The past two weeks, the city's restaurant critics have reviewed the International District's Song Phang Kong, Roosevelt's Toronado, Capitol Hill's Chávez and Omega Ouzeri, and Downtown's Cantina Leña. Here's a roundup of what they're saying:
Angela Garbes says the Laotian fare at Being Rajsombath's solo operation, Song Phang Kong, is a delicious steal at $8 a plate: "The best dish at Song Phang Kang is sai ua, or pork sausages. They're fat and dense, full of onion and sticky rice, and fragrant with lemongrass, crushed lime leaf, and cilantro ... They taste best eaten with your fingers, with little balls of sticky rice, and dipped for just a split second into a burning sauce of dried red chilies and fresh lime juice."
Providence Cicero calls the cuisine at the new Bay Area offshoot Toronado "as smart as the beer": "The 8-ounce bacon cheeseburger is flat-out great. Credit the careful cooking of freshly ground, dry-aged beef, but also the whole-grain mustard and apple wood-smoked bacon, both house-made. (Ten bucks buys you a whole plate of those thick-cut, smoky, slightly sweet rashers to snack on.)" Two and a half stars.
Ask Allison Austin Scheff, and the new Chávez serves up some of the best tacos on the Hill: "The tacos here are exceptional; each utterly delicious and distinctive. The camarones (shrimp) version, with chipotle and fresh tomatoes, is smoke and sunshine, contrasting with the darkly savory short rib tacos. Best of the bunch: softly scrambled egg tacos with lightly sweet cactus folded in. (All tacos are three for $13.)"
Nicole Sprinkle rates Omega Ouzeri as a "much-needed Greek standout" in town, marked by its truly traditional food: "Kolokithokeftedes are zucchini fritters (four of them)—so crispy and not at all greasy, and the filling of feta, mint, and scallions allows each of those ingredients to emerge. They almost make the garlic aioli served with them moot. When you're tempted to skip the aioli, you know they're doing something right."
Kathryn Robinson says the carnitas-topped nachos at T-Doug's latest Cantina Leña are "greasy, porky bliss": [Cantina Leña's nachos are] a generous mound of housemade tortilla chips, evenly distributed (that's key) with green chilies, really fine queso fundido, wisps of cilantro, and a tangle of pickled onions. Flavors on point. Best of all, they came topped with a crown of the finest, meatiest, crispiest, most satisfying carnitas to ever unleash streams of grease into a pile of chips."