I did a double take at the large red letters that replaced the name of the Old Japanese Steakhouse. My heart skipped a beat as I read the words… T’Kila… Latin Kitchen. Oh man, could it be? A new Mexican restaurant less then 2 miles from my house? Now maybe this doesn’t excite the average, sane person but it was enough to leave me feeling gleeful the rest of the day. I scoured Google and Yelp to find out everything I could about our new friends. I faithfully drove by time and time again, praying for that “open” sign to start flashing its red lights. I peeked in windows and scoured the restaurant for signs of life.
One fateful morning I saw the most glorious sign. It read “GRAND OPENING.” I relentlessly pestered my husband about visiting until he finally relented. I’ve been there 4 times now and I felt it was time to share with the world (my very small world) about the little gem down the street.
Every now and again I come across a runner’s blog who reviews a race they ran. Dorothy does this a lot and I always appreciate the feedback on a race from The People. So here it is. The People’s Restaurant Review.
I am not a gourmet chef, I do not fine dine, I have no sort of degree or professional qualification to write a restaurant review, nor do I live in a happening Big City with 5-star chefs. I’m just a mom looking for practical things like “How much is that kid’s meal gonna run me?” ($6, very generous portions) or “Are the floors carpet or linoleum so I don’t seem like a huge a-hole when my 2 year old dumps the rice on the floor and I leave it there?” (answer: linoleum, allelujah) or “How much are the margaritas?” (THREE DOLLARS, people, THREE.)
First thing’s first… Curbside Appeal:
|Photo courtesy of Steve Dunleavey|
Ok… not too shabby. There are wooden blinds on the windows so you can’t actually peek in and see if you’re walking into crowds or a completely quiet, calm restaurant with your loud children. You also might wonder if this restaurant is pronounced “Ta Kill Ya.” No worries, it is not. Inside it is quite nice. A HUGE bar area, clean, very open, tons of tables not too squeezed together.
The Grub: (Pardon the iPhone pics, this was a very covert operation)
On my third visit, I brought my Dad. He is Mexican, so this was a big test. Since Dad was footing the bill (thanks, Pops!!) I brought all the kids and we even splurged on the guacamole. Now sometimes guacamole makes me angry at restaurants. You pay buko bucks for what amounts to one little avocado that has barely any flavor. Rosa Mexicana is a popular DC spot and well known for their tableside guacamole. Rosa’s is pretty good… I appreciate the fresh ingredients. I do not appreciate the $25 charge for a double portion (2 whole whopping avocados… I think Sage could finish that).
At T’Kila, the manager (who by the way, used to work at Rosa Mexicana) whipped up our tableside guacamole (2 avocados, mind you) for the standard price of $8.95. We ordered it extra spicy so he added serrano peppers (vs jalapeno, so much better) and an habanero sauce. This was seriously GOOD guacamole and worth every penny.
Chips and Salsa should really be in a category all their own. Any mexican restaurant that doesn’t give you free chips and salsa is NIXED from my list immediately. I love Picante’s but they are so incredibly stingy with their salsa I can’t stand to go there anymore. The chips here come out warm, and the salsa is just the right mix of savory and spicy with a pretty smooth consistency. I give it an 8/10.
We ordered the mixed fajitas. They are GOOD. Big enough for two people to share, with plenty of peppers and onions to go around. The black beans are interesting, cooked in an adobo sauce with chorizo. Very yummy. Sage didn’t mind sticking her hand in and stuffing her face with them. I also appreciate the corn and carrots in the rice… because come on I have a 2 year old who is going to eat for free and make a gigantic mess and I need finger food options for her!
The best part about the fajitas was this magic sauce. I don’t know what it was but it was spicy and it was flavorful. Make sure you ask for extra of that.
We also ordered the cheese enchiladas. My dad said they were “some of the best he has ever had” and that is serious praise coming from him. I have also ordered the chicken ones before and they were mediocre, just in my opinion. Especially after having the cheese. But others have told me they love them so its all personal taste. They come with refried BLACK beans, which I love.
COST: It’s definitely not cheap if you’re going to take out the whole fam. But let’s be real I can hardly afford to take 5 people out anywhere these days. Fajitas are around $14-16 and you can’t find much on the menu for under $10. I’m hoping in the future they come up with more of a lunch menu. However is it worth it? YES. All the food is made to order. Each time I have been, the wait time for our food decreased. I appreciate that they are making it fresh and that takes a little extra time, but hopefully they will get a handle on the restaurant operations as time goes on.
So now the real questions… how does this place measure up for small people?
A kids meal will run you $6… seems a little steep at first but keep listening. In addition to the main meal, they get a kid sized drink and a scoop of ice cream. Good deal if you ask me.
Yeah Sage is still in her PJ’s at noon, don’t judge.
I love that the chicken tenders are also made fresh. The manager told me they batter and fry the chicken themselves. French fries are just good old potatoes cut up. Others have lamented that they don’t sell crunchy tacos on either the kid or adult menu.
By the way, Tuesday Nights, Kids Eat Free!
Last but CERTAINLY NOT least, are the drinks. I did not take a picture when I hit the Happy Hour last Friday but I wish I did. This may be one of the best Happy Hours I have ever seen. Not that I’ve seen a lot since my youth ended before I was 21, but I can’t see it getting much better than THREE DOLLARS for a margarita from 4 PM to 9 PM Monday through Friday! Three dollars, people! A Mojito will only run you $4! I had two margaritas the other night, complete with a bucket or two of chips and salsa and my whole bill was a whopping $6.30 Margaritas and Mojitos are all fresh squeezed, without any of that sugary fakeness. Can’t beat that.
I probably won’t take my family there for dinner that often unless Pops is paying again (love ya Pops). Although, I cant really say our family of five actually goes out to many places where a waiter takes your order and cleans up after you. However, I will definitely be back with girlfriends for guacamole and margaritas. Like maybe tonight, anyone? Anyone?
I hope you consider supporting this local business for your next night out!
*Note, I was not endorsed for this review, I’m just obsessed with Mexican food