Last Updated: 2/5/2023
Current Status: Estadio reopened to full inside service, but announced they will be closing for good on February 18, 2023. So, if you are reading this before then you have limited time to express your appreciation. You can also visit the extraordinary Oyster Oyster, which has no overlap in cuisine, but some in ownership.
Before Times Review:
Last Visited: February 2020
Light from the big windows contrasts with the dark wood and iron inside this Spanish restaurant. The windows buffer, without eliminating, the energy of 14th Street. The TVs over the bar restrict their content to old soccer matches, though you might think Rod Serling will come on at any second given the anachronism. The food is rooted in the old traditions of Spanish cooking and flourished with some new, bright notes, and it is very good.
The kitchen operates with focus and touch. Rufino Bautista has run the kitchen since day one. He served as sous chef to Haidar Karoum at Proof, and when Karoum needed someone to help open Estadio he brought over Bautista. Nearly every dish is good and some are great. Veggies shine, especially the grilled scallions with Romesco sauce and the blistered Shishito Peppers dressed in olive oil and sea salt. As a Spanish place, it is small plates in format. Beware the tab can sneak up fast.
Meals are lubricated with fine drinks. The cocktail list, under the guidance of Adam Bernbach, has held firm with new classics like orange-thyme Gin & Tonic and old classics like an old-fashioned Old Fashioned. The wine list goes deep into Spain and with a little help from the staff, you can find more than one winner among the bunch. A Mencia for $60 made our table pretty happy recently.
The place still hops years after opening. A large rectangular bar is covers a large area. The crowd swells to include young and old-ish alike. If you want to take the grandparents somewhere more than a few blocks from a Metro stop or the Mall, and not have them be totally thrown off, then this place can do the trick. After you explain the whole small-plates thing.
Estadio has planted roots and seems comfortable in its own skin. Such confidence is nice to be around. It is worth going out of your way to enjoy.
Other Guidance: There are many vegetarian and GF options. It is a nice, neighborhood place so jeans are common. At peak hours the bar can get packed and noisy. Entrance is at street level, but there is a step up.
Rating: Worth Taking a Walk
Neighborhood: 14th Street
Address: 1520 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 (linked to site MAP)
Reservations: Resy. Dinner is walk-in only after 6:00, Friday Lunch and Saturday/Sunday Brunch can be reserved. Also call if you have a large group, they might be able to help you out.
Washington Post: Tom stubbornly sticks to 2.5 Stars
Washingtonian: #23 in 2020!; #24!! in 2019; #35 in 2018; #24 in 2017.
Lori (Been There Eaten That): 2010