Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Guajillo Grill

Nestled between Ray’s Hell Burger and Greenberry’s Coffee and Tea Company is Guajillo Grill with its hard-to-miss inflatable chili peppers and multi-colored light fixtures hanging above the small outdoor seating area. spotlight

Nestled between Ray’s Hell Burger and Greenberry’s Coffee and Tea Company is Guajillo Grill with its hard-to-miss inflatable chili peppers and multi-colored light fixtures hanging above the small outdoor seating area.

spotlight

Guajillo Grill (Photo: News-Press)

A family-owned establishment named after a dark red chili pepper, Guajillo is known for its authentic Tex-Mex cuisine and strong-tasting margaritas that hit the spot after a rough day.

The lighting was unusually dim and intimate on this Sunday afternoon, but the paintings were still visible on the red and orange stucco walls.

The store-front window was adorned with matching burgundy drapes that were tied back, inviting the natural sunlight inside. Delicately painted clouds peeked out from under the air vents in the sky blue ceiling. Cowhide chairs scooped low next to each table and dried chili peppers dangled in almost every corner. Towards the back of the restaurant was a wooden bar that looked like it was pulled straight from a tavern in the old West.

The Guajillo wait staff was both friendly and attentive. Shortly after greeting and seating their guests, servers promptly returned with a basket of tortilla chips and warm house salsa to whet the appetites of hungry diners. If the chips and salsa aren’t enough, cool down with a refreshing shrimp ceviche ($13) or warm up with piping hot maduros ($5), 11 fried plantains that break the rules by satisfying the sweet tooth at the start of the meal.

Meatatarians should save room for some Mexican favorites, including tacos ($14) with fish, chicken, beef, pork or lamb. A tasty alternative would be the mouthwatering enchiladas ($13), three corn tortillas stuffed with either shredded chicken, beef or melted cheese and served with rice and beans. Those who have a difficult time choosing which enchiladas to savor should ask to try one of each.

For guests seeking even bigger flavor, Guajillo offers a slightly sweet mole, a rich chocolate-based sauce prepared with dried chili peppers, ground nuts or seeds, a variety of spices and Mexican chocolate. Patrons can choose to have the mole smothered over the chicken enchiladas ($14) or the chicken breast ($16).

To finish off the meal, indulge in the Spanish-style flan ($5), a rich custard dessert made with condensed and evaporated milk, soaked in a thin caramel glaze and lightly drizzled with a raspberry sauce. For an even sweeter fix, try the sopapillas ($7), fried puff pastries dripping in honey, cinnamon and caramel. Another sugary treat is the chocolate flan ($5), which is made with tequila. Equally pleasing the tequila lovers is the classic margarita ($7), which packs a lot of kick.

In addition to full catering, Guajillo offers a carryout service, which might be the frustration-free alternative to circling the crowded lot in search of a parking spot. Despite its uninviting location, Guajillo lives up to its name by serving Mexican food with some zest, so grab a sombrero and ¡vámanos!

Oh, and don’t forget to hop on over Casa Oaxaca (2106 18th St. NW, Washington, D.C.), Guajillo’s sister company that serves up daring dishes like Oaxaca cheese flambéed with guajillo sauce and grasshoppers.

Guajillo Grill

1727 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA

703-807-0840 • www.guajillogrill.com

Hours:

Monday – Friday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Saturday, 5 – 11 p.m.; Sunday, Noon – 10 p.m.