Agua 301

Review: Agua 301

When I went to Agua 301 in Yards Park three weekends ago, I not only enjoyed the Tortilla Soup and Pork Belly Tacos, but also heard that Chef Antonio Burrell was no longer with the restaurant and that a new chef from New Jersey would start in a couple of days.

I just love tidbits of information.

That said, I hope that my review won’t be outdated now that Chef Will Vivas, former executive chef at Recess Tapas Lounge, has taken the helm at Agua 301’s kitchen. While mainstay menu items will remain on the menu, Vivas is developing new selections based on his South American background and training. Guess we shall see.

I’ve now been to Agua plenty of times since it’s in my neighborhood and have been quite pleased. No, it’s not the best Mexican restaurant — is there really any place in DC with Mexican food that’s to die for? But I haven’t had to scream for “Agua,” spanish for water, as Washington Post Food Critic Tom Sietsema admonished in his review.

What I loved:

  • Pork Belly al Pastor with crispy fried pork belly, pineapple habanero salsa, al pastor aioli, salsa de arbol. Two words: crispy and tasty. I asked co-owner Stephen Briggs what the secret is behind the dish.”The pineapple habanero really tops off the pork belly tacos but the other key ingredient that makes it as good as it is, is the al pastor aioli that it is tossed in before being pout in the taco,” he said. “It is made up of ten different spices and coats the pork belly to give it that to die for flavor.”Indeed.
  • The Tortilla Soup, which is presented in a deconstructed state. The server pours the broth over the chicken table-side and you can add pico, avocado, tortillas and hot peppers to your liking.
  • The margaritas, which are made with freshly squeezed juices and agave nectar as opposed to other sweeteners.
  • The service: Everyone here from the hostess to the manager is smiling.
  • The view. Located in The Yards, you’ll have a beautiful view of the waterfront.

What I liked:

  • The Ceviche Pescado Blanco, white fish, onion, cilantro, lime. The fish was a bit on the chewy side.
  • The plantain chips just because they are different
  • The Carne Asada con Kimchi, grilled marinated skirt steak, housemade kimchi, cotija, citrus aioli. If you like spice, this is for you.

What I disliked:

  • “We’re Out Of __”: Second time in a row that Agua hasn’t had the Fried Pork Chicharrones. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy chicarrones?
  • The napkins: They were on the hard/startchy side, PLUS I had to ask for one when my food came — pet peeve.
  • The physical menus: Hopefully this was a one-time thing, but the menu I got had salsa fingerprint stains all over it from a previous patron(s).

So I disagree with Tom, for what it’s worth (ok, that’s worth nothing). Is Agua301 a gem? No. Is the neighborhood better for it? Absolutely. Are they listening/responding to reviews and feedback? Yes. And that’s priceless.

See you soon for margaritas and tacos, Agua.

Pssst…are you a Nats fan? You can enjoy Happy Hour for drinks everyday from 3:30-7pm and Happy hour food specials Monday through Friday from 3:30 to 7pm.

Post Game Special (for two hours after each game) $5 margaritas in the bar following a Nats win and $6 margaritas following a loss.

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