Thursday, October 9, 2014

Johnny Pistolas

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Johnny Pistolas is a Mexican taqueria bar serving up delicious LA style tacos in Adams Morgan with creative specialties, $1 Happy Hour tacos, $2 tacos on Tuesday, $30 weekend bottomless brunch, and signature craft cocktails in a fun and inviting atmosphere.  The kitchen is open until 12 midnight with the bar open until 3am, so check them out for a fun late night out.  Closest Metro is Woodley Park - Adams Morgan.
We were invited by the manager, Jonathan, to check out the new restaurant that replaced its American bistro predecessor, Carriage House.  While the owners are the same, the chef is new and they've allowed him to feature some classic Mexican fare with a little bit of extra fresh punch.

On each table are the house salsas - a mild salsa verde made with lots of cilantro, lime, and jalapeno; a medium salsa roja with a subtle hint of smoke; and a spicy habanero-pineapple salsa that has a lingering kick.  We sampled each with the whole fried tortillas, that you crack yourself into smaller pieces.  Typically, my go-to is the milder green version since I love cilantro and lime.  But this batch was actually more spicy than the red, due to the jalapenos.

The House Margaritas made with tequila, triple sec, and lime juice are a great deal for only $4 during Happy Hour from 5pm-7pm.  We then switched to the Margarita Classico that were much more tasty made with Pueblo Viejo tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice.  I easily (and dangerously) sucked this drink down.

We started with the Guacamole made with avocado, lots of lime, jalapeno, serrano, and cilantro.  We overheard the table next to us complain that the guacamole was too salty, yet I did not mind it at first.  Towards the end of the bowl - yes, I practically ate the entire thing myself - I would agree that the salt factor crept up, especially when eaten with the heavily salted chips.  Jonathan even commented that they realized the salt may be a little heavy, and are looking to use a popcorn salt on their chips instead, to help alleviate that issue. 

We also shared a Chicken Tamale made with Mayan steamed corn masa.  While the filling had great flavor, a mistaken use of the wrong corn meal caused this tamale to be super dry.

Of course, we had to try the tacos.  Keith enjoyed the Carnitas Taco made with beer braised pork, lime juice, and green salsa.  He found them to be pretty traditional with a great acidic punch.  He also tried the Carne Asada Taco made with citrus marinated grilled steak and salsa roja.  I started with a Pollo Asado Taco made with citrus marinated grilled chicken topped with green salsa.  Of the ones I tried, this was my favorite and I would have ordered another round if I had worn looser pants.

I also tried a Baja Fish Taco made with crispy cod and Baja Repollo slaw.  Now, fish tacos are another one of my faves having lived in Southern California for 5 years.  But these, sadly, were dry and a little skimpy on the fish serving.

Lastly, we were tempted by some of the dessert offerings.  In particular the Mini Donuts stood out.  Four pieces were served hot, in a paper bag, and were sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  The donuts had the perfect balance of softness and chewiness.  We really enjoyed these, and for $3 they are another bargain to round out your meal.

The tacos at Johnny Pistolas are the main star, and a great deal even without the happy hour prices.  Check out future seasonal options that will feature duck or oysters.  Johnny Pistolas also offers the 'reverse happy hour' with $4 margaritas, white sangria, Tecate, and Allagash from 10pm-12 midnight.  If all goes well, the future goal is to make a similar fast-casual customizable taco bar concept elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Total Rating: 3.93
Food: 4, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:
Avocado/Lime/Jalapeno, Serrano/Cilantro

Chicken Tamale
Mayan steamed Corn Masa

Pollo Asado Taco
Citrus Marinated Grilled Chicken/Green Salsa

Baja Fish Taco
Crispy Cod/Baja Repollo Slaw

Mini Donuts
served hot and sprinkled with Cinnamon Sugar
Plus Keith ate:
Carnitas Taco
Beer Braised Pork/Citrus/ Green Salsa

Carne Asada Taco
Citrus Marinated Grilled Steak/Salsa Roja

Johnny Pistolas on Urbanspoon

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