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La Sandia, Tysons Corner Center - Fourth Location for Colorado-Based Tex-Mex Chain

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Has anyone tried La Sandia yet? It seems to have had a soft opening in the last week. I was thinking of trying it this weekend.

Based on the menu from the Denver location, it seems more casual than Zengo. Hopefully it will be better than Pauli Moto's Asian Bistro, which shouldn't be hard to do.

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Three of us tried it mid-week for lunch. Very disapppointing, esp. hoping for a Border Grill type operation to replace Moto's problem child in the same spot.

Good news: guacamole is excellent. They plan to make it tableside in the future but not now. The chips are decent and the gratis salsa is quite good.

Bad news: entrees were mediocre, half step up from El Palacio fame. Our three entrees were highly recommended by the staff when we asked for their input. Carnitas asada was oily, flavorless, rubbery pork mounded on the plate. Ate a third of the dried out mess and told the waitron it was pretty bad. She shrugged. Salmon was overcooked and tasted as it had been frozen. Chicken enchilada divicidas (sp?) was nothing special served with two touted sauces. Plating included old shredded lettuce, several radish slices, lukewarm rice and refried beans.

The room has all the ambiance of an airport hanger. Loud, characterless and tables bunched together under a tin ceiling which amplifies the noise. Likely a bizzbuzzing bar scene at night but the acoustics made it difficult for conversation, esp. at lunch with the music blaring. Staff was disorganized with different folks dropping by the table but no one refilling iced teas or clearing the dishes unless we asked them to.

I would cut them slack since it is just opening. But La Sandia is definitely not ready for prime time. While the staffing will hopefully sort itself out with management oversight, the food really needs attention.

I won't be back - far better options at Tysons than this.

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Five from my office went this week.

For me, it's a welcome addition since it's within walking distance of my office. The previous poster is correct in characterizing the place as loud.

But I think it's due to all of the trendy dark wood decor. But on the important stuff: the food...

Starters:

Guacamole - Everyone else at the table raved about it. (I don't eat avocado.)

Queso Fundido with Chorizo - Delicious. Served in a small cast iron skillet with flour tortillas. Lost a little in presentation once the skillet cooled and cheese started to solidify...

Mains:

Beef burritos - The two boys at the table ordered this. Both cleared their plates. I'm assuming because it was good, but it could have been just challenge to themselves to not leave any food on the plate...

Steak fajitas - Come with white corn tortillas instead of the standard flour. If ordered with cheese, it comes melted on top.

Enchiladas Divorciadas - Proclaimed good by the Mexican food afficionado at the table. I think the exact quote was, "These make me happy."

I had a combination plate with a chicken enchilada mole, chile relleno and pork taco. I thought the mole was good. I could definitely taste cinnamon and there was noticeable, but not overwhelming, spice. The chile relleno was okay. I actually thought it tasted better the day after. The pork taco had good flavor, but was a little dry, suffering from not enough garnish. What pico de gallo-like garnish was on it was good and tasted fresh though.

Service was enthusiastic and good and drinks were refilled without having to ask. I imagine I'll go back for lunch, since that's the only time in the area. I'd like to check out their margaritas at happy hour sometime. (No happy hour specials or discounts yet but should be coming in the future according to the hostess on our way out.)

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I was at the Tyson's mall today at lunchtime, so I decided to check this place out. Bad move. A big basket of thick warm chips and a mild cooked salsa (meh) were delivered while I perused the menu. I ordered the three taco combination platter, so that I could taste three different meats (chicken tinga, pork al pastor and beef barbacoa), even though it cost quite a bit more (13.99) than the platters of three tacos with one meat (9.99 and 11.99). When I asked the waiter for an explanation, he said it was because the individual servings left them with an uneven amount of the taco fillings at the end of the day (?). When my platter arrived, there were three single 3" corn tortillas with about a tablespoon of meat in each--two were covered with shredded iceberg lettuce and sour cream--a big serving of black beans and some red rice. The rice and beans were hot, but were so salty that after only one bite of each I found them inedible (and I like salt). The shredded beef and chicken were cold, overcooked and dry. Only the pork was something I would consider eating, but it tasted mostly of cinnamon, and there was no pineapple in evidence, which is traditional for al pastor. I had a frank discussion with the manager, who told me that others had complained about the portion sizes and that starting next week, they were switching to 7" tortillas and bigger servings of meat. He offered to have the kitchen fix something else for me, but agreed not to charge me when I told him I had no interest in trying anything else. Ay carramba! More bad Mexican food in DC!

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We tried La Sandia tonight. Ordered the happy hour chips, salsa, and guacamole combo and after powering through that and two Dos Equis Ambers a piece, we were too full to continue on. Although I appreciate a thicker chip, these were not my favorite. Too dense and hard, almost like a cracker. The salsas (verde and roja) were.....weird. Absolutely no spice, an icky cornstarch thickened consistency, and no flavor. The guacamole fared better, but I must say that we had better (bigger chunks, more heat, more citrus to brighten it up) at Sweetwater in Sterling just the other night. We filled up, but weren't feeling too psyched to return soon. The service was also uninspired (had to practically drag the bartenders away from conversing with each other to order another round, and they weren't too enthusiastic about offering menu suggestions), and as many others have said - it was LOUD. A pseudo Latin guitar duo wailing "Mi Corazon" is not exactly what I want at 100 decibels after a long day at the mines.

