★★★☆☆

3139 M Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20007

Located near the bustling intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street, America Eats Tavern is an acceptable restaurant to experience American seafood, barbecue and salads with a variety of beverages and desserts.

The restaurant’s owner, José Andrés, is an internationally renowned chef and culinary innovator with a two Michelin star restaurant, called Minibar, and four Bib Gourmands. Andrés was also nominated as one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in both 2012 and 2018 and is currently the owner of ThinkFoodGroup, a company that houses America Eats Tavern and many of his other renowned restaurants across the country.

KEENAN SAMWAY FOR THE HOYA

Opened in June of this year, the neat white windows and a big flag of its name hanging from its red brick walls immediately draw the attention of passers-by. Inside, the modern and elegant interior of America Eats Tavern create a welcoming and enjoyable atmosphere from the moment guests step in. Murals of Midwest scenery like Route 66 mixed with Washington, D.C., spotlights such as Union Station blend the city’s history with the restaurant’s contemporary décor. The wooden walls, decorated beautifully with lamps and mirrors, and wooden ceilings, stairs and tables give the venue the feel of a classic tavern. The restaurant also boasts a bar on the first floor with drinks from all 50 states, a second floor and a patio for more dining space.

Guests will be content with the menu’s variety, for the restaurant serves a diverse spectrum of American cuisine ranging from seafoods, barbeques and sandwiches to salads and soups. The venue also has separate menus for wines, beverages and desserts which add more to the finesse of its cuisine diversity.

My meal started with hush puppies, which are cornmeal fritters that come with honey butter on the side. As a starter, the hush puppies left a great impression, for the crispiness of the outside layer of the fritters worked in perfect harmony with the warm and soft cornmeal on the inside. The small hushpuppies were the perfect size, as anything bigger may have tasted a bit greasy. The butter adds a taste of coolness and sweetness to the fritters, but the hush puppies by themselves served as an excellent starter to pique our appetites.

Next, I ordered a dish consisting of a chicken thigh, wing and breasts glazed in house barbeque sauce, a creamy coleslaw and two toasted pieces of bread. The chicken was cooked to perfection, and the house barbeque sauce gave the dish a solid taste of traditional American barbeque cuisine. However, the blandness of the coleslaw and the dryness of the toast certainly prevented the sides from being tasteful dishes of their own.

While I worked on the half chicken, my friend ordered a plate of fish and chips, which came with fried Chesapeake Bay blue catfish, Saratoga Chips and tartar sauce. The catfish was rather disappointing, as its fried outer layer tasted too salty to go with the soft fillet on the inside. The tartar sauce was also of little help, as it was not able to mitigate the saltiness of the fried catfish. The Saratoga Chips, dipped with tartar sauce, were somewhat better, as their crispiness gave a pleasant mouthfeel that was not too salty and addicting enough to keep reaching for another one.

America Eats Tavern offers reasonably tasty American cuisine, but the quality of the food is not worth the price tag, with entrée costs ranging from between $15 and $30. Nevertheless, the elegant interiors, energetic background music and diverse wine and beverage choices make for a pleasant restaurant experience; but discerning diners seeking satisfying catfish and flavorful coleslaw should look elsewhere for a better taste of the USA.

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