When it comes to Mexican restaurants and Mexican food in the Washington D.C. area, Guajillo Grill in Arlington, Virginia stands out from the hordes of competition sprouting up seemingly in every strip mall and popular locale in the area. The Washington D.C. area has plenty of expensive, trendy Spanish restaurants and tapas restaurants. There are also loads of bargain chains and fast food Mexican restaurants that you can visit for a quick fix. However, that middle of the road category, where you can find great Mexican food without breaking your budget is fairly wide open. Guajillo fits nicely into that role, serving up some of the best Mexican food in Washington D.C. for a very affordable price.
Guajillo is located in the downtown area of the Washington D.C. suburb/offshoot of Arlington, Virginia. It occupies a fairly small and unassuming space inside a commercial shopping center. However, as soon as you set foot into the restaurant, the energetic and vivacious atmosphere takes over. The restaurant is usually filled, especially considering the fairly limited amount of tables. Everybody is chatting away, taking in the brightly colored walls, the sky-painted ceilings and lounging in the comfortable and unique chairs.
There is also a small outdoor seating area on the sidewalk outside of Guajillo. Additionally, there is a compact bar in the back of the restaurant serving up all of their drink specialties. The drinks at Guajillo are definitely amongst the restaurant’s highlights, Guajillo is serving some of the best margaritas in Washington D.C. Served in pint glasses, not your typical stingily sized cups, the margaritas mix together a perfect amount of tart and sweet flavors with smooth tequila.
And there is plenty of tequila to choose from. Guajillo boasts a strong and all encompassing selection of tequila to match your specific tastes. Mojitos are also made fresh and to perfection, and the sangria is also excellent. All of these drinks are available in pitchers as well.
Upon being seated, you are immediately served a bowl of tortilla chips, which are definitely a grade up from those you might pick up in the grocery store. The chips are crunchy and not at all greasy, and can pick up plenty of the delicious dips they are served with. You get a salsa, which is wonderfully powerful with a late hitting spiciness. You also get what I term a Mexican-French onion dip, which might have been the single most impressive and enjoyable element of the entire meal.
Typically, the Mexican restaurants in the Washington D.C. area serve up watery, drippy salsa which is severely lacking in both flavor and originality. At Guajillo, the quality of the Mexican food shines through immediately with their great opening round of snacks.
The service is quick and friendly; however you get the feeling that you are being rushed out the door immediately. To clarify, it’s not just a feeling…the bottom of the menu actually has a written blurb telling you not to linger after your meal because there are probably other people waiting to eat too. I appreciate you’re running a business, and it certainly seems to be a quite profitable and worthy business as well. But when you’re not just rushing people away with quick service, but actually demanding a speedy exit with a message on the menu, you’re taking things a step too far. However, this was the only detrimental element of my experience at Guajillo and their great Mexican food and margaritas more than made up for their surprisingly straightforward and blunt stance on this issue.
The menu isn’t long and confusing, it’s straight and to the point. Sticking only to the classics, Guajillo is great at what they do. If they’re not great at it, it’s not going to be on the menu, which is why they are serving up some of the best Mexican food in the Washington D.C. area. Some of the favorite dishes include the Mole Poblano, a juicy chicken breast doused with a thick, sweet and dark mole sauce; and the fish tacos, served 3 on a plate with all the necessary add-ons.
Guajillo definitely is worth a trip to Arlington if you live in the Washington D.C. area, as they are putting forth one of the best efforts of any of the Mexican restaurants in town. I wouldn’t be bashful at placing Guajillo in the running to have the best margaritas, best mojitos, best salsa and chips and the best complete arsenal of Mexican food in Washington D.C. All for an affordable price, Guajillo is one of the best Mexican restaurants in Washington D.C. and is a great idea both for groups of friends and date nights.