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My wife wasn't hungry on Friday night and all she wanted were chips and dip so we went to La Sandia. The guacamole was mixed at tableside but it wasn't made at tableside. In any case, it was pretty bland, (they don't use garlic or salt). The chips weren't salted either. The chicken tamale was a little hard and not piping hot (likely microwaved). The duck mole enchiladas were tasty to me. I'm not a fan of thick bitter mole and this mole did not taste like chocolate, more like the brown sauces typically found at Tex-Mex joints. My wife did order the tortilla soup which tasted like a bowl of Swanson's broth with a few pieces of shredded chips and chicken thrown in as an afterthought. I know On the Border isn't authentic and doesn't claim to be but at least they serve tasty food, good portions, and at decent prices.

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How has this place managed to stay in business?

I've obviously had a different experience than others on this board but my wife and I both like this place a lot. The fajitas are good, we like the chips and the brunch menu is pretty solid. It is not as good as Oyamel but holds its own with most tex-mex places in Northern Va (Rio Grande, etc.) and its menu is certainly more ambitious than most. Plus it is not that expensive, in the middle of a popular mall and is very user-friendly/family friendly. Certainly it is as good any any other restaurant in Tyson's Center.

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How has this place managed to stay in business?

Other than the food court, there aren't really any cheaper and better restaurants in that mall. Actually, Neisha Thai is cheaper and better but it's only accessible from outside the mall.

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I had lunch with my wife and daughter at La Sandia yesterday. Not my first choice, given my aversion to eating in malls, but not a ton of good options in Tyson's for a quick lunch so in we went.

Not a terrible experience overall, but clearly nothing to write home about either. Guacamole was ok, it was mixed tableside. Nice consistency but very salty, to the point that it made me really thirsty. Quenched my thirst with a watermelon agua fresca, which was ok but a little weird but maybe just because I wasnt expecting that strong of a watermelon flavor. I liked my wife's strawberry lemonade better. I ordered baja tacos - fried tilapia, with crema and shredded cabbage. Not terrible but far from good - fish was overcooked, cabbage added crunch but crema was bland. Worst part was what seemed to be a store bought tortilla, big turnoff. My wife enjoyed her chicken tinga tacos better but not more than a lukewarm reception there. The rice on the side was pretty good, if a bit dry, but the beans were a bit gloppy and glue-like despite decent flavor.

I guess this is what you get dining in a mall. I set the bar low for this meal and my expectations were barely met.

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We had a nice meal there a few weeks ago. Very child friendly and service was attentive. BLToddler thought the Huitlacoche-Mushroom Quesadillas were the coolest thing. (We did tell him it was like Mexican pizza though.) I don't remember what we had--probably tacos of some sort.

It was one of those unplanned, we've been at the mall far too long, it's past dinner time and somehow as wonderful as our kid is when dining out, trying Inox isn't a good plan so what is the least evil place we can go to at Tysons.

BLToddler has been asking to go back. We certainly would if we found ourselves there again.

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We bought a La Sandia groupon recently and used it Saturday for lunch. My overall impression: it was fine. That's about it. Nothing was really, really good, but nothing was bad either. Well, actually, we did have a lot chips that were stuck together, but whatever. Our waiter was a bit forgetful, but nothing horrible. The kids meals were decent for kids meals. I see others in here praised the guacamole (or ate with people who praised the guacamole). Like everything else, I'd say it was just ok. And am I the only one who doesn't get the whole "made tableside" thing? I mean, who really cares where it's made? I just want it to be good. Am I paying more just because they smash it all up right in front of me? I just don't get it.

Oh, and $3 for a soda? Oof. Is this typical for Tysons/downtown/high-rent-district restaurants? Maybe if they prepared it tableside it would be worth $3....

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Possibly swimming upstream against the tide of public opinion, I had a good meal here on Saturday. The free salsa/chips were darn good - the salsa had a nice smokiness and a bit of heat and the chips were thin, warm and crispy. I had the chicken mole enchiladas. The mole was very good - deep, rich and complex, without the sweetness some folks who don't know how to make a mole throw in to hide the fact that they don't know how to make a mole. The repasado margarita, only $1 more than the traditional, was very good, mixed with a home sour mix made from fresh lemon and lime juice. I won't again order the banana empanada for dessert - it was too small, throwing of the banana/pastry ratio, and it could have used a drizzle of chocolate. But it was only a $3 failure. I also agree that the guacamole is no great shakes - it needed a bit more zing - lime juice, garlic, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, or something. . . All in all, however, I'll be back.

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The chicken tacos were horrible today (dry and bland) - served with a single corn tortilla per taco. The guac wasn't much better - the avocado itself was flavorless.

Trivia - The avocado gets its name from ahuacatl, a Nahuatl word for "testicle."

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Went the other night with a friend. Started out with beer, the chips and salsa. I liked the chips and the salsa was tasty but could have had a bit more bite to it. We were at one of the outside tables so it was easy to carry on a conversation. We decided to stay for dinner. I had the chicken mole. The mole was one of the better ones I have had outside of Mexico. Service was good considering it was a Thursday night and the place was over 3/4 full. Definitely would go back again,

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