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DonRocks

Don Tito, Gigantic Sports Bar by the Owners of A-Town - In the Former Eventide Building in Clarendon

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Fate: it's one of those words that you know isn't really true. So, what exactly was it that had me at Don Tito yesterday? Bad Luck? Divine Punishment? Did I do something bad in a previous lifetime that I don't know about?

It started when my phone cord gave up the ghost, and the only appointment at the Apple Store was late-afternoon. Afterwards, I had a couple destinations in mind, but when I was driving up Wilson Blvd., there was Don Tito on my right, and open parking spaces on my left. 

Open parking spaces?! What did I do to deserve *that*? I had never been to an A-Team establishment, and wasn't looking forward to ending that honorable streak, but if I don't go, then how can I pretend to have any expertise?

I parked the damned car and went in.

It was exactly as I knew it would be: a sports bar. And when I asked my very pleasant bartender what the second floor was, she said, "They made it into more of a sports bar than this level is." I about spat out my draft of Miller Lite ($3 on the "Football Menu," which is available during all NFL and NCAA games, which I guess is pretty much all weekend).

Miller Lite? Well, look, if I wasn't going to dine well, I was going to dine gently, see?

And since I figured the kitchen was largely Latino, I figured that was the impetus behind the "Flex-Mex" shtick, and so I ordered a pair of tacos since Don Tito pushes "tacos, tequila, and beer." And I was going to dine gently: I stayed vegetarian.

Okay, lemme take a deep breath: I ordered the Fried Avocado with Tomato-Jalapeño Salad Tacos ($8), on soft "corn" tortillas. The avocado was Dos Equis battered, and it came with "cabbage," smoked chili "aïoli," and roasted corn. I was actually thinking of asking them to go light on the smoked chili "aïoli," but it wouldn't have mattered if I had.

The tacos arrived in less than two minutes. What showed up were best described as "cole slaw tacos," each having about an ice-cream scoop worth of industrial, mayonnaise-based cole slaw in it. On top of each was one slice of pre-fried avocado which, in itself, wasn't at all bad. Underneath the avocado were random kernels of corn; I could find no tomato or jalapeño salad. The smoked chili aïoli, as I feared, looked like a squirt bottle had an orgasm. 

Was I going to eat what amounted to industrial cole slaw wrapped in flour corn tortillas, and fill up on probably 800 calories worth of slop?

I used my fork, and picked at the fried avocado, which was clearly fresh at one point, and got about three small bites from each taco. I milled around, looking for the stray corn kernel which hadn't been doused. I broke off a small piece of the tortilla and tried it. I had about five chips from the warm basket of Chips and Salsa (gratis), which wasn't really so bad.

I thanked my bartender, paid my check, and left, having finished my Miller Lite, and having eaten about ten nibbles of food.

Onward.

---

Dining in Clarendon (astrid)

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On 11/30/2015 at 6:18 AM, DonRocks said:

Did I do something bad in a previous lifetime that I don't know about?

On a positive note, you didn't get roofied, which I'd expect is significantly more likely than getting a decent meal.

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I've been to A-Town once. It was one of the most horrific experiences in my life, and I live near Dupont Circle and U Street. 

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Don Tito:   I have a lot of experience and knowledge about places of this ilk, even as I don't go to them as I'm way too old by a factor of at least two generations.  The experience is due to the DC region barschool, as many of our grads have bartended at places of this ilk, including Don Tito.  We have worked to staff up many of these type places.

I guess you describe Don Tito as a cross between a "club" and a sports bar.  Its hugely popular with a certain population and age demographic and the place can get crazy busy with huge volumes. Don Tito has certainly had many killer evenings with big crowds.

I doubt anyone goes for the food.  Okay, I take that back.  Maybe 4 out of 1000 go for the food.  People go to those places for socializing.  The food is secondary.  The operators know it and really the people who go there know it.   There have been endless places like Don Tito in the region for decades.  I doubt any have stood out for the food.

But they get mentioned here and in other restaurant references.  They serve food.  I guess that qualifies them for a reference.  I haven't been to Don Tito so I can't speak to the quality of the tacos, I speak to generally how the Don Tito's of the world and this region operate and how they attract crowds, which has little to do with exquisite food presentation.  Of note though, Don Tito serves a brunch on Sunday's and possibly Saturdays.  Walk by there on a Sunday and look in.  You might very easily see "gray hairs" dining on the first floor.  Maybe the brunch is well done.  Frankly I wouldn't know. I haven't eaten there.

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On 12/2/2015 at 7:58 AM, jdc said:

I have been to A-Town. I survived, but I am not proud of it.

Hey, man, we *all* went to college bars with only one goal in mind (okay, two). The first was a lock; the second, a delusion - an insidious delusion that consumed untold amounts of time, money, and pride when amortized over an entire college "education."

The substitute when the second failed, which it always did? Hardee's, or whatever late-night nastiness *your* college town had as its excuse for whiffing.

