Editors' pick

Guajillo

Mexican
$$$$ ($14 and under)
Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema applauds Arlington's Guajillo for what it is not: Mexican Lite.
Sun noon-10 pm; Mon-Fri 11 am-10 pm; Sat 5 pm-11 pm
(Courthouse)
Rosslyn (Blue, Orange lines), Courthouse (Orange Line)
703-807-0840
'

Editorial Review

2004 Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, October 17, 2004

While the Mexican restaurant of my dreams continues to elude me in Washington, a few get points for trying harder than others. One of the handful of places that routinely rise above the routine is Guajillo, which takes its name from a chili pepper and is handsomely dressed with burnt-orange walls, "cloudy" blue skies on the ceiling and scooped cowhide chairs. Details count here. Light chips come with a dusky salsa and a side of pale orange habanero sauce, "if you like it hotter," a server explains. Fried cheese with peppers and onions -- queso fundido -- is not any better than the competition, but the chicken tamales are, thanks to their dark red sauce. Still, the best memories tend to be made from the list of specials. "Three flavor" mole reminds us that there's more than the famous chocolate-and-nut sauce in the Mexican repertoire; equally haunting are the green mole, made with tomatillo and pumpkin seeds, and the red mole, with three different chilies. In the pork carnitas, tender chunks of meat are arranged with bright guacamole, black beans and a quesadilla fat with cheese and the corn fungus known as huitlacoche; the whole assembly amounts to a strapping feast, prettily served on banana leaf.