Guacamole, chips and inspired sips are on the menu this month at La Sandia.
By Kelly A. Magyarics
Cinco de Mayo may be long over, but an homage to the avocado (along with tasty cocktails to sip alongside) continues in Tysons Corner. Throughout the month of May, the Richard Sandoval-run Mexican restaurant La Sandia (7852L Tysons Corner Center, McLean, Va., 703-893-2222) continues its Second Annual Guacamole Festival. The traditional recipe for guacamole, which dates back to Aztec times, included avocado, onion, chiles, fresh tomato and salt. The recipe changed over time as different regions of Mexico added local ingredients, creating countless variations.
As part of the festival, La Sandia is featuring several riffs, priced $10.95 to $13.95 (and larger parties and avocado fanatics can “double your guac” for an extra $5.95.) The Yucatan adds shrimp ceviche, salsa habanero, salsa fresca and orange; fruity Pacifico tops the dip with kiwi, jicama, strawberry and mango; and Norteno adds cactus, morita, salsa fresca and queso fresco. Those who can’t pick just one can opt for a sampler that’s also served with mini tostadas and two kinds of salsa. All guacamole is prepared tableside in a traditional molcajete.
Staff steered us toward the Tradicional, which they touted as the overwhelming guest favorite. It’s prepared simply with one and a half avocados, lime, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and serrano chiles (La Sandia strives to get all of its produce from Mexico.) The guac was creamy and decadent — definitely less seasoned and citrus-y than the kind I make at home, but its simplicity let the subtle flavor of the avocado shine through. We polished it off with accompanying chips, which were fresh and light with just the right amount of salt.
And what’s a bowl of guacamole and chips without a cocktail (or mocktail)? La Sandia is offering a few featured libations for the festival. The Kiwi Margarita ($9.95) gets its tang from muddled fruit in the bottom, and a touch of heat from a chile piquin rimmer. La Sandia always offers a few flavors of aqua fresca, that non-alcoholic Mexican drink blending water with fruits, vegetables and/or herbs. Don’t miss the Avocado Mint Aqua Fresca ($4.95). The creaminess of the avocado is deceptive, rendering a mouth-feel that makes the drink seem much thicker (milkshake like, even), than it really is. Mint adds to the refreshment. I can’t say I’ve tried many drinks with avocado, and it really adds an interesting flavor that I kept going back to.
Heat freaks will really enjoy the lip-tingling Spicy Orange Margarita ($9), mixed with serrano chile-infused Blanco Tequila, fresh orange and sour mix. It left just the right amount of enjoyable burn in the back of our throats. And since this cocktail isn’t on the festival menu, you can enjoy it anytime you like. (Maybe during their daily “Hora Feliz” (happy hour), when you can grab a Margarita for $6, and Bottomless Guacamole for $5 per table from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Bring on the molcajete…)
Courtesy of La Sandia
1 ½ fl. oz. El Jimador Blanco Tequila
2 fl. oz. sour mix (see Note)
¼ kiwi, peeled and cubed
1 lime wedge
Chile piquin, for garnish
Rim Margarita glass with chile piquin. Muddle kiwi and lime wedge in a cocktail shaker. Add Blanco Tequila, sour mix and ice. Shake vigorously, and strain into prepared cocktail glass.
Note: For fresh sour mix, mix 2 parts simple syrup, 2 parts lemon juice and 1 part lime juice.