Husband-wife duo Julio and Lily Soto opened Azul 17 to celebrate not only Mexican cuisine, but to also embrace the culture through music, vibrant design, and a selection of more than 100 tequilas made with 100% blue agave. Their chefs all hail from Mexico and bring family recipes to the kitchen—including one chef's grandmother's recipe for black beans. It's “old world style with updated presentation,” says manager Peter Bonohue. Peter has been in the restaurant business since he could legally work, and to him, Azul 17 has an especially fun atmosphere. “I love tequila now,” he confessed.
While chefs simmer their signature mole sauce and servers add fresh lime juice to margaritas, guests recline atop white leather banquettes or modern chairs. Eyes dance with murals and shimmering blue-tile mosaics splashed against white walls. Those whites are illuminated with a multicolored neon glow as DJs spin club, house, and Mexican tunes starting at 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. On Thursdays at 8 p.m., guests can spice up their tired hokey-pokey routine with salsa lessons.
The Parva Restaurant Bar & Lounge is named for the Colombian word that translates to “best of the best.” By fusing recipes from their native Colombia with Peruvian and Argentine culinary techniques, the cooks at Parva uphold the high standards their name promises.
Parva uses fresh seasonal ingredients in its made-from-scratch dishes, which range from creamy quinoa risotto to Argentine new york steak. Though Parva’s cuisine has roots in traditional Latin dishes, its ivory interior exudes modern style, with lounge-type seating offsetting plush booths where patrons can sip on Argentine malbecs and Spanish sangrias.
At this authentic South American steak house, customers never want for options. The menu of Argentinean meats and seafood is buttressed by a selection of more than 30 hot and cold tapas and a colossal wine and martini list of international libations. The sips cool overexcited taste buds and pair with lauded entrees such as the parrilla of bone-in short ribs, singled out by Washingtonian as one of Bethesda's greatest dishes. Popular seafood platters arrive in the form of whole lobsters, accompanied by enough seafood paella to sate two diners. To ensure that their sizzling meats are shared with the masses, chefs can also export the fare to private bashes or teddy-bear picnics with catering services.
The eatery's décor reflects its exotic eats: spotlights set orange walls ablaze and highlight paintings more colorful than a Rubik's cube hidden in jello. Clusters of leather couches exude a casual air, providing a sleek contrast to the chic table settings and white linens at booths and tables. Proving that elegance needn't be fussy, customers can also master dance steps at milonga lessons on Wednesdays or host parties in the space almost every day of the week.:m]]
Deftly blending New American and Spanish culinary propensities, Nicaro's menu changes daily to accommodate fresh flavors and culinary innovations. Recent offerings include bold, seafaring starters such as the shrimp bruschetta and the blackened, grilled, or barbecued salmon bites (each $9). The blackened chicken sandwich ($12) is served with steak fries and chipotle aioli, and the tossed house salad ($4.50 for a small and $8 for a large) unites julienne peppers, mushrooms, croutons, and bruschetta tomatoes in the perennial battle against boringly bagged grocery-store salads. The fettuccine with Alfredo sauce and basil pesto ($24) and the grilled vegetable platter ($15) both come stamped with the chef's recommendation.
Since 1933, servers and entertainers at Blob's Park have led crowds in authentic bouts of stein hoisting and singing over platters of delicious German cuisine. A hefty beer list stocks gatherings with a frothy selection of delicious libations, with familiar, neighborly domestics, such as a Yuengling lager, or exotic German imports, such as the Augustiner Edelstoff. Authentic German entrees sneak up and bear hug taste buds with savory servings of Nurnberger weisswurst and sauerkraut or schweinschnitzel, a dish of breaded pork loin with cranberry and tomato salad. In addition to dishing out sudsy brews and appetizing meals, Blob's Park treats lederhosen-laden guests to musical acts such as the folksy accordion waltzes of Leon Umberger & The Rheinlanders or the energetic shows of The Hubcaps, which celebrate the sounds of roots rock as well as Aerosmith's little-known back catalog of polka hits.