Cafe Atlantico: Lunch Review

Cafe Atlantico
405 8th St. NW
Washington, DC, 20004
(202) 393-0812

Me, struggling (happily) with my large burger

In the middle of a particularly hot day spent wandering around and checking out the monuments, my inlaws, Jay and I were in desperate need of some sustenance. I’m talking hot weather, and the sun had gotten to us all. After walking around in a vague idea of where we were going, I remembered that Cafe Atlantico was close by, and I suggested that we all go there.

Given that it was still restaurant week, I was a little apprehensive about whether or not we would get a seat. Luckily, we timed our lunch just right and go a table on the second floor. (Soon after we were seated, the place filled up. Such trendsetters!)

It was one of those days were I needed some alcohol for lunch, so I ordered a Pineapple Caipirinha. It was amazingly refreshing and mixed very well, and I felt super special because it came in its own certain glass. I couldn’t taste the alcohol, only a slight sweet-sour refreshing taste that was not overwhelming like cheaply made drinks. My father-in-law ordered a mojito, which he said was very good, and he’s quite the discerning type.

I was pretty much starving, so I wasn’t going to get some wussy meal like a salad (even though I’m DESPERATE to lose weight). Plus, when you go to a nice place like Cafe Atlantico, it almost feels wrong to restrict your meal choice to something dainty. Fortified in my rationale that it was ok to eat something hearty, I chose the Cuban Burger, which is the classic Cafe Burger with the addition of a fried egg. If you’re familiar with UVA-style grub, this burger reminded me of the Gus Burger at the White Spot on the CVille Corner, but a very upclass, non-diner kind.

Cuban Burger, pre-egg breaking

It was quite the LARGE burger, so it was a good thing I was hungry! The burger itself was perfectly cooked and seasoned, and the warm egg running all over everything really added a nice flavor. After a while, the burger just got plaint messy and was hard to handle, and I ended up eating it with my fork, but it was fun to get my fingers all dirty in an attempt to eat it with my hands. It was similar to the pleasure kids get doing dirty things like fingerpainting or playing in the mud, or, I guess, eating messy things with their hands. The fact that the restaurant itself is nice (not in a pretentious way, by the way, but in a fun, oooh lets play dressup and be posh kind of way), and yet here you are, scarfing down this burger with the egg running all over you, it’s kind of exciting and gives you a thrill.

Two things I did not do at lunch that I would like to do sometime: (1) get the table-made guacamole (we were going to Rosa Mexicano later for dinner and already planned on getting the guac there), (2) get a dessert, which we didn’t do because we didn’t want to spoil our dinner (wow was THIS a terrible decision, given the fact that the desserts at Rosa are SO mediocre). I would also love to try this place for brunch on Sunday, when they serve dim sum with a Latin twist.

The atmosphere of Cafe Atlantico is fun and vibrant, with bright colors and modern art on the walls. The service was also very attentive and polite. Given that the food was quite frankly amazing and that the service was good, AND that the atmospher had a great vibe, I think this is my number one place in DC so far. Too many places advertise themselves as great, but either the service will be bad or the food is lacking in excitement (see my forthcoming review of West End bistro, WHAT a disappointment that one was). Cafe Atlantico isn’t pretentious about its food, but it doesn’t have to be because the food is so damn good. I’ve also never been here for dinner, but I think it would be a great, great meal. I definitely recommend it for lunch.

Edit: I forgot to mention that the herbed french fries are hands down the best fries I’ve EVER had. This title used to belong to the fries at The Virginian in Charlottesville, but given the gradual decline in fry quality at the Virginian and the uncomporable flavor and texture, and just the right amount of crunch that these fries have, it’s time for a new champ.


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September 2008
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All posts and images copyright 2008 & 2009 Jenny Robertson, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Any use of images without prior written consent is prohibited.
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