Wednesday, December 2, 2015

El Centro D.F. Debuts New Destination: Oaxaca Menu

*Sponsored Post
Richard Sandoval’s vibrant Taqueria and Tequileria, El Centro D.F., is pleased to debut a new "destination menu" inspired by Richard Sandoval's recent trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. Twice a year, Richard Sandoval and his corporate chefs travel to a different region of Mexico to research the area's culinary heritage and celebrated foods. The result is a menu that features dishes that showcase the story and experience of Mexico's bold flavors, and culinary heritage.

We were invited to check out the new menu, with dishes marked with a special “*” symbol to note that it is an exclusive and limited time option. Available from November 16 to January 31, Regional Executive Chef Graham Bartlett will prepare the Destination: Oaxaca menu, which will be offered during both lunch and dinner service.  Prices range from $8 to $12.


New additions on the menu include Grasshopper Guacamole, freshly made guacamole with crispy grasshoppers, cherry tomatoes and Cotija cheese.  Don't fret - the grasshopper has been dried and crushed with fennel seeds and smoky pepper to give a subtle, grassy sprinkle atop the fresh guacamole.  Honestly, I would have liked to have seen a full grasshopper, antennae and all, on this dish.  But this presentation was a nice way to ease into bizarre foods.


We also enjoyed the Shrimp Ceviche in a seductive citrus habanero broth with fresh avocado and pico de gallo.  Crispy tortilla strips are served on top for extra crunch, though it's best eaten with chips so you can scoop up that broth.



Another shareable dish is the Crispy Potatoes & Chorizo - potato confit with sour cream, chorizo and roasted garlic.  Salt-cured cactus is sliced and sprinkled on top.  The gelatinous vegetable almost had a pickled flavor with the salt and onions, and added a nice dimension to this dish.

A surprise standout dish was the Pipian Pork Belly Tacos.  Charred pork belly with pipian sauce and pickled vegetables were stuffed in a corn tortilla.  With a squirt of lime juice, this little handful had lots of flavor and was one of my favorites from the menu.


The Smoked Pork Tenderloin with pumpkin mole, roasted pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, mole poblano, and Cotija cheese was a comforting dish.


I also really enjoyed the Shrimp Tamal - sweet corn tamal with shrimp, served with a garlic sauce, dehydrated mole and Cotija cheese.  The dehydrated mole is simply chocolate, dried pepper, and spice.  The plate was presented beautifully and another favorite from the menu.


Other standouts included the Tamal de Hoja Santa.  Wrapped in aromatic leaf with Oaxaca cheese, light broth and Cotija cheese, this was another smoky and uber savory dish that is perfect for vegetarians.

Braised Short Ribs - Image via Paul Wagtouicz
Keith liked the Braised Short Ribs In Mezcal Mole with pinto beans, mezcal mole sauce and smoked lime salt, although the meat was not as tender as expected.  Served with flour tortillas, it was the heartiest of the new menu items.

El Chapo - Image via Paul Wagtouicz
For the perfect pairing, Rob Day, Richard Sandoval Restaurant’s National Beverage Director, has crafted two new libations, priced at $12 each. Cocktails include the Moni"K"a made with El Silencio mezcal, lime, agave nectar, kiwi and ginger, as well as the El Chapo made with El Silencio mezcal, Ancho Reyes, Southern Comfort, pineapple, Serrano and lime.  Both had nice smoky and spicy finishes that counterbalanced the sweetness from the fruits in each cocktail.


Lastly, to finish the meal try El Centro's special gelato made exclusively for the restaurant by Dolcezza.  It features El Silencio mezcal and dulce de leche swirl to give a sweet and boozy finish.

El Centro D.F. is located at 1819 14th Street, NW, 20009. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 4 PM. Dinner is served Monday through Friday from 4 PM to 11 PM, and Saturday and Sunday from 5 PM to 11 PM in Taqueria and lower level Tequileria. Additionally, a limited siesta menu is available at the bar nightly from 4 PM to 7 PM; Friday and Saturday, from 11 PM to 2 AM. For reservations or more information, please call (202) 328-3131 or visit www.elcentrodf.com

El Centro D.F. Georgetown is located at 1218 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, 20007. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 4 PM. Dinner is served Monday through Friday from 4 PM to 11 PM, and Saturday and Sunday from 5 PM to 11 PM. Additionally, a limited siesta menu is available at the bar Monday through Friday, from 4 PM to 7 PM; Saturday and Sunday, from 2 PM to 5 PM. For additional information or to make reservation please call (202) 333-4100 or visit http://www.richardsandoval.com/elcentrogtown/.

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