January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

A stylish downtown place for mojitos and Latin-themed cooking.

No. 90 Ceiba

Got a crowd to please? Here’s your place. Picky eaters, parents young and old, teens, tourists—all can find something to entertain them at this Nuevo Latino–themed eatery. There’s a lot to like: a peppy salsa soundtrack, tart mojitos, a hacienda-chic interior, and service so efficient you’ll likely hear “Another cocktail?” within a minute of polishing off a pisco sour.

The menu is a pan-Latin mash-up of renditions both straightforward (black-bean soup) and newfangled (foie gras pupusas). If some dishes look better than they taste—chorizo meatballs turn up underseasoned and dry, Cuban crab fritters are gluey, and  queso fundido  is bubbling but boring—there’s often enough surprise on each plate to compensate.

The best thing about an entrée of tuna escabèche is not the thick slices of fish, it’s the dense  causa —a Peruvian-style potato salad—on the side. The shellfish in the seafood stew may be a tad overcooked, but the tomatoey broth is addictive. If there’s a must-have, it’s the beef empanadas—so good, they’d be worth opening a takeout window for.

A server one night touted pastry chef David Guas’s recent appearance on the  Today show. But his desserts, save for a terrific guava cheesecake, have been less sparkling lately.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.