Anyone who has ever been to Mike Isabella’s spot Graffiato’s in Chinatown would probably be overly excited that the top chef contestant was trying his hand at Mexican Food. I don’t go to Georgetown often, but this was one foodie – adventure that I had to make the trek for.
With a menu boasting creative offerings such as octopus tacos, guacamole topped with spicy rock shrimp, and snapper toastadas any true foodie would be compelled to try it. I took a group of friends from out of town to Bandolero not long after it opened. There were many things right and a few things that Bandolero could improve on.
The decor is dark and antiquated, giving an old school feel to the joint. There is an amazing mural of a horseman painted on the wall as we walked in. We were seated quickly, and the attentiveness of the waitstaff continued throughout the evening.
Having studied the menu extensively, I had a good idea of the items that I wanted to try. We ordered from each section of the menu, starting with the guacamole. The guacamole was good, but not as good as mine, and for the price I expected it to be topped with game from an endangered species (I’m just sayin).
Next came the toastadas. We ordered the red snapper toastadas. Be forewarned: a more accurate description of the toastadas would be tortilla chips topped with ceviche. The toastadas were delectable. My only complaint was the lack of description in terms of how the red snapper would be prepared. I myself have no problem with raw foods, but I imagine that picky eaters would probably send this dish back given that there was no mention that it was technically a raw dish. Perhaps I’m being picky, but I did notice that this is more clearly stated on the website menu now.
One of the things that I was the most excited to try at Bandolero were the tacos. I’m crazy about tacos and the different things they put in them. The octopus tacos struck a chord in my foodie heart along with the suckling pig tacos. I was pretty disappointed with the octopus tacos. They were way to fishy. I’m pretty sure most people felt the same way since the octopus tacos are no longer on the menu.
The suckling pig tacos were a different story completely. I would eat those every day of the week: guiltily chowing down on delicate baby pig – that tasty.
In addition to the dishes listed above we tried the Carne Asada, the empanadas, the short rib nachos, and the crazy corn. Here’s the rundown:
Carne Asada: amazingly tender, tasty, worth your time
Empanada: One of the best I’ve ever had. It was served with vegetables and a tasty sauce. The crust was incredible: everything you ever dreamed crust should be. It tasted like my mom’s and her mom’s before her.
Short Rib Nachos: Tasty, but still nachos. I’m not sure why I always expect that nachos are going to end up being so much tastier than they actually are. I’m always disappointed when nachos end up just being nachos.
Crazy Corn: Probably my least favorite dish of the evening. I had seen it on the website; it looked amazing, but I hadn’t read the description closely. I assumed that this was a play on Mexican street corn that is usually topped with cheese and butter and spices and other tastiness. What I thought was cheese turned out to be the weird crunchy nut things. That might have been fine if the corn hadn’t been overcooked. All in all, I was so disappointed I almost cried.
My last point of contention where Bandolero is concerned was their inability to disclose the level of spice in food. Again, I love spicy, but not everyone does. If you’re sensitive to spice you’ll want to ask the server to describe the spice level.
So the bottom line: Would I go back? Yes – if it was someone else’s idea and I could disavow all responsibility in the event that people were disappointed with the meal.