THE SCENE. Amid the gray expanse of office towers that is Crystal City, José Andrés's year-old Mexican spot sticks out like a pair of ruby slippers. It's easy to get a seat at lunch, but when night falls, expect to cool your heels and wait.
WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. Design team Adamstein & Demetriou's gorgeous, high-ceilinged dining room is a painted rainbow glittering with tin butterflies. And Andrés's small-plates formula–here they're antojitos–is a proven crowd-pleaser. The good mood is further buoyed by a well-run team of servers, easy parking, and a terrific margarita with salt-lime froth.
WHAT YOU WON'T. Many of the tacos, like the chipotle-marinated shrimp and barbecue-pork varieties, are underseasoned and overwhelmed by chewy tortillas. And the long list of small plates includes dishes that are beautiful to look at but surprisingly bland.
BEST DISHES. Palmitos salad, which marries tart grapefruit, salty hearts of palm, and creamy avocado; crispy duck-confit tacos with a sliver of pineapple; cafe de olla, an aromatic, milk-chocolate flan; warm chocolate cake with mole crema.