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Dec 26, 2009 08:09 AM

Gourmet Mexican in/near Bethesda?

On our way to NYC and will be stopping in Bethesda. Just watched Paula Deen's guest make some yummy Mexican, so I have a craving...

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  1. The only place I'm aware of in the entire Metro area serving what you might call "gourmet" Mexican food would be Oyamel, downtown.

    3 Replies
    1. re: DanielK

      Agreed. Jaleo being the only alternative if taking the request a little more loosely.

      1. re: DanielK

        In DC there's also Rosa Mexicano in Penn Quarter. It's an offshoot of an excellent restaurant in New York City. They also have a location at National Harbor.

        1. re: leslielj

          Rosa Mexicano is good for guacamole and margaritas, but the rest of the food is only "gourmet" after a few MORE margaritas.

          Of course, the prices are gourmet from the get-go...

      2. You'll be lucky to find any decent Mexican food in Bethesda or close neighborhoods; you can forget about gourmet! There is an Austin Grill and a Rio Grande in Bethesda, although I'd give them both a miss and head a little bit south into DC. There's a better Tex-Mex place near the Washington Cathedral, straight south on Wisconsin Ave. a ways, called Cactus Cantina. I'd recommend that before the Austin Grill and Rio Grande in Bethesda.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Transplanted Texan

          You couldn't pay me to go back to Cactus Cantina.

          1. re: Steve

            Yeah, I second Steve. I'd probably eat at Taco Bell before I'd go back to Cactus Cantina (or Austin Grill - how sad how far they've fallen).

            Rio Grande is not bad in a pinch, but it's just adequate Tex Mex, neither gormet nor Mexican as the OP requested.

            1. re: DanielK

              I think rio grande is underated. The cadilac platter with lobster and either chicken or beef fajita's is great. The plato gordo with excellent ribs, shrimp wrapped in bacon with a garlic butter dipping sauce and chicken or steak fajita's is also excellent. It may be somewhat commercial but the food is high quality, fresh, large portions and tastes good. It differs from Oyamel but is definitely better than Austin Grill or On the Border type places.

              1. re: dining with doc

                Guapo's on Wisconsin Ave. is consistently good. Not gourmet but good, reliable food. Shrimp are really good.

                1. re: dining with doc

                  I prefer the Rio Grande at the Rio Center in Gaithersburg to the one in Bethesda. Austin Grill used to be really good; it is indeed a shame how far they've fallen.

                2. re: DanielK

                  That's interesting about Cactus Cantina. I've been there probably a half dozen times over the past 18 years and had pretty good meals, considering that there's no truly excellent Tex-Mex around. The last time was admittedly a couple years ago -- has it gone downhill so much?

            2. Skip Bethesda all together (I live there, it's a good idea) and go to Guajillo in Arlington just across Key Bridge. It's 15-20 minutes from Bethesda and completely worth the trip.

              Just an aside - they have the best employee retention of anyplace I've ever seen. Same excellent, happy staff for years now. One of those places you keep going back to because the food, service, and feel are just right and it's a good deal.