Category Archives: Argentine

Del Campo’s Burn Book

Their menu, that is — pretty much everything at Del Campo (777 I (Eye) Street, Chinatown) is burnt or smoked, from the meats to the bar snacks to the desserts. Even the sliced lemon garnishing various drinks has been blackened.  They would probably smoke you, if you asked nicely.

And it’s all good, if you like that kind of thing, which Mrs. Me and I do.  Cocktails are tasty, but it’s the smoked-chili-powder-peanuts that are most addictive, compelling you to keep the drinks coming.  If you order the right amount and combination of meats, they come out sizzling on a huge wooden board, a great presentation we saw all around us; we somehow managed to order an array that called for a metal grill pan instead of the wood.  Next time.  Still, the asado assortment was delicious, led by a tender lamb shank whose bone we were practically sucking by the end.  We also liked the “teres major” steak and sausages.  Empanadas were above average but not as good as the best we had in Argentina a few years ago.  Still, by DC standards they are excellent, though not any better than the best of Panas.

Friendly service, our server masterfully put up with our slightly obnoxious challenging enthusiastic party, and the bartenders were smooooth.  Nice decor.   A little pricey for what you get, maybe.  Overall a good experience, we would go back, arriving early enough to hang at the bar pre-dinner to chow on chili peanuts and burnt lemon drinks, and we would work with our server to ensure giant sizzling wood block asado presentation.  Also might get the Peruvian chicken, that’s supposed to be excellent. Many options in the burn book…

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El Patio Patio (Rockville)

Just one “Patio”, actually, in Argentine cafe El Patio (12303 Twinbrook Pkwy), but thanks to Sponjetta’s earwormy turn on America’s Got Talent, we can’t stop doubling up on the patio, patio.

Some of us also couldn’t stop from tripling up on the baked empanadas, which were good not great based on four-person consensus; my humita (corn) empanada was almost cold and not nearly as creamily delicious as the version from La Brigada in San Telmo. Chicken and beef were more successful, and the only fried option, beef-olive-raisin-egg stuffed “Tucumana” was excellent. To compare with other local empanaderias: based on small sample size, El Patio and Panas are pretty comparable, though El Patio is a little cheaper; Wheaton’s Caramelo Bakery’s empanadas are a little heavier but also good, and we don’t talk about Julia’s.  [Previous Argentina empanada roundup here.]

El Patio has much more than empanadas, though, and while I’m not sure how I feel about eggs making an appearance in seemingly every dish, the quality overall is good, and the value is terrific, with many tasty and filling items around $3 and most empanadas less than half that. Even many of the large platters were in the $10-13 range. Quiche/Spanish omelete is layers of ham, cheese, egg, tomato, and flaky homemade crust; the one with sausage and potatoes (and egg!) looked even better than my solid ham and cheese. Medialuna rellena, also with ham, cheese, and egg (!!), was deemed only okay. Lots of choices of empanadas, quiches, sandwiches, platters, and many things we didn’t order looked and smelled good as they were delivered to other tables (in particular I noted potato salad, something Milanese, and a sausage sandwich appetizer as future possibilities — the sausage sandwich strangely appeared to include no egg whatsoever) (all the egg makes me think of this).

We didn’t have room for dessert but friends got a couple of items to go, including some fab-looking rolled-up caramel-in-phyllo dough. The medialuna (croissant) in the aforementioned rellena was a normal, large croissant, but El Patio also has smaller medialunas, the kind that addicted us on our Argentina visit, and those are as likely as anything else to bring us back to EP soon.

Overall, a good lunch. Parking is tricky, EP’s little lot was full (because EP was full — it’s not a big place but tables are almost uncomfortably close together, in authentic Argentine style, and boy were they packing in the customers! Doing a great business, which I am always glad to see) but you can use the main lot for the L-shaped strip mall; EP is at one end, so park in front of Urban BBQ/Gilly’s.  We’ll be back to El Patio, Patio…