July 13, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER
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Tortilla Coast Divides, Conquers

Mark F. Sypher/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Clover Restaurant Group recently opened a new Tortilla Coast location in Logan Circle.

Fish and fruit forge an edible stop light of reddish ahi tuna, tart yellow mango and verdant cubes of buttery avocado, which rises up from a field of mixed greens dampened with cilantro-soy dressing. 

Cheese-drenched enchiladas look great and deliver where it counts (tender wrap, juicy filling) but were sabotaged by cloyingly sweet tomatillo sauce. 

At first blush, the multilayered budin Azteca sounds like a glorified plate of nachos or some sort of bastardized lasagna. But the artful execution makes this monument-to-meal assembly worth revisiting, interspersing crispy corn tortillas with savory shredded chicken, meaty sauteed mushrooms, crumbly Chihuahua cheese, lemony cilantro and pulse-quickening poblano cream sauce. 

The grub on Capitol Hill is far less ambitious but rockets out in near-record time. 

The assorted quesos combine molten cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese with different combinations of receptor-rattling ingredients, including tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapeños, ground beef (quite tasty) and guacamole (OK). 

Mildly seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce and a hail of sharp cheddar hitch a ride on a floppy flour tortilla in one forgettable soft taco plate. The ahi tuna version sports better accoutrements (guacamole, corn, black beans, pickled slaw) but hardly seems worth the 50 percent price increase. 

The twin cubes of sparingly seared fish were plenty tender, and the pickled slaw was refreshingly aggressive. Still, I would have much preferred sinking my teeth into blackened tilapia, fried cod or grilled mahi-mahi than the trendy tuna.

The skillet full of succulent steak fajitas went a long way toward restoring our faith, wooing us with smoke-tinged meat, scorched vegetables and soupy black beans that complemented each other to the utmost within the warm tortillas. 

And what can we say about the free-flowing frozen margaritas other than: Can somebody please oil that constantly whirring/desperately wheezing contraption at the far end of the bar?

We kid. 

The sangria-tequila mashup remains our favorite afternoon delight — its slushy, tangy base a font of tequila-fueled regret, while the finishing shot of fruity sangria deludes us into believing each long, lustrous sip might be delivering those antioxidants touted in all the medical journals. 

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