The guacamole isn’t the only different thing at José Andrés newest concept. Popping up at the ThinkFoodLab, Butterfly is the new fast casual concept from D.C.’s favorite (and most famous) chef. While the menu draws from Oyamel’s upscale Mexican roots, there are some distinct differences not only in ingredients, but in (and I’m going to use a word I’ve grown to hate here, but bare with me) vibe. Think of it as the love child between Beefsteak and Oyamel, you get all the taco goodness of the latter and all of the to-go effortlessness of the former.
The menu (which is small, but still manages to cover all of the basics) features a handful of different tacos ($10 for 3), tortas ($11-$12), salads ($6), sides ($3-$5) and desserts. Enough to cover all of your basic lunch needs. Fillings for the tacos and the tortas are the same, while the sides include options like mole french fries (it’s the only thing on the menu that feels like it was made for stoners and we’re here for it), fruits doused with chile, salt and lime and your classic chips and salsa / guacamole. The lovely folks at ThinkFood claim that the salads are the dark horse of the menu, but that remains to be seen. I can’t imagine a world where I’m going to pick a salad over tacos, but, hell, I can’t predict the future.
If you’re going the taco / torta route (and you should) our favorite filling was the Conchinita Pibíl, extremely similar to the Oyamel taco of the same name, this one keeps the barbecued pork and red onion, but doesn’t include the Mexican sour orange. The meat is tender, dense and pairs so well with the bright and acidic red onion. It’s simple, but that’s exactly what they’re going for here. Not interested in pork? Go for the Pollo (with guacamole and salsa chipotle) or the Hongos (with guacamole, maggi sauce and salsa serrano). The meaty mushrooms of the Hongos are especially killer.
So let’s get back to that gaucamole I mentioned. The good news is that it’s on almost every taco on the menu, meaning three tacos are more than enough to fill you up and satiate any avocado cravings you have. The better news is that they’ve switched up the recipe a little bit and have added even more citrus and lime than the Oyamel recipe, creating a guac that’s even more bright (and maybe even refreshing?) than previously. It works well with the meaty fillings and even kills it on regular old chips. But we don’t have to sell you on it and neither does ThinkFood. It’s 2018 and avocados are flying off the shelf regardless, but it’s nice to know that they’re still actively thinking about their recipes and that they’re willing to change it up every once in a while. This is maybe more words than is necessary to write about guacamole, but we’re here now and I can’t take any of them back.
So, you’ve stuffed yourself with tacos, downed an order of guacamole and your looking for the final nail in the coffin. The missing piece that’s going to guarantee that you sleep through your next conference call. Look no further than the dessert menu, which looks deceptively simple. If you just want some pure chocolate in your life, get an order of the Oaxacan Chocolate cookie and don’t look back. Made by Dog Tag Bakery, the double chocolate cookie features cinnamon and sea salt. If you want something to save you (at least temporarily) from the D.C. humidity, the popsicles are an excellent choice with options like straberry-lime-chile and Mexican chocolate.
Eventually, Butterfly will open in the new D.C. United stadium, but until then make the lunchtime pilgrimage to their downtown location. It’s way easier than getting a seat at the bar at Oyamel.
Butterfly is located at 701 Pennslyvania Avenue NW. They are open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.