La Malinche


Editorial Review

First Bite Review

Two cuisines, a few problemas
By Tom Sietsema
Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Playing across the street from the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring is a double food feature called La Malinche. Can’t decide between Spanish and Mexican? No hay problema. The kitchen of the family-run dining room serves small plates two ways, as tapas and botanas.

The effort of four relatives from El Salvador, La Malinche made its debut in November. Co-owner Jaime Sorto counts experience as a server at La Tasca in Chinatown; his brother, Hugo Bonilla, a former cook at Busboys & Poets on 14th Street NW, reprises that role here.

Theirs is a restaurant made colorful with a life-size mural of an Aztec on the wall and mariachi music in the air. It seems only fitting to slip into lunch or dinner with a glass of sangria. Take your pick of red, laced with brandy, or white, sweet with peach schnapps.

From there, things become less intoxicating. The shy guacamole is no threat to Rosa Mexicano’s, just as the tortilla espanola tastes like a stranger compared to the potato omelet at Jaleo. But the lamb chops with fingerling potatoes are agreeable, and the blackened scallops — tender bookends on their plate for a bright corn salsa — make welcome pre- or post-show snacks. Say sí to the creamy chicken croquettes and no to the dry grilled chorizo.

My order of sauteed spinach “with cranberries” came without the tart fruit. The quirk was not missed.