July 2009 update- I haven't confirmed, but I think Gaujillo has changed their recipes. The fish tacos weren't as good, nor were the tortillas. I found the same w/ the pork tacos..they were a bit dry. The ceviche is still going strong as are their drinks. It's still a fun place to go, but I think their tacos have taken a fall :(

I would say Mexican food is second in line to Italian as my favorite foods. However, our area seems to be lacking any authentic Mexican like I experienced in Mexico. Guajillo, pronounced wa-hee-yo, is the closest I’ve found to simple, authentic Mexican cuisine. This tiny family owned restaurant is on Wilson Boulevard in between Rosslyn and Courthouse, in a dinky strip mall. But, walk inside, and the scene completely changes. It’s a venue of bright colored walls, exquisite Mexican paintings, and loads of people just having a great time.

The biggest challenge of going to Guajillo, for both Neil and myself is to fight our temptation to put our name down at Ray's the Steaks next door…another favorite of mine, and the best steak experience in the area. But, when you have a Mexican craving, a steak simply cannot satisfy. Now, if both of us aren’t craving Mexican that night, then we have a problem. It hasn’t happened yet…

Guajillo, makes for a festive, lively dinner. It’s a great spot for a happy hour, a 3rd date, or dinner with friends. It is very crowded and drinks are always flowing. I think it has the best sangria and mojito in our area. The mojitos by the glass are pretty big too, and so refreshing. You can’t taste a bit of alcohol, but trust me, they are potent! Neil loves the margaritas. All three are available by the carafe too!

The drinks are great, but what makes this place so popular is the food. To start off, house fried, super thin, crispy tortilla chips with a roasted salsa perfectly spiced, and not watered down like most other salsas. I can’t stop munching on the chips and salsa here. Guajillo has so many fun dishes to choose from. The shrimp ceviche appetizer is one of the best ceviches around. It’s served up in a huge glass, enough to share amongst 4 people. Their house made mole sauce is also very rich and earthy. I think the sauce shines in the enchiladas mole entree. But, there are several other mole dishes to choose from. Or even better, they have shrimp and goat cheese enchiladas that is making my mouth water right now. It’s chunks of shrimp inside tortillas, and smothered in a rich goat cheese sauce. It is then topped with fresh sliced avocado, and served with a corn salad and beets. I love goat cheese, shrimp, and avocado. This combo had to be made with me in mind!!! I have a hard time deciding between the goat cheese enchiladas and their tacos. Their tacos are fabulous and almost like the ones I had in Los Cabos. I get a trio of pork, lamb, and fish tacos. The tacos appear to be tiny, but it’s definitely more than enough. Neil gets the taco trio all the time, and is totally stuffed. My favorite is probably the fish taco, consisting of perfectly salted, flash fried fish, topped with radicchio and a yummy chipotle crema sauce. YUM!! Oh, and their tacos are served in soft, corn tortillas…the way they should be. The only dishes that I don’t really care so much for are the guacamole and burritos. The guacamole isn’t chunky enough for me, and a little heavy on the lime. I think that a good guacamole should have very little lime, only for preservation. As for the burritos, I find the filling to be a little bland. So what?…there’s more than enough other fabulous dishes to choose from.

If you still have room, finish off your meal with their sopapillas and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The sopapillas are enormous, soft, and puffy, served up with honey drizzled all over. This is a great dessert to share, unless you’re dining with me :)

I find the service there to be just fine. The waiters are running around a lot, but they are attentive and friendly. Wait times can be long. I would suggest calling on your way there to put your name down. Their reservation policy isn’t consistent. I’ve been able to make reservations on occasion, and other times not. Even if you have to wait, the bar area is very lively, and you can munch on chips and sangria to pass the time.

The owners opened up a sister restaurant in DC called Casa Oaxaca on 18th Street. I still haven’t gone, but I'm sure it won't disappoint. I’m hoping to make my way there this summer. Can’t wait!

1727 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201

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