As an avid Epic Portions reader for a while now I take the advice of the site to heart, which is why on a recent trip to La Sandia in Tysons Corner, Virginia, I took along with me the Criteria for a Great Mexican Joint checklist. In my head, but still, it was with me. Also with me was one of my best friends, Chris, the number one food snob in my life. It’s a pretty big deal for him to approve of a restaurant.
- The chips. Awesome, and as Chris pointed out, they were corn, not flour, which made them even more awesome. That, and they had a bit of oil on them, which is always a plus for me. When I eat out I like to go all out, calorie counting out the window. The salsa was also really good, I was hoping it would be hotter since I enjoy a good burn when it comes to food, but I understand the need to appeal to everyone. Thumbs up so far on the chips and salsa.
- Location. La Sandia is situated right next to the Barnes and Noble at the end of the “new part” of Tysons Corner Center. So, satisfies the requirement that it’s not freestanding. It’s far from rundown though, being that it’s situated in the nicest and largest mall in the Washington/Baltimore area, so I guess this criterion was half-met.
- The chips and salsa person. While he was not the guy who brought us our food, he was the guy who brought us our drinks. I had heard that La Sandia’s sangria was good and I love a good sangria so I was eager to try it and it did not disappoint. It had a lot of different fruit and wasn’t watery at all (I don’t know about you but I’ve had that happen a lot at places that serve sangria)
- The menu. Mine was a little sticky, but Chris’s was totally clean. Being as that La Sandia is in Tysons, I don’t think they could get away with not cleaning their menus. The previous restaurant in its place was owned by Iron Chef Masahiro Morimoto and the service and everything wasn’t that great and it failed.
- The cheese. I ordered the chicken mole and Chris ordered the carnitas and the first thing that came out of my mouth when the server brought our food was “Look! Not yellow cheese!” Passed that test with flying colors. Or lack thereof, since the cheese was white. The food was really good. I had been there before but ordered salad (I know, roll your eyes), and this was my first time ordering actual food, and I delighted. Referring back to the whole salsa thing, the sauce for Chris’s carnitas had more zing than the salsa.
- The walls. Again, this place is still fairly new and dingy walls would cause its demise. So free pass for being pretty and clean.
- Décor. No sombrero or piñata, the place may be too upscale for the cliché decorations. They do, however, have random quotes on some of the walls. Gave me something to read while I pretended to listen. HA! Overall, It’s a nice place.
- Food Names. No gimmicky names here either, just the actual name of the food.
- God help me but I don’t even know what menudo is to figure out if they served it or if it was only served on Sundays. You know what I think of when hear Menudo? Ricky Martin, that’s right, Livin’ La Vida Loca. Good times.