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January 2005 Divino Lounge & Restaurant

With its crimson walls and abstract paintings, Divino is all about Latin chic.

With its crimson walls and abstract paintings, Divino is all about Latin chic. While the young stop by for tapas, Argentine families settle in for meaty feasts in one of Bethesda's most stylish dining rooms.

Tapas worth tasting are avocado slices heaped with lump crab and drizzled with citrus dressing, roast duck leg with prunes, grilled sardines with garlic sauce, and little plates of cured ham and Spanish cheeses. Worthy starters on the regular menu—you can think of them as tapas, too—include a multilayered vegetable cake stuffed with goat cheese and served with asparagus sauce, lobster salad with gazpacho dressing, and shrimp in garlic sauce.

Beef reigns here, so try the grilled New York strip, or short ribs, or a South American cut known as churrasco. The parrillada for two is an extravaganza of short ribs, sausages, sweetbreads, and the skirt-steak-like flap meat. Other main courses seem almost plain. Not so the paellas, one with seafood, another Valencia-style with sausage, chicken, pork, and duck. They are among the area's best. The wine list includes interesting picks from Argentina and Uruguay, and there's also the popular Argentine beer Quilmes.

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