Needing some grub and striking out with full crowds on 18th St, Official Friends of DCWD Beatrice and Stormtrooper and I headed to Casa Oaxaca.
Casa Oaxaca is two floors, both seemingly filled by both a red-orange color and noise. In reality, the walls are painted alternately white and an ocher red and otherwise covered by various "Mexican art" in the form of roses, crosses, sombreros, and metal lit stars above the bar. There's some framed religious art as well, and it sort of does give you the impression that you're in some cantina south of the border (at least the basement does anyway). The furniture is red and brown woodwork, which in addition to the wall color, contributes to the red-orange glow noted above. And yes, the noise, something which the older couple next to us complained about lustily. It's definitely something to deal with.
We got guacamole for the table. I think after you've had guac made in front of you at Cafe Atlantico or Oyamel, it's hard to go back. It was perfectly adequate.
For our main courses, I ordered the pato al mole (duck in a fig mole), figuring it to be a perfect marriage of the cuisine at hand and my own culinary likes. Unfortunately it was sort of a meh dish. There was a nice sweet from the fig, but that was mostly overwhelmed by the strong mole taste. Most importantly, the duck was a little overcooked, to the point that it was basically like better tasting chicken.
Beatrice ordered the goat cheese enchiladas with shrimp, served in a poblano pepper cream sauce. This was probably the winner of the night in my eyes, with the goat cheese combining with the sauce to make for an epically creamy taste sensation that was beautifully savory. The shrimp was sort of like Juwan Howard on the heat; nice in small doses, and you're okay that it's there, because it is shrimp after all, but it didn't really bring anything to the table or take anything off. Still, good cream flavor with nice clarity.
Stormtrooper ordered the simplest of the three dishes, a chicken breast in a mole poblano. After the other two, this faded in the memory as just something that was. The mole was solid if unremarkable, the chicken cooked fine but not perfectly. Definitely more of the same adequate-for-the-moment food.
For dessert, we ordered churros. Honestly, I grew up on Costco churros, and my affection for them is undying. So when these were probably no better than that memory, I was a little nonplussed.
Decent if you want Mexican. I'm not sure I would go out of my way for it though.
Food Rating: ** 1/2 (out of 5)
Date Rating: 2.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Party in the USA
Cost: $$$ (out of 5) ($50-$75 for two)
Pairing: I'm not above saying I played on the playground at the Marie Reed Learning Center. I also might have been drunk, but I think that's beside the point. Playgrounds are fun.