My wife and I absolutely love to travel. So far this year we’ve been to Cancun and Washington D.C. twice. In addition to our trip together, I took a ski trip to Vermont. As much as we love to travel, see new things, meet new people, and experience different cultures (yes, D.C. is a different culture from NYC, though not as drastically as say, the South African Wine Country, or Cartagena), probably our favorite parts of our trips is experiencing new food or alcohol. We tend to build our experiences, memories, and stories around the food that we eat, the different restaurants or vendors that we buy from, and the kinds of meals that we are served.
It’s common for us to say to one another: “I can’t wait to go back to that hole-in-the-wall restaurant in San Juan!” or “We really need to schedule a trip back to Puerto Vallarta and get some more of that amazing Tequila!” And every time we schedule a trip to a new place, we look for the local foods and the artisan alcohols that we will be trying when we get there!
Our trip to Washington D.C. was no exception to that pattern. Although, the “local food options” tended to be more midtown Manhattan prices, rather than hole-in-the-wall Puerto Rico prices… The food that we went out of our way to eat turned out to be every bit as good as you could expect from a pricey place! Here are the two restaurants that we prioritized, and the meals that we had while we were there.
The place was packed! And we planned out trip too close to the weekend to be able to reserve a table, which was unfortunate. We know that some of the time, the higher quality restaurants choose not to allow a reservation for all of their tables, keeping a few available for walk-in guests, which is great practice. So we decided to walk in, and see if we could get lucky. Unfortunately, the hostess told us that there was approximately a 2.5 hour wait for tables, which tells me that they chose to allow reservations for all tables that night (not good practice – managers should always allow for some walk-in business!). Disheartened, we started to head out the door when a good-natured local grabbed me and pulled me aside. He whispered to me that (Insider tip!) the bar tables rarely fill up, and that they will serve the full restaurant menu at a bar table. As luck would have it, the local was spot on, we got our seats at a bar-table with a full view of the restaurant floor, and a very intelligent and witty server! It couldn’t have been better! And best of all: The food was amazing!
- Filet Mignon Tartar (so amazing, I forgot to take a picture!)
- 48-hour Stewed Beef Short Ribs (third of the above pictures)
- Rotisserie Chicken (second of above pictures)
This was on Sunday night, so seating was not an issue at all. We were meeting some friends there, who were amazingly good dinner company! Since we were meeting our friends, we decided to head over just a little bit early and try out some of the appetizers and rum. Boy are we glad we did! The servers were excellent, and very knowledgeable about their food and drinks (and the rum list was over 100 rums, so you need to know a lot!). We ordered the 10-year anniversary rum flight, where they had a 2-shot taster for 3 different rums: a 10-year, a 15-year, and a 21-year (is there a legal drinking age for rums?). They were amazing! The 10-year had great flavor, some spice, and that characteristic buttery rum aftertaste which was excellent! It also had a bit more bite to it than I would have expected from a 10-year rum; but knowing that it was meant for serious aging, I was perfectly happy with the flavor! The 15-year was so smooth I wanted to buy a bottle! The vanilla flavor, slight hint of rum-caramel sweetness, and the easy even aftertaste was amazing! And finally the 21-year… I think I will withhold the review on that. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you!!
The most impressive thing about the Cuba Libre restaurant is that the hostess will ask you, before seating you, which food allergies the server and chef need to be aware of! What an astonishing concept! I would return and patronize them again just because of how impressed I am with that level of consideration and service! And I recommend anyone in the area to do the same!!
- Assorted Meats Platter (picture in the other camera…)
- Yuca Fries with Cilantro Allioli (Pronounced Aioli)
- Grilled Chicken Salad
- Churrasco (Skirt Steak)
- And the Rum Flight