We would like to welcome you to an amazing world of Spanish and Mexican tapas at a modern and artsy restaurant named Tico, located on U Street in Washington D.C. Now, before you say what we always tell ourselves about tapas (Tapas are too expensive! Tapas are not enough food!) let us concede that all of those things are true. I prefer all-you-can-eat brunch tapas. However, Tico’s great dinner menu, strong drinks and amazing desserts might change my mind Tico also offers an all-you-can-eat brunch, which we will check out and review soon enough.
The other thing that will make you fall in love with this place is the romantic atmosphere and giant, graffiti-covered walls. Low light is an enemy of good pictures, so if you want to take some, make sure to bring an external light. But make sure that you are not obnoxious to others.
After a recommendation from our awesome waiter, we decided to start with the signature Tico Guacamole for $14. We were starving and already drinking, so this arrived just in time. Served with thick, warm chips, this hit the right spot. What made this a bit more unusual was the addition of black olive powder on top of the Guacamole. It only added a small hint that barely registered with our taste buds, but it added to the nice presentation. While it wasn’t the most amazing guac we’ve ever tasted, it was delicious and tied us over as we waited for the next dishes.
Serrano Ham (5/5 NOMs)
Our next dish during tapas dinner at Tico became one of the best of the night — the Serrano Ham for $15. You can never go wrong with ham, but this was a whole new level. Very thinly sliced ham with crunchy bread was made even more amazing by the guava jam dipping sauce. We have to admit that our preference is usually for thick meat ;), but every single slice of the ham contained a lot of flavors. Also, we have to talk about that bread! Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, it went very well with the ham and sauce. Everything about this dish made us fall in love. The only problem is that we ate it all! We do have to talk about the price tag, though. Yeah, it’s a pretty expensive tapas dish, but it’s also well worth it. Make sure to split it with a few friends.
Tico’s Mac & Cheese (4/5 NOMs)
If you know us well, you know we love our mac and cheese! It’s one of our favorite foods to eat, and we couldn’t pass up ordering a bowl from Tico for $12. It’s very cheesy, but there were a few things that we would change about this dish. The dish comes with good Serrano Ham, extra cheese on top and crunchy breadcrumbs. Cheese lovers will rejoice and enjoy this gooey cheesiness. While the portion is small(remember, it’s a tapas dish), it’s still pretty hearty, so it’s enough to share with a few hungry friends. Overall, we liked the dish and would order it again. We might have few suggestions to make it full 5 NOMs, however: thicker cuts of ham would add more flavor. While there was a round amount of cheesiness, the dish was a bit too wet and could have been better if it was a bit gooier. Yeah, we are all about that thickness.
Spicy Pork Tacos (4/5 NOMs)
Tacos are always a must, and after considering Tico’s six different choices, we settled on Spicy Pork for $13 with cucumbers and salsa verde. You can’t go wrong with this combination. The corn tortilla was light in flavor, allowing the pork to shine. The tortilla held taco together without getting too soggy. It made for a perfect delivery system for those nomnoms into our mouths. We do kind of wish there was more kick to these tacos since they are called spicy. Also, each order only includes two tacos. But this is a tapas restaurant, so you can’t expect large portions. It’s something to keep in mind if you are hungry or dining with a big group.
Mezcal Flamed Queso Fundido (6/5 NOMs)
This cheese is on fire!!!!! For once, we were not the most flaming thing at the table. This was far our most favorite dish: the Mezcal Flamed Queso Fundido for $15. I mean you can’t beat this presentation and of course the flavors were out of this world. We know that it says “flamed” in the name, but it came by surprise. If you love cheese, then this is a dish for you because it comes with three different kinds of cheese: two Mexican cheese, Oaxaca (commonly known Quesillo) and Queso Chihuahua (it’s not a typo, and it’s not a dog), plus an American cheese. Every bite was pure joy! Of course, that joy came after the fire went out. This was served with corn tortillas for tipping, which we went through quickly, so we just switched to those thick chips. Flamed Queso Fundido is another dish that is on the higher end of prices, but the quantity makes it more like a full entree, and the flavor makes it nomnom worth it. This dish alone is a reason enough for you to go to Ticos. We think it would pair well with a few good drinks.
