Take a good look at the dish below. It's a freshly made fried quesadilla stuffed with huitlacoche, greens and queso freso.
As a wrote back in June, the shell "crackles like a spring roll but goes down like pie crust, rich and flaky." The filling is at once earthy and sweet, milky and salty. When topped with tomatillo salsa, the quesadilla competes with finest Mexican fare anywhere in Washington.
Now: Weep like a baby.
That quesadilla, and other quality bites at 3 Salsas on 14th Street NW, are history. At least for now. The Columbia Heights restaurant abruptly closed in late July after the owners got into a dispute with their landlord.
Following the $20 Diner's mostly glowing review in June, Marco and Luis Gonzalez, the brothers behind 3 Salsas, wanted to apply for a liquor license. The landlord, Ana Maria Da Cruz, apparently refused to fill out the affidavit needed for the application, says Marco Gonzalez.
That action, and apparently others that Marco Gonzalez says he cannot discuss, spurred the brothers to file a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Da Cruz. The complaint was filed on Aug. 3 in D.C. Superior Court.Da Cruz filed a response and counterclaim on Sept. 1.
A scheduling conference has been set for Nov. 6.
John H. Brillian, the attorney representing Da Cruz, did not immediately return a call for comment.
In the meantime, the Gonzalez brothers are scouting for a new location for 3 Salsas. They've been searching for properties in the same Columbia Heights neighborhood in order to maintain some continuity.
"We found a couple of places, but we kept hitting road blocks," Marco Gonzalez says.
The brothers are determined, however, to reopen. It may take a few months, or more.
"We know that it works," Marco Gonzalez says about 3 Salsas, designed as an homage to the Puebla cooking of the brothers' paternal grandmother, Epigmenia Gonzalez-Islas.
"It's just a matter of having a very good lease," Marco Gonzalez says.