Welcome to another edition of Groupon dinner theatre! This time around, we used our coupon for (a 1,000 Open Table point) dinner at Casa Oaxaca in Adams Morgan. We'd eaten at this self-touted "authentic Mexican" eatery once before and enjoyed it, and this time was no different. In a city where consistently good Mexican food is hard to find (at least in our experience), I'm happy to have Casa Oaxaca within walking distance.
The restaurant is a split-level space, which I'm sure keeps the servers in good shape. The decor, while a little kitsch-y, creates a warm, homey feel.
Before we even ordered, our server (who was doing a pretty admirable job given that it looked like he was handling all of the downstairs tables) brought us a little dish of black bean tortas (above, left) as an amuse bouche. These were a pleasant way to wake up our taste buds, and we aided them with our typical order of guacamole and chips. The guac and chips were decent, but nothing out of the ordinary.
For our first real appetizer, we ordered the Rellenitos de Platano Macho, plantain patties stuffed with black beans (pictured above). Mark is a plantain fanatic, and these fried patties may have been his favorite part of the meal - a really excellent blend of sweet and savory. I especially liked them when eaten with the accompanying dollop of cream.
Intrigued by the concept of a Mexican-Italian combination, we also ordered the Ravioli de Huitlacoche (pictured above), ravioli stuffed with huitlacoche and served with a squash blossom cream sauce. Neither of us knew what huitlacoche was; I was surprised to learn later that it is maize that has been affected by a particular fungus (the condition is called "corn smut"). For diseased corn, it tasted surprisingly pretty good (kind of woody, almost mushroom-like). Mark thought it was just okay- I think both of us were expecting something a little more exciting-tasting - but I liked the flavors. Actually, I think I would have preferred a little less cream sauce so that the flavor of the huitlacoche could have come through a little stronger. Nevertheless, it was a fairly tasty dish.
For his entree, Mark got the seared Liberty duck with fig sauce (pictured above). He liked it okay, but again, was a little bored with it. I really liked it, though - the duck was plump and juicy, and I thought it was paired to great effect with the very slight sweetness of the fig sauce.
Based on my pre-meal research, I ordered the Mole Coloradito, a light red mole with grilled beef (above). The beef was absolutely perfectly cooked (medium rare), and the mole had a nice, smoky undertone to it. That being said, I don't know if my palate is discerning enough to really appreciate a well-made mole; Mark liked my dish more than I did and vice-versa, so after a few bites, we switched plates.
By the end of the meal, we were completely stuffed and satisfied. While Casa Oaxaca may not be close to stealing the crown from my favorite Mexican place in the District (Oyamel), it's definitely good enough to quash my cravings for the cuisine, and is a pretty good, nearby alternative. So next time you see a Casa Oaxaca coupon online, I would recommend you grab it. I probably will.