The plan was for my love and I to go to Best Buy to finally buy the video camera to start filming Taste and See, the web series. We spent at least two hours in Columbia Heights gawking over every option and waiting for help from someone. An hour and a half in, we finally got someone to talk to us and within the next 30 minutes got a Sony point and shoot with the full bundle package. The most exciting part: we’re just that much closer to making the Taste and See web series into real life!
Our original intent was to visit a Mexican cheap eaterie in Dupont Circle. Instead, exhausted after our intense battle between DSLR and other cameras, we decided to stop by Alero on the way home, which was just a block away. It was like walking into a resort on the coast of Mexico, but without all the nice weather and beaches. The music was loud, the restaurant had an almost sterile scent of clean and the decor was like a Cancun souvenir shop had thrown up on the walls: toddler sized bottles of Tequila, as well as decorated masks and skeletons wearing sombreros.
We were seated by a very quirky hostess, who knocked over the drink menu she had just placed on the table and then murmured, “Whatever.” We were placated by the fresh chips and salsa promptly placed on my table. The salsa was thick and slightly chunky, but not out of the jar thick and chunky. Well, maybe it was out of the jar, but they at least had the decency to pepper in some Cayenne.
Brief aside, I once was slightly unclear on the difference between Paprika and Cayenne in my younger years. After an experiment with a Hungarian dish in which I peppered a healthy heaping of Cayenne, I quickly learned the difference.
This place doubles as a bar with extensive cerveza and liquor options. I had had enough suffering the night before, so even though a margarita would’ve paired nicely with my steak fajitas, I laid off on the booze. That choice was really hard to come by — I spent quite a while having to decide between tacos, burritos, enchiladas or other delights because there were no combination platters, as is typical for a true Mexican place. But when a black cast iron slab laiden with steak came to the table and sizzled for at least 3 extra minutes, I was satisfied that I made an okay choice. The first bite of the steak was superb! It was so buttery and flavorful, I could cut into it with my fork. The sauteed onions and celery were delectable and with the guacamole, pico de gallo and cheese accoutrements, it all rolled up nicely in the provided flour tortillas. Of which, I was surprised to see, there were only three. And three baby ones at that, not even the grown up ones.
My boyfriend ordered the nachos, which were piled high, but he was forlorn that he couldn’t see a lot of chicken. I was convinced that it was hiding beneath the mound of cheese, but figured he would just find out for himself. Boys…
This place was a nice cheap eats calorific treat. Obviously next time I’ll have to actually go to the bar. Service was prompt, at least, and the food was freshly prepared. I still can’t get over the sizzle of the tender steak. Alero would be a nice back-up option for dinner in the city if nothing else new or exciting is going on, but that’s about it. With more authentic options on the menu, this could be my go-to hacienda and cantina but until then I’ll just be satisfied that this is your run-of-the-mill Tex Mex spot–at least the one in Columbia Heights.