Hot Wings (4/5 NOMs)
Clap your wings if you like it hot! We are fans of wings as they make a perfect dish with drinks. These were nice and juicy wings served with some pickled vegetables on top, all paired with a blue cheese dipping sauce. It’s definitely one of those dishes that you will need extra napkins for, because things get very messy. Now, is hot about temperature or spice level? We are a fan of spicy food and cute so we went with spice spiciness. Sadly, it didn’t pass our spice test and had very little kick to it. That didn’t take away from the nomnom of the dish, however. We still recommend ordering this. For $13 you get enough wings to share with friends.
Delicata Squash (6/5 NOMs)
With so much meat, we just wanted to try some veggies. We ordered the Delicata Squash for $12, which turned into the best dish of the night. You know it’s good when meat lovers prefer a vegetarian dish over meat. It’s This dish consists of squash in cinnamon butter, guajillo chile and pickled onion. The name Delicata Squash refers to a specific variety of winter squash that is also known as peanut squash. The flavor combination was an interesting mix of sweet and savory. It’s almost like this dish was inspired by the graffiti art decor of the restaurant. We wish there was more of this dish.
Los Muertos Cocktail (5/5 NOMs)
Let’s talk about alcohol because mama is thirsty for a Los Muertos Cocktail. Recommended by the waiter, the description sounded so good we ordered up a pitcher for $48. While this sounds like a lot, a single serving is $12. My, oh my, did that hit the spot! The Bacardi Rum, Passionfruit Serrano Syrup and lime made for a sweet and sour combination. Plus, it had a strong alcohol flavor that assured us that we would get drunk. This beautiful drink is served with a giant ice cube and layers of yellow and orange colors. While it’s more of a sipping drink, we easily enjoyed it in large quantities. This is a drink that will keep you warm during cold days. Even the pitcher it arrives in is very cool. So far, this is our favorite drink at Tico restaurant.
Then it was time for dessert — one of those sad and happy moments in a good dinner. On the one hand, we were sorry that dinner is nearly over, but on the other, we were so glad for some dessert. Tico did not disappoint with a fantastic selection. Surprisingly, each dessert was large, so it didn’t feel like tiny tapas and they were priced to allow your wallet to stay happy. If you are not there for the food, the desserts are a good enough reason to visit Tico. The dessert menu might be a great way to end a beautiful date night with drinks and sweet things.
Passionfruit Creme Brulee (4/5 NOMs)
Get creamy for some Passionfruit Creme Brulee. We always enjoy Creme Brulee for its hard melted sugar layer and smooth creamy interior. In this case, Tico used caramelized turbinado (brown sugar) to create a very thick layer. This is a must-order for fans of this dessert. Portion-wise, it’s a pretty standard size and well worth $10.
Tres Leches Cake (5/5 NOMs)
Just look at this beauty. How can you not order Tre Leches Cake from Tico? Just in case this is your first time hearing about this dessert: 1) This is a sponge cake soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream and 2) You should order it next time you visit Tico. This dessert is common in many Latin and Spanish restaurants in the D.C area. The preparation processes of soaking in milk give this dessert a very soft consistency. The cake is just as creamy as the cream on top! It’s served with fresh berries, candied almonds, caramel pink peppercorn and mango sorbet. We just fell in love with the sorbet that made for a great texture and cool refreshing addition to every bite. Portion-wise, it’s just the right amount for $10. For such a low price for a tapas dish, there is enough to share with friends or dates. Or be like us, eat the whole thing by yourself. It might be nice to be a good friend and share it.
Churros Con Dulce (4/5 NOMs)
Churros are one of those things we’ve had so much of that we were a bit tired of them, but Tico’s Churros Con Dulce revived our love for this dessert. These churros are another great dessert for a great price of $10. Every detail of this dessert was lovely and delicious that this sugar addict just fell in love. The crunchy churros were not the only great part of this dessert. The churros also came with a super tasty Dulce de Leche Espuma, which is a creamy sweet milk for dipping. This dessert also arrived with very chocolatey-tasting chocolate pearls., just in case, there weren’t already enough desserty elements in the dish.
Caramelized Banana Split (5 NOMs)
A banana split may not sound very exciting, but Tico is changing that with their Caramelized Banana Split. While this is a tapas place, their desserts are far from small samplers and will give you a nice big sugar coma. It might not look it, but a lot is going on in this banana split that makes it one of the best desserts on the menu. Chocolate gelato, peanut butter mousse and peanut crunch. Plus Mexican chocolate sauce on top with cream and chocolate pearls. It presented smooth, chocolate joy in every spoonful. With so many elements, it made for a pretty heavy and very sugary treat. Hence we had no complaints. You can and really should share this dessert with friends, since you get a lot of it for $14.