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Alero, Mediogre Tex-Mex in Three Locations


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I wandered in to Alero tonight. I hadn't heard much and didn't have terribly high expectations. It's a restaurant that, unlike other U St restaurants, (from Ooohs & Aaahs to Tabaq Bistro to Busboys & Poets to Al Crostino) I haven't been to and has not been the topic of much web chatter. Still, I went in hoping for a delicious meal and to sing the restaurant's praises.

The ambience was urban hip and it was definitely bustling for a Wednesday. To me, it felt like a place to grab a rail margarita after work and bicker about mid-tempo lounge DJs. That is to say a fine scene, just not my scene. Still, it clearly sang to some (or many) people.

Debatable (though unequivocally popular) ambience aside, the food was disappointing. The mixed fajitas (I ordered beef and shrimp) amounted to an under-seasoned cup of 40-count and a few squirrelly strips of cow. The veggies (onions, green & red peppers) were as much steamed as grilled, and there wasn't any heat to speak of. I feel like a grilled jalapeno isn't too much to ask. I mean, Popeye’s will give you one for $.29. Alero, get on board, with or without the biscuits.

Instead, I poured the medium-mild salsa (from the gratis chips and salsa) over my fajitas, just to get a little kick. Beans, cheese, simple rough chopped mild salsa, sour cream and guacamole were provided, though in such small portions (save the beans) that I found them largely irrelevant. In the past month I've had mixed fajitas from both Mixteca and L'oreal Plaza (chicken and beef, not shrimp, and both in the neighborhood). Of the three I would rank Alero's third, which is not to say that the other two represent the pinnacle of Mid-Atlantic Tex-Mex.

On the plus side, Alero's enchilada plate looked both ample and delicious. However, I wasn't able to sample it.

Other annoyances included that they had no printed beer list, but were happy to push the anejo tequilas, and that ordering a glass of vino required input from both a waitress and a manager (or at least some seemingly senior rep) before the correct wine was poured.

I went to Alero on a whim, because the reviews of other U St establishments (Creme, in particular) had been middling. I can't believe I went with the unknown rather than one of the known, albeit here-and-there offerings described on this message board. I've learned my lesson.

¡Dio Mio!

Alex

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isn't there one in Cleveland Park as well - we went years ago and found it to be utterly mediocre in every respect and have never been back

Hey! :) When you're craving salt, on the cheap, the margaritas and chips & salsa fit the bill. Even if you have to salt the chips yourself.

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I can't believe I went with the unknown rather than one of the known, albeit here-and-there offerings described on this message board. I've learned my lesson.

At some point we all have to take one for the team. :)

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isn't there one in Cleveland Park as well - we went years ago and found it to be utterly mediocre in every respect and have never been back

This is our take on the one on Conn. Ave above Dupont Circle. Once was quite enough, thank you.
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I concur: mediocre (and the service at the U Street location is downright bad, from bartender to other waitstaff). Every once and awhile, a friend chooses an Alero location as our meeting point and I go along out of friendship and a desire to avoid being bossy.

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