Cuba de Ayer Restaurant owners Jessica and William Rodriguez ensure their dishes demonstrate what the Washingtonian dubbed "the mandate of the Cuban restaurant: The food should never be too fine or too fussy." Their menu lets the traditional food speak for itself, from the marinated pork that arrives draped in sautéed onions to the hearty black beans and rice that accompany thinly-sliced steaks.
Steaming plates load tables inside the cozy dining room, which sports rich oxblood walls decorated with colorful artwork. Guests relax in snug booths with cups of café con leche and sweet tres leches cakes, a decadent alternative to glasses of milk.
Soretti's specializes in serving a robust menu of authentic, home-style Ethiopian fare, which is traditionally eaten with injera, a light, spongy flatbread that serves as an edible utensil. For dinner, embark on a culinary odyssey with the gomen be-ayib, (collard greens with homemade cheese, herbed butter, and toast, $6.95) before tongue-hopping to the veggie combo #1 ($11.50), which features red lentils, cabbage, potatoes, split peas, string beans, carrots, and tomato salad. Meatier dishes including the beef tibs ($11.50) sautéed with jalapeño, onions, and herbs, cater to carnivorous cravings. Soretti’s also features a lunch menu and traditional weekend coffee service with eggs, toast, and omelettes. With its butter-hued walls and cozy tables, Soretti’s interior is as warm and inviting as diving off a springboard into a tub of margarine. Reservations are recommended for parties larger than six.
Squisito's chefs bake 14 specialty pizzas either on New York-style or square flatbread crusts. Extending their menu into Italian territory, they also make a dozen pasta entrees, six seafood dishes, and chicken or veal entrees such as the mushroom- and capellini-based marsala. All of Squisito's food is made to order, and the restaurant's concept is fast and casual, like a bunny in boat shoes.
The cooks at Sierra's Grill & Taqueria have plated heaping portions of classic and contemporary Mexican cuisine since 1989. Fish tacos with pico de gallo and guacamole join house specialties such as the Acapulco Princess—crabmeat, baby shrimp, and white-wine sauce wrapped in a flour tortilla—which is served atop a single pea. The cuisine masters also fuse American flavors into Latin American recipes, crafting empanadas stuffed with buffalo chicken and served with sticks of celery. Cocktails such as margaritas and beers such as Dos Equis and Shiner Bock complement each meal.