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On 12/1/2015 at 7:15 PM, RWBooneJr. said:

But ... they have a four star rating on Yelp!

On 12/1/2015 at 11:45 AM, DaveO said:

I doubt anyone goes for the food.

@ Rich:   Ha ha.  Simply I wrote what I wrote, simply because there are lots of places in this region that could easily get "slammed here" for the food.  Okay...they serve food...but that is not there main purpose, nor why people go there.

So  Rich:  Do you think the Yelp reviews are real reviews or the kind of "code" one might have had in college....  "oooh   that was a 10 star night...and the tacos were scrumptious".   you know what I mean.   In fact Don references that above.  

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Hey, man, we *all* went to college bars with only one goal in mind (okay, two). The first was a lock; the second, a delusion - an insidious delusion that consumed untold amounts of time, money, and pride when amortized over an entire college "education."

In fact I scanned the reviews on yelp.  The more recent one's tend to the lower scale.  That must mean the earlier one's were great.  BTW:  one recent yelper complained they were serving drinks in plastic cups.  That is the essence of clubs.   (It sure cuts down on broken glassware).   Compare that to elegant stemware, exquisite table service, or carefully crafted cocktails with top ingredients and presentation.  

It just doesn't compute.  

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On 12/2/2015 at 9:09 AM, DonRocks said:

Hey, man, we *all* went to college bars with only one goal in mind (okay, two). The first was a lock; the second, a delusion - an insidious delusion that consumed untold amounts of time, money, and pride when amortized over an entire college "education."

The substitute when the second failed, which it always did? Hardee's, or whatever late-night nastiness *your* college town had as its excuse for whiffing..

I wish I was in college when it happened, and I really wish that was the excuse.

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On 12/2/2015 at 1:08 PM, DaveO said:

BTW: one recent yelper complained they were serving drinks in plastic cups. That is the essence of clubs. (It sure cuts down on broken glassware). Compare that to elegant stemware, exquisite table service, or carefully crafted cocktails with top ingredients and presentation.

I'm pretty sure my Miller Lite draft came in a glass glass.

Maybe they saw me for the suave, debonair, Aristrocrat that I am. :)

I was just updating the Dining Guide (yes, there actually *is* a place ranked lower in Clarendon than Don Tito), and noticed that if you pronounce their Twitter handle, @dontitova, with the proper Spanish accent (or Italian, it doesn't matter), it sounds like a New Yorkah saying:

"Don't eat ovah."

It sucks being hated, but not by them.

My God, this place used to be Eventide. :(

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On 12/26/2015 at 2:49 PM, DonRocks said:

I'm pretty sure my Miller Lite draft came in a glass glass.

Maybe they saw me for the suave, debonair, Aristrocrat that I am. :)

......................................................

My God, this place used to be Eventide. :(

LOL:  If they served you with a glass it had to be they were thinking of you as an aristocrat...but maybe as a "grayhead" that they were trying to occasionally attract during brunches or early before the crowds come.

Alternatively speaking of Aristocrat....their headache inducing low quality cr@p serves as the rail booze for many a bar in this area and elsewhere.

Way back I used to occasionally deal with bars and clubs like this in commercial real estate.  More recently for staffing on behalf of the bar school.  All I can say is that food has never been a priority at any one of these type places that I can think of...ever.   They are great places for "socializing", music, scoring, etc.  or one step removed from fraternity houses for those that recall college.   

Back to the glassware issue.  I've recently been "educated" a bit to what replacing glassware and stemware can run a better quality restaurant.  Its ENORMOUS.  I had no idea.  Breakage is crazy.  We've run barschools in this area and elsewhere for years, constantly replacing glassware...but its nominal in our "world".  Big difference in quality restaurants.  A vendor gave me an idea as to the volume of replacement costs for a larger quality group of restaurants.  E.N.O.R.M.O.U.S.  I simply had no idea.

Now back to those clubs and real real high volume bars.  All that booze.  All those crowds, all those drunks.  They have to use plastic cups.  or the worlds sturdiest most unbreakable steins.  Anything else would be financially CRAZY let alone all that broken glass on the floor.  Dangerous!!!!!

So if you got glassware at Don Tito....hmmmm   they must have thought you were a direct and close relation to the Queen of England (or more importantly and relevantly--A Kardashian).  I bet they bring out the exclusive stemware for the Kardashians!!!  ;)

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Don Tito to Host Taco Eating Contest, by ARLnow.com — December 1, 2016 at 3:30 pm

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Said Taco King will receive a $150 Don Tito gift card and a championship belt. The second and third place winners will, respectively, get a $100 gift card and a $50 gift card.

So it appears that the prize for eating the most tacos is a gift card.... to eat more tacos.

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Caps first local victory party was on the Don Tito rooftop

(Many parties to follow)

B4E17E50-56CC-4EF9-9259-B10F987AA566.png

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