We originally published this guide in 2013. Today, September 16, is National Guacamole Day and people still eat guacamole. -ed.
Let’s get real… there’s Guacamole and then there’s Guacamole.
We set out on a scientific and gastronomic quest around town hunting down the best bourgey guacamole we could find to prep you for this weekend. Using Chipotle as our control (because it’s universally delicious/super affordable), we sample the best (and worst) in the area of “tableside Guac”.
Guacamole ($13.50) – The first thing we noticed about Oyamel’s Guacamole is the distinct, fresh smell wafting our way, which only enticed us grab a chip and dig right in. Made right before your eyes in a molcajete, this guac includes avocados (duh), green tomatillo, serrano chile, red onion, a squeeze of lime juice, salt and a nice touch of crumbled queso fresco on top. You can even request fresh tortillas along with the tortilla chips, allowing you to make mini-tacos of deliciousness. We even learned the “proper way” to go about things, which includes taking the torilla and adding a healthy serving of Guacamole, then finally topping it off with a salsa of choice, allowing you to add as much or as little heat as you wish. It was totally the winner of our culinary adventure.
OYAMEL vs. CHIPOTLE: More expensive, but absolutely worth it for the touch of queso fresco alone. Share with friends or be greedy and eat it all yourself (though for your waistline and your budget we don’t highly recommend that). Oyamel wins.
Guacamole Cubano ($6.75) – At first glance, the Guacamole at Cuba Libre (801 9th St. NW) looks more like a work of art than a vehicle for a tastebud explosion. You see they make their guac “cubano style” at Cuba Libre, which includes avocado, pineapple, virgin olive oil, roasted jalapeños and a squeeze of fresh lime. Forget tortilla chips, accompanying this perfect mound of green goodness are slices of fried plantain, yucca, and Melanga, which are made in house so you know they’re always fresh. I’ll be honest, we were all skeptical at first. Pineapple in our guacamole? Olive oil?! But trust us when we say this: it’s so damn good we ordered another helping.
CUBA LIBRE vs. CHIPOTLE: It’s almost like contrasting apples and oranges — we love both! If you’re feeling adventurous, go for Cuba Libre, it’ll definitely charge your tastebuds.
Guacamole ($14) – Just like Oyamel, this Guac is made direct to order for you so go a little heavy on the spice if you dare. I’m sure if there were history books written on the evolution of guacamole over the years, Rose would be the godfather of bringing a traditionally Mexican dish to the masses. With a recipe perfected since 1984, it’s no surprise that Rosa’s guac contains no frills in the ingredients list (avocado, jalapeños, tomatoes, red onions, and cilantro) but all the delicious taste you’d want. Our intital feedback complimented the “very chunky, not mashed” texture of the guac, allowing us to scarf down delicious chunks of avocado bite after bite. I’ll be honest, my personal Guac recipe is based on a variation of Rosa’s, so you know it has to be good.
ROSA vs. CHIPOTLE: A no-brainer, Rosa wins. From the chunks of avocado to the delicious salsas they offer to kick up the heat, Rosa’s got the formula for perfect guac down pat.
Guacamole, prepared tableside ($9.95) – Probably the best “bang for your buck” this Richard Sandoval guac creation is no slouch, despite it’s cheaper pricetag to most. Made with avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, and chile serrano (and served with housemade tortilla chips) it’s a familiar recipe and taste but we’re not complaining! Go bold and ask for “spicy” but be sure you’ve got one of their Strawberry Margaritas on hand to wash it down!
EL CENTRO vs. CHIPOTLE: Maybe it’s the atmosphere, but El Centro wins this by a nose.
- MAMA CHUY’S – ($6) With the staple ingredients of avocado, lime, salt, pepper, onion, tomato and cilantro this guac is a no-brainer. When compared to Chipotle? I say walk down a couple of blocks to Mama Chuy’s, support local and devour away.
- LA SANDIA – ($11.95 for a sampler platter) While we didn’t get a chance to drive out to this Tyson’s Corner staple, it’ll be worth the trip just to try one of their FOUR regionally influenced Guacamoles. You’ve got the North which has cactus, morita, salsa fresca, queso fresco; South: grasshoppers (!!!!), tomatillo, cotija cheese, onion, chile cascabel; Pacific: kiwi, jicama, strawberry, mango, mint; and, Yucatan Peninsula: shrimp ceviche, salsa habanero, salsa fresca, orange. Somebody rent us a zip car stat! (Available for the month of May during La Sandia’s “Guacamole Festival”)
- ALERO – ($5.99) Let’s just say when paired against Chipotle, Chipotle wins every time. Though if you’re going to Alero for “bourgey Mexican food” you clearly don’t understand what the word bourgey means. Regardless, it’s still worth the trek for pitchers of their delicious red sangria.
CONCLUSION: All Guacamole, no matter how much it costs or where it’s made is delicious. Now go on… tell us your favorite place to get Guac in the District!