Before leaving DC, there was one restaurant I had to try: Estadio, the newly opened Logan Circle tapas bar that has garnered much attention from The Washington Post’s Jane Black and Metrocurean’s Amanda McClement. Black wrote about Estadio owner Mark Kuller (who also owns Proof) and chef Haidar Karoum’s journey through Spain to find the most authentic, delectable tapas to serve at their restaurant. McClements provided a sneak peek of the restaurant, full of delicious photos, and later gushed about Estadio’s now infamous slushitos (adult alcoholic slushies). I was salivating after reading both articles, and rushed over for my last supper in DC.
Estadio is a food blogger’s dream to photograph, with its gorgeous Spanish tiles, Gothic wrought ironwork, and antique chandeliers. The space is warm and welcoming, especially with the bar located in the center of the restaurant–it made for a more convivial atmosphere.
After being told we had an hour-long wait for a table ahead of us, we decided to order some drinks. Of course, I had to try the slushito ($9) with quince, paprika, lemon, sherry, and scotch. And yes, it did live up to the hype. The quince added a complex fruitiness to the drink, and tempered the strong alcohol taste of the sherry and scotch. Perfect for a hot DC summer night.
Fortunately, we were seated after only half an hour. We started off the meal with marcona almonds (around $4-6), olives, and pintxos of jamon-wrapped figs, cabrales cheese, and marcona almonds ($2.50 each). I adored the almonds, which were coated in a spice mixture that packed subtle heat. The pintxos, bite-sized tapas from Spain’s Basque region, were simple but delightful, and really showcased the sweetness of the figs and saltiness of the jamon.
Next came the patatas bravas, tortilla espanola ($8), and crispy stuffed squash blossoms ($7). The most memorable out of the three dishes was the tortilla espanola, served with aioli and sweet hot pepperts. The peppers made a classic tapas dish seem new again, adding a spice element that enhanced the flavors nicely. I also enjoyed the squash blossoms, stuffed with a spinach and cheese mixture that oozed out when you bit into the battered, crunchy exterior.Proteins were a bit disappointing. The hangar steak with crushed potatoes and mojo verde ($14) was all right, but nothing special. The potatoes had an unappealing, mealy texture to me and there was barely enough mojo verde to dip the meat in. Duck breast with baby chard, quince and ginger sauce ($14) was overcooked and chewy, and the quince and ginger sauce had no flavor at all. Plus, portions for both dishes were pretty small considering the pricetags.
Dessert was a pleasant surprise after the less than stellar mains. We ordered the panna cotta with strawberry gazpacho ($8): a milky vanilla bean custard sitting atop a pool of refreshing ruby red strawberry gazpacho, dotted with pearls of sweet meringue. It was a light and refreshing way to end the meal.
Though the food wasn’t perfect, I do think Estadio has an appealing atmosphere and fantastic drinks. It’s a great place to meet friends for a drink and share a light meal. But if you’re hungry and in the mood for something more substantial, Estadio might not be your best bet.
1520 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20005