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Banana Cafe & Piano Bar - Casual Cuban, Pan-Latino, and Tex-Mex on Barracks Row - Closed


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Yes the general consensus here is that Banana Cafe on Captiol Hill is crap...so why start a thread you ask, because there is new found proof that even crappy restaurants can produce a good dish and I have found that dish at Banana Cafe: The plantain quesadilla!

The tortilla was perfectly golden brown and crisp, the plantains meltingly soft and delicious...a light smear of sour cream set it all off.

Conversely the stuffed yuca with chorizo, carrots and olives off the "tapas" menu was a disgusting mess.

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I usually like their cheese enchiladas, (or I used to) but I've stopped going back after a couple of experiences with the environment not being conducive to a pleasant meal. I've never tried the plantain quesadillas, but given that the last couple of times I was there I was by myself because my husband doesn't like to go there at all, it's doubtful that I'll stop by to try them. (I was the holdout who kept insisting on going back, but after the last couple of visits :blink:...)

ETA: I've always liked their chips. The salsa's a little too thin for me, but I also think that's pretty good.

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Ahhhh, memories....

Banana Cafe wasn't always crappy.

When moved to DC almost 10 years ago, I was living in a $400/month basement apartment which was located across the street from the super sketchy One-Stop market (which is now the 7-11). The bar upstairs at Banana was always a pleasant mix of friendly locals and queer people. It was like an oasis in my otherwise blaaaahhhh neighborhood. The dining room was always packed on the weekends. And the fajitas (which were deeeelicious) were half-priced on Mondays! This was perfect for a 20-year old temp like me who would manage to spend almost all of her "play money" at Buzz and Tracks on the weekends.

When 8th street started gentrifying a few years ago is when Banana Cafe really started to go downhill. From what I can see, their menu is more "Tex-Mex" now, and the times that I've been to the bar it has been filled with tourists. Do they still have $2 margarita happy hour?

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When 8th street started gentrifying a few years ago is when Banana Cafe really started to go downhill. From what I can see, their menu is more "Tex-Mex" now, and the times that I've been to the bar it has been filled with tourists. Do they still have $2 margarita happy hour?
What was the name before it was Banana Cafe? Actually, I think it might have gone through two name changes before becoming Banana Cafe. There was an earlier incarnation I really liked, and it was pretty good when it first became Banana Cafe. I recall them having Cuban and other Latin food that was pretty impressive.

The best Tex-Mex I ever had on the Hill was at Zapatas, upstairs at Mr. Henry's. I loved the food there.

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It's been called Banana Cafe since it opened at least 10-15 years ago. When it first opened 8th street was a wasteland for decent, let alone good food. Banana Cafe was a pleasant surprise. They served some of the best fried calamari around with a wonderful mango dipping sauce. And their mango margaritas, which were a novelty at the time, were a great way to start an evening. But that was years ago. There was hope that with the rise of Barracks Row the food would improve, but so far it hasn't happened.

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It's been called Banana Cafe since it opened at least 10-15 years ago. When it first opened 8th street was a wasteland for decent, let alone good food. Banana Cafe was a pleasant surprise. They served some of the best fried calamari around with a wonderful mango dipping sauce. And their mango margaritas, which were a novelty at the time, were a great way to start an evening. But that was years ago. There was hope that with the rise of Barracks Row the food would improve, but so far it hasn't happened.
The restaurant that was there before it served the same type of food. There seemed to be continuity when it changed name and, I guess, ownership. It's getting to me now that I can't remember the name of the old place.
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Closing December 16, 2017.

I haven't been here in probably at least a decade. Even at its best, the food was mostly mediocre, and after one too many salt bomb entrees and crappy margaritas, I gave it up. Sure, it was iconic on Barracks Row for being one of the few places that had a bit of style, well before the recent renewal, but that wore out long, long ago. Still, this is a prime location, and it will be interesting to see who takes it over; here's hoping its not a chain or another Xavier Cervera joint. Maybe a new outpost for Bindaas? Capitol Hill could use a really good Indian restaurant.

 

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On 12/4/2017 at 10:13 AM, Tujague said:

Closing December 16, 2017.

I haven't been here in probably at least a decade. Even at its best, the food was mostly mediocre, and after one too many salt bomb entrees and crappy margaritas, I gave it up. Sure, it was iconic on Barracks Row for being one of the few places that had a bit of style, well before the recent renewal, but that wore out long, long ago. Still, this is a prime location, and it will be interesting to see who takes it over; here's hoping its not a chain or another Xavier Cervera joint. Maybe a new outpost for Bindaas? Capitol Hill could use a really good Indian restaurant.

It's been even longer than a decade here - but the place was home to one of my favorite memories from my daughter's early years.  At about three years of age (yeah parenting!) we attended a birthday dinner followed by drinks in the piano bar upstairs.  My daughter was really feeling the piano bar karaoke/sing-along and by a couple hours in had the entire room chanting her name while she danced on the dais.  

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