Continuing my quest to try every new restaurant in DC and blog about it (with a lot of help from my friends), I recently ate at Crios on P Street, near Dupont Circle.
Crios bills its menu as a “Modern Mexican Restaurant,” which fills a much-needed niche in the District; all the other Mexican joints here focus on the prehistoric era. (Distrito Federal makes a Brontosauras taco to kill for). I’m kidding of course. What makes Crios “modern” is their use of cutting-edge ingredients like . . . Dr. Pepper. And that’s no joke–Crios actually serves a Dr. Pepper Carnitas taco, with soda-braised pork shoulder, arugula, chipotle adobo, and queso fresco, and it’s sweet and savory and actually quite good. Other menu hits included the guacamole (which is spicier than you might expect) and the Rockfish Ceviche. The Beet Salad and Vegetarian Tacos were less successful (the tacos were bland) and the cocktail menu was interesting but not on par with the better restaurant bars at other Mexican place, including El Chucho (A#1 best) and even Rosa Mexicano. Given our relatively small sampling of the menu, I’ll probably come back some time to try more entrees, but I can’t say I’m in a rush.
I won’t hurry back for two reasons. First, the service was pretty terrible. The staff was likely new, and maybe a bit lost, but everything took forever, orders had to be explained and repeated, and we didn’t get everything we asked for. The service was warm, but not competent. That’s not a killer in my book, but it’s not a plus. The second issue is the restaurant’s space, which feels like a made-over hotel lobby. Honestly, I think the owners did what they could, but the space is simply too big and too cavernous to be intimate. And the combination of weird day-of-the-dead kick knacks at the bar and hotel-lobby (again with the lobby) furniture doesn’t help. Crios does offer outdoor seating, and that could be fun for a group. Even that option is a bit odd though; everyone sits at long wood picnic tables on P Street’s wide cement sidewalk. If you bring a party of eight, you’ll enjoy it. We had two, and the table sort of swallowed us. But that’s not Crios’ fault, we asked to sit outside. The restaurant could make the outdoor seating communal, and put small parties together with whoever’s already seated. You don’t see that much in DC, and I wish you did. (I don’t really like people, but I enjoy meeting them, much like Dante in Clerks, who hated people but loved parties).
Crios seems like a fine idea for a warm summer night. Until then, we’ll move on to the next new thing.
*Address: 2120 P St. NW (Dupont Circle Metro, North Exit)
*Phone: (202) 822-8800
*Menu (PDF): http://www.criosmodmex.com/#!menu
*Hours: Sun-Thur 5PM- 10PM; Fri-Sat 5PM-11PM; brunch Sundays; Lunch Wed-Fri.