When an offer for a three-course vegan meal from a restaurant I'd never even heard of popped up on one of the deal sites one day, I couldn't resist. I snatched up two of those deals and told Zach we were going to Casa Oaxaca!
Casa Oaxaca is an authentic Mexican restaurant nestled in the bustling neighborhood of Adams Morgan. This is one of those restaurants you can't judge by its facade. From the outside, it looks like a dinky dive restaurant typical of the ones you find in this neighborhood, but inside, you realize they mean business. When we arrived, it was around 7:30 p.m. on a Friday evening and it was still pretty quiet. There was a dining room and bar on the ground floor and the same on the bottom floor. We were seated downstairs. The restaurant had quite the Mexican flare to it with green and orange walls and funky pictures along with rope covered pillars.
We started off by ordering a couple of cocktails. I went with the Mexico Querido, which had Illegal Jovan, Yellow Chartreuse, celery bitters, lime juice, and jalapeno in it. I thought it was pretty good, but could have been spicier.
They immediately brought us an amuse bouche -- little tortillas with black bean sauce. I was very pleased that they were cognizant of the fact that we were dining vegan from the start as the appetizer typically has cheese on it, which they omitted without us even asking.
We were told we'd be able to order one of two first courses, one of two second courses, and the third course would be a sorbet. So Zach and I decided to order different items so we could taste everything.
My first course was the Pozole, which is a vegetarian hominy soup. This soup was absolutely delicious and so simple. It had chunky vegetables (different ones than were mentioned on the menu) -- mushrooms, hominy (corn), and lettuce along with fresh cilantro and avocado in a slightly spicy clear broth.
Zach ordered the Sikil Pak, which was a spread made of roasted pumpkin seeds grinded in a Molcajete with cilantro, tomatillos, and lime juice. I loved the spread, but the accompanying crispy chips were a bit oily for me.
At this point, we both ordered more drinks. This time I tried the Mezcalita, which was Vida Mezcal, pineapple, cilantro, jalapeno, agave nectar, and lime. Yum!
For my main course, I ordered the Chile Relleno, which was a poblano chili roasted and filled with squash, red peppers, corn, and mushrooms, topped with almond cheese. It was in a light tomato sauce with black beans and rice. It was supposed to have soy meat in it as well, but the chef forgot that so they said they'd make up for that later. I really enjoyed this meal, but I still think the stuffed poblano peppers I make are better.
Zach had the Tacos De Aguacate, which were soft tortillas filled with avocado, amaranth seeds, and habanero-passion fruit vinaigrette. The sauce was more sweet than it was spicy.
Afterwards, to make up for the lack of soy meat, they brought us another course on the house! By this point, we were stuffed, but we had to try it. The quesadillas were made of purple corn giving them a darker color and filled with mushrooms, corn, and black beans. They were served with an amazing spicy sauce made of pickled carrots and jalapenos. I loved this course. I really think they should put it on their main menu!
For dessert, they brought us a homemade coconut sorbet sweetened with agave nectar. This was very good as well.
We went into this restaurant with relatively low expectations not having known anything about it and left very pleased. All of the courses were very good and the service was excellent. The prices were a bit high at $15 per entree and $9 per appetizer, but everything was fresh and delicious. The only complaint I had was the noise level as there were several big parties, but given that it is a Mexican restaurant, I guess I should expect this. So, all in all, I really enjoyed the meals at Casa Oaxaca and would recommend it as a great low-key casual dinner spot.
2106 18th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009