Moderately buzzed and still recovering from the disappointment of Friday evening at Impala, my husband and I wandered into Amparo Fondita at its weird, temporary location at District Space on 12th Street NE. I say weird not because the place itself is weird–it’s all-white with bright artwork–but because I don’t quite understand how Amparo is functioning as a pop-up within the scope of District Space’s…uh…space.
But anyway, I was planning on having a low-key, cheap, potentially alcohol-less dinner in Brookland. That is not what I got. From the get-go, my husband and I were all over these cocktails. I had the azul violeta which was very heavily mezcal-y with a too-drinkable fruity fragrance. He had this fun take on an old fashioned that was heavy on the bitters:
We tried to order the special BBQ pork. No dice; they ran out, and it was clear from the server’s face how often people try to order that dish and how infrequently they are actually able to fulfill the request. I have to assume it’s amazing (or possibly there’s a pork shortage I don’t know about). So we ended up with the quesadilla starter, some elote, and the picadillo special.
This ain’t your mom’s snack-time microwave quesadilla from 1996, people. This. Was. Delicious. Homemade tortilla, Oaxaca cheese, topped with the house-pickled vegetables, this was pure heaven. It comes with optional grasshoppers if that’s your thing. The elote was gourmet instead of being the sweet corn dripping with mayo and Kraft parmesan. It was well-spiced and not overly messy. Even my mustachioed spouse was [mostly] happy with this.
If you are not acquainted with picadillo, it’s a Cuban thang. At its worst: ground beef with some cumin and capers. At its best: THIS.
I don’t know what magic they put in this, aside from the thick, homemade tortillas and the creamy almond sauce in the middle. It was spicy, it was savory, it was sweet. And dat sauce.
We were feeling good after that meal, and though not originally intending to get dessert, decided we wanted a) a flight of mezcal, and b) this amazing panna cotta with papaya. The papaya was, in a word, BEYOND. Like, it usually tastes like a ghost sweat, sort of a dank nothingness, but this papaya was ripe, soft, and sweet. The custard was incredibly vanilla-y too. Our mezcal flight was…uh…different. They were not our faves, but they were as advertised, and we were looking to try something new.
Here’s the thing, though. Amparo Fondita doesn’t have its own space. This Brookland thing was a one-month-only pop-up location because they’re looking for investors. So if you have a million bucks to spare and you like tasty Mexican food, may I suggest that you fork it over to this guy? Pleeeeeeeeeeease?
Price: $60 per person.
Bottom line: Give them your money in any way you can.
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