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Fearless Critic restaurant review
DC
Food
Feel
Price
7.5
7.4
$50
Mexican
Upmarket restaurant

Hours
Sun–Thu 11:00am–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 11:00am–11:00pm

Features Kid-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC
Reservations Accepted

www.modernmexican.com

Tysons Corner, VA
7852 Tysons Corner Center
McLean, VA
(703) 893-2222
La Sandía Mexican Kitchen
Suburban Mexican where family-friendly meets upscale

One of the only haute regional Mexican restaurants in the DC area, La Sandía calls Tysons Corner Center home. This ensures a captive audience of hungry mallgoers who just want to sit down somewhere because their feet hurt. Then, they want to eat their meal, and continue their shopping. That said, many more would likely visit La Sandía if it didn’t mean huffing it out to Tysons Corner, circling endlessly about a parking lot, and trekking through a shopping center. A smattering of tables just outside the restaurant—but still well within the confines of the mall—makes us giggle; does this constitute outdoor dining? As when we’re stuck in an airport restaurant, we prefer to burrow in all the way to the back, where it feels nice and cozy, and where lighting is appropriately dim—perhaps even a touch too dim—subsequently encouraging margarita consumption.

Which is fine by us, because the drinks here aren’t bad. They, thankfully, avoid a hyper-syrupy fate. (That said, if sugar water’s your thing, you really don’t have to dig deep to find it; just know that the classics are fairly faithful representations.) Bright, but restrained and geometrically stylish, squares of color run across the wall. Chairs and tables are sleek, with sharp angles. Servers are knowledgeable and friendly, sometimes coming across as if they take their job a bit too seriously—but in an endearing way.

The food is clearly inspired by the upmarket regional-Mex genre spearheaded by Rick Bayless and pals, and it has about the level of sophistication you would expect from a mid-level culinary empire. Sopes feature carnitas atop a black-bean-purée-topped masa cake, which is airily fluffy; shredded cabbage doesn’t contribute much to the whole operation, but a few pickled onions add just enough bite. Ceviches throw in a few non-traditional ingredients like tomato, as in the case of the rock shrimp version (shrimp were closer to raw than we expected, but we still would have liked to see it rarer), or poblano-tomatillo in the yellowtail tuna version.

Cheese enchiladas have a nouvelle twist—Gouda. It adds a lovely, smoky dimension to the dish, but when it’s combined with two other cheeses and cream, the tomatillo sauce and chile are helpless to cut through that mess of dairy. This dish will remain in your stomach like a rock.

And that certainly makes it hard to continue with your shopping, now doesn’t it?

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