

All the chatter from the the last few days has made me want to make the trek down the hill from the Courthouse metro, even in this extreme heat.

And now I've discoved their cute little website. It seems like it's going to be easy to like this place.

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I've been to Guajillo once, for a margarita before one of the DR.com dinners at Ray's the Steaks. The food looked fine but its distance from the city and my car-lessness meant I was unlikely to give it a proper try.

All the chatter from the the last few days has made me want to make the trek down the hill from the Courthouse metro, even in this extreme heat.

And now I've discoved their cute little website. It seems like it's going to be easy to like this place.

Go for the daily specials! Almost without exception they are Gaujillo's strength.

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i have not been here for a good year and used to drop in quite often.

this restaurant used to be consistently good. unfortunately, that was not the case the last three times we went there. the food and service were very hit and miss. the chicken in the mole was woefully dry the last time i ordered it, and it sounds from some posts above that you can still get it dry. you could have made a belt out of the chorizo and, who knows, maybe they made it out of a belt. the ceviche was like a pond that had been fished out -- it contained only flecks of fish.

i want to go back, and i have had some really good food here some time ago, but my wife refuses to accompany me. i know that you can still get a fairly decent meal if you tread carefully through the menu, but she is far more unforgiving than i am. she would tell you: never, ever order the scallops. the memory of those may never fade. they were barely cooked with a strange, unpleasant chemical taste. this is the kind of food that begs the question, swallow or spit? and it was a special, so was the mole, so unless the pendulum has swung back, way back, ordering the specials is not a safe guarantee that you will always land something good here.

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Go for the daily specials! Almost without exception they are Gaujillo's strength.
I have to question whether these are really "specials" - the section on the menu where the Mole is listed seemed like a pretty permanent thing. Do they every actually change? Or would they more accurately be called "featured items" or "house specialties"? To me, calling them 'daily specials' implies that they change on a daily or frequent basis, and it doesn't sound like this happens here.
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My wife and I had dinner at Guajillo about two weeks ago. We each had a special, in particular a scallop entree for my wife. Each was excellent with the scallops being described by her as "delicious." Both were, indeed, specials since they were not on the menu and recited by the server. Mole is not a special, at least not the mole which is printed. Ceviche, as before, was very good. (I should also note that Coastal Flats has a good ceviche, too). I should also note that after our Sunday visit my wife went back with several others from her office (she works in Ballston) and they all enjoyed Guajillo.

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My wife and I frequent Guajillo for three very important reasons. I will list them for all of you to enjoy and learn from.

1) We would rather spend or dollars at a locally-owned joint than at Don Pablo's or Rio Grande.

2)Every time we have eaten at Guajillo's, we have been served DEE-LISH-OUS food and drinks by attentive, and polite staff.

3)This might be the most important part so, please pay attention here, the carnitas at this place are fan-freaking-tastic. They are deeply flavored, with hints of cumin and cinnamon,fall-apart-on-your-plate tender, and served with a yummy quesadilla constructed with gooey quesillo and earthy huitlacoche.

That is all.

Thanks and goodnight! :)

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So there are specials other than the section of the menu called "Specials"? The only time I was there the server didn't go over any specials at all.
Me neither - hence my question. Maybe it depends on the day of the week - I was there on a Monday. I'll be sure to ask next time, if they aren't offered.
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